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Dragon Questing V Part I [GO]
June 30th, 2009 by Dan

Like I said I might do before, here’s a rundown of a game I’m playing to try and encourage me to make significant progress. Unfortunately, even if there were commercial DS capture devices available, I don’t really have the cash to spare for them anyway, so we’ll start our look in with words and I might snap some ugly iPhone shots if I really want to hurt your eyes. As a final warning, I’m going to be getting into plot points. Leave if you don’t want to read SPOILERS

This game hammers home the theme of family pretty heavily and it makes me wonder what might have been going on in Yuji Horii’s life to inspire him to create this deeply touching game. DQV opens with a fairly standard black background name entry screen as you choose the name of your hero. The next scene is of a throne room. There’s only one conclusion you can draw at this point, the guy pacing in front of the throne is the king. He seems stressed and he’s pacing. His name is Pankraz. Sancho shows up and summons Pankraz down to see his wife, Madalena. Her son lies on the bed beside her and they deliberate over a name. Pankraz thinks Madason would be a brilliant name for the boy, because he’s not very creative and thinks that since he’s Madalena’s son, he should apparently be saddled with what sounds like a woman’s name. Madalena thinks that perhaps he should be named Dan. Pankraz reluctantly agrees and holds Dan up, Lion King-style, to proclaim that his son will henceforth be known as Dan. Crisis: Madalena begins to cough; something is wrong with her. The screen irises on Pankraz and the new baby boy. Dan begins to cry.

Cue heroic music and iconic Dragon Quest logo over a castle in the sky.

If you’re only just now getting to DQV, as I am, this opening is awfully remniscent of Fallout 3. Consider the identical elements: you are born in the opening scene, there is a name decision to be made, and some sort of tragic accident seems to befall your mother. I think there’s a pretty strong reason for both of these games to begin almost identically and it stems from simple human behavior. There are fairly established notions of the kind of relationship that a single parent, especially a single father has with his offspring. It’s either the whole abusive, resentful, alcoholic view, which would be useless in this case, or the close, caring setup that we get in both of these games. What it says to the player is: these men are your only strength left in this world. You’d better try to do right by them. In Fallout 3, your motivations are driven by your need to find your father and, once you do and he is killed, to continue his life’s work to restore water to the Capital Wastelands.

DQV does things a little differently. Immediately following the title splash, you see yourself in what looks like a bed in a ship. You can tell that it is you in the bed, because the man in the wild purple robes is the very same one portrayed on the Toriyama-drawn boxart. You tell your father that you dreamed he was a king and he laughs it off. As you walk around the ship, you learn a two things:

1. Your dad, Pankraz, is the man
2. You guys travel. A lot.

The ship lands in Littlehaven and you’re told to go play. At this point, you’re level 1 and you’re just supposed to go wander around and hit up the world map. Here’s where I’ll leave my observations for today and we’ll talk some more about stuff next time.

(NOTE: I’d be remiss in not mentioning that this feature was at least partially inspired by the ABDN DQV review by Tim Rogers)


5 Responses  
  • Eric Mesa writes:
    June 30th, 200912:10at

    This theme is not just limited to Fallout and DQV. Think throughout history of all the stories that started with a mother dying in childbirth. Right now I can’t think of any because that’s how the human mind works. Except, of course, the horrible example of Jersey Girl.

    • Dan writes:
      June 30th, 200912:15at

      I don’t think it’s new at all, I mean, every story has been told at least once before, right? I’m just putting this into the context of recent games and one example. In fact, I tried to convey that they were pulling some pretty standard strings with this opening to hammer home very specific themes and archetypes.

      • Eric Mesa writes:
        June 30th, 200912:17at

        Sorry it came out that way. I meant more in the sense of – this is a really classic story being told here. It will become especially clear once your posts catch up to Sunday’s game. I also think it strengthens the video games as art argument.

        • Dan writes:
          June 30th, 200915:12at

          I hope that I didn’t spoil the feature too much by telling you and Dave about all the things going on with the narrative so far. It’ll take me a while to get to Sunday, but it should still be interesting.

  • It’s A Binary World 2.0 » Final Fantasy 9: The Legacy Continues writes:
    August 3rd, 20090:02at

    […] to give the rest of my Final Fantasy games a shot.  I’ve also been energized jRPG-wise by Dan’s Dragon Quest series of blog posts.  So I’m going to skip Final Fantasy 8 and go to Final Fantasy IX.  I’m […]


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