Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride Review

By Gus Mastrapa - Posted Mar 11, 2009

Another great retro release? Or the death of your childhood? Adam takes a look at 'Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride', a new RPG for the Nintendo DS and finds out in this X-Play Review.

The Pros
  • Exotic and imaginative settings
  • Hits all the classic Dragon Quest notes
  • Awesome Monsters
The Cons
  • Slightly more conventional than Dragon Quest IV
  • Sancho's stereotypical Mexican accent
  • Still the same turn-based grind

Dragon Quest: Hand of the Heavenly Bride ReviewThe goddess be praised. Fans of classic role-playing games have a lot to be thankful for. Square Enix’s re-releases for the Nintendo DS have kept us up to our kilts in amazing retro gaming experiences. The release of Dragon Quest V: The Hand of the Heavenly Bride, the latest in a long stream of old-school gaming goodness, marks the first time the game has been released for Western audiences. And it’s well worth playing for anyone that has affection for the way Dragon Quest games tell a yarn. This outing isn’t as wildly inventive as Dragon Quest IV – which shifted to the perspectives of a handful of different adventurers. But it’s not entirely conventional either. Here we stick with the hero for the duration. But we check in on him at different times in his life: as a child and through several stages of adulthood. As its title suggests, the game even lets players take a maiden’s hand in marriage.

Thank You For Your Custom

Dragon Quest: Hand of the Heavenly Bride ReviewLike most of the recent Square Enix re-issues for the Nintendo DS, Dragon Quest V: The Hand of the Heavenly Bride, has been given a graphical overhaul. Many maps are rendered in three-dimensions. Players can use the shoulder buttons to spin the camera around, changing the perspective of the game world on the Nintendo DS’s two screens. Such a drastic conversion may seem like heresy to some. The changes are not only tasteful, but they add a certain grandeur to the many castles, dungeons, and exotic places you’ll visit after stepping into the shoes of the game’s hero. Most importantly, though, none of the original character designs are messed with – the myriad monsters and characters all stick closely to their fabulous retro designs. Half the fun of any Dragon Quest game comes from the sheer inventiveness of the baddies (designed by manga legend Akira Toriyama). Dragon Quest V: The Hand of the Heavenly Bride makes such encounters all the more interesting by letting you defeat and recruit certain creatures into your party. Once befriended, Slime allies are treated like any other character – they can be equipped with armor and weapons and commanded in battle. These monsters aren’t the only baggage players will pick up along the way.

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What Luck!

Dragon Quest V: The Hand of the Heavenly Bride is an adventure that spans years – beginning when the hero as but a tyke under the protection of his father Pankraz. There’s much intrigue and mystery surrounding the old man and when tragedy befalls father and son the player is forced to step up, take arms, and follow in his father’s footsteps. That means continuing the quest to find his long-lost mother, but also fixing many of the ills that have befallen the kingdom over the years – especially unseating the bizarre cult who have usurped the king’s power, enslaved the heir to the throne and trashed many a peaceful village. Over the years the hero bumps into many eligible bachelorettes and is eventually given the opportunity to pick one as a bride. Few games manage to telegraph the passage of time and make players feel as if they’ve experienced a lifetime of trial and triumphs as effectively.

Sancho Has Fainted

Dragon Quest: Hand of the Heavenly Bride ReviewThere’s really very little to gripe about here. Dragon Quest V: The Hand of the Heavenly Bride is a grind in the most classic sense. Players encounter monsters randomly then hack away at them in traditional turn-based battles. If you didn’t already find a kind of zen satisfaction in this kind of play you probably wouldn’t be reading this review in the first place. The difference between Dragon Quest V: The Hand of the Heavenly Bride and many other tepid RPG pretenders is the way the game moves. It’s always taking the player someplace new and novel – from the deck of a tall ship to the dark halls of a haunted castle the scenery (populated with a wild variety of nifty monsters) changes just often enough to keep the player interested. The introduction of monster recruiting as well as the deliberately unraveling revenge plot that serves as motivation for our hero both serve to sustain the player’s momentum. The game’s only real misstep comes in the character Sancho – a friend of the hero’s family who speaks in a shameful caricature of a Mexican accent. Luckily, these slimy moments are scarce and nowhere near nasty enough to ruin such an engaging, delightful, and expertly crafted game.

Article Written By: Gus Mastrapa