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Community Discussion: Blog by tim333 | I Can Count to Nine: A Journey through Dragon Quest - Part 5Destructoid
I Can Count to Nine: A Journey through Dragon Quest - Part 5 - Destructoid

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Regarding my 1001games project: There's only one deadline. I haven't hit it yet!

I'm a 90s gamer and Sega kid for life. I like platformers, adventure games and JRPGs. I'm not that into first-person shooters or sports games.

I spend more of my time playing older games than new ones. I do have a PS3 now, though, and I like buying games on PSN. I like the Wii and have a ton of games for it. I'm encouraged by some of the stuff out on Wiiware - to me, games like Bit.Trip Beat are more appealing than the "triple-A" titles coming out on the HD consoles.

Some of my all-time favorite games are Sonic 3 & Knuckles, Dragon Quest III, Heroes of Might and Magic III, The Curse of Monkey Island, and Dance Dance Revolution.
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FIVE

Dragon Quest V (SFC)

Stop me if you've heard this one: many generations after the last installment, a descendant of the previous Hero will become the new Hero of Legend when the Ruler of Evil awakes again. Our story opens on the birth of a boy - a prince, naturally. But here's the twist - this boy is not of Ivy's line. He's not the Hero - not the Legendary Hero, anyway.

Don't worry. He'll marry into it.

In a series as consistently great as Dragon Quest, it's hard to single one out as the best. At a Nintendo-sponsored DQIX event this year, I discussed the series with some other fans and heard 3, 4, 5, 7, 8 and 9 as favorites. There's really no bad choice (OK, there's one - don't think I don't see you over there, II). My personal favorite is 3 - it's a blast to assemble a freeform party and rock through two well-realized worlds. 5, however, is probably the one that comes up the most often, and for good reason. I'll not mince words - DQV is a storytelling masterpiece that stands as a testament to the video game medium's potential in that area.

This game follows the life of the hero from when he is a small child as he grows up, gets married and has children of his own (one of whom turns out to be the Legendary Hero, incidentally). DQV understands that story, in a video game, doesn't have to be something that happens in between gameplay. A true role-playing game, it uses the unique strengths of interactive storytelling to immerse you in the main character's life and evoke genuine emotion toward the supporting cast. Let me break it down like this: This game knows exactly how to poke a gamer to tug at their heartstrings.

V is the first game in the series not to make it outside of Japan - not until 2009's DS release, that is. Hence, say goodbye to that "Warrior" moniker, but not too fond a goodbye - we haven't quite seen the last of it. Fortunately, in 2002 DeJap translations came out with an English patch that really stands among the greatest achievements of fan translation. It's well-written, imaginative and professional, leagues above the still-serviceable patches we used for II and III. There are some typos, but I'm betting that's our fault for not using the latest patch version.

It's cool to see the series move into the fourth console generation, but this one still has a foot planted in the NES. The bag, an inventory convenience we're used to from later games and remakes, STILL hasn't shown up yet. Monsters still aren't animated, either. However, the action button (R) is finally introduced, and this game has another stellar soundtrack. V also makes the bizarre move of scaling the active party back to 3 members, which is never done again including in the remake. Again I strongly recommend the DS version, which improves on this classic in nearly every way.

Nobody Reads This Productions presents:

Dragon Quest V: The Many Trials of Quint the Fated

~A saga in three generations~

Generation One: Travels with Papas

Introducing Quint, Age 6:



Isn't he cute? This wandering vagabond has no clue he's a prince, as he accompanies his Dad on a worldwide search for his mother, who was kidnapped by monsters shortly after his birth. Sadly, this tragedy is but the first of a great many for young Quint.

Speaking of Dad, let's take a look at Papas:


Wow. I think it's pretty obvious what Papas thinks of the typical Dragon Quest mode of Kingship. This man of action is another dazzling spectacle of manhood in the mold of previous badasses Ortega and Ragnar (In fact, check out that 'stache - think he's got a bit of the clan MacRyan in him?). He's also got a heart of gold. He cares deeply for his son, and you'll never hear anybody say an unkind word about him.

Progress:
*Traveled with Papas to the tiny village of Santa Rosa. Papas has AMAZING stats in battle. Uh oh. If you've played many RPGs, you know what that means.

*Little Tyke's My First Quest: Went into a cave fulla slimes and bugs to rescue a dwarf trapped under a rock. Yay!

*Went to Alkapa, where we met our first playmate, Bianca.

Here's Bianca, age 8:


Spunky, adventurous, and very cute. I like her.
*Found a couple of tapdancing (seriously, that's what the sprite looks like) kids beating up on a cat. They said we could have the cat if we went to the nearby spooooky castle and beat up some ghosts. There, we found the ghosts of the castle's former inhabitants were being tormented by evil ghosts. We did some ghostbusting, and got a shiny golden orb as a reward.

*Got the cat too. You only get to pick from a few names, so we picked Borongo. He becomes a party member!

*Had to bid goodbye to Bianca for now. Back in Santa Rosa, we met an elf that only Quint could see. She took us to Elf Land, where we had an awesome little adventure defeating an Ice Queen to bring Spring back to the elves. This little segment is really fun and a great way to get some serious adventuring in the game early away from Daddy's wing.

*While in Santa Rosa, an adult who looks just like Quint asks to see his gold orb for a second. He also says to "never give up, whatever happens."

*Papas is next called to Reinhart castle, where we're asked to watch the prince, who turns out to be a snotty little jerk. He gets kidnapped, though, and Quint and Papas go to a nearby cave to find him. They do, but are stopped from leaving by the evil and hideous Bishop Gema of the Order of Light. Gema has heard of Papas and wants to put a stop to him. Well, Papas easily beats the minions he summons, but Gema plays dirty, holding a blade against young Quint's throat. Papas is unable to defend himself for fear of his son's life. In a scripted battle sequence, brave Papas stoically endures as he is slowly beaten to death. It's hard to watch.

*Gema also breaks Quint's shiny gold orb. What a jerk!

Highlights from the Imperial Scrolls of Honor:
*It looked like we'd have to leave Alkapa before we could do the ghost hunt, but Papas contracts a nasty case of plotdevicitis, halting travel just long enough, however long that ends up being. Prescription for plot-related illness: Take one subquest and call me in the morning.

*Ghostly Count: You'll need a Torch to see in my basement. I left it in the kitchen.

Bianca: But that don't make any sense! We checked all the pots and drawers in there already and didn't see nuffin'!

Count: Ah yes - I believe I secured it behind an arbitrary trigger. You never can be too careful.

*Quint: That big kid said we had balls when I told him we went to the haunted castle. What's that mean?

Bianca: I dunno. We did find this big gold one - maybe there's more where it came from.

*Dwarf in Santa Rosa: You did me a big favor down in that hole. Why don't you come over here and rummage through my drawers?

Quint: Ummmm.... I need an adult?

Dwarf: I *am* an adult.

*Gema: And now that Papas is dead, you two will live the rest of your lives as slaves! Nehehehe!

Gema casts Return!

Gema hits his head on the ceiling!

Gema: Augh! Dammit, I NEVER remember to cast Outside first!

Ten years pass as Quint is forced into a life of slavery building an enormous temple. He finds a true friend, though, in Prince Harry, who quickly mends his selfish ways and turns out to be a pretty good sort. Though his back nearly breaks from the work and the flogging, Quint's spirit never does. He is driven by his father's last words...

"Your mother is still alive..."

Generation Two: From Slave to King

We rejoin Quint, age 16, hardened by a decade of hard forced labor:


During an otherwise normal grueling day of work, the boys see a new girl among the slaves; she fits in poorly. A guard lets it slip to Quint that this is his sister, Maria, who somehow offended Bishop Gema. The next day, Quint and Harry see the girl being beaten by slave drivers and they lose it and attack them. They're sure this will finish them, but they get lucky...

The guard knows that although the slaves are told they'll be freed at the temple's completion, they'll actually be killed. He can't bear to think of this happening to Maria, so he lets her and the slaves who stuck up for her escape in one of the barrels they use to dispose of dead slaves. He knows he'll die for this, but it's a sacrifice he's willing to make for just the chance that his sister might reach safety.

The barrel washes up near a shoreside nunnery, which takes Maria in and nurses the boys back to health. Soon, Quint and Harry take to wandering...

Progress:
*Near the nunnery, the princes got a wagon in the casino town of Oracleberry. Now we can recruit monsters to our party! Our first joiner is a Slime named Slalin. We call him Joseph Slalin, history's gooiest dictator. Another notable monster friend is Pierre, a Slime Knight (they're little knights that hop around on slimes like those hopping balls). We end up recruiting quite a few monsters, which results in some odd sleeping arrangements. Our yeti and cactus ball are not on speaking or even not-killing-one-another terms after the former sat on the latter during an inn stay.

*We return to Santa Rosa only to find it laid to waste. It seems the Queen of Reinhart (not Harry's mom, she married the King after the first Queen's death) ordered soldiers to destroy it, blaming Harry's kidnapping on Papas. What a ****! In the cave, we find a note from Papas and the Zenithian Sword, which was found by Papas but can only be equipped by the Legendary Hero. Quint can't equip it. Oh well...
*After hearing Reinhart trashed by everybody in Alkapa, Harry decides we'd better go back and set things right. We had to fight our way into the castle through the dungeon, only to find that a monster impostor has replaced the Queen. You know what that means...

*It's off to a tower south of the Nunnery - where we have to stop to get Maria, because only nuns can open the tower - to retreive the Mirror of Ra yet again. Yep, Mirror to show true form count = 3.

*After defeating the fake, Prince Harry refuses to take the throne even though it turns out his kidnapping was arranged by the Queen - the real one - to make her son inherit the throne. Harry does stay behind, though, to help his half-brother rule. It's just Quint and the monsters now.

*Took a boat ride to Port Selmi, where a hick is looking for someone to help his small town. It seems a monster is ruining their crops; he pays us 1500 gold with a promise of 1500 more when we solve the problem. Well, the monster turns out to be Borongo, who rejoins and gives us Papas's sword. Unfortunately, now the whole town hates Quint because they think it was all a scam. They still pay the 1500, though!

*In the nearby town of Ruraphin, a crazy old man is trying to recreate the ancient spell used by the Legendary Hero known as "Return". After having us run an errand, he succeeds! Quint can now use Return.
*Next stop is the town of Salabona, where we meet a charming young lady named Flora. It turns out that she's the daughter of local big shot Ludman, who announces he's offering her hand in marriage to anyone who can bring back the Circle of Fire and the Circle of Water from some nearby treacherous caves. Notably, whoever does this also gets his family heirloom, the Zenithian Shield!

*On our way to get the Circle of Water, we have to stop at a lock. We go to the nearby village and who do we find to help us? Why, it's Bianca:


She's thrilled to see Quint again and wants to help him get the Circle of Water. Who are we to say no to the first real party member in a while?

*The waterfall dungeon is pretty uneventful, but what happens when you get back is interesting: you get to make a choice.

Yes, the game allows you to choose whom you want to marry: Bianca or Flora. This doesn't have THAT huge an effect on the game, but it means everything to the story. The nature of the hero's relationship to his bride is up to you, the player. Do you like tomboyish Bianca and the way she pals around with the hero? Or do you prefer a more traditional RPG damsel in the demure Flora? Maybe the game pushes you a little in Bianca's direction with a character who's been desperately in love with Flora since he was a kid, but there is no "But Thou Must" here. You are free, and there is no wrong choice.

To me, the fact that the player actually picks the bride adds a whole lot of dramatic weight to the romance. For my pal Kux and me, there was really only one choice, however. Bianca just melts my heart every time I play with her rough and ready, tough-but-sweet nature. Quint and Bianca are married in the church at Salabona.

*Bianca says she looks forward to adventuring with Quint. It's heavily implied they have their first adventure that very night, if you know what I mean.

*The newlyweds land in the desert castle of Telepador, which is dedicated to a novel purpose - holding the Zenithian Helm so that the Legendary Hero will be able to use it when he needs it. Why isn't this sort of thing done more often? All we learn, though, is what we already know - Quint ain't the Hero.

*Quint learns that his father was the King of a land called Granvania, but we have to go up and down a mountain to get there. At the top, though, just as we reach a village, Bianca faints. Strange, I thought she was in better shape than that...

Highlights from the Imperial Scrolls of Honor:
*Queen of Reinhart: I'll be good now. Don't worry.

Quint: Don't worry? Don't worry? You had Prince Harry kidnapped, so it's your fault my father is dead, and your fault Harry and I were slaves for TEN YEARS! You even sent soldiers to destroy the town my dad stayed in for no reason at all! And you have the BALLS to say to me, "Don't worry?" Don't worry?

Queen: ...be happy?

*In the town of Port Selmi, there is a completely reasonable lighthouse! Just a ladder and a light. Where's the convoluted floor plan? The unnecessary empty rooms? The stairways to nowhere?

*Bennet: Now, test and see if we've revived the spell of Return!

Quint: What, in here?

Bennet: Of course!

Quint cast Return!

Bennet: All right! Not only did it work, I have a skylight now!

*Quint: Wow, this shop has perfect stuff for Slalin. A little hat, a turtle shell... madam, may I ask that you please... pimp my slime?

Armor shop clerk: They don't pay me enough for this.
*Bianca, gazing at the waterfall in the cave: Wow, I never thought I'd see anything like this!

Quint: Huh? We were at the top of the waterfall, and we went down. Of course you'd see the bottom. Man, and Dad used to say I was dense.

Bianca: ...I don't find that hard to believe, somehow.

*While climbing the mountain, you can stop at somebody's little home. She's charmingly decorated the place with skeletons, and she cacklingly asks you if you want to stay the night... well, of course! But then you hear a knife being sharpened in the night - to your horror, you can't move! However, it turns out she was just sharpening your sword - +5 strength to Quint - and cast a spell to help you sleep better. Can't judge a book by its cover, huh?

*I don't mean to be glib about the Hero and Bianca, by the way. When she says "Now we can go traveling together" and "I love you, Quint"... It gets me right here.

Week Fourteen

Progress:
*The cave to Granvania is stupid hard and confusing, but we eventually came through. We hate mimics and their Defeat spell.

*In Granvania, Quint's uncle Ojiron is all too happy to hand over succession to the rightful heir, but the TOTALLY NOT EVIL YOU GUYS SRSLY Chancellor says that, by tradition, Kings of Granvania have to pass the Cave of Trials. Also Bianca is pregnant! Hence the fainty business. Quint must not be all that observant, huh?

*After retrieving the Symbol of Royalty and beating up some murderous thugs (I WONDER WHO HIRED THEM blaghsldk), got crowned King! And immediately thereafter, Bianca gives birth. Holy cow, already? Either that dungeon took longer than we thought or... though not the Legendary Hero, Quint at least delivered the Legendary Bang.

*Bianca had twins. We named them Prince Pent -sticking with the number theme - and Princess Prinny. No idea what I was going for with that one, dood.

The castle town enthusiastically celebrates the arrival of their new monarch and the birth of his children. It looks like things are looking up for Quint! Right? Right? Sigh...

Of course it doesn't last. Quint wakes up from the party to find everyone's been drugged and Bianca has been kidnapped by monsters! A maid was able to hide the babies, thankfully.

Quint gets a taste of exactly why the populace was so excited to meet him when he finds out how totally useless ol' Uncle Oji is in a crisis.

Ojiron: My goodness! Who could be responsible for such a thing?

Quint: OK, look, it's pretty obvious now, but I'm not blaming you, anybody could be blinded by their close relationship with someone. What matters now is....

Ojiron: And where on Earth is the Chancellor? Darn the luck, and just when I needed him the most!

Quint: ...See, now you're just insulting everybody's intelligence. We all know it was the--

Ojiron: Chancellor? Chaaaaancellor! Will someone go and fetch him?

Quint: He's evil! He's in league with the monsters! Just come out and say it, you daft old--

Ojiron: Fool? Yes, you there, Kevin, my favorite royal fool. Have you seen the Chancellor? You see, I never make any plans without him.

Quint: ARGH I HATE YOU

*So Quint has to go save Bianca. A pair of flying shoes (maybe the same ones used by Ragnar?) found in the chancellor's room take him near to a tower full of traps and monsters, where he finds Bianca held captive. The boss is invincible until Bianca does a scripted event, and fairly tough afterward. Tragically, just as victory is at hand, the monster is able to use his final effort to turn Quint and Bianca to stone.

Highlights from the Imperial Scrolls of Honor:
*Quint: I'm getting sick of all these mimics. Look at these treasure chests here - I'm just sure one of them is another one of those awful things.

Bianca: Let's see... Oi! Which one of you is a mimic?

*pause*

Chest on left: Not me!

Quint & Bianca: ......

Chest: (Phew, I think they bought it.)

*Ojiron: Well, with the Chancellor gone, I guess I'll have to actually... *shudder*... DO something. You guards there!

Guards: Yes, sir?

Ojiron: Go look around or something!

Guards: Yes, sir!

Ojiron: Well, I'm exhausted.

Quint: ...Hate you with all of my hate.

*Quint finds the Chancellor rapidly expiring in the monsters' tower.

Chancellor: Hmm. It seems... urgh... throwing in with the monsters wasn't a good idea after all...

Quint: No kidding, you dumb ****. What did you expect to happen?

Chancellor: Figured it... couldn't be worse than working for Ojiron... uhhhhh.

Quint: Luckily for him, Hell probably won't be either.

Just as Quint finds a life he never dared dream of, it is snatched away. And some things, he learns, are worse than death. Unable to move, Quint is helpless to do anything but watch as he is taken away from the castle, sold at auction as a statue, and separated from his wife. The world's situation becomes ever more dire, and as the desperation builds in Quint, he cannot even scream...

...Eight years pass.

Generation Three: Hell to Pay

I can't say enough about the sequence where the hero is turned to stone. The player loses control for a solid nine minutes. I'm not a fan of games that are more movie than game (MGS4) but this is the opposite of that. No, this is a case of masters of the medium knowing how to tell a story in a way that couldn't be done in a movie. You, the player, feel the helplessness of the hero as your ability to influence events is taken from you. Sold to a new family (2000 gold? Quint isn't worth more than a friggin' broad sword?), you watch as a baby takes its first steps, knowing you'll never see the same from your own children - a stolen precious gift that can never be returned. And when that child becomes the latest to be kidnapped by monsters, you are helpless to do anything about that either. Eight years pass. EIGHT YEARS PASS. You feel it.

Finally, Sancho and the kids come to the rescue. I'm sorry I haven't mentioned Sancho before - he's a friend of Papas who appears briefly early in generation one and again late in generation two. Here, he becomes a playable party member. He's a gregarious fat man who cries at the drop of a hat. Seriously, it's embarrassing.

The kids are cute, blond haired and bright eyed (Their hair becomes blue if you marry Flora). The Prince just happens to be the Legendary Hero (also true if you pick Flora, meaning they're both Ivy's descendants - in the DS version, it's clarified that they're both adopted and actually sisters), capable of equipping the Zenithian equipment. The princess is a magician who takes her mother's place in the party, although to be honest we stuck with Slalin the slime just so we could say we had played through this game with a slime in the active party. It's rough because slimes don't get much equipment in this version (which was alleviated somewhat in the DS remake).

Speaking of which, here's a little tribute to our party monsters:

*Pierre the Slime Knight - Everybody plays through this game with one of these, and it's a good idea. Easy to get, fantastic equipment selection and good spells. We've both been there many times by now, so Pierre has been relegated to a healing battery. He's been extremely useful in that capacity, however!

*Yeta the Yeti - Second runner up for the World's Most Creatively Named monster pageant. Lost to...

*Orcus the Orc King - Our revival battery for emergencies. Comes with Vivify and learns Revive! Not a bad idea for something so easy to recruit.

*Golemath the Golem - he may be Golemath, but he drops Golem Science on his opponents. Namely, the advanced physics of the beat down. Ok stop hitting me ow ow ow.

Progress:
*First stop was back to Telepador, whose name in the DS remake, Helmunaptra, I like a lot more. (Comin' atcha!) There we picked up the Zenithian Helm, and yes, it really is that simple. So right out of the gate, Pent has the Sword, the Shield, and the Helm. If only Ivy had had it so easy.

*Took a trip on a boat through a massive cave to reach El Heven. There, we learned about Quint's mother Martha - she was one of this special race of people who guard the barriers between Heaven, Earth and Hell. They're still sore about one of theirs, the last to have the special power that can open the barriers, leave with an outsider. Hey, Martha wasn't dumb - you don't just say no thanks to a man like Papas. They didn't hold a grudge, though, and we got the Magic Carpet (whee!) and the Magic Key.

*Scaled what was once (in IV) the Tower to Zenithia; it's now a tower to nowhere because Zenithia has fallen into a lake! Got the Magma Staff.

*Used the staff to split mountains (that's four times now) to gain access to a cave full of mine cart puzzles. There we rescued an odd man called Pusan, who told us he was a Zenithian and that he'd been stuck riding a mine cart loop for twenty years. He took us to the underwater Zenithia, which can't fly anymore because it's missing a Golden Orb. Yes, the same one that Gema broke. Damn!

*Went back to fairy land to seek help. After getting referred to a different fairy Queen, we got a fake Golden Orb and a chance to travel back in time...

*Back in Generation 1 Santa Rosa, we couldn't change history. Papas was dismissive of our warnings. But we did talk to little Quint and pull the old look-over-there on the gullible litte tyke to swap the fake orb for the real one. Whew!

*Raised Zenithia and got access to our very own flying goddamn castle, which we can fly wherever we want. Hell yes!

*Next up is an interesting dungeon - a tower where you start at the top and work your way down. This dungeon is really ludicrously hard, with tough, tough enemies and things that cast Defeat. Eventually we found Gema, who might be the toughest boss in the whole game. I swear we were wailing on him for over half an hour, using all our resources, before he finally went down. The nastiest part was his move that can numb party members, a very difficult to heal status affect that takes them out of the fight. After putting some jewel eyes in a giant dragon statue, recovered the Dragon Staff (A great weapon for Quint) and the Dragon Orb.

*Back in Zenithia, the Zenithians insist they've never seen this Pusan guy before. But when we give him the dragon orb, he turns out to be none other than the Zenithian Dragon! Yes, the same Zenithian Dragon who barely helped Ivy at all. Now we can fly around on him, too. This game is just full of great transportaion methods.

*At this point we fought a boss you can fight a lot earlier, Bjorn the giant moose-thing. He's pretty damn tough, liking to use lightning attacks that aren't affected by Barrier/Insulate. The fight comes down to continually debuffing his defense as he constantly raises it. I recommend waiting until here, when you need the Final Key he drops.

*We took on a punishing optional dungeon centered around the idea of pushing stones over tiles to banish monsters from the area. At the bottom is the Royal Cloak (Pallium Regale in the DS version), an awesome armor for Quint.
*Finally, it's time to take down the Temple of Light that Quint was forced to build as a slave. There we find the Zenithian Armor (set complete!), Bianca's statue, and a big underground complex. After beating up the Demon Lord Mildrath's top henchman (He looks like a crocodile), we hear Martha's voice telling us not to come to the Underworld to save her - Screw that noise.

When we get back up top, Bianca is returned to normal! Horray, the family's together at last! According to a bit of dialogue in the DS version, Quint and the kids' search for Mum takes two years, bringing the total span of time in this game up to at least twenty.

*Anyway, we went straight to hell (where Martha's voice gives Quint the very useful Sage's Stone - merry Hauskness!). Currently, we await the final charge in the game's last town - yes, there's a town in Hell, which is a cool touch. It's occupied mostly by former monsters reformed and made human by Martha. How about some levels - Quint 37, Pent 35, Slalin 38.

Highlights from the Imperial Scrolls of Honor:
*Granvania Banker: Welcome back, your highness! This is a bank.

Quint: Uh... really? To me, it looks like a mattress.

Banker: Things have been bad with Ojiron in charge. The Chancellor was evil and everything, but the bastard knew how to balance a budget.

*Quint: Uncle Oji, we're home!

Ojiron: Oh, wonderful! I say, have you happened to see the Chancellor in your travels? I still can't find him!

Quint: You know, I honestly can't keep hating you. It's like hating a clueless puppy.

*OK, there's a monster in the mine cart cave... it's pink, it has grey hair and it is called "Great Mamoo." We had entirely too much fun with this.

Quint: Okay kids, time to go see your Great Mamoo!

Kids: ;_;

GM: Time to give your Great Mamoo a sponge bath!

Pent: uh... okay... AUUUUGH your hideous skin is coming off in scales!

GM: That means it's working! hoo hoo!

Many years later, when asked what the toughest part had been of being the Legendary Hero, he would simply shudder, mutter "great Mamoo", and reflexively curl up into a ball and suck his thumb while rocking back and forth.

*In the complex under the temple, we found the remains of the soldier who let Quint, Harry and Maria escape. On the wall, he had written that he just hopes Maria is happy. I... don't really have anything to say. Wow.

*In the DS version, the underworld is called Nadiria, a rather clever pun on "Zenithia" (a zenith is something's highest point, a nadir its lowest).



Week Fifteen

Five down, four to go. Over halfway there? Only in numerical terms. Trust me, we're in for a looooong haul yet.

Progress:
*Headed to Evil Mountain, home of the Demon Lord Mildrath. This dungeon is pretty cool; it's both a mountain and a castle.

*Briefly saw Quint's Mom Martha - tragically, she sacrifices herself in an attempt to seal away Mildrath, but fails - his power is too great. Her spirit rises and is joined by that of Papas. "You've done enough," he says, "Our children have become stronger than we ever were. Come to me, my love..." *sniff* Boy is Mildrath gonna get it.

*And so he did. We took the fight to him and although his wrath wasn't as mild as advertised, we gutted out a hard-fought win. And yes, we beat Dragon Quest V with a slime. Slime power! Quint was level 40 in the win.

*In the ending, the Zenithian Dragon takes you around the world to receive your well-earned adulation, culminating in a big party at Granvania. The last thing we hear are the voices of Papas and Martha, admiring Quint's happiness from above. And scene.

Highlights from the Imperial Scrolls of Honor:
*Dragons are known for being really awesome, but Hell's Great Dragon has an ugly yellow with black spots sprite that... doesn't exactly say majestic, to be honest. It's fugly.

Great Dragon: Hey, it's a skin condition! Do you have any idea how hard it is to moisturize down here?
*In Mildrath's first form, he summons a never-ending supply of attack bots for help. You'd think he'd run out...

Mildrath: I bought up the Nadiria Wal-Mart's entire supply of D Batteries, foolish Legendary Hero and his brood! Mwa ha ha!

Pent: You fiend!
*Mildrath actually has a pretty badass villain line to throw at you:

"Cry if you wish. Scream if you must. Your fears and cowardice are like prayer to me!"

...but all respect goes out the window when you actually *see* his terrifying final form. Just LOOK at it:


HURR HURR HURR

Good lord is he fat. He makes I's Dragonlord look like a supermodel. Watching his transformation is pretty awful - he has to pass that spiky-ass tail and it doesn't look pleasant. He's so fat, even his wings have rolls. This guy is so pudgy that he ain't raising those arms to look menacing - that's all the lower he can get them through the enormous cushion of flab. He's so heavy his gut just gave up trying to even be a gut and went ahead and was a crotch too. His ass is so titanic that if he could somehow manage to get airborne, he'd end the whole fight in one plop. In Nadiria, Yo Mama so Fat jokes all begin with "Yo Momma so fat that she and Mildrath..." and all end with an apology. That's no moon, that's Mildrath!

And talk about impractical. How the hell is he supposed to wear a hat? His body odor is probably so foul it qualifies as an attack, and having four armpits that close to his face can't help. That color scheme is really nice - for one of your grandma's cushions. And he needs braces worse than Lisa.
*Princess Prinny spent a lot of time in our wagon due to the three-party-member limit and our Slime Gambit. In that time, she got to know all our monsters very well and became inspired. After the world was saved, Prinny started the Adopt-a-monster foundation, to show the world that monsters are people too.

Her first objective was to find a home for Danny the cactus ball - all he needs, she asserted, is a hug.

Her second goal was to steadfastly ignore the entreaties of Great Mamoo to join her program.

"Everyone should have a Great Mamoo. Hoo hoo hoo!"

"Um... not even a little. No thanks."

Quint's happiness was tinged by a sliver of doubt. He'd spent his whole life running - it was all he'd ever known. How would he adjust to the matters of day-to-day life, let alone being a King?

But then he looked at his loving wife, and saw his children laughing and playing with their Uncle Sancho...

...No, this was a challenge he looked forward to. Life was an adventure, after all.

***

But something was left unfinished...

...Young Pent couldn't shake the nagging feeling that something was. Defeating the Demon Lord Mildrath didn't destroy the root of evil. After all, he wasn't the first Legendary Hero, yet evil had returned. Besides, he'd felt something even more powerful in the Underworld.

Something deeper...

Despite our adventure with the III remake's bonus dungeon (which was made up of parts of the main game), V is the first installment to have postgame content in its initial release. Beneath Evil Mountain, after defeating Mildrath there is a completely new dungeon, containing the totally sweet War Drum (casts Bikill, doubling attack power, on the whole party) and at the bottom waits Esturk.

Yeah, the same Esturk from IV. When you approach him, he wakes up saying he remembers nothing, and asks if you've come to destroy him. If you say no, he just goes back to sleep. Beating him earns you no extra ending, no bonus content, no special item. He grants no wishes like the Dragon God. He just sits there being ridiculously powerful and daring you to put him down.

Our first attempt, we were annihlated. Esturk is fierce with two attacks per turn, frequent use of a move that dispells your buffs, and attacks that hit the whole party for over a hundred damage. To take him on, we ground up ten more levels, reaching 50 for Quint, and replaced Slalin (he did his job) with Orcus the Orc King, who in the course of our grinding hit his max level, and had a lot going for him including 500 hit points and plenty of MP to cast Revive. The battle was a drawn-out affair that consisted mostly of healing and putting our buffs back up, but eventually we worked Esturk's 9000 (what? 9000?) hit points down.

V also starts the tradition of the bonus boss telling you how many turns it took to beat him. It took us 41, which isn't good, but it's good enough.
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