SquareEnix used to occationally pair their lesser known titles with a demo for the latest Final Fantasy title in order to bolster sales. I could only find two times that they did this, but there might have been more. In order to boost the sales for Brave Fencer Musashi, the game came with a demo for Final Fantasy 8, and in order to boost the sales for Dragon Quest VIII the game came with a demo for Final Fantasy XII.
My older brother saw this tempting deal and bought Dragon Quest VIII and my life was never the same.
Okay, maybe a week later my life was never the same, as my older brother had moved out by this time and it took a while for me to learn that he bought the game. I would hang with him at his apartment sometimes and would borrow PS2 games as he finished them. I borrowed games like Star Ocean and Metal Gear. One time when I went there I saw Dragon Quest VIII. I was already a dork about dragons by this time, so the name of the game immediately captured my attention and I asked my brother about it.
Without hesitation, my brother told me that I could have it. He had tried the game and hated the super traditional JRPG gameplay. Dragon Quest was not for him in the slightest. To be fair to him, the game starts off very slow, and unlike Final Fantasy's dynamic battles and changing camera angles, the battles in Dragon Quest VIII are very static, almost 2D. The game simply didn't hold his interest. He had been excited to try it, as he had even bought a strategy guide with the game (which he also gave me), but he couldn't keep at it.
It's hard for me to overstate how much I love this game. I immediately fell in love with the Toriyama art style (since I am also a big fan of Dragon Ball Z) and the voice acting. Evidently, the Japanese version of this game didn't have voice acting until it was rereleased on the 3DS a decade later. The best part about the voice acting was everyone had british sounding accests. Yangus, the gruff ex-theif and best pal to the main character, has a thick cockney accent that I couldn't get enough of. He called the main character "Guv" and anytime he was surprised by the cursed King Trode, which was often, he'd jump to the side and yell "Core Blimey!" I loved it all.
Before this gift from my older brother, I'm not sure if I could have told you what my favorite game was (though I might have said Metroid Prime). After playing Dragon Quest VIII, I could tell you without a doubt that Dragon Quest VIII was my favorite game. In fact, Dragon Quest VIII stayed my favorite game for over a decade, until Persona 5 showed up to challenge it's spot, and then Dragon Quest XI booted both of them down a peg. After playing Dragon Quest VIII I searched for more of the series, this was the eighth game after all, there had to be more. Unfortunately for me, Dragon Quest has never sold all that well in America, so new games were hard to come by, but I did eventually find the first three games on Gameboy, and have bought every release that I was able to after the fact.
I pulled out my copy of Dragon Quest VIII on the 3DS in order to play through it again for this Band of Bloggers prompt and I still love the game. I still love Yangus and his silly accent, I still love exploring the world map (even more so now that there are no random encounters) and I still love experimenting with my characters skill points. I wonder how my tastes in video games would have been different if my brother had just sold the game back to Game Stop instead of letting my try it out first. Playing Dragon Quest VIII and experiencing it's classic gameplay made me seek out as many old school JRPG's as I could, and a lot of my gaming preferences were solidified by this single game. Would I have drifted more towards action packed games like my older brother eventually did if he hadn't given me this game all those years ago? Who knows, but I do know that that simple gift, given so casually by my older brother, became my favorite game and showed me my favorite series.