We have to admit we missed Dragon Quest VIII: Odyssey of the Cursed King, in these last years. Its release in Europe was indeed a historic moment for jrpg fans.
For the first time in many years, in fact, an episode of the Yuji Horii series landed in the West, in a market now firmly in the hands of Final Fantasy fans. Ironically, it was an episode not available on Nintendo consoles, which has always been a reference point for Dragon Quest, to open the dance.
Today, after so many years, Dragon Quest VIII finally comes home with a portable remaster for the 3DS stainless. A few weeks ago we shared our first impressions of this remastered. Today is the time to take stock.
The photos taken in the game can be edited in a thousand different ways and shared with friends.
How does a jrpg from 10 years ago fare in the current market? After spending a lot of hours there we can assure you that it is going great. The quality of the original material (story, characters and combat system), combined with a series of tricks designed to rejuvenate the work, brought a fantastic experience back to life.
The interesting thing about this remastered is that it is perfect both for those who have never tried the original game, and for those who have already pulped it years ago on PlayStation 2. The changes made by the development team, in fact, do not only involve the mechanics of game (softened and perfected so as not to disfigure in front of modern jrpg), but also the plot.
Facing Dragon Quest VIII again in this version, you will not only find the playable versions of Red and Morrie, two NPCs you have already dealt with, but you will also be faced with new missions and an unreleased alternate ending. This is excellent news for all fans, who will be able to relive a glory of the past without completely giving up surprises.
The other novelty is represented by the line of missions linked to the new mechanics of photographs. Thanks to the camera, in fact, it is possible to stop the action at any time to take more or less elaborate photos. Once in this mode, it is possible to rotate the camera, have the protagonist pose, hide him (in the case of panoramic photos or those linked to specific creatures), or even insert the other members of the party in the picture.
While offering nothing new compared to many other current games, this version of the photo mode is really well thought out and guarantees a lot of extra fun. Considering that there are several missions in the game that will push you to take advantage of it, it’s a very welcome addition.
The other big news concerns the exploration of the game world, no longer diluted by the frequent casual encounters that we have hated in the past. In the new Dragon Quest VIII, each enemy is clearly visible on the map.
Quickly try to get the bell with which to summon this trusty and fast mount. It will make all the difference in the world while exploring!
It is up to the player to decide who to face. This does not mean that fights can be avoided, however, because as per tradition, this version of Dragon Quest also requires a wild grinding.
In order not to be crushed like grapes by the powerful bosses and, above all, to accumulate the right amount of money with which to buy the most powerful equipment (never cheap), it is essential to get busy on the battlefield.
The good thing about the new setting is that in times of difficulty, further complications can be avoided by moving cautiously around the map. You can choose specific types of enemies (to photograph them or, why not, to find a particular type of loot).
The monsters marked with the two crossed swords icon are the equivalent of Etrian Odyssey’s mini-bosses. These are particularly fierce opponents, against which you will have to use all the resources of your party to bring home the victory.
Another welcome change is the greater balance of skill points, which in this new version work better than in the past. Considering that the game also offers three classes for each character, one of which is designed for unarmed combat, here is that the return of Dragon Quest VIII takes on more and more the contours of a great success.
While the ability to save at any time lowers the difficulty level from the original experience, this jrpg is still quite difficult for an audience accustomed to being led by the hand towards the finale of current games.
However, if you manage to get into the right perspective, you will find an incredible experience in your hands. The plot, despite the years it carries on its shoulders, is still solid and convincing today, demonstrating the excellent work done for the original draft.
For encounters with monsters, the game was inspired by the excellent Ni No Kuni. Bumping into particularly weak enemies, you’ll see them run away!
The many characters in the game are all well characterized and hide different layers to be discovered in the course of the long adventure. Akira Toriyama’s design then completes the work. The adventures of Hero, Yangus, King Trode, the equine princess Medea and all the characters who join the bizarre company, are characterized by an excellent narrative balance.
The introduction is less long and pompous than other jrpg and the dead moments, however present, are never excessive. Considering that the topics covered are often very strong (murders, feuds between orphans, companions possessed by evil spirits and more), there is enough meat on the fire to get involved completely.
If we add to this the various mini-games present (the Monster Arena, the casino and more), you will understand why so many have loved Dragon Quest VIII madly. The part that convinced us less than this remaster is the technical one.
While featuring brighter colors than its PS2 counterpart, this version of the SquareEnix title did not enjoy the enhancements we would have expected to see on the Nintendo handheld console.
Some polygonal models have been retouched to add detail, that’s true, but the texture quality of the environments is too fluctuating. From a machine capable of handling much more complex titles, we would have expected something more.
For the audio sector, the situation is much worse. Having to compromise to keep the weight of this remastered manageable, the developers decided to sacrifice the beautiful symphonic soundtrack to keep the dialogue dubbing.
The pleasant dubbing in English is still present, therefore, but the epic soundtrack is revived in MIDI sauce, with a marked decrease in quality. Among the music of Dragon Quest VIII there are memorable pieces that manage to warm the heart even in the MIDI version, but it is really a shame not to be able to enjoy the best version.
The Nintendo 3DS version of Dragon Quest VIII: Odyssey of the Cursed King is therefore promoted. Despite the flaws in the technical sector, the changes to some mechanics and the new narrative content make this version of the classic SquareEnix absolutely perfect for old and new players.