Platform: SNES (Japanese only); DS
I first played this game on a SNES emulator with an English translation patch, then later on the DS. The DS version has a few additions that may increase enjoyment; regardless, both versions are an example of a great RPG, with emphasis on the role-playing.
Dragon Quest V was one of the first RPG’s to have a plot that took place over multiple generations. In fact, you see the hero’s birth and fight as him over the course of his life, first with your father, then with wife, and eventually your kids. For simple graphics and simple dialogue, the game has a lot of emotional weight and there are decisions you can make to influence the hero’s life.
Gameplay is virtually identical to the first four games in the series. It’s puzzling that the developers used so little of the 16-bit engine to upgrade the graphics and music (these screenshots are from the SNES). The one advantage is that it’s familiar and user-friendly, but it’s unfortunate more spectacle wasn’t created to emphasize the dramatic story line. The main gameplay feature that was new to the series (and to RPGs for the most part) was the ability to recruit monsters into your party. Strategizing what monsters you want to try for (weaker monsters tend to be easier to recruit) is part of the fun. One primary difference between the SNES and DS versions is that you get four party members instead of three, allowing for more variety. Also, you have a wider selection of wives to choose from!
If you like the Dragon Quest series at all, there’s no reason you shouldn’t play this game. I’ve played a little bit of VI and VII and was unimpressed with what I saw, though I have heard repeatedly that IX is excellent.