You, the nameless hero, are journeying to uplift the curse that has befallen your kingdom. Your party is small initially consisting of a former bandit, a cursed troll king and a horse princess. Along the way you’ll encounter a young magician girl and a roguish Templar. The party may be small, but it’s beneficial in order to properly flesh out each character. From the main cast to the side characters, each is unique and superbly well voiced for a JRPG from six years ago. The overall quest has a slow start and doesn’t really get going until you gain all four playable characters about 6-8 hours in, but its pretty engrossing.
DQ8 is a traditional turn based RPG. The random encounter rate is high and each battle could put your lives at risk. If you die, however, you only lose half your gold and not your hard earned experience. Thankfully you can deposit your gold in banks so while the game may be hard, there’s a few forgiving mechanics in place. And speaking leveling up, not only do your stats increase, but you also earn skill points to put into five different class sets per character, which grant special perks and abilities. The rest of the game is JRPG standard. Go to towns, gain knowledge to progress the story, go to a dungeon, and repeat. It’s standard JRPG fair, but at it’s finest.
The best thing I can probably say about DQ8 is that this six year old game still looks gorgeous thanks to its cel-shaded graphics. The colorful pallet, characters and environments make up for what it lacks by today’s standards thanks in part to Akira Toriyama’s art, from DBZ fame. The soundtrack is also great with every track fully orchestrated making this quest truly feel epic. From the main campaign to all the side quests, this game is packed full of content which will take players well past 80 hours.
Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King is a fantastic JRPG with little to fault. It’s unique graphics and wonderful story telling have made it age well. It may be a little hard for some, but to those who stick with it it’s very rewarding. I’ve played other Dragon Quests before and none of them feel as good as 8. If you have a PS2, this is the one to start off with and it’s cheap too!
Score: 5/5 Stars
Special Notes: This article was originally published on February 23, 2012 via my Examiner account before the website shut down.