Enix (1992, SNES)
of this writing, there are eight installments in Enix's Dragon
Quest series, all of which are notable to some extent. While most
longtime Final Fantasy fans can probably agree that FFVI
(or FFVII, depending on who you talk to) was the standout of
the series, the line grows much blurrier with the Dragon Quest
This may seem a bit strange to those outside the DQ fan
circle. The series has prided itself on its consistency in every
aspect from its game world to its character designs to its soundtrack
to its battle system, yet each of them remains distinctive to those
that know and love them.
Quest III is heralded by Japanese gamers as one of the best
titles on the Famicom for its then-epic plot and customizable
characters, while others prefer Dragon Quest IV for its
chapter-based storytelling and memorable cast of characters.
English fans may more fondly remember 2005's Dragon Quest VIII,
which finally gave into modern influence by featuring luscious
cel-shaded graphics, a cinematic battle system, and, for the American
release, splendidly charming voice acting.
amongst the entire series, one of the most significant is the
Japan-only Dragon Quest V. Coming of age is a common theme in
JRPGs, yet never has it been executed so magnificently as Dragon
Quest V. Your hero starts as a young child, barely unable to
fight a pack of slimes on his own without his father's help, and goes
on crazy adventures before even learning to read.
By the end of the
game, he's lived through a slave labor camp, explored the world,
fallen in love, raised a family, and entered into another evil
dimension, for the sake of not only saving the world, but growing up.
Effectively, it's the RPG equivalent of an epic, detailing the story
the story of three generations of heroes. Sega's Phantasy Star III
for the Genesis tried something similar around the same time, but
Dragon Quest V is a much more personal story, and also happens
to be a far stronger game overall.
the game ditches the class system introduced in DQIII (later
reused for both DQVI and DQVII), it allows you to build
a party consisting of defeated monsters. Although it's a bit
haphazard trying to draft foes on to your team, it's a lot more
customizable than most RPGs when you have dozens of playable party
members at your disposal.
It's essentially the same mechanic used in
the Megami Tensei series, although it doesn't require that you
memorize huge charts of enemy abilities to succeed.
too many games (including Dragon Quest's own spinoff, the
Monsters line, as well as Nintendo's Pokémon
series) focus on the monster collection as the primary game mechanic.
On the other hand, all subsequent Dragon Quest games have
utilized some similar method of drafting enemy monsters, but they're
largely afterthoughts to other character customization systems.
Dragon Quest V, it's so seamlessly integrated into the main
system, without becoming overwhelming, that it's a textbook example
of how to do the monster collection thing right.