After Playing Dragon Quest V, I Think I Finally Get Dragon Quest

Like many others, I got a free copy of Dragon Warrior with Nintendo Power.  I (eventually) beat the game, but neither the gameplay nor the overall aesthetic really grabbed me.  I mostly tuned out the series until a glowing 1Up Review of DQV for DS convinced me to pick up that game and the others in the series.  I figured I’d play them in order, but never got past the second entry (on Gameboy Color).

Well, an episode of Axe of the Blood God finally convinced me to skip the intervening games and give Dragon Quest V a try.  I was hankering for an old-school RPG and the multi-generational story seemed very appealing.  I just finished the game and immediately decided to write this gushing blog post.

Dragon Quest V impressed me greatly in two very different ways.  First and foremost was the story.  It is exceedingly rare for me to actually play a video game RPG “in character,” and certainly not a Japanese RPG, but this was the exception.  This game builds strong personal connections with many characters, even beyond your wife and kids, and doesn’t waste time on irrelevant side quests and whatnot to take away from that.  I have a bunch of new entries in my list of most powerful RPG memories.

I played DQV specifically for the story, so I’m not too shocked that it lived up to expectations.  What I am rather shocked about is that this game made me not only understand but fully embrace and enjoy the Dragon Quest style of game.  It’s not at all like Final Fantasy, and I’ve always considered that a negative.  This time, though, I realized that they had somehow taken the spirit of really old-school RPGs (like Ultima III) and distilled it.

I’m the most at a loss to explain how not only did I not mind the game’s grindiness, but actually enjoyed it.  Maybe I’ve played too many MMOs and just having a grind with an end is that much more appealing.  However I think it’s the comfort in the knowledge that, sooner or later, you can get to where you need to be.  I could probably write a thesis paper about the subject of RPG grinding based on this game, but I’ll spare you.

The bottom line is, Dragon Quest V is incredible and if you haven’t played it, you should.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go give the Dragon Quest series another look.

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