1 Store149 Reviews
Pros: Turn-based battles, 3D cartoon graphics, orchestrated music
Cons: Menu interface problems, confusing names for spells/monsters
Dragon Quest was one of the first console RPGs. I got this game because I am a loyal fan of the Dragon Warrior series. Due to trademark restrictions, this series has been known as Dragon Warrior in the past, but Square Enix acquired the trademark during recent years. This game series uses menus to manipulate battles, and the hero earns experience points to level up, gaining higher stats, and he (or she) earns gold to purchase better weapons & armor. Battles are turn-based and allow the player to take time when deciding commands, which makes the game easy for people lacking hand-eye coordination. Throughout the series, the core game play has never changed, which is a good thing. Whatever changes that did occur were typically subtle.
The latest incarnation, Dragon Quest, adds a major visual and audio facelift. Gone are the 2D field maps. Everything is fully 3D, and the player can look up, down, and all around. Dragon Ball Z creator, Akira Toriyama, has already created the characters for Dragon Quest, but cell-shading helps his art stand out better. In addition, the North American release includes orchestrated music and voice acting. These changes set Dragon Quest VIII apart for including major changes in making the game feel more modern and up to todays technological standards.
With the changes were some that could use more perfecting. The localization team changed the names of some monsters, items, and spells. This is inconvenient to loyal fans that are more familiar with the past names. In addition, the team added full color menus for checking stats, items, spells, and purchasing supplies from stores. These menus are less than perfect, having tiny text that is hard to read, and unnecessary images, such as the item bag on every submenu. When pressing the menu button, there is an unpleasant delay before the menu screen opens. In addition, some bugs emerge when using the menu while playing the game. When riding on the saber cat, if a player switches the lead character, once the menu closes, the lead character will be riding on an invisible saber cat. Better programming could fix such problems, and it would be nice to see these things fixed in future Dragon Quest games.
One game play feature that adds replay value is the skills system for leveling up characters. Each character has different attributes or weapons with which to distribute skill points. As a character adds skill points to an attribute or weapon, he or she can use different techniques in battle or have better stats. With a limit of 250 - 350 skill points, each character can master two skills in one game file, with it being up to luck to master other skills. One drawback to this is that such abilities tend to be limited to whichever weapon the character currently has equipped. It seems best to focus on one or two of the available attributes & weapons. In other plays through the game, the player could focus on different weapons for the characters to master. This adds replay value.
Choosing the right weapons/attributes to master is very important for late in the game. After completing Dragon Quest VIII, a bonus dungeon opens up, and the save continues at the last file before battling the final boss in the game. The monsters in the bonus dungeon are harder than anything ever encountered in the game, and it includes the toughest bosses of the whole game. After completing the bonus dungeon, the player is rewarded with a different ending upon finishing the game. The bonus dungeon is so hard that I decided to play the game over from the beginning, this time distributing my skills points differently.
I consider Dragon Quest VIII one of the better Dragon Quest games in the series, but not the best. It does have its flaws, but the changes to the graphics and sound set it apart from the rest as a stepping stone for setting it to todays standards.