DS Review: Dragon Quest: The Hand of the Heavenly Bride

Dragon Quest gets the 3D Makeover this time, but is it enough?

After all, my child, you are yet young. Let the Goddess watch over you and your father, Pankraz, as you tread the path of your destiny. And as you venture forth on that path, my child, passing all the people and places that will forge your spirit along the way, you too shall grow into a man. A man with all the courage of his father. A man worthy of a heavenly bride.
The last Dragon Quest game on the DS was a great remake, but lacked the visuals to back it up. Square-Enix has obviously listened to the outcry of better graphics for the series and has remade yet another game, this time with new 3D graphics that puts Final Fantasy IV on DS to shame.

The original game was released in 1992, yet it never left Japan. Fans translated the Japanese language so they could play it, which seemed madness. I was one of the many who never got a chance to play it, it just seems insane that a game like this would only launch in Japan, but it’s not unheard of as the same happened with the last Dragon Quest game. It seems that Square-Enix is finally letting the world get a good look at the series, but is it too late?
I don’t know much about the original game, but the DS remake entitled “The Hand of the Heavenly Bride” does just enough to qualify as a must-have title for the handheld, even though it’s taken 17 years for me to finally play it. There are new additions to the game that weren’t included in the original and PS2 remake (which also didn’t leave Japan for some reason) like being able to have four members in a party at a time instead of just three. Also, there is a new third girl Debora Briscoletti, who is available for the Hero to marry. The story of this game is perhaps the best in the series and will please fans who have been waiting all these years for it. It will not disappoint you.

The game does what you would expect from an RPG, it has a great tale to tell but after all these years of waiting…it comes across as dated when compared to the brilliant Chrono Trigger (which I reviewed yesterday). Combat is turn-based, yet it’s done from a first person view, so you can’t see yourself or your teammates, just like the past games…it’s still an odd choice for me, I like to see fighting instead of seeing enemies flicker and vanish. I can understand it back in 1992 because of limitations, but now there’s little excuse…unless of course, the fans demanded the classic combat style.
What would have been a good compromise would be to offer the original style, while offering a new one as optional like Chrono Trigger’s addition of fast paced combat to turn-based combat. Multi-card play is available but since I didn’t have a second copy of the game, I was unable to test out exactly what it included. Dragon Quest makes good use of both screens, plus there are some mini-games in there that will keep you entertained.

The visuals are impressive and perhaps one of the best looking DS games out there. As with every Dragon Quest, Koichi Sugiyama composed the music and directed all the associated spinoffs. The music is great and fits the overall feel of the game very well. It’s great to listen to.

The Verdict

Dragon Quest: The Hand of the Heavenly Bride may have taken almost 2 decades to emerge in America and Europe, but the wait has been worth it. The story is gripping and the game looks amazing, it may seem dated but it’s a small complaint and one that shouldn’t keep you from picking this up right now.