What is Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King?
Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King is a bright, colourful, Japanese-style role-playing game, where players are on a mission to save the kingdom of Trodain from an evil wizard. As the only survivor of the wizard's assault on a castle - an attack which saw the king and queen turned into monsters - it's up to you to team up with an equally colourful cast of pun happy characters in order to restore the kingdom to its former glory - and hopefully turn the king and queen back into humans too! Along the way, you'll follow the trail the wicked wizard left behind, exploring sprawling fields, snow-capped mountains and maze-like dungeons, battling many a monster as you go, on a quest that's packed with a healthy sense of humour.
How do you play Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King?
As a traditional role playing game, the vast majority of your time with Dragon Quest VIII will be spent doing one of two things - either exploring, or battling. With a vast world to discover, your journey will take you from city to city, where you can chat with the locals (who often need help), pick up hints and tips for your quest, and buy new equipment for your team. Outside of towns - and especially in caves, dungeons and ruins - there'll be many a monster wandering around, and bumping into them (or having them bump into you) will trigger a turn-based battle, where you and your party members will have to take it in turns with the enemies to attack, sling spells and use items, aiming to reduce their health to zero. Different party members have different strengths and weaknesses, with some favouring magical spells over brute force and vice versa, so working out the right strategies, particularly when facing stronger bosses, is the key to victory.
How easy is Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King to pick up and play?
With turn based battles, and a moderate learning curve, Dragon Quest VIII is a game that's reasonably easy to pick up and play, yet one that still knows how to provide a challenge. While those who've played their fair share of role playing games before should have no trouble getting stuck in here, if this is your first role playing game, Dragon Quest VIII may be a little daunting at times, as with no tutorials, and no central quest list, you're expected to use a lot of your own intuition as you try to figure out the game's many systems - and where you need to go next! If you ever do get lost, a quick chat with the villagers in the last town you visited will set you on the right track - as will choosing to 'Consult' with your party members via the menu.
As mentioned above, the battles here are turn based, giving you plenty of time to think through your approach, monitor each character's health (and use potions/healing spells if necessary), as you plan what to do next. However, certain monsters can still put up one heck of a fight, particularly when you're venturing into areas you've never set foot in before - and with no adjustable difficulty level, even regular battles can sometimes provide a solid challenge. Luckily, no challenge is ever insurmountable - and by going back and taking on weaker enemies, you can earn experience, level up, and gradually grow strong enough to take the tougher foes on. While characters can fall in battle, there's no perma-death here, and a quick trip to the nearest church is all it takes to revive them - usually accompanied by a small fee of gold coins too.
While Dragon Quest VIII is now voice acted in the main story, there are still a lot of sections that remain unvoiced, relying on text alone. As such, a solid reading ability is a requirement, as many important details from townsfolk remain unvoiced, and battles rely on picking moves from a written list. Unusual accents, dropped letters and misspelled words can also make for harder going reading for the less confident.
- "Ah-ha! Customers! What, you're not buying? Oh, I see. You're looking for someone. Well, you might still be short of a few things, eh?"
- "Eh!? You talkin' about me? Wot writin' on me face? Who's gone an' written on me 'ead!?"
- "Master Rylus is the fellow who taught that accursed Dhoulmagus his magic. He might be able to impart some information to us about the whereabouts of that devious scallywag."
- There's a useful trick you can use to return to your last major visited location. If you open up the menu with X, scroll across to Magic, then locate a Zoom spell, you'll be presented with a list of all the places you've visited - you can click on the last one in the list to be instantly whisked to your most recent destination via a magic spell.
Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King generally has little in the way of mature content, with no gore, only very minor bad language, and some mild-to-moderate innuendo. Violence in battles is relatively minor, with party members attacking skeletal knights, dragons and other fantastical monsters with swords, spells and clubs - and while enemies stagger or flinch when hit, attacks are accompanied by bright flashes of light and impact sounds, instead of blood spurts. One enemy, a 'bloody hand', is a giant hand covered in red slime. Bad language is a relatively minor occurrence, with the word a*s cropping up occasionally, but nothing stronger.
Where Dragon Quest VIII sometimes gets a bit risqué is in its hints at sexual content. Some characters are fairly scantily clad, and a female party member - Jessica - is able to perform dance moves in battle to 'distract' enemy monsters, with the camera briefly zooming in on her chest and backside as she does it - although again, there's nothing overly adult in nature here, as she basically wiggles her hips a bit. Her unique skill, which gives her access to the aforementioned dances as well as a damage-dealing 'Sexy Beam' attack, is called "Sex Appeal", which focuses on provocative moves to confuse, paralyse and lull enemies into a deep sleep. As you reach certain milestones, the game will say such things as "Jessica's sex appeal increases! She realises just how sexy she can be!".
An activity known as a 'Puff-Puff' is a staple of Dragon Quest games, and Dragon Quest VIII is no different. Here, you visit a club, where it's heavily implied you'll visit a young lady who'll rub her breasts in your face - however, as the game reveals, all you're really getting is your cheeks massaged by two blue slime enemies instead. These encounters are accompanied by suggestive dialogue (delivered in an 'Allo 'Allo accent) such as "'Ave you ever felt a pair as warm and soft as mine?". Puff-Puff also comes up in battles, with Jessica able to use it as an attack on certain enemies - at which point, the camera will cut away, some hearts will appear, and the game will tell you "[enemy] has a huge grin on its face!".
Other potentially "ooh-er" lines include "You never know the depths of your passion until you play with yourself", and "You give my monstrous pit a good licking", although those with innocent minds will likely gloss over the well disguised innuendo.
Format Reviewed: Nintendo 3DS