REVIEW: Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King

Monday, March 6th, 2017

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Dragon Quest VIII | 3DS Memorium

The Memorium is one of two new dungeons.

Thankfully there is at least some added challenge to this version of the game. The previous pinnacle of Dragon Quest VIII’s challenge was the Dragonian Trials, where you fought a series of different colored dragons and received a special set of weapons and armor for the hero. Even the Divine Dragon of the trials only lasted a couple rounds against me this time, so I really was looking for some extra challenge. That challenge was found in the Memorium dungeon, one of two new dungeons added to the game. The other dungeon provides some additional story, but to describe it at all would involve a lot of serious spoilers. The Memorium dungeon, however, is merely a series of arena style boss fights that is a re-imagining of all the previous major bosses in the game (finishing off with an extremely popular boss from Dragon Quest past). All of these bosses are much more difficult than the final boss of the game, and are even several degrees more difficult than the dragons. They are mostly there for the challenge, but after each fight you gain several treasures that will really round out your party equipment. There are new outfits for some of the old characters, exclusive weapons and armor for Red and Morrie, and even some really rare items that were formerly limited to one in the original game. For example, you originally¬†had to choose between having a liquid metal sword and a liquid metal boomerang; now you have the materials to own one of each.

Dragon Quest VIII | 3DS Old Characters

The old characters remained generally more useful.

Having the new characters was an interesting idea; certainly both Morrie and Red were flashy enough to be memorable among all the previous NPCs in the game. Unfortunately, the game was already balanced around the original 4 characters, and not around having a party of 6. Yes, you can still only use 4 at one time, but the issue is finding a place for those two new characters. Realistically, you still need to have your Hero, Jessica, and Angelo in the party as the best all around, the best spell caster, and the best healer (accordingly). So you really only should be changing out Yangus, but Yangus is a really stellar attacker as well and by the time you are able to recruit the new characters, getting them up to the power of Yangus takes quite a bit of time and effort. There is some amount of reward for that dedication; Red has the most broken ability in Dragon Quest history at her disposal, but that is a very long game to get the most out of her.

Dragon Quest VIII | 3DS Photo Mode

The less I say about photo mode, the better.

There are other things that were slightly altered, such as the photo mode (which I hated almost as much as the one in Final Fantasy XV), lowering the difficulty of enemies (I never wiped even once), and changing around a couple abilities (for example, Dragon Soul unlocks at 70 now instead of 65). But there were two changes that might make this game the definitive version of Dragon Quest VIII (something that I could not say for the Dragon Quest VII 3DS remake). The first is that there are several new story sequences that give more choices to the endings, such as the ability to marry someone else other than the normal choice (no spoilers), and also fill in a couple shorter story sequences that were previously part of the game. Along with that change, the other major positive change was that they added a lot more voiced dialogue in the game. As I said earlier in the review, this game was very famous for how amazing its English dub was. That being said, not even half of the original dialogue was voiced. Now there is much more voice work, not just the new scenes but adding a lot more into scenes that were previously unvoiced. They needed to cut down some of the music file size and turn it into midi only in order to fit all the new voices on a 3DS cart, but I think they actually made a good choice there. The music still remains amazing, and possibly the best soundtrack of the entire Dragon Quest series.

Dragon Quest VIII | 3DS Dragonian Village

There is much more post game content than the Dragonian Village.

I played this game on the New 3DS XL, which I wanted to point out in this review as it was revealed that Dragon Quest VII did not run nearly as well on the traditional 3DS. There was no slowdown or bugs or any other thing that interfered with my experience. The controls remained really good, and having that little nub to also move your camera around was a nice little touch. Really, the only complaint I have about this game is that they nerfed it for what they perceive as a new audience, and they censored it for apparently the same reason. I honestly do not understand what Square Enix is thinking by doing those things. I find it highly unlikely that the new fans that they are hoping to gain by making it easy and by covering up all the girls will make up for the ones that they will lose as a result of those changes. Dragon Quest is a series that is about as old school as it gets, and its die hard fans (such as myself) love it for those things. So is this the definitive version of Dragon Quest VIII? I would hesitantly say that it is. As upsetting as the reduced difficulty and the censorship are to me, there are more good changes than there are bad. And there is no question that paying $39.99 for such a massive RPG is well worth the money. By the time I had completed all the bonus content I was at around 100 hours. I just wish that this company would help me love them more, whether these decisions are from the developer Square Enix or the publisher Nintendo.

Review Score

Review Copy Purchased By Author

About William Haderlie

Born in the 1970's, I've been an avid participant for much of video game history. A lifetime of being the sort of supergeek entrenched in the sciences and mathematics has not curbed my appreciation for the artistry of video games, cinema, and especially literature.

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