Square Enix, in their quest to bring their retro catalog to modern audiences, has been bringing the Dragon Quest series to mobile devices in a somewhat assorted order. Their most recent release, Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride, brings a great port of the DS version of the game to iOS and Android, adapting an already great title and giving it great mobile support.
For those not in the know, Dragon Quest is a series similar to Final Fantasy; though there are running threads of continuity in each title, they stand alone with original stories and characters in each game Critics and fans met the game’s original release on the Super Famicom with applause, and the reasons that it reviewed well in the past still hold true today: Dragon Quest V has great storytelling, entertaining dialog, and a great combat system that involves monster catching and taming. The soundtrack and graphics, adapted as well from the DS version of the game, look crisp and clean on mobile, and many maps even allow 360-degree camera rotations, opening up maps to special puzzles and hidden objects. But Dragon Quest V does many things that make it unique as a JRPG compared to many other standouts, most notably its timeline.
Your character starts off as a young boy, escorted around by his father from town to town, and eventually grows up and gets married to start a family of his own. Literacy even comes up as a result; as a kid you can’t read signs or books on bookshelves, adding an interesting dynamic to early gameplay. This was the first game I played that really involved a father directly in my gameplay, and I was really satisfied to see the ways that the game made little touches to show Pankraz’s importance as a figure in the main character’s life. There are tons of reasons to feel compelled to keep playing DQV, even when the lack of direction can leave you wandering around looking for the next step in the story on occasion.
From a technical standpoint, Dragon Quest V is a vast improvement over the last mobilized attempt, Dragon Quest II. The 8-way virtual joystick generally responds as expected, with three different sizes you can select to adapt for small to large hands. The controls also stay well out of the way of the gameplay, and though you’re forced to play in portrait mode, it’s an easy game to play one-handed if you’re using a small enough device. I got great responsiveness on my (5th Gen) iPod Touch; considering the DS version of the game was already a touchscreen interface, it makes sense that they’d have this under control.
Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride is a fantastic retro title to bring to mobile devices. Considering the amount of quality gameplay that comes out of the title, it’s a great deal for the price, but a great game regardless of budget.