I’ll be changing up my approach towards picking a game every month. Instead of selecting a Wii U and a 3DS title each month, I’ll be dialling it back to only one game at a time.
Whilst it will probably mostly be Nintendo titles, I’m content to branch out and look at games on other platforms.
Whilst I would prefer to concentrate on newer releases, there may be times that I’ll feature older games. It pretty much depends on what is being released in a given month.
As such, the first platform that gets my pick of game of the month in 2017 is the Nintendo 3DS. The game I’m highlighting is the eighth entry in its series, and was originally released for the PlayStation 2.
Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King focuses on a hero setting out on an adventure to lift a curse from kingdom of Trodain, its king and its princess. Of course, being a Dragon Quest game, this means recruiting allies, delving into dungeon depths and fighting monsters.
Dragon Quest VIII for the 3DS bring with it new features and improvements. You can take photos during your quest, whether it be of your heroes or monsters. You can have your heroes pose for the photo, and you can add stickers, filters or a frame if you so desire. Photos can be shared via StreetPass.
You can recruit two brand new characters, and there are additional cut-scenes which expand plot details and character backstories throughout the game.
Much like a few of the other Dragon Quest games before it, you can see monsters roaming when you’re out in the wild. This means no random encounters – you can pick and choose your battles as you please.
Some features have been added to make things easier for those who are pressed for time; you can speed up battles, Quick Save means you don’t have to seek out a church to save your progress and you can create new items by fusing old ones with the alchemy pot.
Also, up until 29th September 2017, bonus items will be distributed via SpotPass on a weekly basis.
A jester called Dhoulmagus steals a sacred sceptre from within the walls of Castle Trodain, and uses it to unleash a curse. This causes King Trode to turn into a troll, and his daughter, Princess Medea, to turn into a horse. The castle itself becomes encased in vines.
However, a castle guard made out of the castle unharmed – that would be the Hero, the character you take control of in this story. With King Trode and Princess Medea accompanying him, the Hero sets out in order to chase down Dhoulmagus to so that the curse can be lifted. The Hero meets several new allies during his journey.
Dragon Quest VIII plays exactly like you’d expect from a Dragon Quest title – you venture from town to town, occasionally exploring dungeons and fighting plenty of monsters.
During the journey, you’ll find yourself helping out various people with their problems which will advance the plot.
Shops will supply items, weapon and armour, as too will treasure chests you find scattered throughout the game. Defeating monsters earns gold and experience – all rather standard RPG stuff.
Talking of monsters, some new ones have been added for this version of the game. It seems that there’s also a bonus dungeon to be discovered, too…
During your travels, you’ll also come across the Monster Arena. You’ll be able to recruit your own team of monsters and have them fight other teams in the Arena. Naturally, there are prizes on offer for those who are able to rank up.
Turn-based battles are the order of the day, as tends to be the case for the Dragon Quest series. As you level up, your characters will also earn skill points which you can put into one of several proficiencies. For example, you can use skill points to boost the Hero’s proficiency with swords. This will give you bonuses for equipping swords, and also provide abilities that can only be used whilst wielding a blade.
There’s a variety of weapons available, and as such each character has a range of proficiencies. You could choose to focus their skill points into a single proficiency, or you could spread them out across all of them. It’s up to you – focusing on a single one means gaining more powerful techniques earlier, but you may end up wielding a weapon that is inferior to what is available to you just to use those abilities.
On the flip side, spreading out the skill points means having to wait longer to gain more powerful abilities, but it does allow more versatility when it comes to equipping weapons.
For anybody looking to get into the Dragon Quest series, I can say almost right away that the eighth entry might be the best choice if you have a 3DS. I enjoyed Dragon Quest VII, but it took forever for that game to get started. Dragon Quest VIII, however, pretty much immediately starts you out on your quest, and you don’t need to go through a couple of hours of gameplay to actually encounter your first slime.
The plot of Dragon Quest VIII is more straightforward than the previous entry: in this one, you’re simply tracking down an evil jester to break a curse. No time travelling involved there – I assume. At the time of writing, I’m still in the earlier parts of the game.
In terms of RPGs, Dragon Quest certainly stands up alongside Final Fantasy as one of the classics.