I was out of town visiting friends and family for about half of the holidays and spent the other half absorbed in Dragon Quest VIII, which is a highly addictive game that has been lots of fun. I’m not that far along, but I’ll give you some initial impressions after about 20 hours of game play.
The first thing you notice about Dragon Quest is that it looks like Dragon Ball, as you might expect since the character designs were done by Akira Toriyama. Your main character, known as the Hero, who you do get to name looks a lot like teenage Gohan with his red turban and yellow cloak. There’s even a battle option to ‘psyche up’ the characters (ie ‘increase their tension’ so they hit harder). At 100% (psyching up about 5 times), the character starts glowing as if he’s gone Super Saiyan. Another main character, Angelo, looks like a teenage Trunks.
And then they start talking… Everyone in this world has a British accent, which is fascinating. There are even two boys named Bangerz and Mash – very odd.
When you start out, you’re the Hero traveling with this short green toad character named King Trode, who used to be a mighty King until a major baddie named Dhoulmagus came along. He and his daughter, Media, were on the wrong end of some powerful magic, so now she’s the horse pulling your wagon. King Trode is livid at his transformed appearance and wants to seek out Dhoulmagus at all cost so he can regain his human form. You, the Hero, are his faithful servant who protects him and scouts the towns for information.
You pick up some interesting characters along the way, starting with a fat bandit named Yangus, a magician chic who wants to avenge her brother’s death named Jessica, and a gambling monk named Angelo.
The graphics are adorable. This isn’t one of those realistic Final Fantasy games that looks good for the sake of being cutting edge. Here, everyone looks like a 3D anime character while the monsters are (mostly) just cute.
Game play has its strengths and weaknesses. It’s simplistic, for one, which is nice because there are lots of random battles and at points, it seems like the encounter rate is every 5 steps or so. You have the option of controlling all characters manually or putting your other 3 in automatic mode so you don’t have to worry about them. And you have the classic options – attack, use magic, use an item, etc.
The world itself is massive, so if you don’t want to go to the next town just yet, you can explore the country side, which will take you awhile to run around and cover everything on the map. There are usually treasure chests placed strategically in the far corners of the world where no towns are located, and generally, they’ll give you some kind of seed – a permanent up to your hp, mp, agility, etc. You can use the seed to improve your stats or make more powerful weapons with your alchemy pot – a pot you carry around that lets you combine 2 (and later 3) items to make rarer stuff.
You can also explore the towns where you can break barrels, pillage bags hanging on walls and cupboards, read books on bookshelves, steal milk from cows so you can make cheese to summon your pet mouse in battle, and climb down wells to find treasure or even, perhaps, a well monster.
For much of the world, you travel on foot, which is ok because you have the magical ability to ‘zoom’ back to any town you’ve already been to in seconds. Hero and Angelo have it as a spell, but if they die, you can also use a Chimera Wing. It’s all very nice – no more hunting for that random save point or wondering what to do now that someone accidentally died. You just zoom back to any previous town with a Church, and everything’s peachy again.
Overall, this game has been a lot of fun so far and I highly recommend it to any RPG fan out there. It definitely gives Star Ocean 3 a run for its money. If you’ve ever played any of the Dragon Warrior games and you loved them, pick this game up now – what are you waiting for?
Category: Game Reviews