64-Bit Gems #31: Dragon Quest VIII (PS2)

Roo takes advantage this April 1st to talk an RPG that gets just about everything right – Dragon Quest VIII, for the Playstation 2.  Watch for an explanation of why this is a game any JRPG fan can’t pass by.

30 Comments

  • The Onion Knight
    Posted April 2, 2012 at 2:09 AM | Permalink

    Excellent review, Roo! I recently got into the Dragon Quest series and I happen to be planning to pick this game up later this month. Your review further solidifies my expectations that I’ll be in for a great adventure!

     I never knew about the function where you can speak to your party members and hear their thoughts. That’s actually really cool and I wish more RPGs used a mechanic like that. The only other RPGs I can think of that use something like this is the Tales of series, but DQ VIII seems to use this mechanic to a higher degree.

     

    Can’t wait for your next review, Roo!

    • Frozenwrath Frozenwrath
      Posted April 29, 2013 at 10:51 AM | Permalink

      You should also check the “Star Ocean” series, each game lets you interact with many characters, and some may affect the ending.

  • 8BitBrian
    Posted April 2, 2012 at 3:37 AM | Permalink

    I’m really upset that this is a series that I’ve missed out on as a whole. I’ve never picked up aaany of them! I think it’s time to change that.

  • DTX180
    Posted April 2, 2012 at 3:42 AM | Permalink

    agreed 100%. I’ll admit dragon quest 7 was a bit too much of a grind for me (or maybe i just wasn’t in the mood for it at the time i did play it), but dragon quest 8 was amazing……..

     

     

     

    happy april fools!

  • Mr.Saturn
    Posted April 2, 2012 at 5:34 AM | Permalink

    I dunno I really wanted to like this game (did not get it for the FFXII demo) but everything about the game was so slow to me and I just couldn’t keep my interest up.

    Also I am pretty sure the PS2 isn’t considered 64-bit.

  • Sonic Rose sonicrose
    Posted April 2, 2012 at 6:08 AM | Permalink

    I couldn’t agree more. This is really an excellent game. 7 felt ‘grindy’ as someone put it, and catching monsters for apark, while novel, was just an artificial way to extend the game. The monster teams you could make and battle in 8 however… those were worth something because of the arena and rewards you could get. That made getting monsters to join you much more enjoyable (And something Roo didn’t even mention!)

     

    Why yes,  I get sidetracked by sidequests a lot. Y? XD

  • widdowson91
    Posted April 2, 2012 at 6:44 AM | Permalink

    Dragon Quest VIII is freaking awesome! I played it in 2010 and loved every second of the 92 hours and 8 minutes I spent playing it. I want to play it again, but the huge backlog of games I own is stopping me from doing so. I agree totally, as a European there’s no excuse for us to not get these games now they hit our shores. Nice review too Roo.

  • Backfire
    Posted April 2, 2012 at 6:52 AM | Permalink

    I really kept waiting for him to say this was an April Fools Day joke……….mostly cause I own this game and have always considered it really bad…….really, really bad actually……..but hey you can’t agree on em all and as always Roo had his info straight and organized well. So ………..Good job Roo! Maybe I’ll give this game a 3rd try and see if I can hack it this time.

  • cassette
    Posted April 2, 2012 at 7:30 AM | Permalink

    Yeah, I originally bought this game because of the FF12 demo. I had never played a DQ game before, but I really enjoyed playing this.  Seeing this review, and Jessica’s massive jugs, I kinda want to play it again.

  • metalcoola
    Posted April 2, 2012 at 11:04 AM | Permalink

    Excellent review, it`s really sad, that this game was so overlooked, for me, its one of the best RPG of all times, just one little thing, it wasn`t only DQ game released for PS2,  there also was a remake of V, unfortunately, it wasnt released outside of Japan, but, you can get english patch :)

  • SMRPGFAN101
    Posted April 2, 2012 at 12:08 PM | Permalink

    This was quite cool (as with all your other reviews sans simulation games because I don’t like that genre).  I hold the Super Mario RPG series in the same light as you hold Dragon Quest.

    I hold nostalgic attachment to Super Mario RPG Legend of the Seven Stars for being my first RPG, and think it is among the best of six games released in the series and all time.  I have no problem admitting that Paper Mario The Thousand Year Door (SMRPG IV) being a better game than Super Mario RPG without the nostalgia factor.

    Back onto Dragon Quest, I only own Dragon Quest III on Gameboy Color and Dragon Quest IX on the Nintendo DS thanks to your friend, Eric aka Asalieri. 

    Lookin’ forward to more, Roo.  I can’t afford the series right now.  (I’m trying to complete my SNES collection).  I will never own all the games, but I am after a select few…  Some of the games you reviewed are not on that list (Star Trek and SeaQuest). 

    I thankfully got and experienced Earthbound before you or HVGN reviewed it so I was happy to see your informative although fanboyish reviews.  I didn’t consider it the holy grail, but simply a fun RPG with the dialogue and setting being above anything on the SNES in that genre.  I still consider FFIV, SMRPG, and Chrono Trigger much better RPGs on the SNES. 

    Have you thought of reviewing The Twisted Tales of Spike McFang?  It’s a very short RPG in the gameplay vein of A Link to the Past.  It would make for a great 16-bit gem review.

  • Hidoshi
    Posted April 2, 2012 at 5:08 PM | Permalink

    Roo! You’ve sullied my beautiful logo! ;_; *sobs* How could you?!

    Also… isn’t the PS2 technically 128-bit? o_O

  • havaska
    Posted April 2, 2012 at 5:42 PM | Permalink

    Just so everyone knows…

    The PS2 is a 64-bit console (look it up)

    Also, just to add – the original XBox is 32-bit, the Gamecube is 64-bit, the Wii is 64-bit, the Xbox 360 is 64-bit and the PS3 is 64-bit.

  • BanditKing
    Posted April 2, 2012 at 6:58 PM | Permalink

    @TheOnionKnight Grandia also uses that mechanic to an extent during the little campfire moments interspersed throughout the game. After overcoming a major challenge in the story, the characters usually decide to take a break and eat dinner/set camp/ etc. to talk about what they’ve accomplished so far, what they look forward too, and just some other random stuff about their personality.

    And in some Fire Emblem games, there’s a similar mechanic that the players must utilize in order to recruit additional members to their roster. Basically, certain characters can recruit others. But what this does is set up character (relationships, webs, however you wanna describe it) that can lead to certain bonuses or penalties down the road, as well as develop their character because they are playing off of each other’s traits. I think there was one Fire Emblem game where you could make certain party members fall in love with each other and have a child that would become playable in the second half of the game. Because the war continued into a later generation or something. It may have been Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War, but it’s been so long since I played it that I can’t really remember which game it was.

    But I do remember in Valkyria Chronicles a feature that granted certain characters special abilities if they were near a person they liked. Doesn’t really develop them in an expository sense; it’s more interactive, but it still says something about their character.

    Even in Persona 3, after you return to the dorm in the evening you can talk to your fellow SEES members (if they are there) and they’ll often share gameplay hints, talk about the story so far, ask you personal questions, or just talk about how their life is going. All of which really strengthen their character.

    Uh, anyway, I’m just saying there are other RPGs out there that use this feature other than Tales. Even if it’s not used the exact same way or immediately recognizable. But they’re out there and they all accomplish more-or-less the same thing :) This is just to name a few.

  • ClownWithLeprosy
    Posted April 2, 2012 at 7:04 PM | Permalink

    This is the only Dragon Quest game I’ve played so far (unfortunately), and I’ve gotta say that it’s just a staggeringly beautiful game, truly a pinnacle in the genre. I just fell in love with the game more or less immediately upon playing it. I might even go as far as saying that ths game trumps any game in the Final Fantasy series (yes, including FF6 and 7).

  • BanditKing
    Posted April 2, 2012 at 7:08 PM | Permalink

    I’ve already mentioned this on the youtube video (seeing how I saw that first), but at the risk of being redundant there are random encounters in this game. Plenty of them. And they’re in every area that isn’t a town. The monsters Roo was referring to were special recruitable monsters in the game. Like Pokemon.

    Just pointing that out. While I’m pointing out stuff, it’s not very practical to measure the PS2’s performance capability by bits or whatever. At least from what I understand (which is very little). So, to argue over whether it’s a 64-bit console or a 128-bit console isn’t really…I dunno, necessary?

    The PS2’s “Emotion Engine” is 64-bit (apparently) so…close enough? I’m kinda just repeating what Roo already wrote at the end of the review though…

    Anyway, Dragon Quest VIII SUCKS!! (April Fools)

  • AkiraVGA
    Posted April 3, 2012 at 12:07 AM | Permalink

    I’ve had this sitting on my shelf for quite a while now waiting for the “right time” to play it. When I first started it up I played about 3-4 hours in one sitting and decided the game deserved a better time and state of mind to play (I was playing a lot of shooters at the time).

    When a game makes you stop blinking and forget what time it is… you know you’ve found something great. Every now and then I think about starting fresh and playing it to the end but knowing I have unplayed (mostly) gold sitting right there ready to go… I hesitiate and wonder if I should save it for a better time.

    Hmm… maybe I need to take a week off my day job sometime soon. indecision

  • The Onion Knight
    Posted April 3, 2012 at 4:07 AM | Permalink

    @BanditKing Oh right! I completely forgot that the Fire Emblem series uses this mechanic! How silly of me. And you’re right, it was Genealogy of the Holy War where characters have to fall in love and make kids, hence genealogy. I’ve yet to play Grandia, Persona, or Valkyria Chronicles – even though I’ve really wanted to play the latter.

     

    And I agree, a system’s capabilities shouldn’t be defined by it’s ‘bit power’. After all, isn’t it story, with an overall ‘fun-factor’, that makes a game and not graphics?

  • The Male White Mage The Male White Mage
    Posted April 3, 2012 at 4:28 AM | Permalink

    I am sure I stated this on the forums but will say it again it took till I played Dragon Quest VIII to find an RPG to be on par with the first Final Fantasy game on the NES and that I was following the wrong series.

    After watching this it makes me want to look again into buying a new copy since I bought it used and it is not complete.

    Roo I see how you like to keep games in other case (or behind them) how is the Earthbound prototype doing in the Dragon Warrior IV case or is it in the cat’s litter? I don’t remember a follow up review of the game itself yet.

  • Vulcan Assassin Vulcan Assassin
    Posted April 3, 2012 at 1:46 PM | Permalink

    I was surprised to seee your next Gem being above the usual 16-bit level, but with this game I just can’t blame you. In fact, I applaud you for holding off for so long – I wouldn’t have been able to.

    With the exception of my beloved Super Mario RPG, I didn’t really get into RPG’s until the PS2 era, when I picked up Final Fantasy X. I fell in love with them fast. I thought they were great. Then Dragon Quest VIII was released, and I bought it. And it set the bar so  high for RPG from the first moment I heard the title music, I compare every RPG I play to it now.

    I could say all kinds of things here. There is no need, though: It was already said in the video. So I’m just going to say:

    I LOVE DRAGON QUEST VIII. IF YOU SEE THIS VIDEO AND HAVENT PLAYED IT: RUN. RUN TO THE NEAREST COPY YOU CAN FIND – AND DON’T LET GO.

  • Jikkle
    Posted April 3, 2012 at 2:44 PM | Permalink

    DQ8 ranks highly in my personal favorite games of all time.

    It had a nice clean adventure story and by clean I mean it doesn’t stumble on itself by being overly melodramatic or convoluted.

    The gameplay had a limited appeal as it was still very much rooted in old school JRPG mechanics but if you like those mechanics you would find it they were well polished.

    And how could you not mention the ending(s)? One of the most satisfying and well crafted endings in any game on any system. BioWare could pick up a thing or two on how to end a game from DQ8 :).

  • lucktacular lucktacular
    Posted April 3, 2012 at 9:45 PM | Permalink

    Roo, thanks to you now I’ve gone and blown 130 bucks on a PS2, memory card, and this game from Amazon. Curses!

    Well at least now I’ll be able to eventually play FF X, X-2, and XII. Any other PS2 gems I should be aware of?

  • Mr. K Mr. K
    Posted April 3, 2012 at 9:58 PM | Permalink

    I’m not able to watch the review yet, so I save my judgments.

    However, I owned this game for about an hour. I hated every moment of it and returned it to the store. And I love JRPGs.

  • Knightcrawler
    Posted April 4, 2012 at 3:01 AM | Permalink

    metalcoola is right. A remake of 5 was released on the system.

     

    There’s also some other tidbits you didn’t mention. The original Japanese release of the game had synthesized music, the old menu system, and no voice acting. All of those were changes for the overseas release of the game. It was a huge push for them to get the series noticed in the United States. Square Enix later incorperated these changes into an alternate Japanese version. Sure, the orchestrated soundtrack was available for purchase in Japan long before the game came out in America, but not as in-game music.

     

    Square Enix also added 3 absurdly hard bonus bosses to the overseas release of Dragon Quest: Swords on the Wii. Then, they took out party chat from the US version of DQ4 on the DS, making me want to go on a rampage. Grrrr.

     

    Dragon Quest VIII is actually the only main-series Dragon Quest game I haven’t played (that is not currently in beta). There are also only a few spin-offs I haven’t played. I do own the game, though. I basically got it at the last opportunity to buy it in good, new condition. I didn’t have a PS2 before then, or even when I bought it. I picked up a new PS2 last year to play it. Still haven’t, because I’ve had various things come up.

     

    I will say that I really dislike the direction they took the series in after DQVIII. The puns are cute, but they make certain parts of the game impossible to take seriously. Dragon Quest has always walked a line between serious and carefree. In fact, that’s one of the reasons I love the series. But the new US translations totally throw away anything serious about the games. The accents in many of the DS games exacerbate this. Really, it’s called “Dragon Quest,” not “Old Man McGee’s Clown Parade.”

     

    The Alchemy Pot is also something I HATE about Dragon Quest IX, even though it’s improved in that game. It basically makes every item in the game completely boring and sameish, and it takes all the fun away from getting loot. The entire idea of going on a journey for a powerful item is also thrown away. It’s also a completionist’s nightmare, because to get even a fraction of the items you’d have to look up a FAQ. Just like Dragon Quest Monsters with its breeding system (not that I didn’t love the game; at least that, at the time, was pretty much new to video games).

     

    But I’ll play it when I get a chance. :) Already own it. And wonderful gem.

     

    Favorite Dragon Quest is II or III… or I, but I’ll admit V is probably the best in the series. VI was pretty good, too.

  • Stamos
    Posted April 6, 2012 at 9:56 AM | Permalink

    You have no idea how unfair the EU players were treated in rpg’s genre…things like these almost *force* ppl to use the >>E<< things:/ Great review!

  • Doresh
    Posted April 8, 2012 at 6:17 PM | Permalink

    About time I make an account here. Hello everyone ^^ !

    I initially thought this game’s a bit slow, and even took quite a long break. When I picked it up again, I found out that I basically took the break right before it got AWESOME! I was almost unable to play anything else before finishing this gem!

    I even took the time to defeat the optional superboss, which I don’t usually do – especially when I look at FFX’s Penance and Dark Aeons and the insane amount of grinding and Blitzball I would have to waste, just to beat these guys and accomplish NOTHING in the process.

    DQ8 on the other hand actually had an optional superboss with an actual plot – a well-written one that flashes out the story. The sweet loot you get also helps. And the grinding is not nearly as ridiculous as in FFX. I also find it interesting that being able to defeat this superboss doesn’t mean you’ll instant-kill the actual end boss in just 1 or 2 rounds – unlike FFX, again.

    To make a long story short: This game, along with Earthbound and the Shin Megami Tensei Series, changed my viewpoint on RPG forever. If you’ve only ever played Final Fantasy, you should definitely check out this gem – as in RIGHT NOW.

  • Sirius
    Posted April 20, 2012 at 1:34 AM | Permalink

     

    Thank you for this, Roo!

    DQVIII is indeed a masterpiece! I love that game!

    But my personal favorite is VII. ;) I own every main game in the series and their remakes, with the exception of V for PS2 and IV for PS1.

    I hope you’ll review the whole series! :)

  • Black and White Imp
    Posted May 24, 2012 at 2:01 AM | Permalink

    Played and enjoyed this game right up until it froze on me and I couldn’t progress any more!!!! :-(

     

    But you’re right, it’s just so incredibly solid and wellmade, I enjoyed it much more than the sprawling seemingly aimless Final Fantasy XII. 

    This, Shadow Hearts and FFX are my favorites on the PS2 (hey, FFX had a direction at least!)

  • codward333
    Posted June 7, 2012 at 12:05 AM | Permalink

    My first RPG was Final Fantasy 6.  It has always had a special place in my heart as it sparked my insatiable appetite for the genre, and while I simply love the story of FF6, Dragon Quest 8 is by far the best RPG I’ve ever played.  FF6 had me invested and moved me emotionally with the various stories, etc.  But DQ8… it moved me on a much more visceral scale.  As Roo said, a lot of that was the sound direction which is the best I’ve seen in all my time as a gamer.

     

    One point I’d like to point out that Roo didn’t mention comes from the voice actors.  These weren’t just really good voice actors that did voices for Square-Enix, these were professional actors.  I think a big part of why this was the first DQ game released in Europe was because the actors were established on BBC soap operas.  Their natural English accents fitting perfectly into the western-style world of the game perfectly and their experience leading to some of the most bombastic yet subtle performances I’ve ever seen.

  • crystalis
    Posted November 3, 2012 at 5:07 AM | Permalink

    i loved dq  8 a masterpiece the best rpg on ps2 but DQ6 is trully the best a flying bed to navigate the world,visit the after life ,awesome graphics cmon now DQ6 is the best hahahahahahahahahahaha

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