Dragon Quest VIII — Second Impressions
November 30, 2005

After two days of playing DQ8, I've made my first trip to the abbey on the second continent and have obtained a bit more insight into things I like/dislike.

DISLIKE:
1. As said before, the load times. Whether it be active-screen load times (ie: post-battle celebrations, opening town gates to enter/exit villages) or simple black-screen fun times, it does get to be a drag. I think part of it is simply due to the slower-pace of RPGs as compared to other genres. When a type of game runs at a relaxed pace, you tend to notice things like load times that slow things down even more.

JURY'S OUT:
1. The Alchemy Pot. So, far, I found the recipe for Strong Medicine and I easily figured out the Thief's Key (when you're handed one component, a guy in the same town mentions that a certain weak weapon tends to be useful in alchemy AND you find one of that sort of weapon in the area......that's not brain surgery). However, every other attempt at a mix I've tried has been a failure. Now, if I find a bunch of cool formulas while traveling through the game, this will be cool. If Square/Enix expects me to attempt mixing and matching every stupid item I have in an attempt to actually create something worthwhile, well that falls into the "waste of time" realm.

2. Monster/spell names. Espiga rants about that in his review. While I don't necessarily feel as put out by the different translations used for names, I can see his point. If you've known creatures by names like Drakee, Red Slime and Babble for the duration of a series, seeing Dracky, She Slime and Bubble Slime pop onto your screen is a bit disconcerting. However, the only ones that bother me are the unique (visible on screen) version names. From looking at a list of them in the Japanese version, I can tell that (when applicable) they're given the same names they had in Dragon Quest 5 and 6 when you could recruit them. Here, they're given stupid pun names, so instead of seeing Pierre the Slime Knight, it's One Knight Stand the Slime Knight. It's a minor point, but one I feel like making (just not in my eventual review, as it's not significant enough to yammer on about).

3. While I like the accents and the voice-acting, it does seem like virtually everyone talks really slow most of the time. I find myself skipping through a lot of the actual talking because I get tired of waiting 20 seconds for someone to say two sentences.

LIKE:
1. The unobtrusive story. You don't get a ton of story at once. The game just gives you elements in small doses here-and-there, which keeps the quest running smoothly.

2. The vastness of the world. On my way to Alexandria, I went off the road and wound up finding a house on top of a cliff. The guy there told me to get his tool bag from under a red tree which I could see from the top of the cliff. After descending, it took me a few minutes to get my bearings and find the tree. Then, it took a while longer to find my way back to the guy's house. It was a neat experience. Sure, after I get the world map, it will be easier to find my way around, but this world is about as realistic as any I've seen. If you leave the roads, it is a distinct possibility you will get turned around and be confused. Shoot, after getting the Thief's Key last night, I remembered that there was a locked chest near the first town. I'd spent a lot of time building levels around its location. It still took me 15 minutes to find.....meanwhile, in looking for it, I found a chest (and tough visible monster) that I had never seen during my initial exploration of that area.

3. Nostalgia factor. It's just really cool to see the new-and-improved versions of the traditional Dragon Warrior/Quest monsters. They look just like they did in the olden games, but with more character, personality and enhanced graphics. You get to watch Imps (formerly Minidemons, if my memory serves) still try to cast spells too powerful for them, fail and then.....fall over. You still have monsters wasting turns (like the Jail Cat, which alternates between attacking, casting spells, cleaning itself and rolling on its back to play).

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