Another month, another re-heated title from Square Enix's back catalogue - this time, one of only two Dragon Quests never to have appeared in English. But despite displaying all the archaic foibles you'd associate with a 1992 RPG, this slick remake should provide hours of entertainment for hardcore RPG fans. Just expect to spend more time stabbing caterpillars than progressing the plot, because heck, there isn't half a lot of grinding involved.
The battle structure is defiantly old-school - there isn't an active time battle system, for example, which may throw even Square Enix stalwarts - and it struggles to break free from the rock-paper-scissors trappings that tend to turn more strategically minded gamers away from the genre. However, the onslaught of random battles is enlivened by the ability to recruit certain kinds of monsters for your army. We found that hunting out new monsters to add to our collection appealed to the obsessive-compulsive side of our brain, and developing many of our would-be assassins into powerful allies helped to brighten up what would otherwise have been many, many lonely hours spent circling the world map.
The ties that grind
Also worthy of note is the way DQV separates the story into distinct segments chronicling our hero from birth to early adulthood. While this doesn't do much for the pacing, it helps develop a deep level of camaraderie between the player and the supporting cast. Despite a relatively short run-time (around 20 hours), there's a primitive degree of story-branching that will allow dedicated players to return time and time again.
Not that many gamers will be able to face the challenge twice, mind. The light, breezy storyline, joyously retouched visuals and simple gameplay mechanics make this an accessible game for the beginner, but the amount of time spent on the battlefield with your stylus to the grindstone will eventually turn away all but the most hardened of RPG veterans.
Another strong offering for RPG fans to sink their teeth into, with some great graphical updates, but be warned: this is two parts work, one part play.