I don't play many games - I get a bit lost when people start talking about Assassin's Age or Dragon's Creed, or whatever the hell the are. So it always surprises me a little bit when I get sucked into a game; it happens rarely, believe you me.
One game that completely drew me in was Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King. An ex-boyfriend of mine was an avid games player - he counted down to games releases like I count down to book releases. He had a PS2 when they were still mega expensive, and brought an HD TV just so that he could use his PS3 on it. I mostly ignored his game playing - as far as I was concerned, it just meant awesome reading time for me, when I wasn't called upon to entertain him! But I ended up watching him playing DQ VIII - first the music entered my consciousness, then I started asking him about the characters and how the combat worked, and then (heaven forfend!) I wanted to know where Jessica was, why the horse was so important, and why my then-boyfriend kept trying to seek out Metal King Slimes - and was so excited when he killed one!
I didn't end up playing the game until I was convalescing from a burst appendix. I had spent four days reading and sleeping, and was *whispers* bored of my books. I wanted something to do that I could easily pick up and put down, and ended up sneaking onto the PS2 to play DQ VIII. "Just an hour or so, and then I'll read my book again," thought I. After a week of constant playing, I realised that I was finally hooked on a game. I hated having to go to bed at night, and looked forward to when the ex went to work so that I was able to have access to the PS2 (which he was rather disgruntled about me using - until he, in turn, got hooked on Rome: Total War, which, mercifully, he had for the PC!)
The storyline is a simple one: the silent protagonist and his party of allies journey across Trodain and surrounding areas to defeat the mighty Dhoulmagus. This dark mage has cursed the kingdom of Trodain, transforming King Trode and his daughter Medea, and it is up to the Hero to return them to their original forms and save the kingdom. Nice and simple.
The gameplay is also lovely and simple - especially for a complete simpleton like me (where games are concerned). The combat is turn-based, nothing sneaks up on you in a nasty fashion and there are nice little puzzles to complete. My ex did have mild hysterics at one point watching me try to run my main character around the place, as I missed roads and stumbled through forests accidentally. My hand-eye co-ordination where games are concerned isn't what it could be!
What I REALLY loved about this game was its warmth and charm - the monsters are horrifying cute; the characters make you smile; the story is a good old hero rescues the princess tale. I liked the levelling up through experience, and the fact that Sex Appeal was one of the characteristics you could increase, so that the character might try and distract the monsters through blowing kisses. I loved the fact that I played my characters in a completely different manner to then-boyfriend, using different weapon combinations for my allies. I know I could pick this game up again right now and play a very different story according to which side quests I pursued, or whether I decided to just follow the main plotline.
I have never been as invested in a game as I was in DQ VIII - for someone who enjoyed the style of combat, the wide-eyed characters and the story, which games would you suggest for me? And which console would be best for the RPG type games that I love?