A Quest with Dragons

What do four humans, a troll, a horse and a mouse have in common? They’re all characters in Japanese game developer Square Enix’s role-playing game (RPG) “Dragon Quest VIII.” This installment, originally released for the PlayStation 2 and ported to Android and iOS devices, is the eighth game in the series, popular in Japan.

DQ 8 adds new innovations to the series, including alchemy, combining ingredients to make new items, an over-the-shoulder view on the world map and a day/night cycle, seen in three previous entries. As I have played previous installments in the series, I can say that these changes are welcome. The 3D view brings the world to life and Akira Toriyama, who did the art for “Dragon Ball,” did the art for this game, and it makes the characters pop.

The day/night cycle is great too. Each time of day has it’s own monsters that come out, and, sometimes, monsters at night are more powerful than their daytime counterparts.

Another improvement to the series is the addition of “infamous monsters,” stronger variants of regular monsters that, once one reaches a certain point in the game, become tameable and useable in the Monster Arena, a side objective where one pits his/her team of three monsters against other teams.

The combat system, while simple, is amazing. Each character has five skill trees, each consisting of three weapons; fisticuffs (hand to hand) and a special skill tree unique to that character.

“Dragon Quest VIII” is one of the best RPGs I’ve ever played, and a must-play for any fan of the genre.