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BenHaskett avatar 1:56 AM on 02.24.2009  (server time)
I Guess They Can't All Be Gold: Dragon Questing, Part Eight

As I write this, it's late Monday evening, and Dragon Quest V for the DS is going to arrive at my house in the mail tomorrow. I've been anticipating its release, but also sort of dreading it these last few days, as I've been having trouble finishing up Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker. However, as of tonight, Iíve decided that, well, Iím not going to finish the game. Why? Oh man, let me tell you . . .

Part Eight: Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker

Getting the Game:

This one was easy! I won a copy on eBay for less than fifteen, including shipping! No fancy stories here, it just is what it is.

Playing the Game:

So, ok, the game starts out with a shady figure named Black Jacques approaching you (the hero) in a jail cell. He opens the door to let you out, while indirectly explaining the reason you were locked up in the first place. The Warden locked you up for attempting so many times to run away and join the Monster Scout challenge. And why does the Warden care so much? Why, because heís you father (cue Shyamalan: ďWhat a twist!Ē)! He then, experiencing a change of heart, tells you to travel to Domus Isle to join the challenge. Not as a true contestant, of course, but as a spy. You know, on assignment? So, with that, Iím given permission to leave this little island that Iím on to start a journey that, really, I just didnít like that much.

For the record, no, I didn't pay much attention to the story. It wasn't awful or anything, but it didn't carry the same weight that the other DQ games carry. What bugged me the most about the story was that it could have gotten along just fine by simply being a game with a simple story. Instead, the plot quickly takes a turn for the bizarre and comes off cheap and poorly told . . . like a bad, Saturday-morning cartoon.

I should probably point out that Iíve never liked the Pokemon games. For many years, I held this opinion after merely looking at the games; they just didnít look like my cup of tea. But, just to be sure, I played Pokemon diamond last year for about a dozen-or-so hours before deciding once and for all the this type of RPG just wasnít for me. Granted, I was well-aware that DQM:J was essentially a Pokemon clone, but I figured that the setting, the cast, and the enemies would still make for a pretty enjoyable experience. And, at times, I really enjoyed myself. However, in the end, I just couldnít shake the feeling that I was just simply really bad at this kind of game . . . But, more on that in a bit.

First, I want to complain about the presentation; the game looks really great for a DS game, but I found the game to be really difficult to navigate. This was mainly a result of the worthless map on the bottom screen, the zoomed in view, and that fact that you can only move the camera on a horizontal axis (with the L and R buttons). Eventually, I was always able to get a feel for the layout of all the areas I visited, but they were always at first overwhelming.

Anyways, the game consists of several islands amidst a vast ocean, and you travel between all of them via jet-skis (called ďjettiesĒ in this game). The basic progression of the game has you going to an island, scouting new monsters, collecting darkonium (the gems you need to advance the plot; you need ten) visiting the islandís temple, and defeating the boss. Do this a few times, and youíll finally be able to begin the Monster Scout Challenge. Finally, after that, youíre faced with one more dungeon and the final boss.

And thatís exactly where I decided to call it quits. I didnít know it, but I had apparently been playing the game the wrong way the whole time. Early on in the game, I scouted some pretty strong monsters, and managed to coast through the game pretty easily with just those three. I didnít bother scouting many more monsters (I think I caught a total of 21 in the whole game), because I was doing so well with the ones that I had. It wasnít until the very last boss that I found out that I had a party made up entirely of high-level, Rank F monsters. So, now, at the end of the game, twenty hours in, I had to go back out of the dungeon, scout stronger monsters, breed those monsters for even stronger monsters, and then level them up to where theyíd be strong enough to face the boss (FYI, bred monsters always start at level 1.). Yeah, how about no.

But thatís okay, I feel like Iíve experienced the game and extracted about as much enjoyment as I can from it. As I said before, I donít really like monster-catching games, but the worst part was that it didnít even feel like a Dragon Quest game; the characters were generic and lifeless, the story lacked the reverence of normal DQ games, and even the music was just so-so.

Whatever, this game was only ever meant to pass the time anyway until I got my hands on Dragon Quest V. Now that I have, Iíll gracefully put Joker back on the shelf, and probably never take it down again.

Thanks for reading.


Total elapsed time across entire Dragon Quest series: ~140 hours -

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

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

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

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