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BenHaskett avatar 2:58 AM on 10.11.2008  (server time)
Meeting the Cursed King: Dragon Questing, Part One

I recently experienced my first proper Dragon Quest game with Chapters of the Chosen for the DS and have since fallen in love with the series. As a result of my sudden infatuation, Iíve set out to acquire and play through every localized Dragon Quest title right up until I replay the fourth entryÖ on the NES. And, so that I remember this occasion after Iíve moved on to the next amazing and shiny thing, Iíve decided to chronicle my adventures right here.

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 One:

Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King

Getting the Game:

This is bound to be the most boring ďgetting the gameĒ as Dragon Quest VIII is still pretty new (2005) and still available in most stores. I managed to snag a used copy from Game Crazy for $12.99 and was able to enjoy the game for about 20 hours before I was stopped by an epic scratch on the bottom of the disc. I brought it back in to Game Crazy and, to my dismay, found out that they donít give refunds for used games; theyíll only issue store creditÖ and they didnít have another copy of the game. So I went to GameStop and picked up another used copy for the same price. And thatís why I now have two copies of Dragon Quest VIII.

Playing the Game:

Like I said before, Iíve only just completed my first proper Dra-Que title in the form of Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen for the DS. It was a great game and, despite its rather humble presentation, had a charming story and a rather clever way of telling it. Similarly, VIII seems to tell a rather simple story in a clever fashion by switching the chronology of the events around (a la Pulp Fiction). But quite different from IV is VIIIís presentation. After thirty hours of midi-music and modest polygonal architecture, Iím blown away by VIIIís elaborate design and orchestrated--ORCHESTRATED!--soundtrack.

Going back to similarities, though, what really surprises me is how little the seriesí mechanics have changed from its fourth title to its eighth. With the exception of a few miniscule changes, the menu navigation, battle systems, items, and even many of the monsters are exactly the same. Not that Iím complaining; I was delighted to be able to sink my teeth into the game without having to learn how to play it. It was instantly familiar and altogether new. Seriously, Iím happy to know what a metal slime is worth right from the get-go.

In about twenty hours of playtime, I feel Iíve gotten a pretty good grasp on the story, and itís got me sucked in something fierce. Iím no good at summarizing things like this (Iím far enough into the game that Iíd probably just confuse rather than shed any light), so hereís a portion of a review by former Gamespot editor Bethany Massimilla:

ďAn evil wizard named Dhoulmagus has seized a legendary scepter, cursing the castle from which it was taken and turning the king into a toadlike creature and the princess into a horse. You (a palace guard and hero of this tale) were the only other inhabitant of the castle to survive the tragic events, and you set off with King Trode, the equine Medea, and a portly companion named Yangus to track down the foul magician.Ē

The story has become a little darker at this point, as Dhoulmagus has since murdered a number of people and left a few areas in shambles. Heís become really powerful, and Iíve come across many townsfolk that say theyíve seen a mysterious jester walking across the ocean. Creepy.

Oh yeah, also, I keep dying. A lot. Another thing that this game shares with its previous entries is the need to grind, and I canít seem to do it enough. I find myself using the ďheal allĒ macro after almost every single battle, and when in dungeons, Jessica pretty much checks out at the door. Luckily, Angelo recently learned ďZing!Ē which revives fallen party members. No, there are no Phoenix Downs; before learning ďZing!Ē you have to take fallen party members to a church and pay to have them revived. On the upside, however, you donít lose any experience points, items, or equipment when you die... just half the gold in your bag. Thatís a bummer, for sure, but at least you can store your money at a bank for safekeeping. If only I had Tornekoís steel strongbox!

Just very recently, Iíd finally obtained a boat to travel the world with. As I set sail, I was immediately stopped by a terrible scratch on the game disk that turned my game into a screenshot. After a big hullabaloo about getting another copy of the game, I made my way to a big casino town called Baccarat. Unfortunately, the casino is closedÖ the owner, Golding, is rumored to have been murdered by a mysterious jester, and his two kids, Cash & Carrie (heh), have set out to avenge him.

More after I track down his kiddiesÖ does anyone know where the heck they are?!??

Total elapsed time across entire Dragon Quest series: 54 hours, 32 minutes. (IV & VIII)
Total amount of money spent on Dragon Quest Series: ~$100.00 (IV, VIII twice, and adorable slime controller)

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