Brian got Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride a little while back, and we traded off turns playing it for weeks. In terms of overall plot it’s pulled straight from the big book of RPG cliches – evil dude wants to take over! only the legendary hero can defeat him! queens are kidnapped! – but there’s two things that really make it great. One is “party talk,” where in different situations (entering a new town or dungeon level, for example, or after talking to most NPCs) you can talk to the characters that are in your group. The amount of dialogue this game must have is staggering – imagine writing a different response for all those different characters! It’s amusing because a lot of the time it’s stuff that you, the player, are probably thinking, so hearing it from another character in their own voice can be a little startling. It really helps make the characters real, too, when they have their own takes on situations or wonder about things that you might not even have noticed. That leads into the other thing that makes the game great: the generation system. You start out as a little kid, then time skips forward and you play as an adult, getting married, and then time skips forward again and your children are old enough to go adventuring with you. So it’s not like your character is accompanied by some random red mage, fighter and white mage: you’re almost always with friends, often with family, and they always have some interesting thing to say. For someone like me, who likes story and character interaction better than battle systems and so on, the game was great fun.
In the DS version of the game, you have the option to marry three women: Bianca, your childhood friend, Nera, the kind and gentle daughter of a rich family, and Deborah, Nera’s haughty and blunt sister. The game pushes you to choose Bianca (you have adventures with her in your childhoods, Nera has another guy that loves her, heck, in the old versions of the game if you didn’t choose Bianca her father died) but you can choose any of them. So I did choose Bianca my first time around, but Nera definitely has the prettier dress, and anyways she’s more my type, if I was a male RPG hero. (Although I suspect that playing the game with Deborah around to talk to is the most fun.)