Dragon Quest VIII is an RPG for Android originally developed by Level 5 and published by Square Enix for the PS2 before being later ported to mobile. The plot revolves around a curse being placed on the titular king Trode and his daughter Medea that changes their form and you’re the silent hero that travels with them to help them break it. Note that some character designs (including the player character) were designed by Akira Toriyama, the creator of the Dragon Ball series.
Loading up the game had me weirded out seeing everything in portrait where I remember playing the PS2 version, at least the music and graphics were the same pretty much and having 3 save files were useful. There didn’t seem to be any sort of options though like an alternate way to hold the tablet since mobile games don’t need to be upright.
Something else that would bother those that played the game before would be the complete lack of voice acting (which I’m sure the original had). This is obviously to cut down on the large size as even without them its still 1.5GB to download but its kinda sad either way.
Getting into the game the music is still amazing and the graphics hold up quite well but the controls were idiotic, it was too obvious this was built only with phones in mind and not a tablet which would make more sense. The analog stick is mostly fixed and can only be moved left and right via the button above auto or switched between two sizes in the settings with the default taking up too much space and the alternate small analog stick is far more usable. On top of that your only given a small strip at the bottom to move the camera so while it can go up and down a bit there’s no point doing that. At least the auto feature is useful which is essentially running forwards until you tell it to stop with you controlling the turning.
Other than that its quite simple to get around and menu’s are easy to go through. It might be worth noting that this is the sort of RPG where characters each have their own bag for in battle. Oddly enough while your main character starts off with quite a decent weapon you also have 500 gold which is enough to immediately improve your armor (also selling the old equipment) which you honestly need to do as while this game isn’t as open as it seems to be you still shouldn’t wander off.
Amusingly the game also has a few odd things about it, while doing things like smashing pots or looking through cupboards isn’t something unique to this game its weird to see the occupants of the houses seem completely fine with it although considering you can get something called the Thiefs Key perhaps they actually don’t but who knows when they don’t program it in. Other than that the characters and plot are quite enjoyable and locations were awesome, I really liked how you could see places in the distance or how people’s dialog changed depending on day or night. An example of seeing places in the distance is the fact you can actually go the road to Castle Trodain (the one you, the king and the princess were from) and see it in the distance with the evil cloud and vines from the curse (you can’t go there yet because a bridge is broken). It’s just too bad that without voice acting anywhere you kind of get put off from using anything like the consult feature that lets you talk to the other caravan members (basically the fighters plus the king).
As for battles they are quite easy to do with the options defaulting on ‘Fight Wisely’ which is essentially auto. Changing this is as simple as pressing there then choosing what you want to do and what or who you’re targeting. Also while all enemies seemed like they could be powerful your character also was especially with stat points you could get via levelling up that would let you work towards weapon specific skills for each character (and 1 non-weapon skill list) by simply adding points until you hit a certain number in that list. I absolutely loved the Boomerang that the player character could equip as it attacked multiple enemies as even seemingly weak enemies can be a pain if given long enough (like the Capsichums you can meet almost immediately who lower your defence). Although the game seems to love difficulty spikes with bosses always needing some grinding on top of skill although the tactics menu lets the game do it for you (Khalamari can be defeated easier by focusing on healing with the hero while psyching up with Yangus). That is if you don’t use the almost too obvious trick to get near infinite health items by merely buying medicinal herbs and putting them in the alchemy pot until you get Lesser Panaceia (8 Medicinal Herb -> 4 Strong Medicine -> 2 Special Medicine -> 1 Lesser Panaceia) which not only is a full heal item but can also be sold for profit for a bit since there’s a system which makes their price permanently plummet if you sell too much.
At first you’d think the difficulty was actually in the dungeons where you usually end up finding that enemies can overwhelm you and it seems like you can’t escape but thwt just so happens to be the first thing your character learns in you put skill points in courage (although running back to the dungeon is obviously a pain) and at times I felt a bit lost on the map. In fact Yangus (the other character you start with) can learn heal as well as the hero quite quickly too which is amazing when used with “Fight Wisely” as they can deal with easier/boring battles for you. Not saying that it gets that much easier though, there are also enemies that appear on the map in random places that are essentially one off minibosses that will screw you over if you battle them too early (like the amusing one pictured above before the first dungeon). Luckily though being defeated merely spawns you at the church with a lot less coins (1/2 I think) so its not that bad.
Overall its a highly enjoyable game and I haven’t even scratched the surface in the review. There’s a few little extras like searching for specific monsters for someone, a certain person that collects medals and there is apparently post story content too (although I’ve never won the game because the PS2 copy went missing or was stolen ages ago).
Amazon Links (helps improve my content)
- Android version is £15 via the UK site and $20 via the US site
- Original PS2 version is £10 via the UK site and $50 via the US site…
- 3DS port (with extra ingame content) preorder is currently unavailable via the UK site but $40 via the US site