If you haven’t played this game before or want to relive your Playstation 2 experience, I recommend taking on the remake. The pace is faster and graphics and animations are improved without actually making big changes to gameplay or story, resulting in an improved version of an already great game.
Like many people in the US and Europe, Dragon Quest VIII for the PS2 was the first Dragon Quest game I ever played. It is a video game series that is best known for its art style by Akira Toriyama (well known for being the creator of the Dragon Ball series) and pun-filled stories. As one of the most prominent J-RPG series out there, I would definitely recommend you give it a go.
The story of the game goes exactly as in the original video game. You go out in the world in order to try and find a way to undo the evil curse that turned the king and his daughter into a chubby monster and white horse respectively. As your hero has turned Yangus straight from his bandit way of life, he has joined you to fight the evil jester Dhoulmagus. Along the way, you meet Jessica and Angelo to ready to help you on your adventure as they both have their personal reasons for joining the search.
The gameplay elements are incredibly similar to other Dragon Quest games. You fight monsters found on the map with your party to gain levels and improve your strength and skills. The fighting style is turn-based, usually relying on a variety of skills and attack powers. Each party member has unique potential skill sets. For instance, Jessica can specialize in magic, relying on spells such as ‘frizz’ and ‘crackle’ to damage enemies. She could also pursue the path of whip user, allowing for different strategies in battle. Basically, the player choses the fighting style of each party member, making it possible to play the game with a little bit more freedom. That being said, some strategies and skill sets are convincingly better than other, meaning some specializations will turn out to be a little disappointing.
While fighting your battles and becoming stronger your journey advances, you broaden your horizon by unlocking access to new areas of the game. Each area has its own flavour and own dynamics and problems left for you to solve. Sometimes you must help a desperate king to make his son into prince-material by defeating dragon-like creatures. At other times you will find yourself exploring large dungeons in order to retrieve a special item for the original owner, but always with your purpose in mind; become stronger and defeat the evil that torments the world.
One of the main unique elements of this game is that you are able to feed your mouse, Munchie, cheese in order to perform impressive elemental attacks based on its flavour. Another great reason to go for this Dragon Quest game is the ability to use alchemy, used to forge improved items from the ones you put into the alchemy machine. On top of that, you can collect multiple special monsters from all over the world to join your monster team. This team can be used in normal battles but also in the Monster Arena to win valuable prices.
There are some noticable changes I have spotted while comparing the 3DS remake of this game to its predecessor. First of all, the improved graphics and sound are obvious, as well as the fact you can now see the monsters in the overworld, allowing you to pick your enemies selectively. In addition, you can now capture every moment of your adventure by taking in-game pictures of rare monsters to complete quests and share them with your friends. Moreover, an alternate ending is added, as well as new dungeon, extra post-game story content and new obtainable party members Red and Morrie.
The 3DS version makes great use of the 3DS’ double screen. The top screen is used as main screen, showing your character and the space they move and act in. The lower screen functions as a map and shows the number of experience points needed to increase your level while visiting the church. When leveling up, it will show how many skill points are required for certain power ups. For example, when considering to make Yangus a scythe expert, you can already see how many skill points are needed to acquire certain skills. It adds to the players convenience, since looking builds up on the internet or in your game guide is less of a necessity.
That doesn’t mean I didn’t use my PS2 Dragon Quest VII: The Cursed King Strategy Guide. While I was fighting monsters in the overworld I noticed that monsters’ hit points now vary and are actually lower than they were in the PS2 version. That being said, the boss monsters are still as strong as before, leaving me to believe this change was added to increase the pace of the game. With this increased flow and tempo the original feel and gameplay of Dragon Quest VIII are respected, allowing for an improved but authentic experience.