Dragon Quest 5 PS2

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Just in time for my still-in-transit copy of Final Fantasy XIII’s impending arrival, I managed to work through Dragon Quest V PS2. Thanks to the folks at DQ Translations, I was finally able to dig into the illusive PS2 version of this highly regarded installment. While I didn’t expect anything new from the game, I still found myself stricken with series fatigue. This of course made the game somewhat of a chore to run through, even with every feature that I love Dragon Quest for shining bright. Without going into heavy detail (I’ve already reviewed this game), I will say I found the experience both nostalgic, and cumbersome.

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Excluding the battle animations, it is pretty tough to believe this is a PS2 title. I have to say, compared to the other Dragon Quest on PS2 (which came out 7 months later), I’m somewhat disappointed with what Matrix software did with the port. The game is incredibly faithful to its 16 predecessor, even going so far as to include the “JRPG characters marching on spot” standard. Sprites in the overworld map don’t really animate all that much apart from marching around. This is even more apparent during various scenes within the game, where you have dramatic events unfold with sprites clunking into each other like chess pieces. Sprite drama was cool on the Genesis and Super Nintendo, but not really on the PS2. That is not to say the game isn’t aesthetically pleasing, rather, it looks pretty good for a 16 RPG on steroids.

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Where this game shines is in its battle system. You can tell most of the effort went here, because those stiff overworld sprites are beautifully animated here. The chess pieces really come to life, with slimes bouncing around, Drakees fluttering, and rotting corpse strutting around with gaping jaws. Even their spit, which hangs barely from their mouths by a thread, giggles and bobs in unison with their every move. Battle speed is incredibly fast and easy to manage, making the high encounter rate barely noticeable. The rate of monsters offering their services seems less than in the DS version, but remains frequent enough where it is still useful.

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Complaints aside, I have to give DQ Translations a big high five. Not only did they offer one localization job done in a generic manner, they instead offered a “Dragon Quest” or “Dragon Warrior” type translation. Catering to both groups of fans is more than anyone could have asked for, and the effort in both selections is fantastic. The music is as equally impressive as the localization job. I’d be lying if I didn’t think the soundtrack for Dragon Quest V PS2 was the best out of all three versions. There were times when I put the controller down, and just listened for a while. Coupling these features with the general atmosphere, and you end up with a pretty solid Dragon Quest game, but that is it. There isn’t anything in this version that can’t be found on the DS. Fans will love it, but shouldn’t expect anything more than what they’ve played before. I was disappointed with the seeming lack of experimentation, which I think would have made this entry great. Think about this: Dragon Quest 8 was fully voiced, animated, and had a ton of effort applied to the overall sum of the games features. What if Level 5 worked on Dragon Quest 5, or better yet, what if Dragon Quest 5 was given the same type of polish that 8 had received?

Dragon Quest 5 PS2
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Dragon Quest 8 PS2
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While I’m sure purists will disagree with me, I find it hard to believe there are 3 versions of this game with almost 19 years between releases, yet the differences between them is minimal. I still recommend it for uber-DQ-nerds, but only as a treat. There isn’t anything offered in the PS2 version that isn’t done better in on the DS. If anything, slap down a couple bucks on the soundtrack, and save your extra cash for Dragon Quest 6’s upcoming release.

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Snag the patch here!

Click me for theGamefaqs page.

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