Kick off 2017 with another giant RPG.
In January, North America and Europe get their second dosage of 3DS Dragon Quest love in Dragon Quest VIII. The original 2005 PlayStation 2 release, heralded by some as one of the best RPGs ever, was somehow squished down into 3DS size, bringing all of the charm with it.
The 3DS version is a little more remaster than full-on remake (a la the Dragon Quest VII release on 3DS), but it still has some cool new features. Much like in Dragon Quest VII, the enemies appear on the overworld, removing the steely coldness of random battles. That helps make your sojourn through the picturesque locales a little smoother and quicker. A faster option for battles also makes things flow faster, too.
Two new playable characters make their debut as well. There's Red, a female bandit with some ties to Yangus. She joins you in the course of the story and introduces a new weapon type in fans. A powerful ability of hers even calls in her pirate mates. The other new character is Morrie, the weird guy who runs the monster arena. He's an optional addition and wields claws. Morrie has goofy animations all over the place. In addition to the characters, the 3DS release adds a few new dungeons and a variety of interface improvements, namely a quick-select menu on the bottom screen for fast-travel tools like Zoom and the Sabercat as well as the game's deep Alchemy feature.
Dragon Quest VIII features a litany of other extras. Cameron's Codex is the highlight of the new Photo Mode, as you take pictures of different creatures in the world to earn bonuses. You can also share your photos through StreetPass and earn bonuses through likes that way. The monster arena features new end-game content in the form of the challenging X Rank. Each character has new outfits, giving you the option to change some character's outfits for the first time.
While I've heard complaints from those who have played through the Japanese version that this version is rife with technical issues, the only problems the Nintendo rep (who has put 50+ hours into it) who demoed the game for me said he ran into were some rare, easy-to-ignore frame drops. As far as I can tell, the technical issues might be the kind of thing that you can ignore and enjoy the well-crafted adventure. I’m definitely looking forward to playing Dragon Quest VIII when it comes to 3DS despite any such problems.