Friday 10 December 2010

Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King

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?


  1. Holy shit, it's 2005 in this blog and I am seeing a world in which JRPGs are not yet reviled.

  2. You're always SO helpful Sam :-p

  3. LOL@Sam Sykes.

    You could try the Final Fantasy series or Xenogears for powerful story and beautiful graphics.

    As for console, I'd say Playstation 2 since it is backward compatible with the Playstation console (which means you can play all the games from the previous console).

  4. Dragon Quest 4&5 can be played on Nintendo DS Lite. Look for the older one that can play Gameboy cartridges, then you can play DQ 1, 2, and 3' al though they are called Dragon Warrior is the U.S. DQ 9 is also available on the DS Lite. After that the Final Fantasy series can be played on the DS Lite 1, 2, 5,and 6 via Gameboy cartridges and 3 and 4 with DS Lite carts. Final Fantasy 3 and 4 are available on iPhone as well.

  5. The obvious answer is Dragon Quest IX, on the Nintendo DS - more of the same wide-eyed JRPG wonder, and it's portable too.

    But I'd point you also towards anything DQ8 devs Level-5 have put out: Dark Cloud, Rogue Galaxy, or the Professor Layton games for some good, old-fashioned puzzling fun.

  6. RPGs are my babies. Honestly, I love that type of game to death, and have found so many that are worth playing.

    Best system? That depends. PS2 had a ton of RPGs worth playing, especially when you consider the backward compatibility with PSX games. Now PS2s and their games are getting harder to find... The Nintendo DS has a lot of good RPGs for it, though, and it has the benefits of being backward compatible with the GBA and it's portable, so you can play your RPGs on the go.

    As for games, a lot of the earlier Final Fantasy games were very good. Not that the later ones are bad, but they tend to go for a darker or more serious feel than some of the older ones. The Dark Cloud series is addictive, as is Jade Cocoon, if you don't mind some monster-catching in your story. If you want to venture into the world of dark and wonderfully deep and expansive, try any of the Shin Megami Tensei games, like Nocturne or Persona 3 or 4. (If Persona 3 doesn't hook you, nothing will!) The Suikoden series is also fantastic, but they get expensive and hard-to-find pretty quickly; I'm lucky to have all of the ones released for the Playstation consoles, and one of those cost me $90!

    Shame we live an ocean apart, or else I'd invite you over for a gaming weekend! I'm sure you'd find a lot to choose from in my collection.

  7. "And which console would be best for the RPG type games that I love?"

    A Playstation emulator on PC. A SNES emulator on PC. For starters.

    Then a very powerful PC to run a Playstation 2 emulator. And maybe a Nintendo DS emulator.

    Then you have all that is needed to play the best of the best.

  8. I've started re-playing Dragon Quest VIII now that my pc is sick. Never finished it the first time, but I'm going to now :-)
    Thanks for reminding me that I had it :-)

    I suggest you get a PS2. Start with Final Fantasy X. It's and Epic Fantasy game with a great story. And it has the turn-based combat that is good for people who haven't played much RPG. If you like that you can go on to FF X-2, and from there to FF XII. Final Fantasy(FF) XII is in my opinion the best of the FF games.
    You can also try Kingdom Hearts, RPG with Disney elements, lots of the Disney characters are there. Many love that.