Review by SSMaster
"Remember Superman 64? Well this is the EXACT OPPOSITE of that!"
*Warning, spoilers for those who have no idea what Dragon Quest VIII is*
This is one of the best RPG's I've seen in a long time. It's got a diverse range of areas that can suit every type of gamer. If you're an expert RPGer, you'll fall right into the various systems and know just how to use them, giving you an edge over the games various monsters. If you're a novice or even an experienced RPGer, this will have the parts in just the right amount that you CAN use them, but won't be overwelmed, as they aren't required to be used in heavy means. This game may even be able to put you into the league of an expert RPGer by itself, if you can learn to do everything just right. You see, Dragon Quest has both easy elements in the combat system and hard elements in the alchemy. But here's everything split into it's seperate parts:
This game is one that supports cell-shaded graphics. If you aren't familiar with the concept, it's like Viewtiful Joe, Tales of Symphonia, or the very well-known Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. Comparing it to other game graphics is similar to comparing claymation to normal animation in movies. It's something that is either liked for it's detail or hated for it's cartoony look. In terms of graphics, I don't mind how it makes the characters look. What I like about the graphics is the engine itself. To know why, look at the world of the game. It is one of great and truly immense detail that never seems to wane. If this game weren't cell-shaded, it would likely look similar to Shadow of the Colossus. The background never seems to need loading on the world map, which means that the whole thing is done all at once. Additionally, many parts of the world map seem to be in view on the normal map screens, and the day-night engine has been refined to work even in some town and dungeon areas. You may disagree, but take a closer look at the next dungeon you go too, and see how much detail there truly is.
There's some very well orchestrated music here, specifically the chapel music, which seems to say "You are in a chapel now." Well, it delivers what it promises. One thing about the sound I disliked, is that all the characters voices are telling you "You are in England now," or in Yangus' case, "You are in a British pub now." Funny, because half of the towns have a pub. Did they intend to give every character an Irish accent? I don't know, but I hope they don't do that again, except for maybe one kingdom.
This game has the basic premise of most games in it: Hunt down and kill the guy with the craziest outfit, the Jester Dhoulmagus (looking, as you'd expect, like a mix of Dhaos, Magus, and Kefka). Unlike many games, however, this goes beyond some prophecy that this man will attack and destroy your kingdom with an ancient device in a temple somewhere. This has to do with the simple fact that this man already HAS done just that, turned your king into a monster, the princess into a horse, killed the brother of one party member, killed the high priest of a great chapel, and doesn't yet seem to have any reason for these actions. Every character that does anything always seems to have an adequate reason for it, and it doesn't leave you going "Why'd he just do that?" except for Dhoulmagus, but that's part of the story.
The basic battle system of Dragon Quest VIII is down to several commands: Attack, Charge Attack, Use Ability or Spell, Use Item, Defend, Run Away, Make enemies Run Away. It's simple, but it's executed so that you can't just use the same basic moves to kill everybody. Beyond that, there are several other aspects to gameplay. There's leveling up, just like most other games, butr when you level up, you get skill points that can be used to increase your proficiency with certain weapons or with your own chatacter skills (though I've yet to see a reason why to use the bare-handed commands). It sounds easy to just focus all points to one weapon, but then you get a stronger weapon in a different category, so you have to power up something else. It is possible to max them all, but not till the very end. There's also Alchemy, where you can combine several different items to create a totally new one. This may seem very daunting, and it is, but since it isn't required to go through the game, it shouldn't be put against the game if you can't use it. The game also has you collecting various things, like Monsters for the Arena, or Mini Medals for the collecter. These aren't required either, but it's fun to collect them around the expansive world, and it's satisfying when you get rewarded for it. To repeat what I've already said, this game has something for every level of gamer.
This game has it's share of both good and bad characters, but all of them have something funny to say...except the Hero, of course, because he's mute for some reason. Besides him, the other characters in your little group are Yangus, the ill-tempered one who is just like a big guy in a British pub, because of his voice, look, attitude, and the fact that he's the best fighter in the group. Then there's Jessica, because all games need the scantily-clad female lead with the magic spells. Next is King Trode and Medea, the ones who either got turned from a king and princess into a monster and horse, or the one with some kind of thought problem (that's the best way to put it). Finally is Angelo, who is a womanizing, cheating guy who has noble blood, grew up in an abbey, and has a relative who hates him (picture Zelos Wilder, except a good fighter, and he isn't bad). There's also various NPCs to breed a good sense of both humour and emotion into this game, unlike your standard one-dimensional characters. Other than the hero, the cast of characters is a good one.
This game is as long as this section is short, and that's a good thing.
In a nutshell, this is a good addition to the great series of games that has the people of Japan sitting idly by, waiting for the next one. As of this game, I officially know why. It's got quality in all aspects, and delivers the classic RPG experience that not many other games out there will give you. If you're an RPG fan of any kind, or are interested in becoming one, then you owe it to yourself to pick this game up.
10 + 7 + 10 + 10 + 9 + 10
= 56/60 = 10/10
Reviewer's Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Originally Posted: 12/05/05
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