In Dragon Quest VIII: The Journey of the Cursed King, you are an unnamed hero whom you know very little about. You know very little about the world he comes from and the people around him. Unfortunately, by the end of the game, you will be about where you started. While the plot does progress, albeit at the pace that an old man would get off the toilet, getting too much of the story will leave you overworked and underwhelmed.
For those of you seeking a game strictly for its story, you won’t be disappointed you picked up the game, but might find yourself saying, “The story could have been so much more.” For those of you seeking a game with a challenge, prepare to lose some hair. The game will challenge, frustrate, and make a grown man cry like a baby.
The game supplies you with funny moments (Thank you Yangus and King Trode), and memorable parts in the storyline. But, don’t expect your dog to be licking the inside of your mouth for potato chip residue as you sit there with your jaw dropped, frozen in time, by the mind blowing plot twists of Dragon Quest VIII. Quite possibly the most interesting moment in the story comes from a bonus area after the completion of the game. It’s the big bang moment in the game you’ve waited for and wanted to see. Do yourself a favor, and be sure to pursue this extra bit of story.
Some of the characters are lovable, such as the previously mentioned Yangus and King Trode. Their interactions will leave you laughing forcefully until you abruptly pass gas. Other characters could have used a bit more development during the game (i.e. the main hero—post game activities will satisfy this character—and Jessica).
The journey itself is where most gamers are rewarded. This turn-based RPG is far from the typical, rinse and repeat battle system. Strategies for certain enemies are a necessity.
Dying in the beginning of the game is about as welcoming as constipation. Before you get a revival spell, a long run to a church is your only option to get your party member revived. Some dungeons will leave you feeling trapped because of the difficulties they present, accompanied by the amount of work you’ll have to go through again if you are wiped out or leave. Yes, there are no save points in any caves, dungeons, castles, etc. Be prepared before entering new areas of the game.
Visually, the game is great. Akira Toriyama strikes again with his stellar, signature cartoon graphics and character designs. The game is very easy on the eyes, as is Jessica, one of the lead characters of the game. The animations are great—from the main hero opening closets to Yangus picking his large nose.
The music is great too (Thank you Koichi Sugiyama). Sugiyama created nighttime and daytime songs for almost every area. You will find yourself humming along in no time. The problem: you will find yourself humming along to the same 10 or so songs for the remainder of the game. It’s as if Mr. Sugiyama got half way through the soundtrack and said, “We’re done here.” Many towns and dungeons share the same exact music. This was acceptable back in the days of Nintendo and Atari, but post-1995, it is not. You start hearing the same songs so often that you will begin to wonder which town you are currently in.
For hardcore RPG fans, this is a game you will want to pick up, especially if you enjoyed previous Dragon Quest/Dragon Warrior games. Maybe you’ll love it. Maybe you’ll just be happy as a fat kid in a Baskin Robbins for having it on your resume. Maybe it’ll become a drink coaster in your room. Other gamers beware: This is not your best choice for entering the Role-Playing Game genre.
Game Play: 5/5
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