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Review: Dragon Quest VIII

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the here's-slime-in-your-eye dept.

Role Playing (Games) 245

Most modern single-player RPGs have changed quite a bit since the early days of the NES. Real-time combat and epic story arcs have allowed the traditionally hardcore RPG market to draw in new fans who may not otherwise want to invest 100+ hours on a single title. Square Enix, the company that founded the genre, spits in the eye of progress with Dragon Quest VIII. This traditional dungeon delve has an old-school heart with a beautiful current-generation exterior. Read on for my impressions of the latest chapter in the mind-numbingly popular Dragon Quest series.

  • Title: Dragon Quest VIII
  • Developer: Level 5
  • Publisher: Square Enix
  • System:PS2
  • Score:9/10

Admittedly, your mind is only likely numb if you live in Japan. The U.S. first saw the series on the Nintendo Entertainment System as Dragon Warrior, and some of the most hardcore elements were dumbed down for our squishy American palates. Since those heady early days Dragon Quest has been largely absent from our shores. Dragon Quest VIII allows us to once again experience what can only be described as a Japanese cultural phenomenon.

Dragon Quest's focus is on entertaining and enjoyable gameplay, and so for the most part the game's plot can be forgiven for being fairly weak. The game's subtitle, "Journey of the Cursed King", is almost everything you need to know to understand what's going on. You, an unnamed heroic adventurer, are on the hunt for a power-hungry sorcerer. The spellcaster has stolen a potent magical artifact, and pair of royals present when the artifact was stolen are turned into a frog-demon thing and a horse. They hook up with you and your buddy Yangus (a burly fighter-type), in hopes of finding the spellcaster and reversing the magical effect that imprisons them. Along the way you encounter some typical RPG stereotypes (like the scantily clad mage Jessica), but for the most part that's the hook that drives the story. While this doesn't sound like much to go on, the NPC characterizations are so well-written and over-the-top that it's hard not to like them.

Really, it's surprisingly hard not to like everything about this game. Gameplay-wise, the latest installment of the Dragon Quest series is an unapologetic blast from the past. The game features menu-driven turn-based combat, endless hours of gameplay, a random encounter strewn overworld map, and plenty of slimes. You'd think this would tire a veteran RPG player, but the quality of the game's presentation and the obvious effort the designers put into the game's systems is inspiring. The overworld map, a tired warhorse in the gaming world, is a beautifully rendered naturescape. Beautiful glens, soaring caverns, and imposing ruins all lie hidden within the gameworld. The mini-map, a constant companion in most games, is blissfully absent. Without any easy-access artificial assistance, the temptation to explore is overwhelming, and can lead to some interesting hard-to-find creatures and treasures.

This sense of exploration is only broken by the occasional encounter with wandering monsters. The pace of encounters is well spaced out, to ensure that you won't have to fight through several encounters just to proceed a short way down a trail. The combat is a traditional RPG line-up, with enemies on one side and heroes on the other. Players navigate an intuitive menu to instruct their characters in who and how to fight, but attacks are far from the bland or ordinary. Both monsters and heroes have an array of visually interesting attacks and spells to take out opposing forces. Giant tongues seem to be a weapon of choice for the enemies, who have an array of quirky appearances and behaviors. Besides the title-identifying slimes, there are a bevy of beasts and monsters to face down. Some of the early beasts actually forgo their turns to calmly lick their fur. This variety of choice, animation, and behavior ensures that even the most jaded RPG fan is unlikely to get bored with combat. Trying to one-button push your way through combat, if you do start to glaze over, will teach you the error of your ways quickly. The challenge level here is high, and you can expect to wipe more than once at low levels. The tenacity exhibited by a gang of cute little kitty cats can easily end in tragedy.

That gang of cats, like everything else in the game, have distinct sensibilities conveyed by their unique visual design. The whole title has a beautiful cell-shaded look, and an anime quality that brings the personality of each beast and NPC to the fore. Dragon Ball Z designer Akira Toriyama helmed the look of this title, and the result is a naturalistic landscape and highly distinctive characters. The audio environment is stirring as well. Adventuring music takes center stage, with the occasional more thoughtful piece thrown in to highlight some of the game's quieter moments. Despite the tissue-paper plot, the voice acting is top-notch. The laughable whining and cowardice of the King and Yangus's thick brogue should set the standard for RPG cohorts in future titles. The dialogue's localization is also tremendous, with some jokes managing to be bitingly clever. It's hard not to appreciate the attention to detail spent here, as the inordinate amount of time you'll spend with these characters almost requires a sense of connection and empathy. While they may not make you cry, you'll definitely enjoy spending time with these likable non-people.

Dragon Quest VIII is not an evolution in the genre, nor is it likely to convert a dyed-in-the-wool anti-RPG nut. It's a challenging old-school game that appeals directly to traditional fans, and does so with personality, levity, and a lot of style. The hack and slash, turn-based combat system has never been so lovingly displayed as it is in this title. If you ever find yourself pining for those long-past grind sessions, gaining levels outside of Elfland by slaying ogres, this is a game you simply must play.

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245 comments

Characters (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14273885)

I dunno, the characters looked a little close to Dragon Ball Z characters to me...

Re:Characters (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14273954)

Maybe you're just joking, but Dragon Quest monster and character designs have always been done by Akira Toriyama, who did Dragonball.

Re:Characters (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14274190)

I believe the joke here is that Toriyama's designs all look exactly the same. Take Chrono Trigger for example. Magus is Vegita with long hair.

Re:Characters (1, Informative)

millennial (830897) | more than 8 years ago | (#14274063)

If you RTFA, you'd see that "Dragon Ball Z designer Akira Toriyama helmed the look of this title, and the result is a naturalistic landscape and highly distinctive characters."

and a playable demo of the next FF? (3, Insightful)

NotoriousGOD (936922) | more than 8 years ago | (#14273886)

How can you lose? This game proves to be a traditional RPG style game that I grew up on plus the modern graphics, control and AI that provides a better challenge and experience. And plus you get a playable demo of the next FF in the franchise. If you don't buy it, you're a nazi.

Re:and a playable demo of the next FF? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14274012)

If you don't buy it, you're a nazi.

Godwin's Law makes an appearance on the first post - Amazing!

Re:and a playable demo of the next FF? (1)

bilbravo (763359) | more than 8 years ago | (#14274314)

Dragon Warrior was my first RPG! I got it free with a gift subscription to Nintendo Power from my mother. Got me hooked!

Re:and a playable demo of the next FF? (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 8 years ago | (#14274593)

Yeah, call me a Nazi just because I'm German and hate repetitive and turn-based gameplay.

Now I admit I didn't play many Roguelikes or Ultimas (I have one of them for the C64 but it won't run anymore) but I don't think random encounters are really old-school. They're just an annoyance. Give me enemies I can see and clean the dungeon of, that makes the dungeons look more alive as well.

OUTGOING (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14273894)

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I've seen several posts like this one recently. (1)

mmell (832646) | more than 8 years ago | (#14274123)

Are you using /. to surreptitiously communicate with somebody?

If so, have you considered the advantages of finding a slightly less prominent location from which to launch your communiques?

Hmmm (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14273899)

I must say that I've seen 2D graphics that looked better than these 3D graphics which look like 2D graphics...

But Dragon Quest did never let me down!

Weird graphics (3, Interesting)

Andrewkov (140579) | more than 8 years ago | (#14273907)

I haven't played games in years, but I looked at the screen shots out of curiousity. The grass looks blurry to me, like it's got major motion blur. Is this normal for these new fangled 3d games? Maybe it's just me but it looks really strange.

Re:Weird graphics (3, Informative)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 8 years ago | (#14273945)

The graphics engine for this game is based on the Dark Cloud series of games. They were known for their highly stylized graphics, and they are a little old at this point. The first one is from 2001. You're seeing a combination of those things. Plus, it looks better when stuff is moving. It wasn't really designed for stills.

If you ask me, they could have used 8-bit sprites, as long as the gameplay was good.

Re:Weird graphics (1)

malraid (592373) | more than 8 years ago | (#14274452)

I don't think so. Unfortunately a profitable game for gamers needs top of the line graphics. It might be different with casual gamer games, like Zuma. So much money is spent into graphics, that fun aspect of the game is normally not a big thing. You can show graphics (even CGI FMV) in screen shots to create buzz and hype, but it's much harder to do with "fun".

Re:Weird graphics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14274549)

If you mean "cartoony" by "blury" then yes, that's the cell shading.

I have to agree with all of the points made in the review. I am an avid retro-RPG gamer myself and I haven't been sucked into a game this much since Final Fantasy 3 (American) and Chrono Trigger.

Awesome review. :)

Top-notch Voice Acting? (5, Informative)

Yocto Yotta (840665) | more than 8 years ago | (#14273908)

"Despite the tissue-paper plot, the voice acting is top-notch. The laughable whining and cowardice of the King and Yangus's thick brogue should set the standard for RPG cohorts in future titles."

Just a fair warning: The voice acting is very over the top in a cartoonish way. If "top-notch voice acting" means realistic and dramatic to you, you'll be sorely disappointed with the voice acting in DQVIII. The accents and the content of the dialog is so silly and uninteresting, that I ended up skipping story sequences (a major RPG sin in my opinion) after a dozen hours of the same crap. You've been warned.

Great game otherwise.

Re:Top-notch Voice Acting? (1)

lgw (121541) | more than 8 years ago | (#14273988)

Excellent. I've always been attracted to over-the-top-notch voice acting, as I have enough "realistic drama" in real life. Anything that recalls the voice acting in the old LucasArts adventure games is fine by me!

oblig. quote (1)

Viper Daimao (911947) | more than 8 years ago | (#14274157)

Ben: You know what might look better on your nose? Quohog: What? Ben: [grabs Quohog's nose ring and slams him down on to the bar] THE BAR.

Re:Top-notch Voice Acting? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14274139)

I thought so too. Luckily you can turn the volume of the voices all the way down and just read what they have to say, unlike some other modern RPGs which feature annoying voice actors (Tidus from FFX anyone?).

I say it's a cardinal sin if a game doesn't have to option to turn off the voice acting and let you just read the lines instead... That and unskippable cutscenes in action games are the worst examples of poor game design IMHO.

You can turn it off (2, Informative)

neostorm (462848) | more than 8 years ago | (#14274234)

You can turn the voice acting off. The Japanese version had no voice acting at all, and was a bit better off because of that. Just turn the Voice setting to 0 in the menu and you'll not miss out on anything else. The only difference is that the prerendered cutscenes have voice encoded into them, but there are only a handful in the game anyhow.

Great Review (2, Funny)

Cash202 (854642) | more than 8 years ago | (#14273913)

This is an excellent review, thanks. If I had a PS2, this would have confirmed my purchase.

Good! (5, Insightful)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 8 years ago | (#14273918)

Square Enix, the company that founded the genre, spits in the eye of progress with Dragon Quest VIII.

You know, just because people have come up with new gameplay mechanics doesn't mean we should abandon the old ones. It's about time some tried and true turn based RPG came back on the market. The game market has grown, and there's room for the old style and the new style out there. I think it's fair to say that the old turn based style games offer different types of strategy than the newer real time games, and I was getting a little tired of every new RPG testing my reflexes and jacking up the pace. Those are good games, but sometimes you want to slow down and relax a bit, or add in the increased complexity that having turns allows.

If somebody came up with a real-time version of a game like chess that was sufficiently fun that it became popular, I bet people would still play the old version too. Why should video games be any different. While they're at it, let's get some good old style 2D (the environments, not the graphics nescessarily) platformers back out there for non-handheld systems. Perhaps something that uses the Symphony of the Night engine. Maybe the Revolution will bring some of these types of games back.

Re:Good! (5, Funny)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 8 years ago | (#14273963)

If somebody came up with a real-time version of a game like chess that was sufficiently fun that it became popular...

It's called war.

And it seems to be extremely popular nowadays.

Re:Good! (1)

The Only Druid (587299) | more than 8 years ago | (#14274009)

Bravo. I only wish I could have modded you up. Of course, you lose a point for not making a "War Games" reference of some type.

Re:Good! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14274003)

>if somebody came up with a real-time version of a game like chess that was sufficiently fun

Somebody already has and it's flipping fantastic:
http://www.kungfuchess.com/ [kungfuchess.com]

I'll never play old chess again!!! Just kidding...

Re:Good! (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 8 years ago | (#14274127)

Viewtiful Joe is a nice 2D game if you're looking for one. I think there's a couple other 2D games out there. If you want to go back to 2D, you might want to try This controller [videogamesplus.ca] haven't tried it myself, but it looks like it would be good for all those old-style games that don't require analog control, and where analog controls end up causing more harm than good.

Re:Good! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14274429)

They have invented 'real-time chess' they call them RTS (Real Time Strategy) games, reference: Warcraft, C&C, Age of Empires, and others. That is as close as it gets to real-time chess. I have personally used the analogy since Dune. There are many parelles, in my opinion, I still play chess at least a few times a week, but I prefer not to play on a PC, just doesn't have the same ole feel.

Excellent Game (4, Interesting)

casualsax3 (875131) | more than 8 years ago | (#14273926)

This is the first game since Final Fantasy VII that I was unable to put down from the moment I got it. It's an excellent RPG all round.

Re:Excellent Game (1)

Nivoset (607957) | more than 8 years ago | (#14274223)

same here, i didn't think id like it (i got a burned copy originally) but after hours of playing, i got the real thing. i havent been this pulled into a rpg in a long time.

to bad the holidays are a busy time of the year, i dont have much time till new years i think

Loving the game (4, Interesting)

sarlos (903082) | more than 8 years ago | (#14273930)

The game really is all the reviewer says. It has an old school charm that I find irresistable. The first time I found cheerfully floating Drakies, I laughed out loud, it was too perfect. People may be skeptical of the cell shaded look, but it works oddly well for this title. It fits the lighthearted gameplay and makes me nostalgic for the blocky sprites of the old NES games.

And lest we forget, Jessica is rather, err, bouncy... o.o

I don't know if it's that it's old school.... (3, Insightful)

Johnny Sailor (936454) | more than 8 years ago | (#14273933)

or if it's because it has a refreshingly simple character system. You have a couple of easily understandable stats, when you level you have 5 different abilities you can choose from 4 weapons, and one unique ability per character, and the story isn't some over the top ridiculously unable to be understood thing. There's no sphere grid system to confuse people. There aren't 20 different stats to try and understand. It's just straight forward, and yet still deep and entertaining. The characters are great, and there's only four, so you don't have to worry about missing out on plotline for a character, or keeping everyone's level equal. Really the only complaint I have about it is the fact that there is a bunch of running around and fighting in order to level, just in order to beat the next dungeon.

Re:I don't know if it's that it's old school.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14274147)

i actually loved the sphere grid...

Re:I don't know if it's that it's old school.... (1)

thiophene (216836) | more than 8 years ago | (#14274437)

The sphere grid is at the top of my list for leveling up mechanisms in any of the RPG's I've played.

Bad example, Zonk! (2, Interesting)

RailGunner (554645) | more than 8 years ago | (#14273946)

First: You don't fight giants around Elfland. Those are Ogres.

And that's not a Dragon Quest/Warrior game - that was Final Fantasy!

The better analogy would have been fighting Wyverns in a swamp while carrying Princess Gwaelin back to King Lorik...

Re:Bad example, Zonk! (1)

Zonk (12082) | more than 8 years ago | (#14273966)

Oops! Fixing that typo. Been playing too much WoW, apparently.

You CAN fight giants early! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14274169)

Actually, around the time you're powering up to buy out Elfland, there IS a section where you can fight giants! It makes gathering the gold for level 3-4 spells, new equipment, and enough heals to get the crown from the wizards in the swamp a LOT faster. Although it's true--before I knew about this, I always fought the standard creeps & ogres endlessly, unless I went hunting for those pirate things that started with a K that dropped 120 gold each (sharks weren't bad, either).

You have to go east from Elfland, and around the corner northwards until you get stuck just south of a river that splits this section off from the town where you get the boat. Or maybe I'm wrong and there's a port down there you have to sail to, but I know it's cut off from the port town and it's just south of a river. There are about 2-4 squares of ground at the furthest north point which have monsters like those near the town with the circle of sages & the silver gear.

Anyhow, it's a LOT faster (and far more dangerous...) way to get through. The sleep spell from your black mage is almost certainly required to keep giants from pounding you into oblivion. With an emulator, it becomes rather cheap, because you can SLEP the set of four giants, pound on them with level 2 spells, and have half of them dead before they even get to retalliate. Your fighter(s) can probably take a hit or two off of them, but your mages will quickly die if you let them face giants at the level 7-8 you probably are when first getting down there...

Re:Bad example, Zonk! (4, Funny)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 8 years ago | (#14274145)

"The better analogy would have been fighting Wyverns in a swamp while carrying Princess Gwaelin back to King Lorik..."

After getting my ass roasted by that damned dragon, the least the bitch could have done is walked herself.

Re:Bad example, Zonk! (1)

jonlandrum (937349) | more than 8 years ago | (#14274200)

HA! I thought I was the only Dragon Warrior geek still around. Man, I spent cumulative days on my good, 'ol NES killing ghosts and slimes and whatnot. Oh, and kudos on the Wyvern mention!

~Jonathan

Re:Bad example, Zonk! (1)

Audigy (552883) | more than 8 years ago | (#14274500)

Sucks that they're called Chimaeras in DQ8 though... confused me for a little while.

"Chimaera's Wing? WTF?" "Oh... hrm."

Need for Games Like These? (2, Insightful)

Thunderstruck (210399) | more than 8 years ago | (#14273953)

After the first hour or two, does anyone really notice the eye-candy graphics? If not, why not just skip that part alltogether and play a MUD for free?

Endless zombie gore
pales before the epic thrill
of asterisk spam

-A haiku for MUDs.

Re:Need for Games Like These? (1)

dcarey (321183) | more than 8 years ago | (#14274086)

Yup /agree. And I thought WoW was too cartoony ... this one goes Daffy (pun intended)

Three games in point:

1)Lineage 1. Best selling MMORPG worldwide of its time. America didn't like it but the rest of the world did. Horrible graphics. Killer gameplay.
2)Lineage 2. OK selling in the US. Better graphics than WoW. Horrible gameplay (well, not horrible, but not very questy, and the main point of the game - grinding to get high lvl to siege - welll when you get to the point where you'd make a difference in sieging, you'll notice the lag is worse than anything you've ever experienced before.) Boo. Played it for a year.
3) WoW. Best selling US game. Graphics are good, a little cartoony for me, still not as good as the animations in Lin2. But oh my ... the gameplay is good. 2 faction systems work. and the quests oh MY the quests ... keep thing interesting while you're grinding away.

I always scoffed at the Wow people for the graphics being good but not incredible but now i'm a convert. In the end WoW keeps me in the game for the same reason I played Lin1 for all those years -- good gameplay always wins. Keke thx u bai now.

Re:Need for Games Like These? (1)

protoshoggoth (588994) | more than 8 years ago | (#14274610)

After the first hour or two, does anyone really notice the eye-candy graphics?

Yes. It may not be your bag, but for some it is. While I'm as use-your-imagination-luke old-school as they come with regard to RPGs in general (as in "okay, so the little d6's are the zombies and the bottlecaps are the ghasts") I'm all for something a little more visually compelling than an ampersand to represent Asmodeus on my computer screen. Sorry.

Good old Dragon Warrior (1)

armanox (826486) | more than 8 years ago | (#14273958)

Of course the game follows the tradition DW formats (battle commands, slimes, etc). It just goes to show that one cannot improve perfection.

I don't get RPGs (-1, Flamebait)

realmolo (574068) | more than 8 years ago | (#14273961)

I just get bored to DEATH. Wander around, find objects, fight monsters to build stats. Yay.

The writing in EVERY RPG I've ever played has been laughably bad. Cliche upon cliche. Juvenile humor. Non-sensical plots.

I always felt like more or a "role player" when I was playing the LucasArts or Sierra games.

Re:I don't get RPGs (1)

bdcrazy (817679) | more than 8 years ago | (#14274018)

Most RPGs that i've played recently are of the:
RPG = Roll Playing Game

If you want actual Role Playing, start a game with friends/acquantancies/random people off the street, etc, or go back to the old style mud/mush/moos and start there.

Re:I don't get RPGs (1)

Tickenest (544722) | more than 8 years ago | (#14274037)

See, I don't think you've actually laughed at the writing of each and every RPG you've ever played.

So, could there ever be any RPG plot you approved of?

Re:I don't get RPGs (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14274058)

How the heck does this guy get modded up? You can make a similar argument for just about any genre:

Adventure games: Try every option until you pick the right one. Yay.
FPS: Run around, shoot stuff. Yay.
RTS: Let's see who can click the fastest. Yay.

Re:It's About You (2, Interesting)

dch24 (904899) | more than 8 years ago | (#14274076)

Turn based and other role playing games aren't about you, silly! LucasArts and Sierra games do not involve much plot. They piggyback on ideas that have been tried and tested (King's Quest, anyone?) But serious role playing games (FF, for example) have a plot all their own. They struck out in a new direction where you are playing for something more than just getting a trillion points and making it on the high score list, or fragging more guys faster than your buddy next door. RPG's are many things to many people, but what do you think? Role playing is about entering a more real-world scenario than the total anarchy First Person Shooter that, to me, is terribly boring.

Role playing games have traditionally offered some amazingly subtle and beautiful challenges. Like, negotiating in a free market for the things you want. Now that is a skill that a lot of people use in real life. Fast-twitch trigger-happy shoot-anything-that-moves may be useful to some people in real life, but not me!

Another challenge in RPG's has been learning the rules. With complicated ranking mechanisms involving many variables, and huge maps with dungeons-inside-dungeons, it rivals the complexity of real life. (When's the last time you tried to use public transportation? The kill-or-be-killed skills a la Halo won't help you get on the metro.)

I could go on, but basically, that's the idea. By the way, I love Dragon Quest!

Re:I don't get RPGs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14274106)

Pick up one of the old Black Isle/BioWare RPG titles (Fallout/Fallout 2, Baldur's Gate, Planescape Torment) for PC. For XBox, try Knights of the Old Republic or Jade Empire (both from BioWare as well... hmmm...)

There are definitely some cliches present in a couple of these titles and plenty of running around killing stuff, but they also have some of the best written dialog and stories I've ever seen in games.

Re:I don't get RPGs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14274131)

Dragon Quest in particular is the most boring RPG series of all time. Then again, they haven't tried to update the battle system in like 18 years.

I played the demo, and was bored to tears. It was the worst 30 minutes of my life. I think Square sent me the demo just to torture me.

Re:I don't get RPGs (2, Funny)

vonPoonBurGer (680105) | more than 8 years ago | (#14274149)

It's very self-sacrificing of you to play every RPG, even though you hate the genre so much, so that you can be justified in making such sweeping generalizations. You're a paragon among haters, and I salute you.

/sarcasm

Re:I don't get RPGs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14274241)

What I find amusing about this is that you condemn what you consider juvenile humor, and then state your preference for games whose BASIS is juvenile humor.


(though the lucasarts ones were way cooler)

I knew it! A.T.'s handiwork... (2, Interesting)

UOZaphod (31190) | more than 8 years ago | (#14273989)

I thought I noticed the handiwork of Akira Toriyama [wikipedia.org].

I did a little research and he designed the monsters and characters

Re:I knew it! A.T.'s handiwork... (1)

UOZaphod (31190) | more than 8 years ago | (#14274039)

Doh! Pardon me while I commit ritual Sepuku for the sin of not reading TFA. :(

Re:I knew it! A.T.'s handiwork... (4, Informative)

_KiTA_ (241027) | more than 8 years ago | (#14274350)

Akira Toriyama has done the character design and artwork for every Dragon Quest game in the series.

Yuji Horii has done the storyline and scenarios for every game in the series.

Koichi Sugiyama has done the music for every game in the series.

They, combined, are the "DQ Team", and are responsible for the entire series, having come together to create it after enjoying Wizardry and Ultima, but thinking they were too complex for the mainstream.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dragon_Quest [wikipedia.org]

In addition Toriyama and Horii did quite a bit of work on Chrono Trigger -- Toriyama did the art and designs, Horii did the storyline and scenarios, and several experts from the original Final Fantasy team did the battle engine, music, etc.

That's why CT was so great -- it was basically a new spin on the Dragon Warrior series of games.

Bewarned, even though DQ8 is arguably the easiest game in the DQ series, it's still leaps and bounds above the difficulty arc of modern Final Fantasy games. If you've never played a DQ game before you're in for a treat, but you *will* die a few times. :)

Hay this is new and interesting!! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14274002)

may-be you should go back to your stupid video games while your job goes to some more deserving and hardworking people

what else can you mental midgets do but giggle and sneer?

now go blame Bush for all your problems

I love this game. (3, Informative)

millennial (830897) | more than 8 years ago | (#14274023)

I bought DQVIII the day it came out, and have never regretted doing so. The graphics are beautiful, the plotline is engrossing, the characters are lovable, and the environment is believable. The only complaint I have is that some of the songs sound like they were recorded in an echo chamber. Apart from that, I love it.

Toriyama is the Liefeld of Anime. (5, Informative)

solios (53048) | more than 8 years ago | (#14274033)

Dragon Ball Z designer Akira Toriyama helmed the look of this title, and the result is a naturalistic landscape and highly distinctive characters.


If memory serves, Toriyama's done the design on all of the DQ titles... which was vastly more palatable back in the 8-bit days, when you couldn't tell how atrocious his "distinctive" character design was. He's also responsible for the aesthetic of Chrono Trigger - a game that plays great but in my opinion looks absolutely horrible: his grotesque "anatomy" and facial design seriously hampered my enjoyment of the title.

The lesson here is that a "distinctive" look and feel can alienate gamers as well as attract them - I won't play or watch anything modern that Toriyama's involved with simply because I just can't stand to look at it.

Re:Toriyama is the Liefeld of Anime. (3, Informative)

American AC in Paris (230456) | more than 8 years ago | (#14274229)

The lesson here is that a "distinctive" look and feel can alienate gamers as well as attract them - I won't play or watch anything modern that Toriyama's involved with simply because I just can't stand to look at it.

There's nothing remotely new or surprising about this--edgy art has always appealed to a smaller audience than "mainstream" art.

Frankly, I'd rather "suffer" through the occasional bizzare-looking game than have designers bend their vision for the sake of mass appeal. Take, for example, Hieronymus Bosch. Bosch made plenty of "regular" art, but he is best remembered for his utterly mind-bending depictions of demons, Hell, and Judgement. Had he abandoned his artistic direction and not composed some of the most truly exotic, horrifying pre-modern art ever created, he'd be remembered as a talented--but only marginally significant--artist, and our society would be missing out on some geuninely unique and amazing art.

Art doesn't always appeal, but it's almost always more valuable than uninspired works designed for mass comsumption. There's a seemingly endless supply of well-painted, arrow-riddled St. Sebastians out there--but there's nothing else quite like the Garden of Earthly Delights...

Re:Toriyama is the Liefeld of Anime. (1)

Gogo0 (877020) | more than 8 years ago | (#14274318)

I like how his "distinctive" style is basically that all his characters look identical, save for different hair. Put a bandanna on Chrono and you've got the main character from DQVIII.

Re:Toriyama is the Liefeld of Anime. (1)

_xeno_ (155264) | more than 8 years ago | (#14274483)

Speaking of Dragonball Z...

First off, all the characters in the game look like - well, Toriyama characters. That is to say, if you've seen Dragonball Z, you'll notice that the characters would be right at home with Goku. I've never really liked that style, but that's not the point of this post.

Zonk didn't mention the "Psyche Up" system, a system by which your characters can increase their "tension" and use more powerful attacks. Doing this makes them do almost exactly the same "tense and grunt" move that Dragonball Z is so famous for.

Bring a character to "maximum tension" and they'll start glowing purple, and take on the stock "serious look" that Toriyama likes to use. Bring the unnamed main character to "maximum tension" and he'll lose the bandana and his hair will turn purply and spikey.

Replace the purple glow with yellow, and they'd be indistinguisable from Super Saiyans. Minus the fact that they exit that state immediately after making an attack.

The character art design isn't really all that bad, but they get reused like crazy. You'll be running into the same character models all over the place. (Fortune teller dude - Kalyasha? - looks almost exactly like weird monster arena guy, both of who bear a striking resemblence to DBZ's Hercule... Some random NPC model looks quite a lot like adult Trunks...)

It's kind of hard to take the game seriously if you've seen DBZ and couldn't take it seriously either.

RPG Music (-1, Offtopic)

c0d3r (156687) | more than 8 years ago | (#14274041)

I know a friend who instead of listening to normal music, listens to old C64 music. I wouldn't mind coding all do to the songs to the Legend of Zelda. Where can I find this? I also remember some friend of mines playing some punk rock mix of the super mario brothers music.

Re:RPG Music (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14274185)

slayradio.org

Re:RPG Music (1)

Shad_the_protector (931920) | more than 8 years ago | (#14274289)

Well, many game make their Original sound track on CD. You can buy those on Ebay, amazon or other e-commerce site. It can also be found in anime and Jap specialised store. Some video game store may have some of the more popular, but rarely. You may want to search for "game OST" for more information

For remix, there is a great website entirely destined for VG remix. OcRemix [ocremix.org]

Re:RPG Music (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14274408)

http://www.zophar.net/music.html [zophar.net]

NSF files contain the extracted machine code for the music of NES games. There are specialized emulator programs, including WinAmp plugins, for playback. I'm still hoping that some genius out there figures out a way to add NSF support to iPods someday...

The inventor of the NSF format even made a hardware player using an actual NES CPU. This guy's too cool for school I tell you:

http://www.tripoint.org/kevtris/Projects/hardnes/i ndex.html [tripoint.org]

Re:RPG Music (1)

blueskatz (241135) | more than 8 years ago | (#14274534)

There are complete soundtracks available for the later Zeldas (Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask, and Wind Waker). You can find those for sale on Japanese import sites and Amazon, I think. Anything earlier than that, you probably just want to search Google for the wav or midi files. That's what I did anyway. I have found game soundtracks and classical music in general to be really great to listen to while working, as they don't really have any words in them to distract me.

You seem to be a little confused (4, Informative)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 8 years ago | (#14274100)

"The U.S. first saw the series on the Nintendo Entertainment System as Dragon Warrior, and some of the most hardcore elements were dumbed down for our squishy American palates."

You seem to be confusing this with the Final Fantasy series. The only changes made to the first Dragon Warrior was an improvement in graphics to make it look as pretty as Dragon Quest II ("ZOMG, I can face in four directions! Look, a shoreline!"). Later games had you dragging along ghosts instead of coffins when somebody died, but Enix didn't pull any of that EasyType crap on us like Squaresoft.

Which is why it didn't sell. Dragon Quest never apologized for being Dragon Quest.

Uh that's not how you levelled (2, Insightful)

oGMo (379) | more than 8 years ago | (#14274128)

If you ever find yourself pining for those long-past grind sessions, gaining levels outside of Elfland by slaying ogres, this is a game you simply must play.

As others have noted, this more FF1 than DQ1. Additionally, you didn't fight ogres outside elfland; you go to the top of the peninsula just northeast of Pravoka. Due to the map design and the way the monster distribution is laid out in a grid across the map, in these two squares you find monsters from across the next continent. With decent buff skills, and the fact the Pravoka area is very early in the game, you can gain levels very quickly here.

(The Dawn of Souls port for the GBA makes this even more trivial with the addition of MP instead of static spell counts. I was able to complete the game in barely 13 hours with 999999 gold, level 60+ characters, and all the items, using this method followed by harvesting the dungeons out of order for items and exp.)

In Dragon Warrior, you could gain levels very quickly by fighting Metal Slimes, which gave tons of exp and had very little HP... but were very hard to hit.

Re:Uh that's not how you levelled (1)

RailGunner (554645) | more than 8 years ago | (#14274206)

Additionally, you didn't fight ogres outside elfland; you go to the top of the peninsula just northeast of Pravoka

Exit Elfland, walk around in circles. If you're on an NES, the Ogres will often be accompanied by "Creeps", if it's Final Fantasy Origins for PSX the Creeps are named something else.

But there's definitely Ogres surrounding Elfland, and they'll appear all the way to Astos's castle.

But you are right about one thing, they do appear north of Pravoka.

Re:Uh that's not how you levelled (1)

oGMo (379) | more than 8 years ago | (#14274255)

Right, but these are all of the low-level variety. The higher-level ones are only available at the Pravoka peninsula, as well as the northeastern continent which can only be reached by airship. If the high-level ones were available in Elfland, it wouldn't be much of a trick, since you get the seaship as the first Pravoka event, and Elfland is your first new destination.

Re:Uh that's not how you levelled (1)

RailGunner (554645) | more than 8 years ago | (#14274321)

I usually spent a little time circling Elfland, and did some major leveling up in the Earth Cave, in the infamous "Hall of Giants".

Of course, after I played through the game a few times, I'd end up getting the canoe and fighting through the ice cave / castle of trials, then going back to the Volcano to stomp Kary with the upgraded characters (Knight, Ninja, etc.) after seeing Bahamut.

Sadly, the FF games started getting more linear after that, though I'm still a big fan of the series / genre.

Re:Uh that's not how you levelled (1)

oGMo (379) | more than 8 years ago | (#14274414)

Totally. When I played the DoS variant (which is very, very easy), I first defeated the Earth Fiend, but now I don't believe even that was necessary. Then I just went to all the other dungeons, harvested the items, and didn't defeat any of the other Fiends. Tiamat was the second to go down, and then when everyone was outfitted with top gear, everything else was trivial to clear out.

I was suprised to see how nonlinear this turned out to be; i really wish they'd make a Final Fantasy that was reminiscent of this. It may be that FFXII turns out to be similar; I'm an admitted fan (addict?) of FFXI, and enjoy the new style. After hearing it has a more mission-oriented format, I'm hopeful that we may see a much less on-rails game than FFX.

Re:Uh that's not how you levelled (1)

jeffasselin (566598) | more than 8 years ago | (#14274566)

The sages won't give you the Canoe until the Earth Fiend is dead, and you need it to get to the Ice Cave and get the Airship. I also used to skip Kary, get my upgraded characters and better spells/items from later dungeons before coming back.

DQ8 Is a Case Study On "Old School"... (4, Insightful)

EXTomar (78739) | more than 8 years ago | (#14274130)

...and the best arguement why many "old school" ideas should be left at home. DQ8 is simply not challenging because they embraced many old school concepts instead of washing their hands of it or improving upon them.

DQ8 combat engine is simplistic. I mean dirt simple to the point you can predict with "in your head math" whether you can win the fight or should flee before damage is even exchanged. This leaves a system where the only way one can challenge the player is by trying to use "Surprise! Your Dead!" rare super attacks or the equally rare chance that given 4 targets, the size of your party, they will all chose to hit just one. Neither of these senarios features much intelgence nor does it dictate any strategy or stance player should take (beyond "overwhelming forces"). In any event, you are left with no strategy to play with. No tactics to leverage. No action to minimize risks or maximize bonuses. Simply put: there are no real decisions in DQ8. You either determin in the first round if you can win or leave.

DQ8 tries to promote mindless "grinding". This sort of aimless wandering around hoping for random encounters is an artifact any level based system which DQ8 is strongly tied into. Nominally, grinding happens when a player "lucks out" or out flanks the game to arrive a place the game didn't content on seeing at this particular time or level. The problem with DQ8 and their guerilla style strategy is that by the time you disembark a city, travel to the dungeon entrance, work your way to the bottom of a dungeon, spending resources and energy along the way to do so, it is too late to show the player "Oops, you should have been a higher level!" Grinding should be tuned and supressed as much as possible. Tasked based quest systems give much more satisfaction than vague "see you when you get there" systems DQ8 uses.

Randomly wandering around, randonly bumping into creatures that may randomly kill you off just isn't fun. I seriously question they were fun back in the "old school" days too (I don't ever seem to remember thinking "oh joy! another random encounter" in any console RPG). We now have the knowledge and technology to actually instill some more complex logic and real challenges into games instead of relying on random acts of "fickle fate" to try to trip up players. If I wanted to play a game that featued such randomness, I would rather play poker.

DQ8 is a great looking game. The plot is sometimes amusing even if it is cheesey RPG fare. The music is a bit repetive but otherwise is awesome. I even like the touch that the SFX are old school. It is the wet dream of a designer who lived 20+ years ago who thought this is how these games should look like. The problem is we are play this game now instead of then and are left wonder "Why is this fun?"

Re:DQ8 Is a Case Study On "Old School"... (1)

njaguar (658584) | more than 8 years ago | (#14274417)

You obviously didn't play the game past level 1 or 2. Yangus gains a skill called "Whistle" at like level 4, that allows you to summon monsters to you. No 'mindless wandering around' there.

Furthermore, out of 2000+ fights clocked on my game (thanks Battle History!), I have *4* flees, and 2 wipeouts (as a result of Dhoulmagus, the first main boss in the game). Again, your tactics must suck, if you were dying that frequently, that you have to flee so often.

You keep referring to 'grinding', yet I didn't have to grind once, I just continued to progress through the game, moving onto the next area, etc. Maybe if you played a little more than 20 minutes of the demo at Walmart, you'd know what I'm talking about.

I hate this game (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14274141)

This game has great graphics and sound, but while the gameplay is simple, it is very, very tedious due to the NONFUCKINGSTOP random battles. You reach a certain point when killing a slime isn't worth any valuable xp, yet every couple of steps another battle. Give me a fucking break.

Short short review. (1)

EulerX07 (314098) | more than 8 years ago | (#14274163)

After playing this game for 50 hours, I can only say this: COR BLIMEY!

(I just wish I knew what it meant)

I agree 100% with the review. (2, Interesting)

Audigy (552883) | more than 8 years ago | (#14274189)

I'm "only" 25 hours into the game, but I've experienced everything the reviewer has and much much more.

Despite the paper-thin plot (as it appears to me currently, at least) the game is challenging, and encourages the players to utilize tactics other than "button mashing" to get through battles.

The monsters are detailed and adorable, and the Bestiary feature allows you to look at monsters you've already fought and reply their battle animations as many times as you'd like if you just can't get enough. ;D

The voice acting and the localization effort are top-notch. I can't remember feeling sorry for a character in recent memory except while playing DragonQuest VIII. Additionally, some of the jokes are incredible.

I'm glad I bought this game, and I am extremely happy that one of my favorite console RPG series is pulling in such stellar reviews in America. I look forward to many copies being sold so the game is re-released as part of the Greatest Hits series in 6-12 months.

awful review (1)

hypergreatthing (254983) | more than 8 years ago | (#14274254)

So you played the game for an hour and came up with this crap? There are so many reasons why this game fails as an rpg.

The graphics are alright, the sound is so-so. The worst part? Storyline and no progression of character development. You litterally have to grind for hours trying to enter the first dungeon. Why do you need to go in there? Because you're forced to help some chick in the first town. You don't learn any background into many more hours into the game, you're just doing what you're told to. I wouldn't recommend playing this game at all.

Re:awful review (1)

Cable_Monkey (516166) | more than 8 years ago | (#14274530)

I disagree. But then again, I'm a different person. Different people like different things. Just because its not your type of game doesn't mean the review is horrible.

I fully agree with everything said in the review. The only thing I didn't really care for in the game was the insanely-named spells; however, I [forcefully] learned the new names and found it no problem as I progressed through the game.

Never much got into console RPGs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14274317)

If it requires anything less than a full keyboard for control, (re: Ultimas II-V,) it's just not worth playing. ;)

My personal take... .like ya'll care.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14274340)

I have been a huge fan of the Dragon Quest/Warrior series since the first game. I was rather worried that the 3D style would seriously take away from the original feel of the past games. I'm old school and therefore like 2D better. I did play DW 7, and while that was "kinda" 3D-ish, it's not like this one. Thankfully, the charm remains.

Now as far as level grinding goes, I've never had to spend any serious time leveling with the exception of DW 1. I don't know if spending 2 hours with no breaks just to go up one level is considered "grinding", but it sure felt like it.

In the end, I'm really happy with the game. I even got the PS2 Slime controller for it. I'm a fanboy.

Is this the same as the Dragon Warrior series? (1)

Jason1729 (561790) | more than 8 years ago | (#14274431)

I vaguely remember it being Dragon Quest in Japan and a few titles from that series made it to the US as the Dragon Warrior series.

I loved those Dragon Warrior games.

england (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14274433)

but is it coming to england?

Mind-Numbingly popular? (2, Funny)

aapold (753705) | more than 8 years ago | (#14274526)

First I've heard of it. That is the game, not its mind-numbing popularity.

It looks like an old Sega Genesis game (1)

Thrymm (662097) | more than 8 years ago | (#14274630)

I used to love the old Dragon Warriors on the NES, DW 1-4 but after seeing the screenshots here and in other reviews and magazines, I just dont feel like there's much to build on. To me it seems like a mix between the old cartoonish arcade game Dragon Quest from the mid 80s as well as Shining in the Darkness on the Sega Genesis... am I wrong and should give it a chance?
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