[DQ8 LOGO]



[THE HEROES...UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL!]
Console: PS2 

Company: Square-Enix  

Release Date: 11/05

Genre: RPG 

Number of Players: 1  

Save Feature? Yes!!  



It is now official: The Dragon Quest series is back!! Amazing, engrossing, and extremely fun, Dragon Quest VIII has single-handedly revived the once proud franchise. The graphics are light-years beyond anything found in previous installments, the symphonic soundtrack envokes feelings of grandeur and adventure, and the gameplay is simple yet incredibly addictive.

Overview: As you can see from my intro excerpt, I felt that Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King was a tremendous improvement over its immediate predecessor, Dragon Warrior VII. As a matter of fact, I would probably have to give Dragon Quest VIII the "most improved sequel" award because it just seems to improve on DW7 in every which way. That's not to say that DW7 is a terrible game because if you've read my review carefully, you'd see that that's not the case at all. It's all about improvement and, quite frankly, the Dragon Warrior/Quest series was in desperate need of a swift kick in the butt if it was so survive in an era filled to the brim with outstanding RPGs.

I've got to say that when I first heard of a Dragon Quest game being released for the Playstation 2 console, I had mixed feelings. Inside, I really hoped that Square-Enix could somehow find a way to rekindle the magic that had made the third and fourth Dragon Warrior games so special. Those incredible epics were released way back in 1991 and 1992 respectively yet they still have a large fan base today (just check out gamefaqs.com if you doubt me). The vast majority of Dragon Warrior/Quest fans still believe that the fourth game was the pinnacle of the series and, with the fifth and sixth games never reaching American shores and the one that actually made the cut being rather average (Dragon Warrior 7), it's awfully hard to disagree. While I continued to hope that Dragon Quest VIII would revive the series, I certainly wasn't going to hold my breath.

However, everything began to change once I got my hands on the DQ8 demo. After playing the demo for 30 minutes or so, I began thinking to myself that, "Hey, this game really has some potential!" For one thing, the graphics were in a totally different league than those found in the previous seven games. Everything just looked really sharp and vibrant...especially for a Dragon Quest game! The music really captured me as well. You could tell that Koichi Sugiyama (who had composed the DQ1-7 soundtracks and was already one of my favorite video game composers) was finally in his natural element. Always a fan of symphony, Sugiyama had the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra at his services during this go-round and it shows in quite possibly his greatest performance yet.

Another aspect that stood out was the all-important gameplay. I could tell right away that DQ8 was going to be a very fun gameplay experience through and through. It just didn't feel as bland or cumbersome as Dragon Warrior VII which felt too drawn out at times. It appeared that things were going to be very different with this game.

[EXPLORING A MYSTERIOUS CAVE]


Finally, after receiving my special pre-ordered copy of Dragon Quest VIII from EBGames (a great place to buy anything video game related btw) and putting in a massive 215 hours of gameplay, I can say that my initial impressions were right on target. In terms of visual/sound effects, gameplay, and replay value, Dragon Quest VIII should satisfy even the stingiest of critics. Don't buy this game for the Final Fantasy XII demo (The demo alone caused a great number of gamers to buy DQ8 I'm sure.) Buy it for one of the greatest RPGs to ever grace a television screen!!

So what exactly makes the eighth Dragon Quest epic heads and tails better than the seventh edition you ask? There are many aspects of the game to consider but the word that stands out to me the most would have to be "heart." It is so easy to tell from each of the game's key areas that a lot of time and effort went into creating this game. The attention to detail in every aspect (not just graphics mind you) just floored me. All of those seemingly minor details and little intricacies go a long way when all of them merge together in beautiful harmony. I can only say so much in a review of DQ8; you really need to play the game to gain a full appreciation of all of the work that went into this wonderful adventure.

Of course, gameplay and feel/atmosphere are two of the "key areas" and, overall, Dragon Quest VIII probably reminds me most of the fourth Dragon Warrior game (Note: I will refer to the previous seven games of the series as "Dragon Warrior" instead of "Dragon Quest" since "Dragon Warrior" is their American name) I don't know; maybe it's the fact that there's no real class system and many of the items found in DW4 make token appearances in the eighth game. Or it could be cameo appearances by Ragnar and Taloon that sealed the deal in that area. Whatever the case, it might surprise you to learn that you can't change classes during the game like in DW3 and 7 (i.e. you're not going to become a Mage, a Warrior, or a Priest anytime soon). While this might turn some loyal fans off, the new system is actually quite enjoyable once you get used to it. Simply stated, whenever one of your characters level up, you will receive a certain amount of Ability Points and will have the option of allocating these points to five different areas of expertise. For example, the Hero is able to allocate his ability points to Swords, Spears, Boomerangs, Fisticuffs, or his special category: Courage. Once a pre-determined amount of ability points have been allocated to a particular area of expertise, you will move up a level in that area and learn something new! Special sword skills such as Falcon Slash (get in two hits instead of one) and Metal Slash (ability to damage metal enemies virtually every time) are learned this way. Many of the more helpful magic spells are discovered by allocating a plethora of points to a skill such as Angelo or Jessica's Staff skill. Other intangible bonuses such as attack power with an axe increasing by 10 points, maximum MP increasing by 50, or Jessica being able to charm a higher percentage of enemies are additional possibilites. This fun and unique system gives the game a certain element of strategy as you want to allocate each point wisely. Since many abilities only work if you have a weapon of that particular class equipped (it is so important to remember this when you are allocating points), it is certainly advisable to think ahead and to adjust your strategy as new weapons become available. For instance, if you just purchased a really powerful Bow weapon for Angelo and a devastating Whip for Jessica, wouldn't it be wise to allocate ability points to Angelo's Bow skill and Jessica's Whip skill respectively?

[A BITTERSWEET REUNION FOR JESSICA]

Other aspects of Dragon Quest VIII that originated with Dragon Warrior IV include the fun as heck Casinos, the quest to find mini-metals (first dubbed "small metals" in DW4), and, as I just mentioned, cameo appearances by Ragnar and Taloon in the Monster Arena!! Seeing these two DW4 legends in sparkling PS2 form was quite the surprise! And, speaking of the Monster Arena, long-time fans of Dragon Warrior 3 might shed a tear when they see Morrie's majestic monstrosity of a monster arena in full menacing glory (the arena originated in the third DW game).

The similarities with previous Dragon Quest games doesn't end there. The Day-Night feature that began with Dragon Warrior 3 is back and in grand fashion! As you move throughout the world and battle enemies, you'll notice time gradual passing. The sun moves slowly through the sky and, before you know it, twilight and evening will be upon you. The element of time passing and experiencing day and night like this really brings the world of DQ8 to life. The atmosphere naturally changes as well. A hustling and bustling town might be pretty quiet once the moon rises.

A vast majority of the enemies you encounter in Dragon Quest VIII will probably look familiar as well; especially to gamers who have experienced four or more of the previous seven games in the series. Just based on a rough estimate, I would say that probably 80 percent of the enemies you face were pulled from other Dragon Warrior games. Slimes, Babbles (now nicknamed "Liquid Slimes"), Golems, and Trolls (why do I feel like saying "Oh my!" at the end of this list?) are all back in action. And most of the weapons/armors/items contain classic names such as "Meteorite Bracer" (one of the best items in DW3), "Metal Babble Sword," and the "Magic Bikini" (serious "ooh-la-la!!" factor here).

What amazes me is that, even though DQ8 has so much in common with previous games in the series, it still somehow manages to be its own game. It's almost as if Level 5 played the first seven games, took out bits and pieces of each one that they liked (with most of them coming from the uber-awesome fourth game), added them to DQ8, and included just enough new goodies to keep everyone happy. Although there have certainly been sequels that borrowed plenty of features from past installments (Mega Man anyone?), never before have I seen a game pay so much tribute to its past than Dragon Quest VIII. Is this a bad thing? Probably not although a little more originality would have certainly been welcome.

Thankfully, there is one new feature in particular that is worth mentioning. It is none other than the incredibly enjoyable alchemy pot!! This amazing device becomes available fairly early in the game and it allows you to essentially create new items by combining two or more products together in a magical pot! By combining say two medicinal herbs, a stronger, more potent strong medicine will result! The same goes for weapons, armors, accessories, and even special items that are used exclusively for alchemy! By piecing together clever combinations, you can create some truly awesome items! As a matter of fact, some of the best items in the game can only be discovered through alchemy! Good luck finding a Dragovian King Sword or Princess Robe in any shop! One of the cool things about the alchemy pot is simply the mystery involved. Few things in life are more enjoyable than mixing together a mysterious combination and seeing it successfully cook in the pot! Just waiting for the end result can be so tantalizing! And that's really the only catch with the alchemy pot. You can place approximately 75-80% of the items in the game into the alchemy pot but, for each item you make, you have to walk a certain distance before the final result can be attained. Naturally, the more valuable items take longer to cook so there is some strategy involved. Making a tasty treat right before you enter a dungeon or tower is a great idea because, in all likelihood, the item will be "cooked" by the time you leave the area (It is important to note that you cannot check the alchemy pot or put new ingredients into the pot while away from the wagon). Not to state the obvious, but, as you can see, I have a real fetish for the alchemy pot in DQ8. Making recipes and hearing that magical "DING!" once the item is ready (no, not the Southwest Airlines "DING!")...sigh...it's just...so beautiful...

[A NEW DAY BEGINS!]


Graphics: Right after I heard the news of a Dragon Quest game being made for the powerful PS2, the first thing that came to my mind was the sudden potential for incredible visual effects. After all, it seems like the Dragon Quest series, great as the games have been in other areas, has always lagged behind in the visual department. This was especially the case with Dragon Warrior VII. For the longest time, I could only imagine what a Dragon Quest game would be like with graphics that rivaled, say, Final Fantasy X.

Well, I can gladly say that all of the waiting and wondering and wishing has finally come to a merciful end because the graphics in DQ8 are simply not to be believed by long-time fans of the series! Seriously, the overhaul is so complete; the enormous world of DQ8 is so lifelike that you'd think that DQ8 was part of some new series! Of course, the classic battle system and countless hoards of familiar foes would refresh your memory but I digress.

As you can see from the many screenshots in this review, the graphics in DQ8 are sensational and yet they are definitely a different style than those found in Final Fantasy X. The main difference lies in the character graphics found throughout the game. While the environment with its lush forests, snow-capped mountains, and serene oceans looks realistic enough, the character graphics are more on the cartoonish side. Not cartoonish like Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck; cartoonish like the characters in another PS2 game: Dark Cloud 2. It's almost as if the character graphics fit into some mysterious area between a heavy emphasis on realism (ala FFX) and pure cartoon figures (the aforementioned Mickey Mouse). It might sound a bit strange in writing but Level 5 did an incredible job in this area. All of the characters talk and move so much better than they did in past DQ games (in which many of them didn't move at all!) and the same goes for the hundreds of enemies found in the game.

[YANGUS ATTACKS!]

Which brings us to the battle graphics. I am proud to say that, for the very first time in the history of this illustrious series, you can finally see your characters interact with enemies in battle. Although it might not sound like much to series newcomers, it is truly revolutionary for veterans who grew up with the initial Dragon Warrior adventure. The black screen finally remains in the past where it belongs.

In addition, characters and enemies finally move and experience silky smooth animation! Speaking of which, the character/enemy animation is simply outstanding in DQ8. Enemies have so much personality now and truly come to life on the screen. It's just so cool seeing the exact same enemies that I fought way back in the first Dragon Warrior game come to life all these years later! And, for the first time in Dragon Quest history, we can finally see how squishy slimes truly are! Of course, there are other...um..."things" that appear squishy but I won't go there. Seriously, this is the type of animation that I look for and expect to find in modern games and I was extremely pleased with DQ8 in this area. Considering where the series has been in the graphics department, I would say that DQ8 is an immense success. The bar continues to be raised by games like FFX and DQ8!

Music: When Koichi Sugiyama was announced as the composer of the Dragon Quest VIII soundtrack, I exhaled a deep sigh of relief. After playing through five of the previous seven Dragon Warrior games, I knew that Sugiyama was absolutely vital because of his strong ties to the series and his distinct style. A master of orchestration, there's just something special about Sugiyama's compositions. Along with Akira Toriyama (creator of the Dragon Ball series), Sugiyama truly has been the face of the Dragon Quest series since the beginning. Even back in the NES days when the sound capabilities were severely limited, Koichi Sugiyama was churning out beautiful melodies such as "My Road, My Journey" (the main overworld theme in the original Dragon Warrior) effortlessly.

Nearly twenty years later, Mr. Sugiyama continues to impress. The Dragon Quest VIII soundtrack is certainly one of the best in the series if not THE BEST. For the first time, we are finally able to see Koichi Sugiyama in his natural element and is it ever something to behold! Thanks to the incredible potential of the PS2, full-length symphonic soundtracks performed by real live symphonies are actually possible.

[KING TRODE AND MUNCHIE]

Right from the beginning, the music just sort of carries you away into the world of Dragon Quest. If I had to define the DQ8 soundtrack in one word, it would probably be "majestic." The various themes are just so full of grandeur and heroism and the fact that the Tokyo Symphony performed the entire soundtrack just blows me away! Although this style of music might not appear to be quite as memorable or catchy as the more typical style that places a heavy emphasis on quick tunes rich in melody, I absolutely loved it!

While I enjoyed virtually all of the music in Dragon Quest VIII, there are certainly a few pieces that stood out. First of all, I thoroughly enjoyed the initial upbeat, cheery theme that plays in Farebury. It was a great way to start the game. I really liked the soft, relaxing track that plays during evening as well. And this is something that really impressed me about the game's soundtrack. In the plethora of towns, villages, and castles found throughout Dragon Quest VIII, different music played depending on whether or not it was day or night! I thought that this was so revolutionary as it allowed Sugiyama to really hone in and create the perfect atmosphere not just for each area, but for each area depending on the time of day. While the daytime tracks were generally upbeat and giddy if you will, the nighttime tunes were more on the relaxing or mysterious side.

Back to particular tracks, the overworld theme, "Marching Through the Fields," is another great theme full of grandeur and adventure. Along with all of the background sounds such as water rushing, birds chirping, or movements of the horse carriage, this track really gets the juices flowing in anyone who loves adventure! Since you'll be hearing this track or the more upbeat version when you're riding a sabrecat a lot, it's a good thing that it's so enjoyable!

Although it's so hard to pick a favorite track, I absolutely loved "Mysterious Tower." This appropriately named track rich in melody and full of mystery was absolutely perfect for the Alexandria Tower along with a few other mysterious locales in the game. It created such a perfect atmosphere and was an immense improvement over the more annoying tower themes found in previous Dragon Warrior games (the only other one that was even tolerable was the tower theme in Dragon Warrior IV).

[AN OCEAN VOYAGE]

Other tracks that I enjoyed were the beautiful "Travelling with Wagon" theme which plays during a few key conversations and the peaceful ship theme, "Memories of an Ancient Ocean." "Majestic Castle" and "Peaceful Town" are very pleasant and fitting, "Healing Power of the Psalms" is a powerful religious theme, and "Heavenly Flight" is a beautiful remix of Ramia's theme from Dragon Warrior III!! The latter track was such a surprise and sounded great on the PS2!

As far as the battle/dungeon/cave themes go, everything is pretty much your standard fanfare. Nothing really stood out although the boss theme was above average and the final battle was upbeat and got the adrenaline flowing a little bit. I suppose that the main cave theme was pretty cool too (loved the background sounds of water dripping).

In addition to the amazing music, I was also very impressed with the voice acting in Dragon Quest VIII. This being the series' first attempt at voice acting, I felt that it was definitely above average. All of the voices seemed very clear and appropriate for each character which is vital; especially for the main characters. Yangus had a neat Australian-type accent, Jessica sounded to me like someone from, say, England or Ireland, and Angelo was, well, Angelo. Calm and cynical yet charming, how could anyone not like Angelo? King Trode, Princess Medea, Dhoulmagus, and a host of friends and foes alike were given voices with most of them being very impressive! Granted, a few voices seemed a little silly (some of those bosses you fight early on come to mind) but still, who would have ever thought that a Dragon Quest game would contain audible voices? I was very pleased to say the least.

I've hinted around at this but it's worth mentioning that the sound effects/background sounds were also exceptional. Level 5 really went the extra mile to make this game such a realistic experience. Not only do you hear sounds like water roaring, grass being stepped on (I don't know why I love that sound!), and birds chirping but many of the sounds grow more voluminous the closer you get! Walk up to a waterfall and you'll notice the water subtly growing louder and louder. Another impressive tidbit is that the background sounds vary depending on whether it's day or night! You'll hear crickets and other nighttime sounds when travelling by moonlight.

It goes without saying that the various bangs and clangs and sha-bangs during battle sound fantasic as well! Swords meeting shields, magic blowing away enemies, critical hits making mincemeat of unsuspecting foes; there's a different sound for everything! While the graphics might be the "most improved" aspect of Dragon Quest VIII, the music/sound effects are not far behind.

[KHALIMARI THE SQUIDSTER]


Play Control: Aside from the fact that the circle button is used to select functions with the triangle button cancelling them (usually, the opposite is true), the controls are pretty straightforward. You can move with the analog stick, talk/search cupboards and bookcases/lift and throw pots and barrels with the x button, and use the L1/R1 buttons to rotate the camera. In addition to having the ability to rotate the camera with ease, I also enjoyed being able to use the L2/R2 buttons to change to a first-person view. This feature was unique as it allowed you to view your surroundings without anything/anyone getting in the way and it came in handy for me literally hundreds of times as I was able to discover hidden treasure chests, special enemies, or even whole new areas that I may have missed otherwise. The various views really help you to make sense of the enormous 3-D world and they are very user-friendly to boot. Everything is just very fluid with very little learning curve involved...precisely what you would want in a role-playing game.

[YOU DON'T WANT TO SEE ME WHEN I GET MAD!!]


Challenge: Like the seven games before it, Dragon Quest VIII offers plenty of challenge for gamers of all skill levels. For some reason, I have always found the Dragon Quest series to be more difficult than Final Fantasy or any other RPG series and the eighth installment certainly didn't change my mind. That's not to say that Dragon Quest VIII is overbearing and mind-numbing to the point of frustration because it's not. The overall challenge level is definitely less than that found in the legendary Dragon Warrior II (the cave in Rhone still gives me shivers) and is probably slightly less than Dragon Warrior VII. Still, Dragon Quest VIII makes you work and keeps you sharp with several challenging battles (Dhoulmagus, those lethal monsters at the end of the Dinosaur Ruins) and some that even border on legendary (the Dragovian Trials...need I say more?)

Of course, there are plenty of "regular" enemies such as fire-breathing Hacksauruses and Fallen Priests with a fetish for casting "Kathwack" (same as the "Defeat" spell in earlier DW games) that can trip you up at any time. And there are also the special monsters to consider. Special monsters appear in random locations and are more difficult to defeat than your normal run-of-the-mill random encounters. However, the rewards are truly worth the extra challenge of defeating these murdurous monsters with malicious intentions! By defeating these foes, you'll receive rare coins that can be sold in any shop for plentiful amounts of gold. Not only that but once you've earned the trust of Morrie (owner of the Monster Arena), you can actually ask these monsters to join your special monster team once you've defeated them in battle!

[THESE DINOS MEAN BUSINESS! (BUT LUCKILY, SO DO YOU]


Like in any Dragon Quest game, preparation is paramount in DQ8. You always want to equip your characters with the best weapons, armor, and accessories for any given situation. Having a good mix of healing herbs, items that eliminate status problems, and cheeses (for the Hero's pet Munchie!) is definitely advisable. Since you can equip different weapons and armors in the midst of battle, having a few extra swords, bows, and/or accessories on hand isn't a bad idea either.

All in all, I felt that Dragon Quest VIII provided a nice blend of toughness and replay value in the challenge department. When your adrenaline is getting pumped and you feel that great sense of accomplishment after beating a tough boss or discovering a critical item deep in a mysterious dungeon, you know that something must have been done right! Replay value springs eternal in Dragon Quest VIII as well; far more than with any other game in the series.

Storyline: If Dragon Quest VIII has a weak link, it would have to be the game's main story. Although there are certain aspects that piqued my curiousity, there were also parts of the story which simply felt too cliche at times; like something I had seen a hundred times before. It was too predictable at times and if you've played Dragon Warrior VII (which also had a very cliche story), you'll know what I mean.

Basically, the game starts off with the Hero, Yangus (your sidekick), and the cursed King Trode and Princess Medea (transformed into a troll and mare respectively) searching for the mysterious jester, Dhoulmagus. As you discover by way of several flashbacks that occur early in the game, Dhoulmagus is the one who stole a mysterious specter from the castle vault and unleashed a horrible curse on your once beautiful home of Trodain Castle. Logically, the only way to lift the curse is to destroy the one who caused it, resulting in the hero and company embarking on a quest to find and ultimately defeat Dhoulmagus.

This is where things get a little muddy. For the longest time, you're chasing down Dhoulmagus without any real development in the story. Sidequests keep popping up and, although many of them are a lot of fun, you get the feeling that the main story is being neglected in the process. Whatever the case, there does come a point when you finally come face to face with your enemy. However, is he the final enemy you face...or merely the pawn of another? Without giving anything away, I'll just say that this is the point where things really begin to get interesting.

Although I have been a little harsh in this area, I really did enjoy certain aspects of the story. For one thing, I thought that each of the four main characters had a great background story and that the chemistry between them was really well-done. While the Hero is your typical silent protagonist, Yangus is a brawler who loves to get into it with just about anyone and yet remains extremely loyal to the Hero. Jessica is somewhat of a tomboy who wants to escape the proper household she has been brought up into (sounds a bit like Alena from DW4 actually). And then there's the poker-faced, jovial lover of all women, Angelo. Just seeing Jessica and Angelo get into it is hilarious! And the scene where Yangus gets into a scrum at the bar in Simpleton...the words "Kodak moment" come to mind.

In addition to plenty of humor, it was neat to see all four characters overcoming difficult pasts and heartache and making the incredible journey together. I really grew attached to my team and found myself really pulling for them in the end. Having King Trode along for the ride was a lot of fun too as he provided plenty of comic relief (at his own expense of course). Great games have a way of just sucking you into their world and Dragon Quest VIII was no exception.

The whole connection between the seven sages and the scepter was also an interesting aspect of the game's story. I enjoyed the plentiful amount of flashbacks as well (in black and white too...nice touch). Speaking of black and white, the journey to the Dark World (essentially a parallel world) in search of Empyrea was one of my favorite areas in terms of story. It was mysterious and just wild being in a black and white world that kept giving me flashbacks of the Dark World in Dragon Warrior III for some reason. I also got a kick out of the local villagers thinking that my party was funny-looking because of them being in color.

The main story may not be the most impressive one ever, but I felt that the character stories/flashbacks and plethora of subplots scattered through the game made up for this somewhat. And, for those of you who complete the journey and manage to beat Dragon Quest VIII, you have some really juicy tidbits to look forward to in the secret area that opens up. The Hero's background story might possibly be better than the main one! (and there's the secret ending to shoot for too!)

[THE HERO]


Funfactor: After playing Dragon Quest VIII to death and beyond, I can say with supreme confidence that it's one of the most enjoyable, immersing games that I have yet encountered. Unlike the 170 drawn-out, cumbersome hours that I put into Dragon Warrior VII, these were 215 glorious hours put into an outstanding game that I didn't want to see end.

Simply put, Dragon Quest VIII is like a well-oiled machine. The gameplay as a whole has not changed much since the inception of the series. However, with the eighth installment, the series finally has the graphics and music to complement the already enjoyable gameplay. Add a little fine-tuning, a few new goodies here and there, and you've got one heck of a game. For this reason, Dragon Quest VIII feels more complete than its predecessors.

At this point, it has to be inquired as to whether or not the eighth game is truly the best Dragon Quest game out there. At first glance, the answer would appear to be a resounding "YES!" However, since I have not yet played the fifth and sixth games, my judgment is somewhat clouded in this area. However, based on the games that I have played (DW 1-4, 7, and of course 8), it clearly comes down to the fourth and eighth installments. These two games are so much better than the competition (DW3 is a solid third but can't touch 4 or 8) that it's not even funny.

[JESSICA KAFRIZZING AN UNSUSPECTING TROLL]


I don't know...I love Dragon Quest VIII but feel the same about Dragon Warrior IV to be honest! It might sound like a cop-out, but I have to give the games a tie for now. Let me play DW4 again and I'll get back with ya. At least for now, Dragon Quest VIII can be labeled the "co-champion" of the Dragon Quest series. Seriously, in terms of fun, replay value, and intrigue, Dragon Quest VIII is top-notch. If it wasn't for a few small weaknesses, DQ8 might have given Final Fantasy X a serious run for the Crown Jewel!

Negatives: The first thing that comes to mind would have to be the main story. Like I said before, it was shockingly similar in fashion to its immediate predecessor Dragon Warrior VII in certain respects (unfortunately, I can't discuss them without spoiling the game). Although Dragon Quest VIII has made up ground immensely in the graphics and music areas, there is still a noticeable gap between the DQ series and the Final Fantasy series in terms of story.

Other than story, the only real qualm I have is DQ8 borrowing so many elements from previous Dragon Quest games. It's perfectly fine bringing back the slimes, familiar character profiles (i.e. people you meet in towns and villages), and the casinos. However, it seems like everything in DQ8 is something that has been garnered from a previous DQ game (or games as the case may be). Nostalgic as this may be, a greater emphasis on originality would have been welcomed with open arms. How many times are we going to collect mini metals (or tiny metals or small metals...whatever the heck they are!) and fight the same enemies we've fought before (80% or more of the enemies in DQ8 are not brand new enemies)? It's not that I hated this because I actually had a blast hunting down mini-metals and fighting familiar foes (I love nostalgia!!) It's just that Square-Enix might need to be a little more careful not to rely too much on past success. It never hurts to try something new!

Ratings: Graphics: 4.8 Music: 4.7 Play Control: 4.5 Challenge: 4.7 Storyline: 4.0 Funfactor: 4.9 Overall Score: 27.6 out of 30.0 Overall Rating: Golden Classic!!

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Last Updated: May 20, 2006
WebMaster: Matt Hull tigmo55@yahoo.com
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