By Dale Rogers – Dragon Quest VIII Journey Of The Cursed King is a 3DS remake of the original game previously released on Playstation 2. The game follows the exact narrative of the original release so don’t expect any change in terms of story , however in terms gameplay, the 3DS version offers enough extra features to make this feel more like a remake than a direct port.
The game retains the charm of the original release, with its beautiful soundtrack and superb voice acting it allows you to remain immersed in its story and care about its diverse cast of characters. Be it the brutish Yangus or the wise cracking yet charming Angelo, there will be at least one character that catches your eye, either via personality or design.
Graphically the game is stunning, I would go as far as to say it is the prettiest and most vibrant game on the 3DS or at least on par with its predecessor Dragon Quest VII released back in 2016 on the 3DS. Dragon Quest VIII offers a handful of extra features that provide fans of the series more than enough reason to return and play again. One of the most notable changes straight from the offset is that there are no more random battles, monsters are now represented visually on the world map and in dungeons, so you can fight as you see fit. This now makes the somewhat empty canvas areas of the PS2 original, now feel more alive and active, which is a very nice feature for a somewhat minor change.
The battles of the Dragon Quest series use a basic turn based format which the series is known for. Most battles persist of using spells and skills to defeat your opponents and choosing to upgrade your characters in which ever skill tree you see fit. However Dragon Quest VIII has included a feature that allows you to increase the speed of battle, which in return allows you to complete battles, grind experience and level up your characters at a much quicker pace (which most fans of the series will appreciate).
The 3DS version of Dragon Quest VIII does not just improve upon the original but it also takes cues from the IOS port as well, utilising the speed of the alchemy pot. The alchemy pot was used in the original to combine items together to make a completely new item or piece of equipment. However it normally takes time for the item to be developed but like the IOS port this has been rectified by letting items be produced instantly, getting rid of a literal time wasting inconvenience.
The features mentioned thus far have been about convenience as opposed to something new, so I will now get to the point and mention the something new. The 3DS version of Dragon Quest VIII offers 2 new original playable characters, Red the pirate/thief and Morrie the monster arena owner. These characters have diverse skill sets and do not feel like carbon copies in any way and are really entertaining to use, however the only downside is that one of the characters does not join your party until quite late into the game, and the other you could possibly miss altogether. It is quite a shame because like the original cast, these 2 characters are strong in terms of design and personality in their own right and I would have preferred if they had a more substantial role in the story, rather than feel like a
Another new exciting feature in this game however is the inclusion of the photo mode. Photo mode is quite the common trope in games nowadays, however Dragon Quest VIII has turned this into a permanent side quest that provides many rewards is a great way to discover the new monsters the game has to offer. You are given the task to take pictures of various set pieces, monsters and characters, once you obtained the correct pictures you can hand them in and fill up a reward card, once the card is full you obtain a new item as a reward and they are generally very useful.
Overall Dragon Quest VIII: Journey Of The Cursed King manages to maintain everything that made the original special and yet somehow managed to improve upon it to the point of making it worth picking it up for a first or second time.