Dragon Quest 8 Review
Bringing all of these older Dragon Quest games to the Nintendo 3DS is a brilliant idea, and I’m loving every minute of it. Although Dragon Quest 8 doesn’t boast the obvious improvements we saw in Dragon Quest 7 – when comparing the original to the remakes – nothing is really lost between the PS2 classic and this release, which for most Dragon Quest fans, is all we can ask for!
Not the Same Enhancements as 7
Dragon Quest 7 on the 3DS got a number of great enhancements when the original game was ported over to the 3DS last year. Graphics and audio where the two main improvements, but there were some fairly major adjustments throughout that made Dragon Quest 7 feel like a very familiar, yet almost entirely new adventure. The same cannot be said for Dragon Quest 8’s rebirth, but I don’t really mean that in a bad way.
Dragon Quest 8 as well received when launching on the PS2, and for the time, it looked fantastic. The story was interesting enough – you are trying to find an evil wizard who has ruined the world and turned two of your friends into a troll like creature and a horse – and the visuals and audio were top notch for the time. Obviously, the developers of Dragon Quest felt that a straight port over to the 3DS with a few minor improvements was the way to go.
Immersive Story, Quality Voice Acting
What’s funny about Dragon Quest 8 is that the game isn’t really about the plot so much as it is about the characters, how they interact with each other, and how varied they really are. From good looking and arrogant companions, to the dim witted and rather grotesque looking, all the characters are working together towards a common goal – returning the world to order!
What struct me was the quality voice acting that still has a powerful affect today while I play. All of the cut scenes are brought to life in ways that other JRPG’s are not, with voices tied to characters. Although straight text that forces the players to read the story is not bad, the voice acting adds an extra layer of depth that only builds on the attributes of each character.
In a way, the voices for each character makes you care just a bit more about their character arch and the outcome of their adventure, personally. Yes, you work towards a common goal, but I found myself prioritising equipment and leveling up some characters over others, purely because of the connection I had with them via the cut scenes.
Odd, perhaps. But immersive.
Small Changes, Core Game Play Retained
At its core, little has changed in Dragon Quest 8. Battles are still the very traditional turn based approach, with each character or enemy attacking in sequence. Battles today still play out much the same as they did in 2005, proving again that traditional and ‘old school’ turn based Japanese RPG’s are definitely just as entertaining today as they were a decade ago.
At times, it’s hard to justify charging full price just for a port, and the developers have made a few key changes to streamline the title for the handheld market. First, battles in the over world are no longer randomly generated, which means you could completely avoid battles in the over world if you so choose, by simply dodging around the enemies you see. While fighting almost everything is highly recommended – especially early on – it’s a great added feature for when your health is low and the nearest restoration point is no where in sight!
The only other major change comes within the battles themselves. As handhelds games are often played in short spurts, players can now utilise a fast forward button for battles; while more difficult fights might take a lot of planning and strategic movements, easier battles can quickly be fast forwarded through as you just attack with each character, as opposed to defending or casting spells. While initially this feature doesn’t seem too valuable, it becomes almost a must-have as you begin progressing through the game.
Everything about why Dragon Quest 8 was good in 2005 is still relevant today with this latest 3DS release, and we at GamesReviews cannot recommend this title enough. This game seems to have everything, from fantastic art, to great character designs, and from wonderful voice acting to an intriguing story, there is something here for almost everyone, whether an experienced gamer or not.
You can pick up Dragon Quest 8 now at retail, or online via the NIntendo eShop. What do you think of Dragon Quest?