Review of Dragon Quest VIII on 3DS - RPG classic still in shape
Japanese role-playing games seem to have passed their best years. Once upon a time, jRPG was the hallmark of consoles and the envy of PC owners. Currently, it's a niche genre with only a handful of items overshadowed by the classics. But is it really so? Maybe the titles placed on the pedestal were not that good at all?
Moving Dragon Questa VIII: Journey of the Cursed King from PlayStation 2 to Nintendo 3DS is a good opportunity to check the quality of the legendary jRPG games . Are we looking at these productions through rose-colored glasses? Well - no, as evidenced by the fun that the "eight" gives in 2017.
Curses, princesses and saving the world
According to the subtitle, we are dealing with the expedition of the king on whom the curse was imposed. A jester named Dhoulmagus has transformed the inhabitants of the kingdom into all sorts of creatures. Our hero sets out on a mission to remove the curse from the ruler and his subjects. He is accompanied by a king turned into a green creature, a princess turned into a horse and a bandit met on the way. This unusual team is following in the footsteps of Dhoulmagus to stop the villain once and for all.
Dragon Quest VIII tells a typical story at first glance. Evil Mage, Princess Rescue and Curse are standard parts of most RPG games. In this case, however, the known motifs have been implemented in an interesting way. The plot twists and interesting characters make exploring the plot of the game simply fun .
The Dragon Quest series created a framework for what we consider to be the characteristic elements of jRPG production. Therefore, it will not surprise anyone that we are dealing here with a turn-based combat system. Our characters and opponents perform alternate actions - attacks, defense, using items and using spells are the basis of the clashes. The whole thing was enriched with a tension system, i.e. the possibility of spending your turn four times to strengthen the planned attack. Thanks to this, the blow we inflict will be much more powerful than normal. There is a bit of risk involved with this system, but it does make boss fights a bit more exciting.
Journey of the Cursed King also offers the possibility of giving control over our team to the computer. We can choose from several default attitudes to characterize the characters. Thanks to this, they will automatically perform specific actions. This function is very useful because it significantly shortens the duration of the skirmishes. This is especially important when leveling up before a fight with a stronger boss.
Character development is based on a skill system. Along with gaining experience levels, we receive points, which we allocate in specific trees. Each of the heroes has their own set of abilities, thanks to which the heroes are unique. The main protagonist may, for example, increase his skill with swords, boomerangs, spears or fists. The right number of points invested in a given skill unlocks new hits or strengthens the strength of our hits. In addition to this simple system, we also have an automatic increase in the number of health, mana, attack and agility points. Thanks to this, even novices should be able to cope with the development of heroes . There is no fear of cornering yourself and creating a useless figure.
Relatively simple gameplay and easy-to-understand rules make Dragon Quest VIII just right for the beginning of your adventure with jRPG games . At the same time, the well-balanced difficulty level ensures that experienced players will also find something for themselves here.
Big changes on a small cartridge
The portable version of Journey of the Cursed King differs significantly from the game we know from PlayStation 2. Randomly selected enemies have been replaced by enemies we see on the map. Thanks to this, we have a chance to avoid skirmishes if we don't feel like them. It is also easier to track down the monster that you are currently hunting. Two characters that were previously only NPCs can join our team - Red with fans and armed with claws Morrie allow you to use new strategies during fights. The ability to speed up the course of turns and changes in the interface make playing on a portable console more enjoyable. There were also new caves, items and creatures.
The coolest news is the introduction to the game of taking photos and the related mission system . Pressing the Start button during exploration takes us to photo mode. We can then set the camera, select the hero's position and place an additional character in the frame. Photos can be exchanged with other players using the SpotPass function. This accessory is gaining importance thanks to the photo challenge system. They encourage you to explore the game world more carefully and change the way you play. We provide photos of items, characters and monsters for which we are rewarded with stamps redeemable for prizes.
The introduced changes make Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King on 3DS more than just a regular game port. Thanks to the mass of additional attractions and improvements, completing this title for the third time was a lot of fun for me.
Graphics and music are a bit of a disappointment
Dragon Quest VIII is almost 13 years old. However, the visual setting of this production did not age even a day. This is due to the timeless graphic style that this title can boast of. Great character design was combined with cel-shading - as a result, we got a beautiful, comic-like appearance of the characters and their surroundings.
Journey of the Cursed King does not look as good on the 3DS as on the Sony console. Lower quality textures can be seen with the naked eye. However, if you look at this position only through the prism of the platform on which we play, we are dealing with one of the most beautiful works for the Nintendo console. It's just a pity that the 3D effect is only available in the inventory menu - applying it throughout the game would make the title look stunning.
If the camera work was a bit better, I would not have any objections to Dragon Quest VIII on the 3DS. Unfortunately, people using the console in the version without the second knob (which was added in the New 3DS version) will have to struggle with rotating the camera using the "D-pad" and the "L" and "R" buttons.
Recorded dialogue lines are not something that we see too often in games for portable Nintendo consoles. Dragon Quest VIII , however, boasts really nice voices of characters that talk a lot. Of course, the best is cockney Yangus, who speaks the dialect. In the audio sphere, the only thing you can fault is the soundtrack. The orchestral pieces that accompanied the gameplay on PlayStation 2 have been replaced by MIDI and they lose some of the atmosphere, but this is not too much of a problem. However, it is sad that a better soundtrack appeared in the Japanese version of the game. Due to licensing problems, we have to be content only with good music.
A "must have" for 3DS owners
The balance of advantages and disadvantages of DQVIII is definitely in favor of the new version of the game. Worse graphics and the problems with the camera resulting from the specificity of the Nintendo console do not matter when compared with the overall title, enriched with additional content and a number of improvements in the game. The novelties encourage experimentation and prevent the title from a decade ago from appearing to be something archaic. Dragon Quest VIII remains a brilliant game and undoubtedly deserves to be called a classic.
I'm inclined to say that Journey of the Cursed King for Nintendo 3DS is the definitive version of the game. The improvements and improvements to the PlayStation 2 release are great. New characters in the party and other additions will encourage fans of the series to re-explore this position. It is just as playable today as it was when it was originally released. I have no doubts that every fan of the jRPG genre should be interested in this title.