With sales approaching 1.3 million units, this handheld remake of Dragon Quest V was the third best-selling Nintendo DS title in Japan last year, and the seventh highest-selling videogame on any system in the country. For the Japanese, this game represents one of the most significant remakes in recent years, so great is the sense of nostalgia and reverence the nation holds for its most-beloved RPG series.
But outside of its native home, Dragon Quest V doesn't have the same cultural cachet. No national holidays have been proclaimed in its name and its release this week will be met without much fanfare or expectation. It's not surprising. Neither the Super Famicom original nor the PlayStation 2 update of this game have been seen outside of Japan, so there isn't any latent sentimentality for Square Enix to bank or draw on.
But to ignore Dragon Quest V is to overlook a significant link in the medium's chain of development: a title whose monster-hunting core directly begat Pokémon, and whose fairytale story is one of the RPG genre's most compelling, even if it is also one of its most straightforward. The game tells the vivid tale of a man's progression through life from the moment of his mysterious birth, through boyhood and adolescence, right up to the point at which he chooses a bride and starts his own family.