Dragon Quest 8 Impressions

Discussion in 'Console Technology' started by passerby, Dec 3, 2004.

  1. passerby

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    Another thread to distract from all the next-gen speculation. 8)

    11 hours in, there is already some coverage from the usual sites, so I won't repeat too many identical things.

    Presentation
    When I say 'anime world comes to life', I'm not coining a figurative expression. That is meant literally. Though there are screens and movies, this must be experienced to feel the impact. Adding a 1st-person view mode magnifies the feeling. I don't know how much techy mumbo-jumbo stuff is in here, but even without that this is still one of the most good-looking games this generation. Music is of the catchy, friendly variety. No epic or depressing tunes here. Sound effects are old-school beeps, bops and bings, probably the most under-done aspect of the game. More on this later.

    Combat
    DQ8 adds a new tension system, but otherwise remains nearly the same as previous games. While there is nothing wrong with the combat system, it has become less interesting and less strategicaly demanding compared to several RPGs of late. What I consider very wasteful are the sound effects for the monsters encountered. With such compelling designs, it is a real pity that monster sound effects are just the usual, nostalgic beeps and bongs. This is harmful to the combat experience. The importance of sound engineering in a game is painfully obvious in DQ8.

    Nostalgia
    Break barrels to find goodies within. Enter people's houses and search their drawers and belongings for goodies - they don't mind. That's old school for you.

    I already mentioned the problem with sound effects. Another problem are the menus, which have an un-inspiring black-background, white texts only and non-existant window decorations. This was definitely done for nostalgia's sake, since there is a monster/item encyclopedia that is wonderfully designed and pleasant to look at.

    Story
    DQ stories have always been simple and child-friendly, and has a charm of its own. Let me tell you the plot. I don't consider this spoiler material, since anyone playing will already know it within 3 minutes after the game starts. I'll still mark it in the rows of asterisks though.

    ******************************************************************************************

    An evil sorcerer has captured a sealed magical staff. He cursed the castle where the staff was sealed, and transformed the king of the castle into an ugly green creature(you've seen him), and the princess into a horse. Our hero, a soldier of the castle was unscathed. Together with the cursed king, princess(now the horse that pulls the carriage) and a companion who was an ex-bandit, our hero sets off in search of a cure and the evil sorcerer.

    *******************************************************************************************

    Told you DQ stories are charming. 8) That is the main plot. Of course, the entire adventure contains many, many stories and events that accompany the main stoyline, and all, including NPCs and party members, are quite charming.

    Gameplay
    The most outstanding part of DQ8 must be the element of exploration. The whole gameworld is almost totally continuous. Every NPC is unique and has his/her own lines. Each town and dungeon is different. Many people to talk to, many places to see and explore. DQ8 definitely has the mantra 'joy of exploration' in its game design.

    So far...
    Despite the criticisms it is an enjoyable experience. Few games offer such a vast, wonderful world to explore - without being generic! The presentation is very nice, and I find switching to 1st-person regularly to view the colurful surroundings a pleasent experience. This is definitely a game to go slow with, enjoy the tour and scenery.
     
  2. Nick Laslett

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    I have never played a DQ game.

    The only Japanese RPG I have played is FFVII.

    Although I completed FVII, I didn't like the game very much, too many random battles, CGI and linearity, not enough actual gameplay.

    How similar to FF is DQ? Is it more like Zelda?
     
  3. Nick Spolec

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    Dragon Warrior/Quest 7 for PSX... Probably my favorite RPG of all time. Perfect extension of the series. I love the tone of it. I love the depth of the exploration.

    But, I am weary of #8... Now that Enix is Square Enix.. I fear Square might have added their "magic" to the series.. Though, it looks like they have retained the best part of the series (and something all RPGs should have more of) --- the exploration.
     
  4. passerby

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    Never played a Zelda, so can't answer that. :oops: As for comparisons to FF...

    DQ stories are simple, charming, uncomplicated, and won't cause distress. FF stories are leaning towards being more complex and matured.

    FF focuses more on the story experience. DQ focuses more on exploration.

    Both have random encounters, but both have an escape function. DQ has a scare function to scare monsters away. In FF, there is a 'zero-encounter' item/function in most installments.

    This is subjectable to change. FFX-2 already departs from the 'linear progression following story' design somewhat. I won't be surprised if FFXII brings changes as well. But I can't guarantee that...

    I do not know how "linear" is linear. There is that Elder Scrolls level of non-linear freedom, but many people don't like it. Since these games follow a story, they are all linear in a certain sense. A good way to describe DQ8, is that it is linear that it must follow the story, but at each linear checkpoint, it gives a lot of exploration freedom, and doesn't do so much hand-holding.
     
  5. kopio0

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    its already there. the combat now feels like final fantasy or should i say chrono trigger? other than that its feels like old dragon quest and its nice to have a good looking hero back again :D lasting and personally, i'm really really really starting to get sick of ps2's palette tex... even mg3... and its still a full year till ps3's debut or launch? :x
     
  6. pcchen

    pcchen Moderator
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    I don't mind linear stories. I am very interested in DQ8 (mainly for its character design, just as I loved Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross). Sometimes playing games is just, playing, and there is no need for further complications. I don't like later games in FF series because they tend to have too much complications.

    A good non-linear story is very difficult to write. The basic principle is simple: some decisions you made should make difference in some future events. At best, there should be no "best decision" as "the best way to solve a problem." These are mostly realized in D&D style paper RPGs, but it's very difficult to do the same thing as a computer game.
     
  7. passerby

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    :shock: It just got me. If anyone can digest Chrono Cross, no FF is too complicated, or any other RPG, past and future.
     
  8. pcchen

    pcchen Moderator
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    Crono Cross' story is complex, but its game style is not. However, as I said it's the character design that I loved, not really the game style :p
    By the way, I finally bought DQ8 and played it for a while. It's still very DQish and I think that's a good thing. :)
     
  9. passerby

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    Thanks for being so honest with your opinions. 8) I think in truth, half of those who complained about "FF new direction" are actually unhappy about "character image", not "gameplay" nor "cutscenes". After all these fictional characters have become more and more lively, and it is difficult to be playing with such characters if they do not appeal to individuals' tastes.

    Sounds embarressing that gamers take a fictional image so seriously. But we'll all need to admit to pur preferences. Doesn't matter if the next FF comes with tonnes of gameplay elements and non-linear storyline - as long as you can't deal with lively characters with well-described "character image" you won't like it.

    Personally I loathe the "kidsy characters pretending to be grownups doing grownup things" image. As such I have kept away from ToS, and is planning on keeping away from Radiata Stories(which reportedly has a lot of gameplay elements). DQ is unique because it doesn't "pretend to be grownup", charmingly admitting that it is what it is. I'm also hitting my limit point with the "adolescent love story" issue. Fortunately FF12 reportedly will have much less of that.
     
  10. passerby

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    So i'm finally done. It's not an A-class title. Nay, this is a S-class product. Does so many things well that it feels tiring to describe everything in detail. So I'll just leave it as S-rate story, gameplay and presentation.

    Nothing is perfect, and there are 2 nitpicks. As mentioned before sound/music engineering is average, though the tunes are luckily pleasent to listen to. A bigger issue would be the extremely high number of encounters. A large part of the game's design is about exploration, so running around and poking everywhere outside of towns is guaranteed to generate very many encounters. Luckily the 'scare' command is available to frighten off enemies once the party's level is relatively high enough. Problem is that leveling takes a long time relative to the number of enounters that occur.

    I used PAR codes to accelerate party growth - just enough that I do not need to do 'forced leveling', never becoming too powerful. Even so, getting the normal ending cost me ~90 hours. Get the good ending by loading the final save, and that cost another 10 hours. That's about ~100 hours of play time to complete the game proper - and using PAR. Do your own guestimates for play length if not using any codes. :shock:

    Recommendations
    Recommended purchase for RPG fans. High encounter rate is bothersome - PAR owners will bless their investment. Incredibly long play length.
     
  11. Akumajou

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    So how are load times while playing DQ8 for a long time? lets say 6 to 8 hours of a weekend bash.
     
  12. passerby

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    Load times are no problem. A few seconds - not significant at all.
     
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