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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

-----

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


10:15 PM on 03.06.2009  

Dragon Questing Part Nine: Coming to America Sans Eddie Murphy



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.

Man, oh man, where does the time go?! It was only ten days ago that I finally got my hands on the DS version of Dragon Quest V, and I can't believe it, but, I finished it last night! That's right, done. Fin. It's over. From the second I first booted it up, I just found Dragon Quest V so compelling that I was completely under its spell until the credits rolled. I brought it everywhere I went; on the train, at work, at school, at home, in bed, at a few meetings with my wedding planner, and even on the john were all places that I frequented with the DS in tow. The game's certainly not light on content though, so instead of posting all of the events in the game in this single post (it would go on forever), I'm going to split it up into three; one today and the other two over the next two days.

Part Nine:

Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride


Getting the Game:

Simple, I ordered it from Amazon.com! I wish I didn't though, since the shipping took so long. Cost came out to $41.50.

I “Hearte” Arte Piazza:

I really, really like the engine that Arte Piazza has developed for these DS remakes (as well as Dragon Quest VII on the PlayStation). The game moves at such a fast pace already, and the engine speeds it up even more so. The characters move fast, the battles move fast, and the menus are really efficiently laid out for easy item management. I felt like I was constantly sprinting. And the game doesn’t look half bad either! Some dungeons in the game had some amazing special effects, the animations for the monsters looked awesome, and even some of the character sprites--like your wife and you mother when they faint--pulled off surprisingly detailed animations. The most visually stunning part of the game was the battle with Bjorn, which started off with a fantastic introduction in full 3D before leading into his massive animated body during the battle.

I'll be talking about the events of the game in the next two posts, but before that, here are some random bullet points of things I liked/disliked:

::: There's something oddly satisfying about spinning the camera around aimlessly. Whenever I'm in an area that permits camera movement, my fingers are constantly manipulating it left and right. Sometimes, in towns, the architecture is so big that you can spin the camera around to completely obscure your characters, as well as everything else on the screen. Awesome.

::: I love pretty much all of the puns in the game, especially the enemy names. One enemy was a hippo in a suit of armor with a shield in each hand. It was called a "Hippoblockomus." I laughed at that for about fifteen straight minutes.

::: I love the ticker on the bottom screen during battles. For the most part, it simply transcribes the actions that happen on screen ("Ben uses healing herb. > Ben recovers HP. > Parry attacks Stenchurian. > The Stenchurian dies!"), and it's fairly basic, but can sometimes display some incredibly funny information. One example would be...

::: ...this one time where I used a spell called Hocus Pocus (a risky spell that always has completely random results). It ended up sending both my party and the enemies into a state of confusion. So, because I couldn't input any commands for anybody, the ticker went on, and on, and on, for about five whole minutes with dictations like:

> Ben has no idea what to do.
> He goes to cast a spell!
> ...But he can't remember the words!
> Parry charges the enemy head on!
> He runs forward!
> Oh no! Parry trips and falls flat on his face!
> Leo feels uncomfortable and lonely...
> Leo embraces Ben.
> "Ugh!" Ben pushes Leo away.
> Leo straitens up and focuses
> Gooemon goes to attack the enemy!
> Gooemon gets dirstracted by a butterfly!
> Gooemon can't remember what he was going to do...
> etc., etc.

And it just went on like that, with the text moving at a mile-a-minute; so fast I could barely read most of it, which made trying to interpret the funny lines so quickly all the more hilarious.

::: For the most part, I really liked the translation. There were only three characters that I didn't really care for, and it was only because of their crazy accents, which felt awkward and out of place. The first was Bianca, who, on both the Super Famicom and DS covers, looks strong, loving, smart, and determined. But in the game, she has this really awful hick accent that makes her sound uneducated and even a little ditsy. It's a shame, because underneath that, she's a very endearing character with a lot of personality. In fact, she was one of my favorites.



::: The second weird accent was Nera's Dad--I can't remember his name--who was cast as an Italian man, but had an accent that was beyond parody. I can honestly say I've never met an Italian that constantly exclaimed "Tutti-frutti!" when something pleased him/her.

::: The last was the human form of the Zenith Dragon, who was for some reason written as a carbon copy of The Simpsons’ Ned Flanders. Every "ding-dang-doodely" sentence he spit out was littered with Flanders' trademark ramblings. I just don't understand why he was written like that, but I can only assume that the translators were just having too much fun with all the accents and threw it in there for shits and giggles. It was just really out of place, since the Zenith Dragon usually seems to command such a large amount of reverence in both IV and V.

::: The way the game transcribed Grandmaster Nizmo's speech was unique, I guess, but mostly just really hokey.

::: The one and only thing that I just plain did not like was that every time you entered a town, your party would be restructured so that you only had humans trailing behind you. I had my party set up with the hero, his son Parry, the sabrecat Leo, and a Slime Knight that I named Gooemon (pronounced Goo-a-mawn, like Ganbare Goemon but a little gooier). These were the members with the most raw, physical attack power, so it was the party I went with. But every time I entered a civilized area, my non-human characters were ejected from my party and replaced with the hero's wife and daughter. BUT, they wouldn't reconfigure your party when you left, so I often wouldn't even notice until I was in a dungeon and in battle. It was just a little irritating.

Ok, that's all the gushing/bitching I’ve got. Tomorrow, I'll actually go over the first half of the game, and then wrap it up on Sunday.

As always, thanks for reading!

Ben

-----

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)

Right, for the record, I also bought V on the Super Famicom. I can't get very far into it ( a bit of a language barrier), but I enjoy being able to own it for some reason. Nice instruction booklet!



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

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


1:56 AM on 02.24.2009  

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   read


1:21 PM on 01.19.2009  

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



Back in September of 2008, I had the pleasure or playing my first proper Dragon Quest game with Chapters of the Chosen for the DS. I couldnít help wondering 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 before I was born. 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 entryÖ 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 Six: Dragon Quest I Continued...


The last time I wrote, I had pretty much just started Dragon Warrior for the NES. I spent a long time puttering around the world map, fighting slimes & drakees for minimal experience and dying too many times to count. I decided to get the game rolling when I made it to level four and, armed with only a wooden club and a cloth shirt, I headed towards my first destination Ö

Erdrickís Cave:

In the desert directly north of Tantegel Castle, I found the entrance to Erdrickís Cave. Once inside, I lit a torch so I could see a small perimeter around myself and cautiously navigated the stone maze until I found a staircase leading down farther. Once below, I realized that I hadnít fought a single battle; there were no enemies in this cave! I found a treasure chest containing a stone tablet that revealed to me that I was the descendant of Erdrick and that I must find three magical itemsóEntrusted to three wise menóin order to face the Dragonlord. After checking for any more treasure chests (of which there were none), I emerged from the cave and returned to the castle to save.

After resting and saving the game, I made my way to both Garinham and Kol. Why? Well, because the included Warriorís Handbook told me to! Iím not really sure what the purpose was, though. The two towns didnít have much that Brecconary didnít have as well. On the other hand, after crossing the bridge that led to Kol, I did fight some tougher monsters. I even died a couple of times, but it was worth it for the experience points they left behind. I probably should have just reset the game a couple of times; I died so often that, even though I was gaining experience and getting stronger, I had hardly any money. Iíd have to fight a few battles sometimes just to have enough money buy an herb or two. After reaching Kol, I rested, bought a few Chimera Wings, and set out north-east forÖ

The Northern Cave:

Here, I found the first old man. He was candid, saying that I first had to prove myself as the descendant of Erdrick and bring him the Silver Harp before he would give me the Staff of Rain (incidentally, the first magic item). I offered a blood sample for proof, but he didnít know what to do with it. I made that last part up.

The Mountain Cave:

This was a small detour, south-east of Tantegel Castle. I went there to get the Fighterís Ring, which slightly upped my attack power. Also of note in the cave was a chest containing upwards of 100 gold. Amazingly, this chest re-spawned every time you left the cave, so I visited it about a dozen times to make up for all the gold Iíd lost before. By the time I was done, Iíd fought enough enemies to reach level eight, and I had over 1,500 gold! I went back to town, upgraded my arsenal, and headed south-west, towards Rimuldar.

The Swamp Cave & Rimuldar:

In order to reach the southern continent and eventually the town of Rimuldar, I first had to travel through the Swamp Cave (Apparently, this is the same cave where the dragon and the kidnapped Princess Gwaelin are staying, but I dare not try to face the beast now). Even though there were monsters here (I think Erdrickís cave was the only one without), it was easy enough to make it through and to the other side. As soon as I emerged on the southern continent, however, I was shocked at how much harder the enemies had become. Gone were the familiar slimes and drakees, now replaced by wolves, skeletons, and metal scorpions. I hardly made it to Rimuldar alive, but I made it there none the less.

After resting, I searched for a secret shop along the outskirts of town that sold magic keys. When in Kol, one of the soldiers told me about the shop and said that it was the cheapest place to buy magic keys. I found it and bought six of them. Then, deciding that I needed to level up and earn a lot more gold, I circled the moat-surrounded town for nearly two hours, using the heal spell liberally and stopping to rest at the inn when I got weak. When I was done, Iíd made it all the way to level ten, and I was able to buy the broadsword and the half-plate. Feeling much stronger, I headed farther south to the second wise manÖ

The Southern Cave:

The small area of land surrounding the Southern Cave had even stronger enemies. Goldmen, Wyverns, and Wolf Lords interrupted every step of the way to beat my ass. It was like hazing. I had to run from a couple of fights, but I eventually made itóbleeding and bruisedóto the cave entrance. Once inside, the old man told me that I had to prove myself as the descendant of Erdrick (Aw, him too?!), and bring him the Stones of Sunlight, the Staff f of Rain, and Erdrickís Token. With that, he kicked me out of the cave to once again face the monsters. Wow, what a douche. Iíd taken no more than a couple of steps before I was stopped by a Wraith and, once again, was beaten to death.

I awoke in front of the King at Tantegel Castle. I was pissed that I died again but I didnít bother to reset because Iíd just spent pretty much all my money on new equipment anyway; there was hardly anything left for the game to take! Better yet, turns out I was supposed to return to the castle anyway! Take that, game! With magic keys in hand, I unlocked all the doors and made my way underneath the castle to where the third old man was waiting. I spoke to him, and he just straight-up gave me the stones of sunlight! What? No task to prove my lineage? Now this is my kind of old man!

My next task was to return to Garinham, but before I did that I really wanted to stop and take the opportunity to grind a ton more. I returned to the southern continent (I have really good luck grinding there) and proceeded to kill me some monsters.

It was at this point that I think the game really clicked for me. My favorite part in any RPG is this exact moment, when you catch up with the learning curve and really get a grip on how to play the game well. It feels a lot like that part in the first Matrix movie (you know, the good one?) when Keanu Reeves realizes the power heís capable of and just starts kicking ass and taking names. I suddenly stopped dying, started memorizing enemy attack patterns, and began generally beating the shit out of my opponents while making it out without a scratch. I felt like even the game itself knew, as enemies were missing more often and I was landing critical blows at an unprecedented rate.



After showboating all over the continent, Iíd made it to about level thirteen, and Iíd made enough money to buy both the full plate & large shield, with gold to spare. Being a total badass, I flew back to Tantegel Castle and marched north forÖ

The Grave of Garinham:

Hidden behind the rear wall of a locked room in Garinham, I found the path to the grave where I would find the Silver Harp. Inside, I was faced with a four-level maze, but I wasnít worried thanks to my trusty handbook. I deftly navigated the catacombs, always taking the correct staircase and eventually making it down to the fourth level, where I obtained the harp. Hooray!

Unfortunately, I now found myself in a bit of a pickle. Although I was pretty strong, the enemies still took a hefty toll on me. Harp in hand, I didnít have enough MP to cast the exit spell (used it all up on healing spells), so I had to exit the dungeon by foot. Worse yet, my radiance spell was fading and the darkness was closing in on me. I consulted the handbook and took the quickest possible route to get out, but my spell ended just mere feet before the exit and I was left in complete darkness, without enough MP to cast another radiance spell and, foolishly, without a torch as backup. I furiously stumbled around in the pitch black trying to find the stairs that would lead out, but I was hopelessly lost. At one point, I felt surprisingly depressed when I accidentally selected ďtalkĒ from the options menu and the game said ďBen, there is no one there to talk to.Ē Figuring that it was a lost cause, I nearly reset the game to just go through the dungeon again, but I just couldnít; Iíd garnered so much gold in here that I couldnít bear to just let it all go.



It took almost half an hour of listening to when my character would bump into walls and studying the map, but I eventually did make it out of the cave. I didnít think it was possible to feel this way in a game this simplistic, but I felt a tremendous sense of accomplishment. For a brief moment, I was seriously on top of the world. I took the harp back to the old man in the Northern Cave, and he traded me for the Staff of Rain. It was now finally time to slay the dragon and return the princess to Tantegel Castle.

Slaying the Dragon and Rescuing Princess Gwaelin:

Enemies that I used to fear fighting would now run before a battle could even start. When I did have to battle, the match was over in a single blow. I wasnít even fighting anymore so much as just taunting the enemies and obliterating them. Within the area of the world that I had covered at this point, I was untouchable. The monsters here existed only for me to humiliate them.



I entered the cave and marched straight for the dragon. When the battle started, I quickly used a sleep spell and proceeded to bludgeon him to death while he lay there unconscious. Within five turns, I managed to dispatch the dragon before he had a chance to touch me. Victorious, I marched past his corpse and approached the princess. She asked me to take her back to the castle and, in a shift that was actually somewhat heartwarming, the music transitioned into a sweet melody and my avatar changed to show the hero carrying the princess in his arms. I warped back to the castle and returned Gwaelin to King Lorik. The king expressed his gratitude, and the moment Iíd been waiting for the whole time had finally come:

My quest had just begunÖ

Thatís all for now. Iíve got to make my way around the world in the other direction, but Iíll save it for another day. In part seven, I will finish the game. I was really bummed out about playing for a long time because of the difficulty, but after chipping away at my experience for so long, I eventually got hooked. I canít wait for the conclusion!

As always, thanks for reading!

Ben



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

Total elapsed time across entire Dragon Quest series: 110 hours -

IV DS - ~30 hours
VIII - ~70 hours
I NES - ~10 hours



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


2:41 AM on 11.10.2008  

Going Back in Time: Dragon Questing, Part Five



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 Five: Dragon Quest I




Getting the Game:



The biggest reason I love eBay is that, no matter how high demand is for a certain product, you're bound to eventually run into an auction that A) is completely underpriced because the seller simply doesn't know the value of the thing they're selling; or B) is completely untouched because the seller dresses it up in such a way that makes it unnoticeable to most eBay shoppers. I was lucky enough, in the case of Dragon Warrior 1, to come across two auctions that fell into both categories. The first was a boxed copy of the game with an opening bid of one cent. You'd think that someone else would have bid on this, but the seller used a stock photo and I think a lot of shoppers don't even bother to read the description in those cases. And yes, you read that right. I won a boxed copy of Dragon Warrior 1 for a penny, with free shipping. This was awesome, but the seller's definition of "excellent condition" didn't really match my own. Let me put it this way: the 80-page adventurer's guide started on page 8 and ended on 78. Also, it was missing the map, and the poster. But, meh, I wasn't complaining... it was practically free! So, I shipped it to Destructoid to be used as a RetroforceGO prize, and continued grinding through eBay.

Not long after, I came across another auction that was being run by a married couple who got most of their merchandise from estate auctions. So, yeah, not a lot of experience in the games market. Similarly to the last auction, they had a boxed copy of Dragon Warrior 1, but this time at twenty-five cents. Once again, it had a stock photo, which usually means that the item probably doesn't look so good, even though the seller describes it as "MINT CONDITION." Oh, right, there was one more pretty big difference between this and the first auction: this game was sealed. I figured this was the only way to make sure I'd get everything that came with the game, but, to my surprise, the game only came with the cart and instruction booklet. It must've been a second or third edition or something, because no one had ever opened that thing before me.

My first instinct was to head back to eBay and continue searching, but I figured I'd had enough good luck with this game and just settled on what I had. I mean, twenty-five mother-f***ing cents.



Playing the Game:

The game opens up with myself--the hero--standing before a king, with a few guards scattered throughout the throne room. The king refers to me as a descendant of Erdrick, whoever that it, and says that past Erdricks fought demons with a ball of light. Then this guy named Dragonlord showed up and "stole the precious globe and hid it in the darkness." My job is to recover the globe and restore peace to the land. Sounds simple enough, but when I spoke to one of the nearby guards, I found out the king's daughter, Princess Gwaelin, had been kidnapped by Dragonlord six months prior. To me, this sounds like a better motive for action than the first... I don't even know what the globe is or what it does.



As far as gameplay goes, the first thing I noticed about Dragon Warrior is that it doesn't have an action button; it has an action-menu button. In other words, in order to interact with anything (including, people, treasure chests, items, doors, and even stairs), simply pressing 'A' doesn't cut it. Instead, you have to press 'A' and select the desired command from the menu. This was really, really tedious at first, but I got used to it before too long.



As I walked out of the castle, I didn't make it more than a couple pixels out of the gate before I got into my first random battle. Interestingly, I'm not warped to a separate area for combat. Instead, a window shows up in the middle of the screen that has only a small backdrop and the enemy. I really like it.

I'll spare you the majority of the remaining details, but basically, I haven't done much in four hours to advance the story. I'm so weak, and I keep dying! I've managed to get to level four at this point, but I've died so many times that hobos could brag to me about their bank rolls. I feel strong enough now to actually go out and make some money (to get some decent armor), and when I do, I'll make my way to the first dungeon.

More in a few days. As always, thanks for reading.



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

Total elapsed time across entire Dragon Quest series: 103 hours -

IV DS - ~30 hours
VIII - ~70 hours
I NES - ~3 hours


Total amount of money spent on Dragon Quest Series: $175.00 (IV, VIII twice, slime controller, I, I&II GBA)

Oh, did I forget to mention that? I also bought Dragon Warrior I, II, and III on the GameBoy Color. You know, as a backup...

  read


5:24 PM on 10.28.2008  

The conclusion of an Epic: Dragon Questing, Part Four



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, 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. And, so that I remember this occasion after I've moved on to the next amazing and shiny thing, I've decided to chronicle my adventures right here.

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 Four:

Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King... CONCLUDED!



So long as there are results, I really donít mind grinding. Games like Secret of Mana make it really easy; in many areas (such as the small room with the switch just before the dwarf village), youíll find a spot where you can stop, and just kill one baddie over and over again by exiting and reentering the room. It seems like a tedious process, but the ~30 experience points earned each time quickly add up and youíve gained five levels before you know it. Other games, like Illusion of Gaia, put an interesting spin on the mechanic by effectively level-capping you every step of the way. It can be very rewarding in some games, but irritating in othersÖ like Shiren the Wanderer, where even if you grind intensely, one wrong move will just put you back at level one anyway.

I thought I was exploiting an oversight in Dragon Quest IV, but after playing VIII, itís seems obvious how the makers of this series must feel about grinding: Even though youíre rewarded in the game with stat bonuses each time you level up, I almost feel as though the game itself rewards you at a certain point for all the hard work you had to do to reach the level you made it to in the first place. Very late in the quest, a very specific and once-elusive enemy becomes easier to find than a number in the Yellow Pages. Yes, you all know Iím talking about metal slimes. And not just regular metal slimes, mind you, but liquid metal, and even metal king slimes!! What I mean to say is, after the bulk of the game, it becomes really easy to find metal slimes and kill them for experience. As a result, you have the choice to carry on with the game or stop and grind for the little guys to make the game as easy as you want it to be.

After I had received the Godbird Stone, and before heading for the final dungeon, I happened upon a small hill just south of the Dragon Graveyard. I went there to get a treasure chest, but when I warped into a random battle, I was suddenly confronted by no less than seven liquid metal slimes. Thankfully, I knew how to properly dispatch these little brats from Dra Que IV; I had all four characters select critical-or-nothing attacks. Three of them missed, and four slimes had run away, but then Yangus attacked andĖWHAM!óthe slime went down in one hit. The other two slimes didnít flee in the second round and I took care of them too. The battle ends, and Iím told I just gained 30,150 experience points.

Oh, itís on.

Two-and-a-half hours later, my party had gained fifteen levels. I had gone from a competent fighter to an invincible badass. And now, at level 52, I felt ready to finish the game.

Iíll try not to bore with all the details of the Black Citadel, save for that it was easily the longest dungeon in the game, with some of the toughest enemies. Granted, my monster parties took care of all of them, but they sure looked like they were working hard! The last area was really awesome. It was a room that I entered via staircase that just went around in a big circle. The interior was sort of like an indoor town (like an inverted Orkutsk), but every time I went around, the place started to wear, and crumble. As I continued around, poison bogs started to flood the streets and after three or four 360s, all that was left were metal bars and a staircase leading down. I should note that none of these changes happened in real-time; I would pass them, and by the time I passed them again, they had changed. Anyway, at the bottom, I finally fought Rhapthorne. HeÖ didnít look like I expected him to. He looked sorta like Cinderellaís fairy godmother seen through the eyes of Tim Burton. With the help of my monster parties, I quickly took him out. Was I done? Not even close. A few details and other bosses later, Rhapthorne had taken residence in the sky, now looking less like a woman and more like Danny DeVitoís character from Disneyís Hercules, but only fatter. You know, the trainer-centaurÖ thing?

I was then sent on an errand for seven orbs, which really played a cool part in the final battle. They were supposed to hold the souls of the seven sages, and my party had to pray in unison for seven straight turns to surround Rhapthorne with them in order to break a magical barrierÖ all the while, Rapthorne is attacking us with some pretty powerful spells. I had to stop praying a few times just to heal myself, but when we finally got all seven sages out there and they broke the seal, I killed the fat bastard in all of about five minutes. Seriously. I was only at level 54, but I felt absolutely overpowered. What the hell would have happened had I leveled up to 99?!

So, four days ago, on a Friday night (10/24/08), I finally beat Dragon Quest VIII. I was treated to what seemed like an hour-long ending, and it was beautiful. I grimaced at the kings real faceÖ he was better off as a troll! But at least he was happy again. Yangus started an exporting business with Red; Angelo resumed his role as a lady-killer; Jessica moved back to Alexandria and patched things up with her mom; and the hero became the highest ranking palace guard in the castle. The best part of all, however, is when Medea stood up that squatty prick, Charmles, at the altar and ran away with the main character. Awww, a match made in heaven! Then the credits rolledÖ after sixty-five glorious hours, I was finally done with the game.

Or, at least, I really thought I was. After it was all said and done, I was shown a quick snapshot of a mysterious temple that I recognized from the world map, put had previously served no purpose. It prompted me to save my game, I did so, then returned to where I was before I fought the last boss, and instead flew to this odd temple.

Iíll try and make this short (I know this is starting to look like a wall of text), but basically, the temple warped me to this incredibly long dungeon, and eventually led to a little village deep within tall, tall mountains. At the gate of the village, the little mouse that had been in the heroís pocket the whole time finally jumped out, transformed into an old man, and revealed himself to be the heroís grandfather. I couldnít make this up. Apparently, the hero didnít suffer the curse that the rest of his kingdom did because he is of Dragovian lineage. The mystery is finally cleared up!

At that point, I was given the option to enter the Dragovian trials (DOES THIS GAME EVER END?!), but I decided against it. I figured it was high time to move on to the next game: Dragon Quest I. And I did, but I did so via GameBoy Color. I stopped and realized Iíd rather play it on the NES, and now Iím just waiting for it to arrive. More on that in about a week.

Thanks for reading.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Total elapsed time across entire Dragon Quest series: 100 hours, 9 minutes. (IV & VIII)   read


3:02 AM on 10.23.2008  

Discovering the Monster Arena: Dragon Questing, Part Three



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, 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. And, so that I remember this occasion after I've moved on to the next amazing and shiny thing, I've decided to chronicle my adventures right here.

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 Three:

Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King continued...


So, at the end of part two, I was headed to Baccarat to finally check out the casino and see if I couldnít win a thing or two. I had been waiting for hours for it to open, but when it finally did, I was shocked at the cost of some of the items. Fifty-thousand tokens? Two-hundred thousand tokens?! You gotta be sh*ttiní me! I figured Iíd just play a game or two (I still had about 26,000 tokens left over from PIckham), but I, surprisingly, ended up grinding on roulette until I had 400,000. And it only took me a little over an hour. I just played all I had at first (26k), but almost every time I played that amount, I ended up winning 57,000 tokens back. God bless roulette.

When I had worked up the proper amount, I bought four Liquid Metal Armours and a Gringham Whip, which gave huge (50+) stat bonuses to all my party members. Itís like I had Kabuff casted on my characters at all times, and Jessicaís attacks were finally worth something. I felt indestructible, until I made my way to the next bossÖ Empryea.

Dude, what a bitch. This is the first time I felt the game just wasnít being fair. I might as well have had no armor at all, because she tore through me like butter every time I attempted to fight her. I didnít see any way to best her, save for grinding another ten or so levels, so I eventually ended up consulting a few online walkthroughs. After skimming through a dozen or so, one finally pointed me to a place I hadnít seen since right before Pickham and didnít pursue at allÖ Morrieís Place.

I put this place out of my mind back when I first saw it. I still had the three memos in my bag, and I hadnít even looked at them. I figured it was a bounty hunting side quest, a la Okami. But when I returned with the monsters mentioned in the memo, Morrie invited me inside the house he was standing on top of and revealed to me that it was actually a *gasp* monster arena!! So this is what all those special monsters were for!

I spent a good deal of time increasing my rank, and by the time I made it to Rank B, I had a badass monster party: two golems, and a fat, yellow thing named King Dumb. I also acquired the ability to have a secondary monster party that I filled with lesser-knowns. Together, the two teams were insanely strong. I went back to Empryea, and hell, I just let them to the majority of the fighting. Each team is only allowed to battle for three rounds, but after they had both finished their terms, they had taken the brunt of the damage and dished out the majority of the hurt. I basically delivered the killing blow.

Everything got kinda fuzzy at that point. Since then, Iíve used monster teams on every single boss battle with similar results. I feel like the kid from The Never Ending Story, when he rides Falcor through his hometown and teaches all the bullies a lesson.



Also, since gaining the ability to fly, Iíve been able to put together a team of three golems. And when they are put into battle, they join together and form a super golem: Mazin. Mazin is badass because he dishes anywhere from 300-800 damage per turn, and he has 999 HP. With this, Iím not only able to mow through bosses with no trouble at all, but I was also able to make my way up to Rank S in the monster arena. For those of you who donít know, the masters you compete against in that rank are Ragnar McRyan and Torneko Taloon from Dragon Quest IV. What a great cameo!!

And (almost done, promise), speaking of cameos, did anyone else notice that in Dragon Quest IV on the DS, in the new settlement town, thereís a couple there named Rocky and Adrian?! How random is that?!

Anyway, I defeated Marcello at Neos (a sad situation), and it looks like the final dungeon has reared its ugly headÖ I went in there to get it on, but the monsters were way too strongÖ does anyone know of a really good grinding spot?

Thanks for reading.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Total elapsed time across entire Dragon Quest series: 86 hours, 30 minutes. (IV & VIII)   read







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