Jahanzeb Khan
23 Apr, 2010

Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride Review

DS Review | We archive a gem of an RPG.
In this day and age, Australia has been getting a lot of great Japanese RPG releases - RPGs that no one would have dreamt of seeing in stores back in the mid 90s. These include the likes of Etrian Odyssey, Shin Megami Tensei, Dragon Quest, Ys, Luminous Arc, Tales and Disgaea. Clearly the gaming scene in Australia has improved significantly and we hope it will continue to do so. To show our gratitude towards this positive trend, we archive a game that is arguably one of the best Japanese RPGs ever made.

Dragon Quest: Hand of the Heavenly Bride (DQ: HotHB) for the Nintendo DS is essentially the English language version of Dragon Quest V, which was originally released on the Super Nintendo (SNES) way back in 1992. The SNES version never set foot outside of Japan, but the DS version gives western gamers a chance to experience this classic RPG. It took 17 years for the game to arrive in our territory and Australian gamers should really be grateful. Surely, many of you have already purchased and enjoyed this classic gem, but those who haven’t should read on to see why they shouldn’t take the release of DQ: HoftHB for granted.

DQ:HotHB tells the tale of a hero, who initially starts out as a young lad journeying with his strong and inspiring father in search of a ‘Legendary Hero’ and his missing mother. The story starts off simple enough, but it slowly and gradually builds up to reveal amazing plot twists and dimensions. The young hero will grow up into a strong man, get married, have children, travel to other dimensions and time zones, go through great hardships, learn valuable lessons and discover shocking secrets about his family and past. The hero’s grand journey spans across three generations, the progression feels very natural and does a good job of keeping the player interested. Just when you think you’ve reached a major turning point in the game, something even bigger and even more unexpected happens. The story is essentially one man’s odyssey from childhood to adulthood, and beyond.

The characters in the game are also quite remarkable. They may not have deeply rooted emotional issues or be androgynous, but they are quite inspiring in the sense that even after facing some terrible situations, they don’t get emotionally damaged or scarred. They instead pick themselves up and move on to live another day.

An epic odyssey awaits.

An epic odyssey awaits.

The battle system in DQ: HotHB is the same as that found in any Dragon Quest game - a traditional turn based system where you select a party of four characters and fight against enemies in a turn cycle. The battle system itself is nothing fancy, but it has some cool features, such as being able to set tactics in order to make party members behave in a certain manner during battle. The system works well and the pace is especially ideal for a portable RPG.

Battle system aside, there is actually a lot more scope to the gameplay than your typical old school RPG. For one, the game not only allows you to recruit main characters as party members, but also allows you to collect and recruit the many monsters you fight throughout the course of the game. The process is fairly simple. After certain battles, a defeated monster will express interest in joining you on your journey, and all you have to do is decide whether you want them to tag along or not. So it really is a matter of battling monsters and waiting for one to make an offer. If this all somewhat reminds you of Pokemon, then you may be surprised to know that the people who created the SNES version of Dragon Quest V would go on to create the first Pokemon games.

At any given time, you have four party members in combat. You can also have up to an additional four party members travel with you as the passengers of your wagon. This allows you to change the composition of your party anytime as long the wagon is present, even during battle. Also, if your current party gets wiped out, allies inside the wagon will jump in to continue the fight. This aspect certainly reduces the frequency of complete wipe-outs.

The battle system is solid with plenty of allies to help you out.

The battle system is solid with plenty of allies to help you out.

Combat and monster collecting aside, DQ:HotHB has plenty of distractions to keep you occupied. The most appealing is the massive casino that has plenty of gambling games, which includes a board game and even slime racing. You will also be able to collect mini medals and quirky items called knick-knacks. This really gives avid players enough motivation to explore each area thoroughly in order to collect everything.

DQ: HotHB is an epic 40+ hour quest with plenty to do. The in-game world itself is massive and has plenty of towns, cities, kingdoms and secret locations. There really is a lot to see, discover and do in this game, and players will surely find themselves taking detours from the main game just to look around and find some interesting quests and activities to do. Like any Dragon Quest game, DQ: HotHB is a very challenging RPG that really puts your patience and skills to test. With limited save points, tough-as-nails bosses and the fact that you always seem to find yourself short on money, your journey will be filled with many downfalls. However, the triumphs will be far more rewarding and unforgettable.

While the game does play well and has a lot of substance, the most glaring flaw is that for the most part you have absolutely no idea what you are supposed to do or where you are supposed to go next. After a quest, you are usually left with no hint of where to go or what to do next. This design style was common in retro RPGs, the purpose of it being to give players a sense of adventure and discovery. However, such a design choice doesn’t bode well in this gaming era. Most players will find themselves consulting a FAQ just to know what they are supposed to be doing.

As great as the journey is, you will get lost...a lot.

As great as the journey is, you will get lost...a lot.

DQ: HotHB utilises the same engine that was used in Dragon Quest: Chapters of the Chosen, and while it does give the bad impression of being ‘recycled’, it still looks good enough for the reissue of a classic video game. The sprites look solid and the 3D camera is a much welcomed feature. While there are better looking RPGs on the DS, the visuals in this game are still serviceable. Artistically, the game looks really cool with Akira Toriyama (of the Dragon Ball Z fame) once again providing his trademark character designs. Musically, the game is decent and features that classic Dragon Quest sound that fans have come to love over the years.

Dragon Quest: Hand of the Heavenly Bride is a fantastic Japanese RPG that is easily among the best of the genre. The story is interesting, and the main quest itself has plenty of substance and variety. While some of the design decisions might be difficult to digest for some modern gamers, the game still has enough great qualities to make such players fall in love with the Dragon Quest series. It is the kind of game that every RPG fan should experience, and if you are one of those gamers who always wondered what all the fuss behind the Dragon Quest series is about, then Dragon Quest: Hand of the Heavenly Bride is the best place to start.
The Score
Dragon Quest: Hand of the Heavenly Bride is among the best Japanese RPGs ever created. RPG fans should not miss this classic.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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4 years ago

Awesome of you to review this absolute classic. I love this game with all my heart. Makes me wish I could upgrade to a DS XL, missed the EB promotion.....

Still, must have. Bring on VI! And X!!
4 years ago
Score is 2 points too low
4 years ago
Loving this!! Great review thanks.
4 years ago
lol I got stuck at a ghost-looking boss and haven't been bothered to get any further... which was probably over a year ago icon_neutral.gif

There's just something that bores me when it comes to DQ games... I like FF but have not yet gotten into any DQ :'(
4 years ago
I've finished the first 5 games (pre-rereleases) and got half way through number 6, should really og back and finish it. I always loved the DQ games. I'm actually the opposite of bleach1st, I much prefer DQ over FF, always have.
4 years ago
Trust me Bleach 1st, Dragon Quest V has an inspiring and engaging story that is free of emo whiny kids icon_razz.gif.

Get back to it! if there is one Dragon Quest you have to play properly, it's this one. You'll thank me later icon_wink.gif
4 years ago
Aww damn... I saw it for $20 about a month ago and I *nearly* decided to buy it. Those screenshots look so much better than the SNES version.
4 years ago
Mightyape.com.au's daily deal has this game for $15, which is a great bargain I think.
4 years ago
Scrav, I urge you to go and get the game as soon as you can, because it really is such a gem. I know that term is thrown about a lot, but it has such a great combination of things going for it, whether it be picking a bride, or never knowing what monster may join you after a battle that you really can't pull yourself away from it. It has all the wittiness you'd expect from a DQ game, but it also had a lot of heart, and I was actually quite surprised that I was playing a remake, because it seemed to be such a new take on the genre.

I really liked DQ4, but I must admit that it was such a step back from DQ8 (for obvious reasons) that I wasn't sure what to expect when I bought DQ5, but 5 is so much more superior than 4, especially considering the Party Chat/Talk has been retained. It sort of made things feel much lighter than they should have been in 4, and it really helps to give your characters some added depth or interaction.

It was also one of the games that I completed every single sidequest, and I was still just hunting around for monsters to see whether they would join me.

I'm about to read the review, so I'm sorry if I've basically repeated what was said.

I'll just mention that if you're a fan of the RPG genre, you won't be disappointed with this one, believe me.
4 years ago
I went and bought a second hand copy at a reasonably distant EB. icon_biggrin.gif
4 years ago
Good to know. Make sure to tell us how you go with it!

Great review by the way, Jahanzeb!

Still, maybe I should pick you up on this:

that is free of emo whiny kids icon_razz.gif.
I think the Prince fits into that category ... at least for a little while. icon_wink.gif
4 years ago
^ Well yea but he did turn around!, he didnt brood over his hardships for the rest of his life....like most JRPG characters icon_razz.gif
3 years ago
Yes, well ... at first it was so tempting to feed him to a monster, so it was lucky he went through what he did and changed his attitude, I reckon. icon_lol.gif
3 years ago
Great game though i must be the only one that thought this game was not much different from 4 i have completed both & they was not as hard as people say though dragon quest is in my top 10 game series manly because of 8,
Dragon quest VIII is so much better then any other dq game done before (maybe because it was done by level 5) wish they would redo it for ps3.

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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  19/02/2009 (Deleted)
Standard Retail Price:
  $69.95 AU
  UBI Soft

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