grahfzilla's Dragon Quest VIII: Sora to Umi to Daichi to Norowareshi Himegimi (Ultimate Hits) (PlayStation 2) review

Could they have made this game any more long winded?

Man does this game take a long time. And no it isn't a good thing.

Now I thought I would like this game a lot more than I did. The problem, is that this isn't really a classic RPG. It's old school flavored, but it's not old school. That's obvious, ain't it? You can't be an old school RPG if you have a 2005 release date, I know. But that the time I hadn't quite realized that.

See, a classic RPG isn't all about level grinding. People seem to think that the minute you play an RPG that is about level grinding that it is an old school RPG. Well I disagree. I think one of the main parts of old school RPG's were their SIMPLICITY. Games like Lunar, Dragon Warrior I and Final Fantasy, they're as simple as they come. You don't need to do any stupid alchemy pot recipes, or play for hours in the casino to get your best equipment. No no. Everything you need, you either buy, or you find. At first you buy it, then you find it. That's how it was. These games were simple. You went out, you fought to gather some money and level up a bit, bought some equipment, made your way to the next town and repeat all of that all over again. Those three games I just mentionned were also all quite short. Monsters weren't there to give you a challenge, they were there to give you money and experience. The challenge was left to the bosses.

Now, DQVIII has some of that. Like I said earlier, it's old school flavored. It certainly starts out really old school, and for the first 15 hours I thought I was playing one of the best RPG's in the last five years. Well, it soon started to fall apart.

First off, the monsters are pretty hard in this game. They're not just there to give you stuff, if possible they'll take yours. I personally find it a bit annoying to find myself in a serious fight when all I'm doing is running around on the field. I also hate how this RPG punishes you for not wanting to mess around with the sidequests. Basically, if you don't mess around with the alchemy pot and don't play in the casino, this game will hand you your ass unless you level up like a madman.

I had the guide for this, and I followed it quite closely. I actually believe that the guide hampered my enjoyment of the game to a degree because it took away from its linearity and simplicity. For example,there are treasure chests scattered around every country in the game. Now normally, without a guide, I wouldn't have bothered with them. In fact, I probably wouldn't have known of their existence. I would have simply ran from one objective to the next, which would have made the game a lot more linear and thus, a lot more enjoyable. But because the guide clearly indicated where all the chests were, I felt compelled, no, FORCED, to go look for every chest every time I entered a new country. God damnit that sucked. But then again, it also kept me leveled up. If I hadn't run around every country like that, I would have been underleveled. I can say that I have not grinded once in this game, and that might be why. Also I got some good equipment by doing that, so it kept me well equipped.

I also used the alchemy pot a lot with the guide, and I also hated that. I don't like those kind of things in JRPG's, I'd much rather buy my equipment or find it in dungeons. But since they gave me all the recipes, I just couldn't block it. So I did them. Once again, I didn't like it, but it kept me well equipped. I can say that outside of the early hours of the game, I didn't find this game hard at all. Just really annoying. The monsters, even if they don't pose a challenge, still take a while to kill. I hate monsters who take a while to kill. Just die already!

Talking about bosses and dungeons, there are NOT enough in this game, especially for a game this long. There are less bosses in this game than there are in other, shorter RPG's and god damn that sucks. I'd like more dungeons too. Most of this game is spent walking around the same similar looking environment, namely green plains. Over, and over again. God damn am I sick of green plains. After 50 hours I saw a desert and a freaking iceland. Then it was back to green.  There's more variety in Final Fantasy I, a 20 hour game, than in this game.

Also, I have to say that the story suffers from one of the worst pacing jobs I've ever seen. When I got around the 35 hour mark, I was tired of this game and was thinking of quitting. I estimated that I had about 15 hour left to play, and thought I was nearing the end. So I decided to read the rest of the story on wikipedia. So I get there, and start reading at about the halfway point of the story. Well let me tell you that it was a lot further than I was. Imagine this, after 35 hours of gameplay, I hadn't even seen one quarter of the total story. In fact, I might not have even seen a freaking fifth of it. As it turns out, 35 hours was the halfway point of the game for me. Normally, if you're halway through the game, YOU SHOULD HAVE SEEN HALF THE DAMN STORY. So I decided to keep on playing. And I'll be honest, the game gets a LOT stronger in the end. The last 10 hours of this game are brutally good. I loved the last dungeon, the last boss, and the ending. Great stuff. Only problem is, it was like 20 hours too late.

So I'm not really sure. Did the guide mess this game up for me, or was the game already messed up? I don't know. One thing I do know though, I know that I would have loved this game more if the pace was quicker. Like being a 40-50 hour game instead of being a 60-70 hour game. I don't mind grinding when the pace is quick. I would have canned that god damn alchemy pot. I know, I know, now every freaking JRPG has those casinos kinda things were the absolute best equipment is, but everything else should have been in the dungeons, like in classic rpgs of yore. Don't make me look for recipes, and don't make me feel guilty if I don't want to throw stuff in a freaking cauldron. And make those monsters exp food, and the bosses tougher. Only one boss was tough for me, the one in the dark ruins, and that's the only time I got wiped out. Now if all those things were in this game, this game would have been a winner for me. As it stands, it was just plain too long. Too many green plains too. There's literally a 20 hour stretch in this game where NOTHING HAPPENS. That's an ENTIRE playthrough of Final Fantasy I RIGHT THERE.

Oh and one last thing. This game was really childish. The graphics are great, and I don't really mind the weird cartoon stylized look (Toriyama rocks!), but the whole voice acting was really aimed at kids. I mean, it's good voice acting, but for a younger audience. It's like, even if the carebears had great voice acting (maybe they did, can't remember), would that make you think they're awesome? Hopefully not, you'd probably still think they look like fucking twits. And that's how this game was for me. Good voice acting, great graphics, but a bunch of characters I had a hard time relating too. The king is really annoying with his saturday morning cartoon voice.

Thank god the ending kicked ass, that just elevated this game a half point. So all in all, I wrote all this just to say that the length diluted the experience.

Time at last save: around 72 hours.



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Other reviews for Dragon Quest VIII: Sora to Umi to Daichi to Norowareshi Himegimi (Ultimate Hits) (PlayStation 2)

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