Dragon Quest 8 review for Nintendo 3DS: We review this updated re-release of the original Dragon Quest 8, set to launch on the 3DS on January 20. So what's changed in this new 3DS version and is it worth buying?
Playstation fans may remember Dragon Quest 8, which originally launched on the PS2 back at the start of the century. We've since smashed our way through a fair few Dragon Quest games on the 3DS, and Nintendo has now polished up and re-released Dragon Quest 8 on its portable console, so we can replay the adventure on the daily commute (or during our regular morning bowel evacuation).
We've had the chance to play through Dragon Quest 8 ahead of its launch this month, and here's all you need to know about this 3DS remake.
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Dragon Quest 8 3DS review: What's this game all about?
Dragon Quest 8 is similar to other entries in the RPG series, sending players on an epic quest across a land filled with horrible beasties. As you do.
At the start of the game, your self-titled hero arrives at a small town, accompanied by a chubby warrior called Yangus, a Yoda-looking fella called Trode and his horse Medea. Of course, nothing is as it seems. Trode is actually a king (hence the subtitle, Journey of the Cursed King) and the horse is Trode's daughter, the princess. Yet he still shoves all his gear on top of her and rides her about the place. Weird, right?
The townsfolk don't react well to the sudden appearance of a green scaly creature, despite the fact that the land outside their gates is absolutely crawling with vicious beasties. You think they'd be used to it by now, right? However, one girl recognises your potential and asks you to recover a crystal ball for her father from a nearby cave, which in turn can help you to progress with your own personal quest: to locate and defeat the evil Dhoulmagus and lift the curse on the king and princess.
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Dragon Quest 8 is a third-person adventure which sees you exploring a vast world, getting into random encounters with hostile creatures and conquering dangerous dungeons. In other words, your typical J-RPG but with a pleasingly streamlined interface, redesigned especially for this 3DS remaster.
For one, you don't spend any time at all setting up your characters at the start. The adventure just begins and you're free to explore and talk to the many NPCs, or start picking fights with the many gribblies that roam the wilderness. That said, there's not much hand-holding here either; you're pretty much left to work out the various menus and general gameplay on your own.
Thankfully Dragon Quest 8 is fairly intuitive, once you figure out little things like how to save your game and equip items. Check out our complete Dragon Quest 8 (3DS) tips and tricks guide for more info.
Combat is turn-based and while you start with a band of just two heroes, you'll soon expand this with new members. You can chat with your buddies at any time, but you only get control over them when you enter a fight. At this point you can issue them with direct commands, ordering them to attack certain enemies, cast spells, help out other team members and so on. You can even taunt your opponent or flee if things get a bit hairy. And if you'd rather take a more passive role, that's also possible.
Each successful battle earns your team experience points, which can be used to level up. This again is a streamlined process, with just a few weapon and power specialisations to plough your points into.
Exploring Dragon Quest 8's world is quite fun at first, although there's not much variation. You essentially just plod from one location to the next, either fighting or avoiding the creatures that wander in lazy circles for no real reason. Still, there are at least plenty of side quests to complete alongside the main story, with some cool diversions to keep things interesting. For example, one 'puzzle' early on involves taking control of the main character's pet, as it explores a forbidden room for clues.
Dragon Quest 8 3DS review: What's changed vs the PS2 version?
If you're hoping for some spangly 3D visuals here on the 3DS, then prepare to be disappointed. A couple of Dragon Quest 8's menus and effects are bizarrely in 3D, but the rest of the game is as flat as your average M25 roadkill.
However, Nintendo has been pretty generous in other areas when it comes to this re-release. Not only do you get some new items, outfits and side-quests thrown in, but you'll also come across whole new dungeons and boss characters! There's even a new 3DS-only ending to entice Dragon Quest veterans back for one more bite.
In this 3DS remake of Dragon Quest 8 you can recruit two more characters into your team: Red the bandit and Morrie the Monster Arena owner.
And part of the reason that the game is so accessible is because the interface has been overhauled for this 3DS version. This might prove a little confusing for Dragon Quest fans at first, but the new setup is really easy to get to grips with.
Because the 3DS is a portable console, you also get a Quick Save feature in this version of Dragon Quest 8. That comes in very handy when you need to quickly put the 3DS away, although hibernation also works. There's also StreetPass support, for sharing photos of your adventure.
Dragon Quest 8 3DS review: Is the 3DS version worth buying?
In a word, yes.
Although this remastered version doesn't offer up awesome 3D graphics, it's still great fun to play through in 2017. Newcomers to turn-based RPGs should be able to pick up Dragon Quest 8's nuances in little time at all, making it one of the most accessible role playing games we've tested on the 3DS in recent times. Meanwhile veterans of the series can enjoy the new additions, including brand new dungeons, quests and items to collect.
Dragon Quest 8 3DS review: UK release date
Dragon Quest 8 will be hitting the Nintendo 3DS store and your local high street game shop on January 20. Check out our complete Dragon Quest 8 3DS tips and tricks guide for more info on the remastered game.