Preview: Dragon Quest VIII (PS2)

Publisher: Square-Enix / Developer: Level 5 / Genre: RPG / Release Date: 2005

Akira Toriyama is back for Dragon Quest VIII. Oh. And thereâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s some new battle stuff or characters or something. The end.

(I just lost many levels to five bloody mindflares and no saves. Iâ┚¬â”žÂ¢m a little sensitive right now, but for you, dear reader, I shall try to move on and tell you about Dragon Quest VIII )

The Dragon Quest series world looks closer than ever to Akira Toriyama’s vision.

In an attempt to woo your always ready-to-buy nostalgia, Square-Enix is releasing Dragon Quest VIII. As previously mentioned, Akira Toriyama is back for the character design, and for the first time (well, maybe not, Iâ┚¬â”žÂ¢m talking first since SNES Chrono Trigger here) his art is really shining through on the models. Especially Jessica, the whip-wielding, bustier-busting, white mage (how original!). Square-Enix promises a more pleasing foray into the 3D realm this time around, for those soured by the low-count villages and action in Dragon Quest VII. Both the sprites and villages are looking close to par in the screens released, the characters all have a nicely detailed, animated look to them.

New features, and revival of some old favourites, are abound in Dragon Quest VIII. A new Skill Point system is being added, so the player can choose which abilities (sword, boomerang, job, etc) they would like the character to advance in. Once a certain amount of points is accrued in one skill set, the character will receive special skill related abilities.

Monster taming is available, and taken to a new level in the game. Beyond the basics of encountering monsters and willing them to join the team, the player can then visit â┚¬ËœMonster Battle Leagueâ┚¬â”žÂ¢. Here, the player can assemble teams of monsters to fight other teams in an arena of sorts. The monsters can fight together and form combos that can be used outside of Monster Battle League in regular gameplay.

A new item called â┚¬ËœAlchemic Kettleâ┚¬â”žÂ¢ is available, allowing the player to try and create newer, better, rarer items by combining things the party has in stock.

While essentially the same, there’s some new additions to the battle system.

Characters can power up, Dragonball Z style, to achieve â┚¬ËœHigh Tensionâ┚¬â”žÂ¢ and greatly raise their attack power and accuracy for a period of time. Repeating the power up command will result in â┚¬ËœSuper High Tensionâ┚¬â”žÂ¢ which means the characters will not only receive better stat bonuses, but will also insult each other for at least five more episodes while their power up glow gets yellower and yellower and they turn blonde. (That was a DBZ jab for you non-anime fans out there). Beyond the attack bonuses, successfully pulling off Tension attacks will result in extra experience points. Be wary though, as the monsters can use Tension as well, so while you are thinking up your next power-up-stall insult, they might be doing the same.

The cast of characters is fairly large, ranging from our busty friend Jessica the white mage, to Kukul the fencer, and Ruinero the fortune teller- whose hair has not aged since he first combed the fro in 1972. OooOOOOooooo. Ah, and there is always you, Hero, oh quiet one, oh woebegone sucker who must help the helpless, and not so helpless, if only because you will never, ever speak for yourself.

Dragon Quest VIII is now out in Japan having quickly become one of Square-Enix’s fastest selling games ever, with over 2.2 million units sold out of the initial 3 million unit shipment in just two days. As of press time it’s scheduled for a Sometime-Maybe-Never release in North America. Dragon Quest VIII may or may not reach you. But probably may. An official announcement along with a sturn release date will probably smack us in the face not after too long, if Square-Enix has any sense. The game’s soundtrack should be out just before Christmas in Japan.

Keep it here at InsidePulse for any more info as it develops.