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3:35 PM on 03.07.2013  

Hey Everyone! Please Help get my Board Game Funded on Kickstarter!

Hello, everyone,

I have not blogged here in about three years now!--I've been busy busy busy working on something, and I'd like to plug my game share it with all of you now.

I have made a board game--It's a roguelike board game, heavily inspired by the likes of Chunsoft's Mystery Dungeon series. It's been making some *very* small rounds recently, and it got picked up by a small publisher called 5th Street Games.

It has been an interesting challenge, trying to find a happy medium between the trappings that make roguelikes unique and what makes a competitive board game fun. But I've had a year now to really tighten things up--I was heavily inspired by Chunsoft's classic Mystery Dungeon series Torneko, Shiren the Wanderer), and I'm very pleased with the results! The game is called Baldrick's Tomb, and it has four heroes traveling down to the bottom of cursed dungeon, where the insides are forever churning and rearranging. True to roguelikes, the contents of everything are a mystery, and randomly generated. You will fight monsters, trigger traps, but also use powerful scrolls and find gobs & gobs of treasure.

The publishing deal brings with it a ton of great changes. First, the game has been tightened up in all areas. If you watch the video review below, all of the issues they discuss have been addressed! Players draft their own skills, are never stopped by traps or monsters, and now have all sorts of new and interesting ways to interact with the game! Also, the game's visuals are getting a full make over, with art by Erin Fusco!

Currently, Baldrick's Tomb is on Kickstarter. I'd be thrilled if any of you would be willing to take a look at it, and if it seems like something you might be interested in, I hope you might consider backing it:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/5thstreetgames/baldricks-tomb-the-roguelike-board-game

If you'd like more information on the prototype version (the game before 5th Street picked it, you can check out these links:

An interview with The Game Crafter: http://news.thegamecrafter.com/post/26331153910/undine-studios-inducted-into-hall-of-fame

A video review from The Gamers' Table: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=VVU6buIpPZ8

A written review from Father Geek: http://fathergeek.com/baldrichs-tomb/

The game's BGG page: http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/126340/baldricks-tomb

Thanks very much for your time!   read


1:27 AM on 07.20.2010  

Dragon Questing Part Nineteen: A Week with the Sentinels

Spoiler free, I promise!



Back in September of 2008, I had the pleasure of playing my first proper Dragon Quest game with "Chapters of the Chosen" for the DS. After completing it, I couldn't help but wonder why I had never played a game in this series before. I'm always complaining about the gimmicks thrown into many modern games and how I'd want nothing more than to just play a modern RPG that stripped away all the nonsense and took things back to basics.

Well, Dragon Quest has been sitting right under my nose since I was in diapers. Not content to stop at the fourth game in the series, I've set out to acquire and play through every localized Dragon Quest title right up until I replay the fourth entry ... on the NES. I've spent months lurking around eBay, and I've amassed a complete collection that now only needs me to experience it.

If you've played any of the games I'll be talking about, I'd appreciate your comments as I don't know anyone locally who I can talk to about this wonderful series.

Part Nineteen:
Dragon Quest IX: Sentinals of the Starry Skies


It's not every day I get to buy a new Dragon Quest game. Sure, I've bought dozens of DraQue games over the past two years that were new to me, but IX is new in the States to all but the most ardent of DQ fans who imported a Japanese copy to stumble through. It's been a long time coming, being announced bout four years ago and having been available in Japan for over a year, but now I finally get to see what all the fuss is about with this new-fangled "Make-your-own-character" feature.



Well, say hello to my party! I made them myself! Right now, I'm rolling with:

Ben (Myself, the main character): A level 36 Minstrel
Derrick: a level 37 Martial Artist
Steph: a level 35 Priest
Will: a level 37 warrior. Look at that bad-ass blue mohawk!

It was a lot of fun to make my party. My main character pretty much has the default settings, except he has the Cesar Chaves haircut and blue eyes... that is as much as I was able to make him look like me. The other two male characters are kinda generic, but whatever; I like the way they look! I mean, Derrick just looks like a martial Artist, and Will's got that blue hair. BLUE HAIR!

[embed]179357:31586[/embed]

The variety of equipment you can use is staggering. We're all used to having little drawings of all the equipment and items in our DraQue games, but I can't believe the development team took so much care in modeling the equipment in 3D... it looks so good. And the fact that I can see them on my party members... Wow! I never thought I'd see an RPG hero with a turtle shell, fishnet stockings, cat ears, a slime shield, and a spear.

Prior to its release, I was admittedly a bit worried about how I might feel about Dragon Quest IX. Long-time Japanese players had their gripes with a couple of things, and some reviewers here in the states noted the overly-simplistic battle system, the lack of a good story, and a distinct lack of character development. So I was a bit scared that I might not actualy like this game. Fortunately, upon booting up IX, my fears have been cast aside as this is just good old Dragon Quest. Sure, it's weird that no one in my party ever utters a word, and even weirder that my three party members don't even exist as far as the story is concerned (The hero is alone for all story elements and cutscenes, even if the rest of the party was right there before), but it's easy to get over that when the rest of the game is so darn pleasant. And I would argue that the battle system is more robust now than it has ever been before.

The game actually reminds me a lot of VII, in the sense that the overall story arch is rarely brought up and merely ties the game together. But again, like VII, the real stories come from the various towns you visit. Tales of plagues, kidnappings, monster attacks, and other short stories are beautifully executed and introduce some great NPCs. So even though you're not going to find anything like Angelo's deep backstory (From VIII), or the Hero's decade of stone (From V), rest assured you'll find plenty of character development in the form of drama, flashbacks, and deep storytelling from the various NPCs.

If I had to gripe about something, it would be the music. I've played an ass-load of Dragon Quest games in a very short amount of time, and the music from almost all of them has been memorable. The song that plays while you ride the bird in VIII is beautiful, the town theme from V is catchy and upbeat, and the battle theme from IV is just great. The music in IX isn't bad per se, but it's certainly not anything to write home about.



I was a bit puzzled by the decision to change the name of the Dharma Temple to the Alltrades Abbey, but I'm glad the change was made now, if only because IX is so diferent from how VII handled class changes that they're hardly the same thing. In VII, when you changed classes, you maintained your level, your skills, spells, and equipment restrictions. But in IX, changing classes brings you back down to level 1, removes the spells associated with your last vocation, and strips you of all your equipment that can't be equipped with your new job (Martial Artists can't equip shields, for example)... and I mean that literally, by the way; I changed my Warrior to a Mage and was straight-up stripped down to my underwear! The only thing you carry over from one class to another is your skillset.


This seemed a bit harsh at first, but it's really kind of an interesting approach. Very late in the game, I changed the classes of my entire party, and went to fight a monster on the world map. And because I still had all the skills from my previous class, killing the baddie was a cinch. And just from that one monster, my entire team jumped from level 1 to 7!!! Then, I took my party to a cave with liquid metal slimes, and killing just a single one jumped my party from level 7 to 17, earning each character around 30 skill points!!! In just a few more minutes, by killing several more liquid metal slimes, my group was half-way through mastering new skillsets. So even though it sucks that you're so vulnerable after trying a new class for the first time, it only takes a little bit of planning and careful work to catapult your way back up the foodchain.



Things didn't always work out though... I went back to Alltrades Abbey a second time and once again changed the vocations of my entire party, reverting everyone back down to level 1. In a move that was a little overzealous in hindsight, I ran straight back to the cave where I was farming for liquid metal slimes and waited around for more to show up. Over the course of an hour, I came across nearly a dozen of them, but couldn't land one hit on a single one of them! It may have had something to do with my stats, as it never happened before when I was of a higher level, but these slimy little bastards would run every single time! That is, every single time but the last... although I was equipped with some really high-level equipment, it couldn't make up for the fact that my party was still at level 1. So when I finally came across a liquid metal slime that didn't run away, the dick landed one-hit kills on my whole party until they were all dead! Yes, MY WHOLE PARTY DIED AT THE HANDS OF A LIQUID METAL SLIME. Oops. Back to the drawing board.





I've only had Dragon Quest IX for one week, but I've been so compelled by it that I've already racked up over thirty hours on the clock. Whether it's working through the main quest, taking on odd jobs from the citizens of the world, power-leveling party members or digging through Mystery Dungeon-esque grottos, the game always has something to do. Kind of like how GTA games always have short-lived missions you can do for near-instant gratification. I can tell that I'm getting closer to the end of the main quest, which isn't nearly as long as other Dragon Quests, but I'm excited about all of the side quests and post-game content that will surely extend my playtime with the game. Not to mention multiplayer, which I'll be trying out soon.

As always, thanks for reading!

Ben

-----

Total elapsed time across entire Dragon Quest series: ~323 hours -

IV DS - ~30 hours
VIII - ~70 hours
I NES - ~20 hours
DQM:J - ~20 hours
V DS - ~30 hours
VII - ~105 hours
T:TLH - ~15 hours
IX DS - ~33 hours

Total amount of money spent on Dragon Quest Series: $364.00 (IV, VIII twice, slime controller, I, I & II GBA, Joker, V DS, V SFAM, VII, Torneko: TLH, two copies of IX)


For the past Dragon Questing blogs, click the links below:

:::::::::: Torneko: The Lost Hope:

Dragon Questing Part Eighteen: The Last Hope

:::::::::: From Dragon Quest VII:

Dragon Questing Part Seventeen: I Came, I Saw, I Beat Some Ass.

Dragon Questing Part Sixteen: Running Scared with My Tail Between My Legs

Dragon Questing Part Fifteen: Poopsockin' it Through Eden

Dragon Questing Part Fourteen: Groundhog Day

Dragon Questing Part Thirteen: I am 100% Addicted to the Dharma Temple

Restoring the Planet: Dragon Questing, Part Twelve

Meet the Warriors of Eden: Dragon Questing, Part Eleven

:::::::::: From Dragon Quest V:

No Wonder Everyone Loves This Game: Dragon Questing, Part Ten

Coming to America Sans Eddie Murphy: Dragon Questing, Part Nine

:::::::::: From Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker:

I Guess They Can't All Be Gold: Dragon Questing, Part Eight

:::::::::: From Dragon Quest I:

Returning the Ball of Light: Dragon Questing, Part Seven

Getting a Grip on a Classic: Dragon Questing, Part Six

Going Back in Time: Dragon Questing, Part Five

:::::::::: From Dragon Quest VIII:

The conclusion of an Epic: Dragon Questing, Part Four

Discovering the Monster Arena: Dragon Questing, Part Three

How to Give a Boy a Heart: Dragon Questing, Part Two

Meeting the Cursed King: Dragon Questing, Part One   read


12:57 AM on 06.23.2010  

Dragon Questing Part Eighteen: The Last Hope



Back in September of 2008, I had the pleasure of playing my first proper Dragon Quest game with "Chapters of the Chosen" for the DS. After completing it, I couldn't help but wonder why I had never played a game in this series before. I'm always complaining about the gimmicks thrown into many modern games and how I'd want nothing more than to just play a modern RPG that stripped away all the nonsense and took things back to basics.

Well, Dragon Quest has been sitting right under my nose since I was in diapers. Not content to stop at the fourth game in the series, I've set out to acquire and play through every localized Dragon Quest title right up until I replay the fourth entry ... on the NES. I've spent months lurking around eBay, and I've amassed a complete collection that now only needs me to experience it.

If you've played any of the games I'll be talking about, I'd appreciate your comments as I don't know anyone locally who I can talk to about this wonderful series.

Part Eighteen:
Torneko: The Last Hope


Iím certainly no expert on the roguelike genre, but Iím not completely unfamiliar with it either. It has taken me a little over two years, but I recently conquered my first and only roguelike game ever: Shiren the Wanderer on the Nintendo DS. It was somewhat of a love-hate relationship due to the gameís strict rules and reliance on luckÖ I mean, when youíre walking with powerful equipment that youíve spent hours working on, only to trip on a splinter and die on the last level (which will send you back to the beginning of the game at level 1, without any of your items or gold), itís easy to see how a person could go from zero to f*cking pissed in a second flat.

On the other hand, the joy of a game like Shiren is when all the variables fall into place and I actually succeed. Itís a mixture of about 40% skill and 60% luck, but when the game throws a terrible situation at me and I have both the tools and the experience to know how to deal with it, the rush is unlike anything Iíve ever experienced in any other game before or since. Shiren is the most difficult game Iíve ever played, and also one of the best, most rewarding games Iíve ever touched.

I wouldnít say that Shirenís developer, ChunSoft, isnít somewhat well-known for its bevy of roguelike games, but you and I would probably know them better as the developer of the first five Dragon Quest games. Iím not exactly sure why ChunSoft and the main Dragon Quest games parted ways, but since the fifth installment, they seem to have focused almost entirely on the roguelike genre with their line of Mystery Dungeon games (They've also made quite a few visual novels that have been quite successfull). Shiren is one of those, as is Torneko: The Last Hope.



Whatís funny about the Mystery Dungeon series as a whole is that, barring some differences in difficulty and a few very nuanced mechanics, theyíre all almost exactly the same. Iím talking palette swap here in the most literal of senses; take out Shiren and the mamels (Shirenís iconic level 1 monster), insert Torneko and a few slimes respectively, and you have a different Mystery Dungeon game. This isn't really a bad thing, it just means that you shouldn't feel like you have to experience every game in the Mystery Dungeon series; just stick to the brand you're most fond of.

In the case of Torneko: The Last Hope, I had a decidedly easier time than my first Mystery Dungeon game. Instead of a single tutorial dungeon like in Shiren, Torneko starts off with about eight practice dungeons to really ease you into the game's unique mechanics before tasking you with tackling the main game. For the most part, these dungeons were really, really easy. What was interesting to me, though, was that Torneko experimented with its game play in these dungeons very early on, as opposed to doing so in post-game content. The third dungeon, for example, had no weapons inside; only various herbs to be used in the place of weapons. It was a delight to alternate between beating weaker enemies using only my bare hands, and using herbs of paralysis & dance to merely get around fighting the stronger baddies. Another dungeon bypassed weaponry in favor of scrolls, and another for staves, all with the point of teaching you how to use items to your advantage.

And you really can use some items to your advantage! If you come across a monster that's too hard to fight, simply swing the Staff of Change at it and there's a good chance it transforms into a lowly Slime. If you happen to find yourself surrounded by monsters, use a Haven Scroll to stand on so that physical attacks will no longer hurt you and you can simply beat them all to death. If you spawn in a monster house full of powerful baddies, use a Bang Scroll or two (which sounds like an ancient condom, by the way. In Shiren, this was called a Blastwave scroll... much cooler sounding), to blow them to smithereens before they even have the chance to move and simply collect all the loot!

There are a billion other examples of how the right item at the right time can get you out of almost any bind, but the point is that as far as these games are concerned, experience points are no match for real experiences. And because of this, even though most Mystery Dungeon games have about an hour's worth of content in the main game, you'll likely spend an eternity with it learning how to make it work for you. In that sense, perhaps you could think of a Mystery Dungeon game like Contra: The RPG; yeah, you might die on the last level and return to the title screen, but who cares?! The game is 45 minutes long!



For me, there were two really memorable instances of Torneko's spelunking adventures that I probably shouldn't have survived but did through nothing more than pure, dumb luck. The first took place in the Lost Forest - one of the practice dungeons. This area introduced undead monsters like Horks and Skeletons, and what set them apart from other enemies was that, when you killed them, they would become a grave instead of simply dying and disappearing. If another undead creature happened to touch the headstone, the corpse would rise again. On the last floor of the dungeon, I found myself surrounded by undead monsters and I had a crappy weapon, no herbs, and no way to otherwise deal with these butt-holes. So, I made a break for it.

I had only a few HP, and ran around furiously trying to find the exit. Because the game is universally turn-based, the enemies had no choice but to follow me (they can only attack within one space). By the time I found the staircase leading out of the dungeon, I had a disgusting, undead congo-line eight monsters long following one step behind me. Occasionally, a Hork would catch up with me and barf on my equipment (which lowers the stats), so before long I had a sword and shield with negative attack power! What does that even mean?! A single wrong move would have put me six feet under, so I had to be really careful the whole way to take diagonal steps and dodge enemies, forcing them onto the trailing fly-paper of walking corpses. Moments like this are always so intense... my heart was pumping a mile-a-minute until I was back at home safe.

The second instance was on the 25th floor of the main dungeon (out of 27 floors total), where I spawned in a monster house overflowing with high-level demons and some seriously unfair enemies. From turn one, about seven Eyeballs (you know, that old-school DQ enemy that kinda looks like a cross between an ostrich, a cyclops, and an alien?) simultaneously cast Confuse on me. I had no way of dealing with the confusion, so I just had to hope for the best. When you get confused in Torneko, your controller inputs are randomly interpreted, so pressing left on the d-pad could send you left, right, up, or down. Similarly, an attack made in one direction rarely executed desirably. To make matters worse, I was starving to death, with only 8/100 hunger remaining.

I knew couldnít effectively deal with the monsters on this floor, so I tried to just head for the exit. But after every single turn, the seven Eyeballs would all recast Confuse on me! You can probably see where this is going, but I spent TWENTY-FIVE minutes randomly wandering the floor, stepping on traps & spikes, walking into dragons, and generally getting my ass kicked while those same, douche bag Eyeballs continually cast Confuse on me.

About fifteen minutes into this debacle, my hunger reached zero and my HP steadily dwindled as I starved to death. But thankfully, and not a moment too soon, I randomly happened upon a loaf of bread during my stupor that I proceeded to eat immediately. After another ten minutes of simply fumbling all over the place, I managed to end up at the exit and left the floor.

I strongly considered turning the damn thing off, but half-way through I decided to just see how long I could survive in that state. I used almost every healing resource I had, but hey, I made it! After that, I quickly made my way through floor 26, and moved onto the boss. The Darkevil was, believe it or not, pretty easy. I just used a Haven Scroll and, save for the occasional fire-breathing dragon, was completely untouchable. He eventually dropped dead, I placed the banish chest, and I was done!

And that, ladies and gents, is Torneko. There are several post-game dungeons that I could take a crack at, but I think Iím going to quit while Iím ahead; the post-game content in Shiren was hard enough to make me put down the game for good.

There are a few other things though that I wanted to mention just because I thought they were really cool. First, the opening movie in Torneko is, hands down, the brightest point in the gameÖ it isÖ fantastic. Watch it, youíll agree:

[embed]108025:30977[/embed]

Second--and I know this shouldnít really matter-- the font type in Torneko freaking blew my mind! It was so bold and sharpÖ I didnít think you could do this on the PS1. In fact, why werenít more games this easy to read?! Dragon Quest VIIís, for example, looked like crap! Next, and most surprisingly, the majority of the soundtrack in Torneko is fully orchestrated. Once again, I know this is a novelty, but great music like this is something that Iíve always appreciated; it adds a lot of charm and goes a long way towards making you forgive other, less favorable parts of the game. It was probably my favorite part of Dragon Quest VIII.

OK, so thatís it! I didnít think Iíd be done so quickly, as this was supposed to carry me until Dragon Quest IX came out! I donít think Iíll play through another DQ game before that though; Iíll just sit tight, putter around with Picross 3D, and patiently wait for July 11th.

So has anyone else here played Torneko: The Last Hope? What did you think? How far did you get?

As always, thanks for reading!

Ben

-----

Total elapsed time across entire Dragon Quest series: ~290 hours -

IV DS - ~30 hours
VIII - ~70 hours
I NES - ~20 hours
DQM:J - ~20 hours
V DS - ~30 hours
VII - ~105 hours
T:TLH - ~15 hours

Total amount of money spent on Dragon Quest Series: $294.00 (IV, VIII twice, slime controller, I, I & II GBA, Joker, V DS, V SFAM, VII, Torneko: TLH)


For the past Dragon Questing blogs, click the links below:

:::::::::: From Dragon Quest VII:

Dragon Questing Part Seventeen: I Came, I Saw, I Beat Some Ass.

Dragon Questing Part Sixteen: Running Scared with My Tail Between My Legs

Dragon Questing Part Fifteen: Poopsockin' it Through Eden

Dragon Questing Part Fourteen: Groundhog Day

Dragon Questing Part Thirteen: I am 100% Addicted to the Dharma Temple

Restoring the Planet: Dragon Questing, Part Twelve

Meet the Warriors of Eden: Dragon Questing, Part Eleven

:::::::::: From Dragon Quest V:

No Wonder Everyone Loves This Game: Dragon Questing, Part Ten

Coming to America Sans Eddie Murphy: Dragon Questing, Part Nine

:::::::::: From Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker:

I Guess They Can't All Be Gold: Dragon Questing, Part Eight

:::::::::: From Dragon Quest I:

Returning the Ball of Light: Dragon Questing, Part Seven

Getting a Grip on a Classic: Dragon Questing, Part Six

Going Back in Time: Dragon Questing, Part Five

:::::::::: From Dragon Quest VIII:

The conclusion of an Epic: Dragon Questing, Part Four

Discovering the Monster Arena: Dragon Questing, Part Three

How to Give a Boy a Heart: Dragon Questing, Part Two

Meeting the Cursed King: Dragon Questing, Part One   read


1:29 AM on 06.13.2010  

Dragon Questing Part Seventeen: I Came, I Saw, I Beat Some Ass.



Back in September of 2008, I had the pleasure of playing my first proper Dragon Quest game with "Chapters of the Chosen" for the DS. After completing it, I couldn't help but wonder why I had never played a game in this series before. I'm always complaining about the gimmicks thrown into many modern games and how I'd want nothing more than to just play a modern RPG that stripped away all the nonsense and took things back to basics.

Well, Dragon Quest has been sitting right under my nose since I was in diapers. Not content to stop at the fourth game in the series, I've set out to acquire and play through every localized Dragon Quest title right up until I replay the fourth entry ... on the NES. I've spent months lurking around eBay, and I've amassed a complete collection that now only needs me to experience it.

If you've played any of the games I'll be talking about, I'd appreciate your comments as I don't know anyone locally who I can talk to about this wonderful series.

Part Seventeen:

Dragon Quest VII: Warriors of Eden... continued





So, hey, you wanna hear something crazy? You ready for this?






Thatís right. After almost eighteen months and three different home addresses, Dragon Quest VII is officially just another notch in my DQ belt. Itís almost hard to believe; the index for the walkthrough alone was so long and daunting I didnít think Iíd ever make it out alive. But here we areÖ

Yesterday, Iíd attempted for the first time to take on Orgodemir, and failed. It was a battle of attrition, and he just had the resources to outlast me. No matter though, I took a look at my partyís strengths and weaknesses, put together a loose strategy, and made a second attempt.



Orgodemir has four different phases, each on more deadly than the last. He means business from the very beginning, but by the third phase, heís dishing out attacks that take upwards of 150 HP from each teammate. My strategy was as follows:

- Have Ben cast Twin Hits (a spell that doubles attack power) on Gabo, Aira, and himself in that order.

- Have Gabo cast Magic Wall on the party, then start wailing on the boss.

- Have Melvin cast Heal Us on every single turn, unless no one is missing more than 100 HP. In that case, just attack.

- Have Aira sing War Song twice (a song that raises the partyís defense considerably), then start wailing on the boss.

- After Ben casts Twin Hits three times, start wailing on the boss.

And, really, this worked like a charm for the first three phases. He was dishing out heavy attacks, but couldnít keep up with Melvinís healing spells. And when thing got really heavy, I just had Ben stop attacking and join in with Melvin to heal.

The fourth phase is when thing really got good. I had been saving all of Gaboís MP for this part, and I just unloaded on him with five back-to-back Ultra Hits, which took a total of 2500 HP. Orgodemir didnít stand a chance. Gaboís Ultra Hits combined with the rest of the team using normal attacks brought Orgodemir to his knees in no time at all. At first I was a little shocked at how easy it was, but no wonder: I was at level 51.

In case youíre curious, here are my teamís ending stats:



With Orgodemir dead, I was transported to the Sky Fane, and then watched an ending that would rival that of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the Kingís. Seriously, this last part was almost an hour long. I guess it makes sense though; what better way to end a 100+ hour game?

The ending had me flying around in my weird egg-shaped ship again, stopping off at all the towns Iíd saved. It was a good refresher course, as it reacquainted me with all the various townsfolk throughout the world. When that was done, Ben returned to his hometown to rest for the night.

The next day, Ben sets out on his first voyage with his father, Borkano, and the credits begin rolling. The whole time, Iím wondering what the hell ever happened to Kiefer, but at the very end, as Borkano pulls of a net of fish, a stone shard with some writing on it falls out:

Dear Ben,

I'm still traveling with Layla and the Dejan tribe.

I don't even know how long it has been since you and I went our separate ways. Jann has yet to return.

As the guardian of tribe, the honor of marrying Layla fell to me.

If you find this, I want you to let my father know that his son finally found his way in this world.

And, Ben, I want you to know that we are friends no matter how far we are from each other.

Your friend,
Kiefer

I couldnít have asked for a better ending to this game.

And thus draws to a close the longest game Iíve ever played, by a long-shot.

So, whatís next? Thereís less than a month to go before Dragon Quest IX comes out, so if I play another DQ game beforehand, it would definitely have to be a spin-off.

I have two games in mind: Dragon Quest Swords for Wii, or Torneko: The Last Hope for the PS1. Suggestions?

As always, thanks for reading!

Ben

-----

Total elapsed time across entire Dragon Quest series: ~275 hours -

IV DS - ~30 hours
VIII - ~70 hours
I NES - ~20 hours
DQM:J - ~20 hours
V DS - ~30 hours
VII - ~105 hours

Total amount of money spent on Dragon Quest Series: $259.00 (IV, VIII twice, slime controller, I, I & II GBA, Joker, V DS, V SFAM, VII)


For the past Dragon Questing blogs, click the links below:


:::::::::: From Dragon Quest VII:

Dragon Questing Part Sixteen: Running Scared with My Tail Between My Legs

Dragon Questing Part Fifteen: Poopsockin' it Through Eden

Dragon Questing Part Fourteen: Groundhog Day

Dragon Questing Part Thirteen: I am 100% Addicted to the Dharma Temple

Restoring the Planet: Dragon Questing, Part Twelve

Meet the Warriors of Eden: Dragon Questing, Part Eleven

:::::::::: From Dragon Quest V:

No Wonder Everyone Loves This Game: Dragon Questing, Part Ten

Coming to America Sans Eddie Murphy: Dragon Questing, Part Nine

:::::::::: From Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker:

I Guess They Can't All Be Gold: Dragon Questing, Part Eight

:::::::::: From Dragon Quest I:

Returning the Ball of Light: Dragon Questing, Part Seven

Getting a Grip on a Classic: Dragon Questing, Part Six

Going Back in Time: Dragon Questing, Part Five

:::::::::: From Dragon Quest VIII:

The conclusion of an Epic: Dragon Questing, Part Four

Discovering the Monster Arena: Dragon Questing, Part Three

How to Give a Boy a Heart: Dragon Questing, Part Two

Meeting the Cursed King: Dragon Questing, Part One   read


1:57 AM on 06.12.2010  

Dragon Questing Part Sixteen: Running Scared with My Tail Between My Legs



Back in September of 2008, I had the pleasure of playing my first proper Dragon Quest game with "Chapters of the Chosen" for the DS. After completing it, I couldn't help but wonder why I had never played a game in this series before. I'm always complaining about the gimmicks thrown into many modern games and how I'd want nothing more than to just play a modern RPG that stripped away all the nonsense and took things back to basics.

Well, Dragon Quest has been sitting right under my nose since I was in diapers. Not content to stop at the fourth game in the series, I've set out to acquire and play through every localized Dragon Quest title right up until I replay the fourth entry ... on the NES. I've spent months lurking around eBay, and I've amassed a complete collection that now only needs me to experience it.

If you've played any of the games I'll be talking about, I'd appreciate your comments as I don't know anyone locally who I can talk to about this wonderful series.

Part Sixteen:

Dragon Quest VII: Warriors of Eden... continued


It was harder than I thought it would be to get myself reacclimated with certain parts of Dragon Quest VII. I mean, sure, it was simple enough to get into battles and select commands, but I had to re-teach myself what spells work and which ones don't, which are effective against certain types of enemies, and so-on.

The story is especially fuzzy to me. I don't remember how I got the big 'ol pirate ship, I don't remember what the purpose of the Crystal Castle is anymore, I donít remember how I got the flying egg with windows, I don't remember where Maribel is, and I don't remember who Sharkeye is.. I'll have to Google a story summary or something...

Regardless, it wasn't too hard to point myself in the right direction for the final dungeon. Nearly in the middle of the map, there's a tiny island with a gigantic white tower that sticks out like a giant sore thumb. If you fly the ship directly over it, you'll automatically be transported to the top of the tower. The ominous music is what tipped me off that this is where I wanted to be. I slowly worked my way down the tower, fighting really difficult enemies along the way, until I made it all the way to the bottom floor. Once there, I found a gigantic, gaping hole in the middle of the floor. I jumped down to the poison lake belowÖ

Wow, the enemies here are a lot harder than I thought they would be! I leveled up so much, I thought I'd be invincible at this point. But these monsters were kicking my ass - I had to heal after almost every single battle! The place even looked brutal, what with the walls glowing neon colors, adorned with coiled tentacles and numerous blinking eyes... like something straight out of an HR Giger art exhibit.



You know, I remember the final dungeon from Dragon Quest VIII very wellÖ it was gigantic. It probably took me a couple of hours to work my way through it, with long, winding paths, huge set piecesÖ I think it even had a town in it. I kind of expected the same from this game, but the final dungeon was actually surprisingly short; I only had about five large rooms to tread through before I was face-to-face with the hideous Demon Lord, whose name I now remember: Orgodemir.

But, wait, let me back up. Admittedly, I didnít fight him the first time I went through the dungeon. Last night, I stood at the portal to his throne room, and chickened out, big time. My MP was already running low from all the fighting on the way there, and there was no way I could face him if I couldn't even heal myself. I ran all the way back up to the surface, got the very best equipment money could buy, and leveled my party up to 51. Only took me about three hours.



Gotta love those Metal King SlimesÖ

And so, back I went, the short trip through the dungeon to the portal, and this time, I stepped through. Turns out, stepping through completely restores you HP and MP. Go Figure. Orgodemir is, as Iím sure you could guess, kind of a douche. He starts off with an attack that takes 130 HP from each party member, and then doubles up on turns by taking an additional 150 HP from Aira. Ok.. itís clear that I have to designate a healer. I chose Melvin, since he dishes out the weakest attacks, and has tons of MP (Heís mastered Tamer and Healer). I had him using HealUs on each and every turn. Gabo was dishing out the most damage with UltraHit, which would shave off about 490 HP with each attack. Ben and Aira took turns psyching up and attacking, which combined to about 500 every other turn. I also had Aira occasionally sing WarSong, which raises the whole partyís defense by about 70 or so.

Things were going really good for a while, but by around the third phase, the plan started to fall apart. As Orgodemir took more damage, he would change his form and use even stronger attacks than before, Gabo had long ago stopped using UltraHit (It takes 20 MP per use, and Gabo only has 136 MP), Melvin was running out of MP as well, and Ben & Aira just werenít doing enough damage fast enough. Orgodemir was kicking ass, and I was running out of ideas. Unfortunately, I had to give up on Orgodemirís third phase and reset.

I watched a video on YouTube to see how someone else might have gone about this fight, but it wasnít very helpful for where Iím at (Itís pretty cool though, check it out. Heís done in about eight minutes!). Even though he was about seven levels lower than I am, his entire party had mastered the GodHand class, meaning they all had the aforementioned UltraHit skill that Gabo was using. So he was dishing out about 2000 HP per round, which is pretty respectable. At this point in the game, it would probably take an additional 12 hours or more for my whole party to master the GodHand class, so Iím going to have to go a different route, and use a bit more strategy.

I figure, if Orgodemirís attacks get more painful as the battle goes on, I should probably save Gaboís UltraHits for the last form of the battle, when I know I wonít be able to last very long. Until then, heíll join Ben & Aira in alternating between psyching up and attacking. Melvin will continue with the healing duties. Iíll use Ben from time-to-time to heal as well, since he has so much MP and nothing to use it on. Lastly, Iíll occasionally have Aira sing WarSong to buff up the partyís defenses. On paper, it looks good to me, but weíll see what happensÖ

As always, thanks for reading!

Ben

-----

Total elapsed time across entire Dragon Quest series: ~273 hours -

IV DS - ~30 hours
VIII - ~70 hours
I NES - ~20 hours
DQM:J - ~20 hours
V DS - ~30 hours
VII - ~103 hours

Total amount of money spent on Dragon Quest Series: $259.00 (IV, VIII twice, slime controller, I, I & II GBA, Joker, V DS, V SFAM, VII)


For the past Dragon Questing blogs, click the links below:


:::::::::: From Dragon Quest VII:

Dragon Questing Part Fifteen: Poopsockin' it Through Eden

Dragon Questing Part Fourteen: Groundhog Day

Dragon Questing Part Thirteen: I am 100% Addicted to the Dharma Temple

Restoring the Planet: Dragon Questing, Part Twelve

Meet the Warriors of Eden: Dragon Questing, Part Eleven

:::::::::: From Dragon Quest V:

No Wonder Everyone Loves This Game: Dragon Questing, Part Ten

Coming to America Sans Eddie Murphy: Dragon Questing, Part Nine

:::::::::: From Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker:

I Guess They Can't All Be Gold: Dragon Questing, Part Eight

:::::::::: From Dragon Quest I:

Returning the Ball of Light: Dragon Questing, Part Seven

Getting a Grip on a Classic: Dragon Questing, Part Six

Going Back in Time: Dragon Questing, Part Five

:::::::::: From Dragon Quest VIII:

The conclusion of an Epic: Dragon Questing, Part Four

Discovering the Monster Arena: Dragon Questing, Part Three

How to Give a Boy a Heart: Dragon Questing, Part Two

Meeting the Cursed King: Dragon Questing, Part One
CSI   read


2:33 AM on 06.10.2010  

Dragon Questing Part Fifteen: Poopsockin' it Through Eden



The facts:

I've been playing Dragon Quest VII since March of 2009 (dangerously close to a year-and-a-half).

I last blogged about it in August (almost a year ago.)

In the aforementioned last blog, I was 52 hours in, and half-way through the game.

Currently, the game clock registers 98 hours, and I'm at the very last dungeon.

I have not played the game since October.

Part Fifteen:

Dragon Quest VII: Warriors of Eden... continued




So, here's what happened: My then-fiancť went away to Vegas for her bachelorette party during the last weekend in October. Having already been playing the game for seven months at that point, I made a personal goal for myself to finish Disk One during that time. I ordered a pizza, turned on the TV, and got lost in DQVII's world like never before.



Well, in just a day and a half, I met my goal. But with still so much free time left, I continued on to Disk Two and, before I knew it, I was at the end of that, as well. All that remained at that point was to work my way through the last dungeon and finally kill the Demon Lord. Figuring I probably wasn't ready for that yet, I made my way to the fabled metal slime hunting grounds, a Dragon Quest staple, and proceeded to grind on the bastards for the following 12 hours. I brought my entire party (Ben, Melvin, Aira, and Gabo) up past level 45-or-so, and had them train under several different jobs along the way, until they all had master-class skills, as well as healing abilities. I had a team of highly trained killers at my disposal, and I was now fully ready to tackle the last dungeon and beat some Demon Lord ass.

Well, that was about eight months ago... since then, I got married, moved into a dingy downtown studio apartment, started looking for houses, bought a house, and then moved into said house. Really though, that had nothing to do with me not playing Dragon Quest VII. No, you could probably chalk that up to me buying a PS3; a shiny distraction that has demanded so much of my free time since I bought it that, for a while, it completely eclipsed my mission of playing the Dragon Quest series. Beautiful games like Ratchet & Clank, Uncharted, Dead Space (I don't have a 360), and Demon's Souls had introduced me to a whole new world of gaming, and to be honest, I just kind of forgot about Dragon Quest VII for a while.

But, holy crap, turns out Dragon Quest IX is getting released over here in just over a month. As much as I've enjoyed VII, I don't want to be playing the game forever, so I'm making a promise to myself to finish this great but way-too-long game before the next sequel shows up here in the states.

I've only got one dungeon left... how hard could it be?

My memory is admittedly a bit fuzzy, but here is what I experienced eight months ago:

Disk Two really brought things back for me with Dragon Quest VII. I wasnít getting bored with the game, per se, but working my way down the never-ending list of towns that needed saving did seem a little stale at times. I had gotten into such a rhythm with the game (collect enough shards Ė visit town Ė diagnose issue Ė find demon Ė kill demon Ė watch town flourish Ė look for more shards), that regardless of whatever crazy calamity had ailed whatever town, the overall adventure was a bit predictable.

But enter Disc Two, and the gameóeven though still predictableóoffered a familiarity that I was much more content with. It became the Dragon Quest I know and love; I no longer had any shards to gather, I more or less forgot about the past versions of the worlds Iíd visited, restrictions on learning classes were removed, and Iíd finally found a spot to hunt for metal slimes. And, as I mentioned earlier, boy, did I ever go hunting.



I spent twelve hours looking for metal slimes, and climbed 14 levels as a result. Iím not exactly sure what it is about this part in all the Dragon Quest games that I like so muchÖ but I think it has something to do with the metal slimeís elusiveness. Itís rare youíll run into one, and if you do, itís rare you be able to land a hit on him before he high-tails it outta there! There arenít a lot of things more gratifying than running into eight metal slimes at once, and being lucky enough to dispatch every single one of them. Same goes for coming across the fabled king metal slime.

Speaking of king metal slimes, itís not like they were common by any means, but I gotta say, I ran into more of them in this game than in every other Dragon Quest game Iíve played combined. The gameís bestiary says Iíve slain about 20 of them. I think I ran into one once while playing VIII, but didnít even mange to scratch him before he escaped. Theyíre so rare that, really, Iím not even sure there were any in IV or VÖ So even though 20 is a pretty small number, for me, itís like saying that I saw a bald eagle wrestle a ring-tailed lemur for a Slim-JimÖ twice.

The best part of Disk Two was how it broke up the pacing. Because I no longer had to worry about shards, the game presented the task of locating four spirits so they could summon God. While this still sounds like just another seek and solve mission, some of the places I visited along the way were pretty damn cool, not the least of which was SkyTown.



This place certainly reminded me of another game Iíve played before (see caption), but the real reason it stuck out so much is because itís one of the only times throughout this huge adventure that the developers really took advantage of the fact that they were working in 3D. I mean, yes, most of the game is in 3D, but most of its set pieces just seemed like a reluctant and meager upgrade from its 2D counterpartsóa pop-up book novelty, if you will. SkyTown was special in that it did something that 2D couldnít.

Iím sure you can figure it out from the picture, but SkyTown took place on a geometric shape that would twist and turn as you walked around it. It was a real treat to navigate. Even better, though, was the dungeon associated with this part of the game, which took place in some other, weird dimension. Same idea, but used the 3D navigation to an even greater effect, which made for some pretty awesome puzzles.

Anyway, when all that was done, and I awakened the four spirits, they summoned God:



Wow.

Okay, next up, I reacquaint myself with a game I havenít played in eight months, and I beat the sh*t out of it! Stay tuned!

As always, thanks for reading!

Ben

-----

Total elapsed time across entire Dragon Quest series: ~268 hours -

IV DS - ~30 hours
VIII - ~70 hours
I NES - ~20 hours
DQM:J - ~20 hours
V DS - ~30 hours
VII - ~98 hours

Total amount of money spent on Dragon Quest Series: $259.00 (IV, VIII twice, slime controller, I, I & II GBA, Joker, V DS, V SFAM, VII)


For the past Dragon Questing blogs, click the links below:


:::::::::: From Dragon Quest VII:

Dragon Questing Part Fourteen: Groundhog Day

Dragon Questing Part Thirteen: I am 100% Addicted to the Dharma Temple

Restoring the Planet: Dragon Questing, Part Twelve

Meet the Warriors of Eden: Dragon Questing, Part Eleven

:::::::::: From Dragon Quest V:

No Wonder Everyone Loves This Game: Dragon Questing, Part Ten

Coming to America Sans Eddie Murphy: Dragon Questing, Part Nine

:::::::::: From Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker:

I Guess They Can't All Be Gold: Dragon Questing, Part Eight

:::::::::: From Dragon Quest I:

Returning the Ball of Light: Dragon Questing, Part Seven

Getting a Grip on a Classic: Dragon Questing, Part Six

Going Back in Time: Dragon Questing, Part Five

:::::::::: From Dragon Quest VIII:

The conclusion of an Epic: Dragon Questing, Part Four

Discovering the Monster Arena: Dragon Questing, Part Three

How to Give a Boy a Heart: Dragon Questing, Part Two

Meeting the Cursed King: Dragon Questing, Part One
CSI   read


5:33 PM on 01.29.2010  

Quick Dragon Questing Update: Sorry, I Got Married.



Er... Hey everyone, to anyone and everyone who reads these, sorry that I haven't done one since early August of last year, but I kinda got married in November and that took a significant chunk of my Dragon Questing time...

Matter of fact, being married has dissolved a huge chunk of my gaming time in general!

And, well, I kinda also got a PS3. Been dedicating a huge amount of available time to that...

But yeah, still playing Dragon Quest VII. At the very last dungeon! I'll be getting into the habit of writing about it very soon.

Sorry for such a long drought!

----------------------------------------------------------


For the past Dragon Questing blogs, click the links below:


:::::::::: From Dragon Quest VII:

Dragon Questing Part Fourteen: Groundhog Day

Dragon Questing Part Thirteen: I am 100% Addicted to the Dharma Temple

Restoring the Planet: Dragon Questing, Part Twelve

Meet the Warriors of Eden: Dragon Questing, Part Eleven

:::::::::: From Dragon Quest V:

No Wonder Everyone Loves This Game: Dragon Questing, Part Ten

Coming to America Sans Eddie Murphy: Dragon Questing, Part Nine

:::::::::: From Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker:

I Guess They Can't All Be Gold: Dragon Questing, Part Eight

:::::::::: From Dragon Quest I:

Returning the Ball of Light: Dragon Questing, Part Seven

Getting a Grip on a Classic: Dragon Questing, Part Six

Going Back in Time: Dragon Questing, Part Five

:::::::::: From Dragon Quest VIII:

The conclusion of an Epic: Dragon Questing, Part Four

Discovering the Monster Arena: Dragon Questing, Part Three

How to Give a Boy a Heart: Dragon Questing, Part Two

Meeting the Cursed King: Dragon Questing, Part One   read


1:39 AM on 08.19.2009  

Dragon Questing Part Fourteen: Groundhog Day



Back in September of 2008, I had the pleasure of playing my first proper Dragon Quest game with "Chapters of the Chosen" for the DS. After completing it, I couldn't help but wonder why I had never played a game in this series before. I'm always complaining about the gimmicks thrown into many modern games and how I'd want nothing more than to just play a modern RPG that stripped away all the nonsense and took things back to basics.

Well, Dragon Quest has been sitting right under my nose since I was in diapers. Not content to stop at the fourth game in the series, I've set out to acquire and play through every localized Dragon Quest title right up until I replay the fourth entry ... on the NES. I've spent months lurking around eBay, and I've amassed a complete collection that now only needs me to experience it.

If you've played any of the games I'll be talking about, I'd appreciate your comments as I don't know anyone locally who I can talk to about this wonderful series.

Part Fourteen:

Dragon Quest VII: Warriors of Eden... continued


While working my way through Dragon Quest VII, I've come across a fair amount of bizarre towns affected by equally bizarre calamities. One was a town whose citizens had all been turned into animals. Another had its citizens all swearing that they were the one and only Demon Lord. Other towns suffered robot attacks, petrifying rain, and all other manner of terrible hardship. But all of these towns had one very specific thing in common: their misfortune was always apparent and obvious from the outset.

So, perhaps you could imagine my confusion when I came across the town of Litorud, a place where the worst thing seemed to be an architect who produced some of the gaudiest and most obnoxious buildings you'd ever seen. Seriously, we're talking mosaic tile walls, multi-colored floors, abstract building shapes, and unintuitive floor plans. The ugliest part, though, were the tacky decorations all over everything he made--huge imperial jewel eggs that sat atop most pillars and corners of his work.



But that couldn't be all, right? I mean, it's not like these gaudy structures were a problem here; the architect, named Baloch, was beloved amongst the townsfolk and renowned for his unconventional designs. I didn't understand or like his work, but then again, I don't get how anyone could like Sex and the City either, so...

Anyway, I had shown up in Litorud just one day before a rather important occasion: a bridge built by Baloch would be unveiled north of the town that would finally allow people to cross over to the other continent without the use of a ferry. When I visited the bridge, people were already lining up to be the first to cross once the red ribbon was cut. The bridge, similar to Baloch 's other works, was appropriately garish. With nothing to do until the grand opening the following day, I went to an Inn and spent the night. The next day, I returned to the bridge and spoke to a guard at the entrance. He said "Be sure to come back tomorrow for the bridge's grand opening! What do you mean I said that yesterday? This is the first time I've seen you! Please, come back tomorrow."

...

...

...

What?!

Whatever, I returned to the Inn, slept there once again, and hiked back to the bridge the next morning. Again, "Be sure to come back tomorrow for the bridge's grand opening! What do you mean I said that the last two days? This is the first time I've seen you! What do you mean I said that yesterday? You joker! Please, come back tomorrow."



Oh, I get it. Similar to Bill Murrayís misadventures in Groundhog Day, I found myself stuck in the video game equivalent of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, where the same day kept repeating over and over again. I was hoping that the answer to the problem involved wooing the video game equivalent of Andie MacDowell, but alas: the issue was with Balochís incredibly showy clock tower. The monolith stood at the rear of Litorud and displayed the time for all to see. But when I made my way inside and disabled the clock, the halt of absolutely everything within the town (people, animals, even the music) is what tipped me off that this might be the source of the repeating day.

Turns out, it wasóyet againóthe Demon Lord behind this debacle (that bastard!), but it was easy enough to disable his minions once IídÖ stopped time, wandered around the town aimlessly in the creepy-no-music state that it was in, eventually found a painting of the townís clock tower, went through said painting, and found myself in some crazy, Chrono-Trigger-at-end-of-time dungeon. Once Iíd dispatched the demons though, everything in the town went back to normal, and the day finally came for me to see the grand opening of the bridge!!!

When the bridge finally opened and I could cross the ghastly abomination, I eagerly made my way across to see what new land was waiting on the other side. But whatís this? This land was familiarÖ Iíd been here before. This was Verdham (the herb garden town from DQing part twelve), but a few decade into the future, with both Linda and Pepe much older.

In fact, Linda had actually keeled over from old age. And unfortunately, she and Pepe never did end up together. She had married Iwan, and they even had a son together, but she left him one night to search for Pepe; the love of her life. And even though she did find him, she couldnít reconcile her love for him with the guilt that she abandoned her family, and instead became a nun at a nearby abbey. So, for the rest of their lives, Pepe and Linda lived just minutes from each other, while never enjoying each otherís company. Only after Linda died did Pepe take notice, and thatís when he found her tombstoneÖ

Other Islands

Truth be told, there have been a handful of islands that I havenít bothered to mention. Although the game is a lot of fun and Iím enjoying the adventures quite a bit, not all of them are worth writing home about (or in this case, writing on the c-blogs about) and will remain only in my memory as a result. The island after Litorud is a good example: it involved three towns being ravaged by a water demon, and it was actually a really long and entertaining chapter. But I didnít bother dishing about it since it didnít really have many story elements to speak of. The only stand-out moments from this portion were getting the magic carpet and getting an old man named Melvin added to my team. Melvin is a good character, but Iím surprised that his introduction was so short. He woke up, said a few lines, then joined my party and hasnít said much since. Heís a good candidate to fill the void that Keifer left, but I really hope he gets more fleshed out as a character as the game unfolds.

Okay, thatís all for now. Through this last chapter, I collected an ass-load of shards and actually had enough to go to three different places!!! Where will I decide to go? Well, youíll have to read my next blog to find out!

As always, thanks for reading!

Ben

-----

Total elapsed time across entire Dragon Quest series: ~222 hours -

IV DS - ~30 hours
VIII - ~70 hours
I NES - ~20 hours
DQM:J - ~20 hours
V DS - ~30 hours
VII - ~52 hours

Total amount of money spent on Dragon Quest Series: $259.00 (IV, VIII twice, slime controller, I, I & II GBA, Joker, V DS, V SFAM, VII)


For the past Dragon Questing blogs, click the links below:


:::::::::: From Dragon Quest VII:

I am 100% Addicted to the Dharma Temple: Dragon Questing, Part Thirteen

Restoring the Planet: Dragon Questing, Part Twelve

Meet the Warriors of Eden: Dragon Questing, Part Eleven

:::::::::: From Dragon Quest V:

No Wonder Everyone Loves This Game: Dragon Questing, Part Ten

Coming to America Sans Eddie Murphy: Dragon Questing, Part Nine

:::::::::: From Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker:

I Guess They Can't All Be Gold: Dragon Questing, Part Eight

:::::::::: From Dragon Quest I:

Returning the Ball of Light: Dragon Questing, Part Seven

Getting a Grip on a Classic: Dragon Questing, Part Six

Going Back in Time: Dragon Questing, Part Five

:::::::::: From Dragon Quest VIII:

The conclusion of an Epic: Dragon Questing, Part Four

Discovering the Monster Arena: Dragon Questing, Part Three

How to Give a Boy a Heart: Dragon Questing, Part Two

Meeting the Cursed King: Dragon Questing, Part One   read


11:03 AM on 07.24.2009  

Dragon Questing Part Thirteen: I am 100% Addicted to the Dharma Temple



Back in September of 2008, I had the pleasure of playing my first proper Dragon Quest game with Chapters of the Chosen for the DS. After completing it, I couldn't help but wonder why I had never played a game in this series before. I'm always complaining about the gimmicks thrown into many modern games and how I'd want nothing more than to just play a modern RPG that stripped away all the nonsense and took things back to basics.

Well, Dragon Quest has been sitting right under my nose since I was in diapers. Not content to stop at the fourth game in the series, I've set out to acquire and play through every localized Dragon Quest title right up until I replay the fourth entry ... on the NES. I've spent months lurking around eBay, and I've amassed a complete collection that now only needs me to experience it.

If you've played any of the games I'll be talking about, I'd appreciate your comments as I don't know anyone locally who I can talk to about this wonderful series.

Part Thirteen:

Dragon Quest VII: Warriors of Eden... continued


A few days ago, fellow DToid blogger Thefil told me that, despite multiple attempts to play through Dragon Quest VII, he would always quit when he got to the Dharma Temple. I can sort of understand why he might want to do that; the Dharma Temple opens up so many possibilities for character growth that even trying to figure out where to start can be overwhelming enough to make you want to wave the white flag and call it quits. I think the hardest part is that there is no right path to take; each of the classes you can choose from have their own, unique skills associated with them. However, because of this, there is also no wrong path to take. Want to study to be a thief? You'll learn plenty of skills like finding treasure chests and random pick-pocketing. What to be a cleric? You'll learn some great healing spells in no time. Either way, when all is said and done and youíre at the end of the game, your characters will have inevitably mastered multiple classes and you'll pretty much end up a badass no matter what.

For those of you who don't know, the Dharma Temple is a gigantic coliseum of sorts that you'll reach about twenty-five hours into the game. Once there, you'll be presented with the option to study a character class. Sure, you can decide to simply not take one, but you'll regret it later on; once you get to a certain point, you stop learning new skills and spells when you level up! Besides, you're going on an adventure anyways, right? Well, you might as well just pick a class... even randomly. When you eventually master that class during your travels, merely warp back to the Dharma Temple and pick another one!

My experiences might be a good example: I had no idea at all what class to pick, so I just selected randomly. I made the main character--who I named Ben--a mariner, I made Gabo a fighter, and I made Maribel a mage. I didn't know if these were good decisions at first, but sure enough, my characters all started learning pretty useful skills in almost no time at all. Hanging around the temple just leveling up my skills was almost addicting.

And really, I did sort of get myself addicted to the temple for a while. You know how some people describe Super Mario 64 as the sort of game where you canít put it down because you keep telling yourself you need to just get one more star before you can call it a night? Well, similarly, I couldnít pull myself away from the temple to continue on with the game because I kept telling myself ďJust 35 more battles! Just 35 more and Iíll learn a new skill! Then Iíll move on to the next area!Ē

AhemÖ wellÖ

Six hours later (spread out over three days), I finally managed to pull myself away from the temple just long enough to go through another chapter in the game. There was a desert, and a sphinxÖ and a dragonÖ and a demonÖ or somethingÖ and something about a dark rubyÖ I donít knowÖ But whatís really important is that after I finished that chapter, I got to go back to the Dharma temple!!! and I stayed there for a good three hours or so just grinding and learning new skills.

At this point, really, I promise Iím done grinding outside the Dharma Temple. I figure if I stay any longer, Iíll become too powerful and itíll render the game boring. But while I was there, my party mastered the original classes I gave them. When they were done with those, I turned Ben into a warrior, and both Gabo & Maribel into Clerics. Ben mastered his class faster than the other two, so I had him study as a thief while they finished up being clerics. When the three of them were done with those classes, some intermediate classes became available, and I turned Ben, Gabo, and Maribel into a pirate, a paladin, and a sage respectively. The three of them have learned some incredibly useful skills. Gabo, for example, has a wind-based skill called ďvacuumĒ that rips up all the enemies on screen for about 75 damage a piece. Even better though, is that this attack requires no MP, meaning I can use it over and over again without draining any resources. Considering that Benís normal attack generally dishes out about 45 damage, this is a significant boon.

So, there you have it. Iíve got all my shards ready to go, and Iím headed for the ruins. Where will I end up? Well, I donít even know that yet, but Iíll be back in a few days with a full report. :)


As always, thanks for reading!

Ben

---------------------------------------------

Total elapsed time across entire Dragon Quest series: ~211 hours -

IV DS - ~30 hours
VIII - ~70 hours
I NES - ~20 hours
DQM:J - ~20 hours
V DS - ~30 hours
VII - ~41 hours

For the past Dragon Questing blogs, click the links below:


:::::::::: From Dragon Quest VII:

Restoring the Planet: Dragon Questing, Part Twelve

Meet the Warriors of Eden: Dragon Questing, Part Eleven

:::::::::: From Dragon Quest V:

No Wonder Everyone Loves This Game: Dragon Questing, Part Ten

Coming to America Sans Eddie Murphy: Dragon Questing, Part Nine

:::::::::: From Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker:

I Guess They Can't All Be Gold: Dragon Questing, Part Eight

:::::::::: From Dragon Quest I:

Returning the Ball of Light: Dragon Questing, Part Seven

Getting a Grip on a Classic: Dragon Questing, Part Six

Going Back in Time: Dragon Questing, Part Five

:::::::::: From Dragon Quest VIII:

The conclusion of an Epic: Dragon Questing, Part Four

Discovering the Monster Arena: Dragon Questing, Part Three

How to Give a Boy a Heart: Dragon Questing, Part Two

Meeting the Cursed King: Dragon Questing, Part One   read


10:20 PM on 07.22.2009  

Dragon Questing Part Twelve: Restoring the Planet



Back in September of 2008, I had the pleasure of playing my first proper Dragon Quest game with Chapters of the Chosen for the DS. I couldnít help but wonder why I had never played a game in this series before. Iím always complaining about the gimmicks thrown into many modern games and how Iíd want nothing more than to just play a modern RPG that stripped away all the nonsense and took things back to basics.

Well, Dragon Quest has been sitting right under my nose since I was in diapers. Not content to stop at the fourth game in the series, Iíve set out to acquire and play through every localized Dragon Quest title right up until I replay the fourth entry ... on the NES. Iíve spent months lurking around eBay, and Iíve amassed a complete collection that now only needs me to experience it.

If youíve played any of the games Iíll be talking about, Iíd appreciate your comments as I donít know anyone locally who I can talk to about this wonderful series.

Part Twelve:

Dragon Quest VII: Warriors of Eden


I've really grown to love the way in which Dragon Quest VII tells its stories. Almost as if it were episodic content, DQ VII's story is broken up into many small segments, each with their own climax and conclusion. I hope that, at some point, Square-Enix decide to make another Dragon Quest in this format, because it would be a perfect vehicle for endless amounts of DLC.

I'll spare you as many small details as possible, but basically, you start out on a tiny little island, called Estard Island, that happens to be the only body of land in the entire world. The hero leads a simple life, and his two best friends are the daughter from a semi-rich family, named Maribel, and Keifer, the prince of Estard. You can tell the people here don't have a lot of excitement in their lives because the biggest festival of the year has to do with fishing.



Anyway, through some bizarre turn of events, the three friends discover some ancient ruins, go back in time through a portal, find themselves in a foreign place that needs saving, and they save it. When they go back through the portal to the present, everyone in Estard is all in a tizzy because, while on a fishing trip, someone just discovered a new island! And when you get there, it turns out to be the same place you saved from certain destruction in the past.

And, well, that's the gist of the game: Some absolutely terrible thing happened in the past that destroyed every single body of land except the one you start out on. The goal of the game is to visit each island/continent in the past and set things right so that it isn't destroyed. By the end of the game, you'll have an entire world map. It's a simple premise, for sure, but it opens up the game for smaller, more concentrated stories within each area you save from doom.



Also, the gist of the story--from what I've gathered so far--is that God and the Demon Lord fought over the course of many years for control of the planet. God eventually won, but died from sheer exhaustion by the end of it. During the epic battles, the Demon Lord dispersed his demons throughout the planet to destroy it little by little. When I warp back in time to an island, it always happens to be right in the midst of the disaster brought on by the Demon lord's minions.

In the time I've played, I've saved a little over half-a-dozen areas at this point, but here are several that really stood out to me:



:::::::::: The White Wolf of Orph:

In this bizarre chapter, my party and I happened upon a village with a very unique curse: the majority its inhabitants had changed into animals! And those that remained human were basically brain-dead; they couldn't manage to say a word. Oddly enough, however, I was still able to use the Inn and buy from the shops, despite the fact that they were operated by chickens.



Unable to progress any farther within the town of Orph, I eventually found out that I had to go back to the present day and bring back with me an old man who claimed he could talk to animals. He was shocked at the sight of the village, all overrun with dogs, cats, and chickens, but went right to work trying to talk with them. He was embarrassed, but he was unable to communicate with a single one of the animals. He sounded like a middle-aged man in bed when he started swearing to me that this had never happened before and that he's usually able to perform. He couldn't talk to them because they weren't animals; they were humans changed into animals. It all of a sudden hit me like a ton of bricks that the remaining humans weren't brain-dead, they were just animals! Rather, animals that had been changed into humans. The old man had no problem talking with these creepy abominations and quickly discovered that it was a nearby demon who cursed the village with an affliction that turned humans into animals and vice-versa.

One of the seemingly "brain-dead" humans was Gabo, a white wolf that had been chained up inside a garden shed just before the curse hit. When we took his chains off, he immediately darted out the door, towards the demonís hideout. We followed him and, easily enough, defeated the demon. But before we were able to seal him away in his tomb and negate his curse, he permanently cursed Gabo, meaning heíd hold the form of a human for the rest of his life. Sucks for Gabo, but with the rest of the town saved, we returned to the present day and revisited the current Orph. You wonít believe what we foundÖ

Just like in the past, the entire town consisted of animals! What the Hell!!! We looked around for clues as to what happened this time, but instead, we eventually found out that it was just a bunch of people dressed up in animal costumes. Turns out, the ordeal with Orphís citizens turning into animals went down in the village history. So, every year, they celebrate withÖ a furry convention?!

Anyway, we also revisited the current-day demonís hideout, and we found him! Still alive! But his dark powers had long since waned away and he now just had the appearance of a normal man. He actually apologized for his behavior hundreds of years ago and offered to turn Gabo back into his wolf form. Unfortunately, his magic powers were rusty and he instead gave Gabo the ability to speak.

And, frankly, I found this part kinda weird. Gabo was a wolf, right? Well, after he was given the ability to speak, he completely left his wolf persona behind. Heís now just a human, and only says human things. If you had walked in on me playing the game now, youíd never know that he wasnít always a human. Not really a big deal, just not what I was expecting. I was expecting that kid from Jungle 2 Jungle or something. :)



:::::::::: Poor, Lonely Zebbot:

Technology in Dragon Quest has always been somewhat of a vague concept. For the most part, there is no technology... whatsoever. But the second you enter a casino, you can go ahead and throw that rule right out the window; neon lights, slot machines, and LCD displays litter the black & white checkered floor. Other than that, the only other bizarre exception are the robot enemies. I say bizarre because these enemies show up in random encounters in most Dragon Quest games and their existence is never explained. Well, likewise, when I made my way to Falrish, I found myself in a town plagued by... robots?! Yes, it was a robot plague.

Long story short, the town of Falrish had been under attack by robots for some time and, understandably, they graciously accepted my help to rid them of their infestation. Turns out, it was one of the Demon Lord's many minions behind the robot attacks (though I have no idea how he came to possess the technology to build them). But what was really interesting was how we finally sabotaged the robot stronghold and got in to take them down: using a captured robot, a skilled scientist from Falrish, named Zebbot, reprogrammed the mechsoldier to give off a frequency that would scramble the other robots' processors. While the 'bots furiously ran around willy-nilly, my party and I were able to sneak inside and take them all out by defeating the boss.

In case you were wondering, yes, you read that right: we took one of their robots, reprogrammed it to give off a specific frequency, and used it to scramble the other robots' brains so we could sneak into their base. Basically, it was the exact same f*cking plot from this year's Terminator: Salvation. Did you think we wouldn't find out, David C. Wilson, Michael Ferris, and John D. Brancato?! You're all busted!



Anyway, the aforementioned scientist, Zebbot, kinda... became somewhat infatuated with his reprogrammed robot in a weird way. He named it after his recently deceased wife, and took it home with him after the war was over. No, no, nothing weird happened. But I think he was just really lonely. The robot mostly just did household chores, like cooking and cleaning.

This was sad enough, but later, when I went back to the present day and revisited the scientist's house, that's when I found a really tragic sight: the scientist, having died long ago, was reduced to a pile of bleached-white bones. And the robot, in a state of perpetual confusion, was eternally cooking bowls of soup for the corpse in the hopes that he'd get batter and wake up.

I wasn't crying or anything, but I have to admit that this scene did kinda tug at me a bit. It was sad, but even moreso it was just pathetic. This old scientist died all alone (to be fair, it was by choice; he was a bit of a shut-in), with only a machine for company that couldn't possibly ever understand a concept like death.



:::::::::: Love Lost... and Found Again?:

I thought I knew what I was in for When I first arrived in the village of Verdham; all of its citizens had been turned to stone, but I knew what to do because I had just dealt with the same issue about two quests prior in a town called Dialac. All I had to do to cure the people of their rocky affliction was climb to the highest point in the village and pour an Angel's Tear onto the ground.

I did so and, sure enough, everyone came back to life. I really thought I was finished at this point, but it turns out that the salvation of Verdham was just the setup for the real story here: a love triangle... or, rather, a love square.

I'll spare you most of the details, but here's a rundown on the characters in this unfortunate relationship:

- The first character is Pepe. Pepe tends to a fantastic herb garden owned by the richest man in town.

- The second is Linda, who is a young lady within the village. She is engaged to...

- ... the third character, named Iwan. Iwan is the son of the richest man in town.

- The fourth and final character in this mess is Iwan's maid.

Here's the shiz: Pepe loves Linda; Linda loves Pepe but is reluctantly engaged to Iwan; Iwan loves Linda but Iwan is kind of a douche; Iwan's maid loves Iwan and works as hard as she can to convince Pepe to run away with Linda so she can have Iwan all to herself.

Got it?

Well, Pepe cannot run away and elope with Linda because it could mean bad things for his family, who works for Iwan's family. So, after a fair amount of drama, Pepe ultimately decides to leave Linda and the rest of Verdham behind and start a new herb garden somewhere else. Everyone seems pretty shaken up about Pepe's decision--Linda was reeling from the fact that she'd actually have to marry Iwan--but the world keeps on spinning.

Fast forward to the future, though, and you'll see why I wanted to tell you about this story in the first place. Present day Verdham had fallen to ruin; a few bricks and pieces of concrete remained around an absolutely glorious herb garden. Turns out Pepe was a damn-good gardener, huh? Well, east of Verdham was a new village--one founded by the very same Pepe that left Verdham all those years ago. And at the rear of the settlement were two practically ancient headstones.

The one on the left read: "Here lies Pepe"

On the right: "Here lies Linda"



:::::::::: The Deja Tribe:

Damn you, Keifer! Damn you!!!

I should have seen this coming... I mean, the fact that Keifer never got any new skills or spells, the fact that he never got any MP, his intense flirting with Layla... I should have put the pieces together... From the start, Keifer was a temporary party member! Man... I never would have guessed, but 25 hours in, Keifer tells you he's staying put and shoves you back into the portal with all his stuff in a bag and a goodbye letter.

But I'm getting way ahead of myself; let me take it from the beginning. I had just replaced the SE pedestal in the wind shard room and once again gone back in time to a new continent. This particular land was home to the Deja tribe; a nomadic group of people tasked with--get this--resurrecting God. Pretty heavy stuff, right?! Well, I showed up just as they were on their way to the temple to fulfill their destiny. You see, to complete their task and resurrect God, the Dejas had to perform a ceremony using two very important members of their tribe: Layla, the tribe's official dancer; and Jann, the tribe's official lutu (a stringed instrument similar to a lute) player. When the two did their part simultaneously at the top of the temple, the idea was that God would rise again! Also of note is the fact that Layla bears the mark of the Terra Spirit on her chest. She was born with it, and this is what qualifies her to be the tribe's official dancer.

All the while, Keifer is intensely flirting with Layla, despite the fact that she's engaged to Jann! Oh snap!

Well, after a series of events and a failed attempt at reviving God, Jann drops quite a bomb on the whole tribe: he, too, bears the mark of the Terra Spirit on his chest. Why is this a big deal? Because, according to tribal law, two people who share the mark of the Terra Spirit cannot be wed. Jann's hope was that they would hurry up and revive God so that he could fulfill his destiny and marry Layla. But, growing impatient by the tribe's failed attempts, and feeling deeply ashamed for deceiving his entire tribe, Jann decides the best course of action is to exile himself from the tribe forever.

Almost everyone seems pretty somber, but not Keifer. No, this little bastard's gears start spinning, and he soon realizes that this is his chance to make a move on Layla! I didn't think anything of it, but I was in for a rude awakening the next morning when Keifer told Maribel, Gabo, and I that he had found his calling; he decided to take Jann's place as a guardian for the Deja Tribe.

And that's it! What kills me is that there's no conclusion to this story yet; when I go to the Deja tribe settlement in the present day, I can't find a single shred of evidence anywhere that points to Keifer's existence. It's as if the Deja tribe was wiped off the face of the earth.

Ok, that's all I've got for now. The next post will be almost entirely dedicated to the Dharma Temple. I swear, I've spent about ten hours there...

As always, thanks for reading!

Ben

---------------------------------------------

Total elapsed time across entire Dragon Quest series: ~195 hours -

IV DS - ~30 hours
VIII - ~70 hours
I NES - ~20 hours
DQM:J - ~20 hours
V DS - ~30 hours
VII - ~25 hours

For the past Dragon Questing blogs, click the links below:

:::::::::: From Dragon Quest VII:

Meet the Warriors of Eden: Dragon Questing, Part Eleven

:::::::::: From Dragon Quest V:

No Wonder Everyone Loves This Game: Dragon Questing, Part Ten

Coming to America Sans Eddie Murphy: Dragon Questing, Part Nine

:::::::::: From Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker:

I Guess They Can't All Be Gold: Dragon Questing, Part Eight

:::::::::: From Dragon Quest I:

Returning the Ball of Light: Dragon Questing, Part Seven

Getting a Grip on a Classic: Dragon Questing, Part Six

Going Back in Time: Dragon Questing, Part Five

:::::::::: From Dragon Quest VIII:

The conclusion of an Epic: Dragon Questing, Part Four

Discovering the Monster Arena: Dragon Questing, Part Three

How to Give a Boy a Heart: Dragon Questing, Part Two

Meeting the Cursed King: Dragon Questing, Part One   read


2:55 PM on 07.20.2009  

Dragon Questing Part Eleven: Meet the Warriors of Eden



As I worked my way up the stairs, I knew that two snipers were waiting to pick me off when I made it to the top floor. I knew because they'd killed me about a dozen times before on previous attempts... I reloaded from my last save once again, trying to figure out how I'd dispatch them before they could, for the thirteenth time, take me down. I slowly crept along a two-foot-high wall (it used to just be a wall, but the activity in the area had left it a pile of drywall and wooden boards) and peered out to my left. Bam. There it was: I saw the first sniper's laser sight furiously looking for me... tracing the laser back to a window, I lobbed a grenade into it and, seconds later, the sniper flew out the window with a booming explosion. Great, that's one of two. Turning around, I quickly spotted the source of the other laser pointer, stood up, and fired a rocket at it with my trusty launcher. I knew it was overkill, but boy, was it ever satisfying. Unfortunately, I only had time to breathe a too-soon sigh of relief before a strider walked down the street, set its sights directly on me, and opened fire...

Wait, what? What blog is this? Dragon Quest?! Oh, my bad! I recently got an Xbox 360 and had been entertaining myself with The Orange Box... I played through all three Half-life games, and Portal. I also made my way through Resident Evil 5 as well. In fact, the aforementioned games are only two of ten games I've played through since the last DQing blog. Six of them were on the DS (Shin Megami Tensai: Devil Survivor, Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars, Henry Hatsworth and the Puzzling Adventure, Rhythm Heaven, Broken Sword: The Director's Cut, and Super Mario 64 DS), and two were on the Wii (Klonoa, MadWorld). Hey, whatever, I told myself when I started this thing that I wouldn't let it get in the way of me playing new games.

But, seriously though, I have been playing Dragon Quest VII, little by little, since I finished DQV back in March. It was only about a week ago, however, that I finally decided it was time to really get back into it and play DQVII to completion. I've been moving along at a pretty good pace; I'm 25 hours in and I just reached the Dharma Temple for the first time.

Part Eleven:

Dragon Quest VII: Warriors of Eden


---------------Getting the Game:



Another really easy acquisition. I wish I had something more interesting here besides just saying "I came, I saw, I bought, I played," but that was the case yet again. Cost came out to $39.00 including shipping.

Since I've already covered so much ground in the game, I don't think I could touch on everything I want to say about it in a single blog post. I ramble way too much as it is, and detailing almost half of this epic game at one time would stretch this post on for pages and pages. Instead, I just want to talk about the game's mechanics in this post, and I've got another post ready for tomorrow that'll tackle most of the story elements up to this point (at least, the ones that were important to me). So here goes:



---------------The Engine:

I know I've said it many times before, but I really, really like the engine used in the new DS remakes as well as Dragon Quest VII. It's incredibly smooth and very efficient as an RPG engine. The only real difference between this and the DS remakes is that it's--understandably--much less refined; the menus are clunky & needlessly complicated, and there's a ton of slowdown in 3D areas. Still, it's very pleasant, and as always I enjoy pressing the L and R buttons to constantly rotate the camera.



---------------The Graphics:

There's not really a nice way to say it: for the most part, Dragon Quest VII looks pretty bad. The FMVs are grainy & seem somewhat poorly done, the sprites are hardly animated, and even the parts that are rendered in 3D are mostly very basic. This would of course be okay if the game came out, say, within the launch window of the PlayStation, but this game came out in 2000. Even Capcom's two PS entries in the Breath of Fire series looked leagues better than this game.



Really though, the most baffling thing about this game, graphically, is the method Enix chose to deliver the cut scenes. They're pretty rare, but when they do show up, they look like some janky, pre-1995 3D TV show like REBOOT or something. I know that this is what most RPG cut scenes from the PS era looked like (see Legend of Dragoon, Legaia, etc.), but I guess I expected more because, well, this is freaking Dragon Quest we're talking about!!! I mean, doesn't Akira Toriyama do the art for Dragon Quest? Well, then why didn't they have fully animated cut scenes, a la the PS remake of Chrono Trigger, or Breath of Fire IV, or Xenogears? Really, it's a small complaint in the end, but as I play through the game, I'm often surprised by how dated some of the visuals look.

On the upside, the areas are all very bright and colorful, and the geometry is occasionally breathtaking; it's always awesome to go into a huge town and rotate the camera until you're completely concealed by some huge piece of architecture.



---------------The Translation:

Before I played this game, I read a few old reviews that criticized the game's translation, stating that its characters were written very blandly and that the script was rife with spelling errors. I very much disagree with this; my allies don't tend to talk a whole lot, but they're very enjoyably written, if admittedly a bit one-dimensionally. Maribel is clearly a spoiled rich girl, and that's the part she plays. Likewise, Keifer is a restless prince with aspirations for adventure, and that's the part that he plays. But despite their one-dimensional personas, their thoughts are well verbalized and they often make me laugh.



It's true that there are spelling errors. The further I get into the game, the more typos I see. But they're so minor that it's really more something to laugh at than something that really irritates you. Or at least, I don't mind anyway.



---------------The Characters:

As is usually the case with Dragon Quest games, I absolutely adore the characters; Maribel, Keifer, and the entire supporting cast are endlessly endearing. And even though they play their roles about as one-dimensionally as the cast from Gran Torino, I'm fine with it because I feel they just play their roles so damn well.

Gabo is really the only exception. Don't get me wrong, I like him, but I don't know if I buy his ability to talk. To give some background here, Gabo starts off as a wolf cub, but then gets transformed into a boy by an evil demon. Seeing as he's only a boy in appearance, he can hardly speak at all. But, later, he gets hit with another spell that gives hime the ability to talk, and all of a sudden, he's f*cking Wilbur from Charolet's Web; he's able to verbalize and articulate complex thoughts and understand situations on a human level.

I like Gabo the way he is no doubt, but it's impossible for me to make the connection between who he is now and the goofy drawing of him in the instruction booklet. Two totally different people.



---------------The Pacing:

The pacing in this game is crazy! It's unlike any other RPG I've ever played, let alone any other Dragon Quest game. It must've been at least three hours before I fought a single battle, and at twenty-five hours, I've only just reached the Dharma Temple so I can start changing classes. The game progresses at a very, very slow pace, so much so that it keeps age-old DQ elements feeling fresh and new. ("Wow, I can use a spell that'll take me to a place I've already been?! NEAT!")

Even more unique, though, is the general flow of the game; because there are no monsters on the present day world map, I can easily go an hour or two without fighting any battles between each adventure. So, after I rescue a new continent in the past, I'll go back to the present and spend a huge amount of time exploring new content and collecting shards. By the time I finally find enough shards and go back in time to a new area, I feel like Matt Damon from the beginning of The Bourne Identity; I forget that my characters and I know how to fight, and I always spend a few minutes in awe as I rediscover my badassness.



---------------God, or Goddess?:

This is the first Dragon Quest game I've played that didn't have a goddess in it (except DQI, but that doesn't count because there's no church at all). This game instead has a god and it really has me confused about a couple of things. I have to wonder if there was ever a goddess in Japan and if the goddess in NA came to us with the name "Dragon Quest." Also, there's a cross as the religious symbol, as opposed to the trident in the other DQ games that I've played. I'm lurking around a few forums right now, trying to figure out where the idea of a god or goddess came up at all in Dragon Quest, and how this was concieved in Japan and America. It's certainly interesting...

For what it's worth, I prefer having the goddess and the trident, as opposed to the god and the cross. Why? Well, for some reason, it feels awkward in Dragon Quest VII whenever someone says something like "May God protect you," or "God is always watching you," because it feels like I've got real-world religion in my video games, which I'm really not comfortable with for some reason. I feel like having the goddess in there with a fake religious symbol keeps things light-hearted and somewhat whimsical.

In the end, it's not like it really matters though. Just something I'm definitely curious about.

UPDATE: Thanks to the Dragon's Den forums, I've learned that "Goddess" didn't come about until Dragon quest VIII came to America. At that point, Japan adopted the idea and that's why we now always have a goddess and a trident in DQ games.

Ok, that's it! I'll have actual play experiences up tomorrow. Has anyone else here played Dragon Quest VII? What did you think? Feel the same/different than I do so far?

As always, thanks for reading!

Ben

---------------------------------------------

Total elapsed time across entire Dragon Quest series: ~195 hours -

IV DS - ~30 hours
VIII - ~70 hours
I NES - ~20 hours
DQM:J - ~20 hours
V DS - ~30 hours
VII - ~25 hours

Total amount of money spent on Dragon Quest Series: $259.00 (IV, VIII twice, slime controller, I, I & II GBA, Joker, V DS, V SFAM, VII)

For the past Dragon Questing blogs, click the links below:

---------------From Dragon Quest V:

No Wonder Everyone Loves This Game: Dragon Questing, Part Ten

Coming to America Sans Eddie Murphy: Dragon Questing, Part Nine

---------------From Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker:

I Guess They Can't All Be Gold: Dragon Questing, Part Eight

---------------From Dragon Quest I:

Returning the Ball of Light: Dragon Questing, Part Seven

Getting a Grip on a Classic: Dragon Questing, Part Six

Going Back in Time: Dragon Questing, Part Five

---------------From Dragon Quest VIII:

The conclusion of an Epic: Dragon Questing, Part Four

Discovering the Monster Arena: Dragon Questing, Part Three

How to Give a Boy a Heart: Dragon Questing, Part Two

Meeting the Cursed King: Dragon Questing, Part One   read


2:05 AM on 03.10.2009  

Dragon Questing Part Ten: No Wonder Everyone Loves This Game



Back in September of 2008, I had the pleasure of playing my first proper Dragon Quest game with Chapters of the Chosen for the DS. I couldnít help wonder why I had never played a game in this series before. Iím always complaining about the gimmicks thrown into many modern games and how Iíd want nothing more than to just play a modern RPG that stripped away all the nonsense and took things back to basics.

Well, Dragon Quest has been sitting right under my nose since I was in daipers. Not content to stop at the fourth game in the series, Iíve set out to acquire and play through every localized Dragon Quest title right up until I replay the fourth entry ... on the NES. Iíve spent months lurking around eBay, and Iíve amassed a complete collection that now only needs me to experience it.

If youíve played any of the games Iíll be talking about, Iíd appreciate your comments as I donít know anyone locally who I can talk to about this wonderful series.

Part Ten:

Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride


Since this game is more or less completely new for just about everyone in America, I should note that there will probably be a ton of spoilers.

So, ok, note to self: itís difficult for me to play a game to completion, and then go back and talk about all the events of it in chronological order. I started typing through the happenings in the game, and had already typed up about four pages before even covering the first third. Deciding it was just way to damn long, Iím instead just going to do what I did in the very first Dragon Questing post and briefly touch on some key events & characters within the game. These blogs are already too long as it is and I canít really expect anyone to read them if they get much longer. :) :)

Note: Every time I say the name "Ben," I'm referring to the hero. That's what I named him!

Pankraz:

I really wish I could've seen more of Pankraz. Before I even played the game, I knew from just looking at the cover that the events within would take place over the hero's whole life, but I didn't know that Pankraz was going to die. I just figured that he'd grow old throughout the game as well. When we went on our little rescue mission for Prince Harry, I honestly thought that's all that it was going to be. I was shocked when he went down ... and so slowly! The monsters just chipped away at his health, little by little, until he finally collapsed. My eyes actually welled up with tears when it was all said and done, if only because I genuinely expected something to happen that prevented Pankraz from dying.

Everyone in the game who mentioned Pankraz really took a shine to him, and it's easy to understand why; he's was a really likable character. Everything he did was endearing--like when he would heal the hero after every single battle--and he was incredibly strong. My favorite moment with him was for some reason near the beginning when he called the hero a sleepyhead. I don't know why, but it really made him seem caring.

Bianca:

Despite the game's best efforts to make Bianca sound like an uneducated hick, I really liked her. There were plenty of charming moments between her and Ben when they were children, and the exchanges between them were even more endearing as adults. I didn't think twice about marrying her, but regardless, I really felt like she was who the game wanted you to marry. After all, my choices were between a sweet girl that Ben had never met (except for the short meeting on the boat, but whatever), a spoiled brat, and a girl that he'd basically known his whole life. It was no contest! I chose her, and she & Ben were promptly married at the church within the same town. My favorite part here was when the priest was marrying them and said:

"Do you, Ben, take Bianca, to be your wife? To love and to cherish, in sickness and in health, for as long as you both shall be resurrected from death in the church?"

Lolls!!! After they were married, I enjoyed all the funny things that she'd say when I used the chat function. She seemed happy to be out and about, often comparing it to being on a honeymoon. Awww!!!

Leo (what I named my sabrecat):

I really, really liked this cat, and I was sad to see him go at the close of the first third of the game. After the ten years in slavery, and Ben & Harry had escaped, I didn't know when I was going to see him again or under what circumstances. So, when I reached the village of Hay and was tasked with hunting down the monster that was destroying their crops, I really expected a monster! I knew it was him the second I saw him (and I was so happy to see him!) but I was also surprised that he didn't, in turn, recognize Ben and join up right away. Confused, I figured I had to beat him or something (like it was a boss, yeah?), but he would hardly attack, and when he did, it would only be for a miniscule amount of damage.

It wasn't until after three or four bouts that I started to suspect something about this battle was different. When I attempted to run, the light in my head went off when I was able to escape. Ah ha, something is different about this battle! I thought for a minute about what to do before reinitiating the fight. When I did, I brought with me Biancaís ribbon that she tied around Leo when he was a cub. I was so happy when, upon using the ribbon as an item, the cat sniffed it and remembered both Ben and Prince Harry. From then on, there was never a point that I didn't have Leo in my party whenever possible. He wasn't even close to the strongest member I had, and he hardly had any useful skills, but I just enjoyed having him around.

It's funny that Leo had such an impact on me - he never had a single word of spoken dialogue. Maybe it was just cool to have a Sabrecat that wasn't lumped in with the rest of the monsters you caught.

Prince Harry:

Keeping in mind that this is the fourth Dragon Quest game I've played, I really thought I knew what to expect when I met Prince Harry. Prince Charmles from Dragon Quest VIII--who, for those of you that don't know, was a complete ass--immediately sprung to mind, and I therefore intensely disliked him from the moment he was introduced. He was your typical spoiled prince, with no respect for anyone and a floccinaucinihilipilification for his privilege of inheriting the throne. But really, all of that just made it all the more impactful when Pankraz finally slapped him across the face and convinced him to accept his responsibility. As I said before, I was really sad when Pankraz died, but it seemed to inflict such a change in Prince Harry that it was almost worth it. Ten years later, Harry had become a quiet, shy, and meek little man who followed orders without question. I was genuinely surprised by the very real transformation that had taken place within him.

Sancho:

Before I played this game, I figured that Sancho would be a bigger part of it. Much like Torneko Taloon from Dragon Quest IV, I got the impression that he was a big fan-favorite. He's...an oddly sentimental fellow, and I really did enjoy all his quips that ended with him sobbing, but he didn't play a very big role in the game. Very late in the game, you can add him to your party if you want to, but he'll otherwise remain in Gotha and just be a funny man with kooky, yet nostalgic & endearing things to say.

About the Ten Years of Stone:

This was the only point in the game that made me flat-out shed tears. This incredibly sad and very long cutscene took place after Ben and Bianca were turned to stone and separated. To see them both--after such a long and adventurous journey--taken and sold at an auction was bad enough, but where Ben went and what he possibly even witnessed was far worse. I wonder: could he see in that state? Did he have thoughts?

The day after the twins were born, Ben was turned to stone and sold to a married couple who had just had their own baby boy. And for ten years, the statue stood there, witnessing so many major events of a baby's lifeóthe first word, first crawl, first step, boyhoodóall while missing the same, precious events from his own two children. When Ben was finally brought back to life, he lay surrounded by Sancho and his two now-adolescent kids. It was essentially the first time he met them, and he unfortunately missed out on every single major event of their growth, all while watching a boy grow that he didnít even know or have any reason to care about.

And about Ben's kids, man, who saw that coming?! I didn't even consider for a second that the main character wouldn't be the hero of the game.

Grinding:

The only thing I really want to say about this is that I didn't have to do any of it. Compared to all the other Dragon Quest games that I played, this one would have to be the most balanced, since I never felt to weak to continue on without grinding. Throughout the whole game, I felt like I leveled up and a really great pace, so I was able to just pretty much sail through everything.

DONE!:

OK, admittedly, I moved on to Dragon Quest VII, like, three days ago. I bought Fire Emblem for the DS to start playing after this game, but it was so lame that I just couldn't help plunging into the next DQ. With each additional DQ game that I play, I fully expect that it will be the last; that the simplistic nature of the games will finally catch up with me and I'll get bored. But really, I love the series more and more with each subsequent game. If I had to rate V, I'd give it a ten, all the way.

As always, thanks for reading!

Ben

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Total elapsed time across entire Dragon Quest series: ~170 hours -

IV DS - ~30 hours
VIII - ~70 hours
I NES - ~20 hours
DQM:J - ~20 hours
V DS - ~30 hours

Total amount of money spent on Dragon Quest Series: $220.00 (IV, VIII twice, slime controller, I, I & II GBA, Joker, V DS, V SFAM)

For the past Dragon Questing blogs, click the links below:

Coming to America Sans Eddie Murphy: Dragon Questing, Part Nine

I Guess They Can't All Be Gold: Dragon Questing, Part Eight

Returning the Ball of Light: Dragon Questing, Part Seven

Getting a Grip on a Classic: Dragon Questing, Part Six

Going Back in Time: Dragon Questing, Part Five

The conclusion of an Epic: Dragon Questing, Part Four

Discovering the Monster Arena: Dragon Questing, Part Three

How to Give a Boy a Heart: Dragon Questing, Part Two

Meeting the Cursed King: Dragon Questing, Part One   read







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