Tuesday, November 14, 2000

Dragon Quest VIII review | 9.0

Dragon Quest (previously known as Dragon Warrior in the US) has always been one of those games that I had to have. When I was a kid, I got the first through a subscription to a magazine, and I was in love ever since. Though as basic as a game can get, there was something addicting about the monotonous walking, fighting, and leveling up. In two, three, and four (four in particular), they attempted to bring more detail to the story lines, and succeeded just enough not to ruin the normal, DW game play that RPG lovers have come to love. Then, we missed five and six, and had to wait for the ugliest PlayStation game ever released in Dragon Quest VII. It was fun, but it seemed dated from the release; the graphics were only barely better than the old Super Nintendo.

Then, Enix, the long-time publisher of Dragon Warrior, merged with Square, and thus Dragon Quest VIII was born. I worried, at first. Was Square going to dilute it with all those Final Fantasy cut-scenes, or were they going to take away the simple battle system that's in every DW game?

The answer: NO. Everything is there that was in every other Dragon Quest game; dungeons, constant fighting and leveling up, struggling to buy all the new items, seeking out all those rare items, getting lost more often than not, a simple, point-a-to-point-b story, and that same battle system. It's all here, but with one major edition: extraordinary graphics. Akira Toriyama (Dragon Ball creator, and long time designer for Dragon Quest) was able to fully show his skill in this game.

This game is excellent to play, as well. Not only for its nostalgia, but for the actual game play. It's still addictive, but even more so since the world itself is now rendered in 3D and huge, making it a lot to explore, and exploring it is worth it as it has numerous things for you to find all over the land-map. Finding these things are important, because they've added a new feature called the Alchemy Pot which requires you to use two or three items to make one are item. Also, its fun meeting some of the new characters, and hearing the interesting ways they are voiced.

For anyone old enough to remember the first Dragon Warrior, and for anyone who actually understood it, I recommend this game. I also recommend this for anyone who loves RPGs but hasn't yet experienced one of the genre's roots. Dragon Quest VIII is a great edition to the Dragon Quest library, and an instant classic.

ADDED NOTE: I've just recently finished this game, and I must now say that my impressions were vastly ignorant. This game, from start to finish, is pure excitement, never diluted by long, dramatic cut-scenes, with an emphasis on the game play. The ending, without spoiling, was surprisingly interactive and incomplete, though I have had a chance to complete it. It also isn't nearly as serious as those other RPG endings. It allows you to laugh at the characters despite enduring the nearly seventy hours of game play and storytelling involving the end of a world. And the replay-ability is decent, with an entire extra quest and area to explore after saving your game following the credits. Now, I'd recommend this game because it is clearly the top choice in its genre (RPG). It's a great prologue to the up-coming Final Fantasy XII or Kingdom Hearts 2.

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