E3 Impression

Dragon Quest VIII



Only 2 damage? With that big hammer?

Well, as a tremendous fan of the series it was a pleasure to sit down today at the Square Enix booth and check out, complete with blue slime controller, Dragon Quest 8 due to hit American shores later this year. As soon as the controller got in my hand I went to ascertain the most important part of the game: How far can I kick the poor cat that was standing in my way.

The answer, unfortunately, is not very far. That said, it showed that another important aspect, the wordplay and wit for which the series is well known, has not been neglected in this version, with the cat promptly rewarding me with an amusing line. After that, I turned around and marched off down the huge fields of plains and trees that were in front of me. Notably, this game is pretty. I know that isn't saying much in an era where everything is phenomenially nice, but those who have been used to seeing this game in the past will be well surprised by the fluid and swift animations as well as the brightly colored artwork.

Ready? Aim. Fire!

The game's interface, for those wondering, lent itself finally to the traditional Final Fantasy style of menus, only now realized when typing this that I never did see the traditional black frame in the background. I shed a tear at this, but cannot help but appreciate the smooth and swift menus that have replaced it. If there's one thing that sort of marked the experience it was efficient and simple menu use throughout allowing me to get what I needed to get to fast and figure out things.

But what about battle? We all know that the battle system of a Dragon Quest is a highly important aspect of the game that players spend a significant amount of time in, and this one was no exception as I charged through swarms of interesting enemies. The battle area is now a full 3d area taking the battle mechanics of tradition and merging them with a beautifully rendered fight scene as enemies flip about, spin through the air, and and eat you. Your own characters are animated during their attacks often leaping up high into the air and bringing down fiery blades in special attacks. This didn't slow battle as they gave a clear emphasis on speed, the general turn time taking only a few seconds to go through all the animations without cutting on them feeling fluid and fully done.

I stopped early, not wanting to get too addicted to the delightful experience but if the bit I played was anything to go by, we're looking at a very nice and huge step forward for the old dinosaur of the RPG genre as it moves neatly into the PS2 era with a game that those who've long ignored the series for it's archaic conventions should take note of.

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