Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King (in PAL regions, Dragon Quest: The Journey of the Cursed King) is the eighth installment in the Dragon Quest game series, and the first to be developed by Level-5 and published by Square Enix for the PlayStation 2 video game console.
For king and country!
When an ancient sceptre is stolen, an epic adventure is born!
- The game uses an over-the-shoulder 3-D display on all maps, replacing the traditional bird's-eye view. It can optionally be switched to a first-person view. Only the lead character is displayed in the map view, however. The lead character may be swapped though.
- There is an automap feature in dungeons, and complete maps of all towns.
- Characters are shown holding their equipped weapons, in an appropriate posture. In a few cases, the character's displayed clothing will change to reflect their other equipment, although it usually stays the same.
- The buildings in a town are visible even from the overworld view.
- Chests and special encounters with tameable monsters can be found in the overworld.
- The day-night cycle of games III, IV, and V is restored. Time now passes even in towns, and the party can use an inn to switch from day to night, as well as vice-versa. Thus, there is no longer a Darkness Lamp, or related spells.
- Party conversations return from the previous installment, but it is now possible to either select which party member to talk to, or cycle through them in order.
- The battle screens are shown as a 3-D view, with shifting camera angles to display the current combatant. The party appears in the battle screen, unlike previous installments. At the end of the battle, an animation of the surviving party members putting away their weapons is played.
There is a new Dragon Ball-inspired tension system, allowing combatants to spend a turn "Psyching Up" which will build up "tension". Tension will increase the power level of their next attack or spell. Tension can be charged repeatedly (up to 4 levels), increasing attack power in each stage. There is a new party AI option to focus on using high-tension attacks, replacing the old "Leave it to me" option. Tension can be used to overcome a monster's resistance to physical or elemental attacks.
Attempting to reach the fourth, "super-high tension" state has a chance of failure, depending on the character's level. Also, some monsters are able to instantly reach the third stage of tension, and will then repeatedly attempt to reach the super-high level.
Each character has five skill values that can increase during the course of the game; three are associated with the character's three favored weapon types, one with unarmed combat, and one with the character's special ability. Skill points awarded on level-up, or when using a skill seed, can be distributed among the five skills by the player. Increasing a skill beyond certain fixed levels grants additional powers and bonuses to statistics when the player is using an appropriate type of weapon.
At a certain point in the game, the party receives an Alchemy Pot. This device can be used to combine two items into a third (usually more powerful) item following various recipes. The combination takes a certain amount of time, depending on the power of the combined item and the level of the pot. This "time" only advances as the party moves. Later in the game, the pot is upgraded to hold three items, allowing additional, even more powerful recipes.
An invalid recipe will be rejected immediately without consuming the items, allowing the player to experiment to find new recipes. In the Bonus Dungeon, the player can choose to take a pot that can mix items instantly as a prize for defeating the Lord Of The Dragovians.
New recipes (or clues to new recipes) are revealed in various books and scraps of paper found throughout the game. All recipes the player has discovered are listed in a "recipe book" accessed through the alchemy menu; recipes which are only partially known (from a clue) will have some item names replaced with "????."
The alchemy pot cannot be used when in a dungeon or when Medea gets "horsenapped"
Vehicles are shown at their actual size, and the world map is scaled down appropriately when they are in use.
The ship has a bridge which it uses to dock with the land, and its altitude can be changed to match the shorter cliffs, if necessary.
The other available vehicles are a great sabrecat steed (summoned with a magic bell), which moves much faster than the hero, allowing the party to move further between random encounters (although they still occur at the same rate), and a Godbird's soulstone, which allows the party to turn into birds.
Although the party has a wagon throughout the game, it has no effect on gameplay, since the party is essentially fixed throughout the game. Also, it is not normally shown on the display.
Changes in the 3DS version
- Two new playable characters, Red and Morrie, who were NPCs in the PS2 version.
- No random encounters. Monsters are now seen via the world map and in dungeons.
- Dungeons in the 3DS version will have gimmicks added that weren't in the PS2 version.
- Like the mobile version, you'll be able to save skill points for later use.
- Japanese voice acting is added in the Japanese version.
- Soundtrack by the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra.
- Players are able to take photos in the game.
- A new type of quest called "Photo Quests" have been added, where the player is tasked to take pictures of rare monsters and hidden items.
- New scenarios such as further back story for both the Hero and Dhoulmagus.
- Alternative ending added.
- New dungeons added.
- New post-game story content added.
- Jessica's revealing costumes were toned down.
- The cutscene of Marcello was toned down by using Light Magic instead of getting stabbed with his knife on his own right arm to free himself from the sceptre's thorns.
- The cutscene of David being forced to eat the dog food by Dominico is changed.
The hunt for Dhoulmagus
Dragon Quest VIII begins when the evil jester Dhoulmagus steals a sceptre from Trodain Castle. With the cursed artifact, he transforms the inhabitants of Trodain into plant-like statues, as well as changing the king into a toad-like monster and the princess into a horse, while covering the majority of the castle in large, green magical thorns. The Hero. a young Trodain guardsman, is the only resident to remain uncursed. Accompanying the cursed king and princess, he hunts Dhoulmagus, in hopes of restoring Trodain to its former glory. The Hero is eventually joined on his quest by three companions: a scarred, inarticulate bandit named Yangus, a young magician named Jessica, and Angelo, a rapier-wielding Templar knight and self-proclaimed ladies' man. During their travels, the party runs into Dhoulmagus several times. A couple of these encounters involve Dhoulmagus killing someone beloved by members of the Hero's party. Individuals slain by Dhoulmagus include Alistair (Jessica's brother) and Abbot Francisco, the head of Maella Abbey where Angelo lives. The party finally tracks down Dhoulmagus to the Dark Ruins, only to find a powerful dark magic barrier preventing them from entering. A group of fighters from Baccarat, who wish to slay Dhoulmagus in retaliation for the murder of the town's mayor, Golding, also arrive at the ruins and advise the party to seek the Magic Mirror of Argonia in order to enter the ruins.
In the process of gaining the mirror, the party is asked to aid the current heir to the Kingdom of Argonia, Prince Charmles, in his initiation, a task that involves him in retrieving an Argon heart from a lizard in the royal hunting ground. It is also revealed that he is supposed to be married by arrangement to Princess Medea, due to a promise made many years ago. However, the Prince's offhand and arrogant behaviour, both before and during the trial, leaves the entire party uncertain about it. The prince first forces the party to fight increasingly large Argon Lizards on his behalf, each time considering the hearts dropped to be too small, and then after finally being satisfied with the crystal dropped from a huge Great Argon Lizard, changes his mind and buys an even larger fake from a black market dealer. King Clavius admits to the party that knowing this gives him doubts about his son's suitability for the marriage, but gives them the Mirror in payment for their assistance.
Upon charging the Mirror, the party finally enters the Dark Ruins, where they find Dhoulmagus recuperating, barely able to contain the sceptre's power. He then separates into three identical doppelgangers of himself and attacks. After his defeat, he then tries to curse the party with the sceptre, but the hero is again unaffected by the curse, blocking the burst of thorns and thus protecting the other party members. Dhoulmagus then uses his menacing power to change into a hideous creature. However, even with his new powers, he is no match for the might of the heroes, and suffers a second defeat, crumbling into dust leaving behind only the stolen sceptre. However, the party finds that even with his defeat, the curse still has not been lifted. Concluding that something else must be maintaining the curse, they return to Argonia again, with Jessica picking up the sceptre as they exit.
The secret of the sceptre
The next morning, the Hero and the others find to their surprise that Jessica is missing. While searching for her, the party enters a town called Arcadia, arriving just in time to save a magician named Dominico from an apparently-possessed Jessica wielding the sceptre. After chastising David, his young servant, Dominico sends the heroes to find the Kran Spinels to aid in warding off Jessica. Once the heroes return with the jewels, Dominico uses them to create a more effective barrier against Jessica. While he prepares the incantation to erect the barrier, the party engages Jessica outside in an attempt to stall her, discovering in the process that her true objective is David, an heir of one of the great Seven Sages. After the battle, Dominico's barrier is able to release Jessica from her possession, knocking her unconscious.
After recovery, Jessica reveals what her possessor had planned, as well as giving it a name -- Rhapthorne, The Lord of Darkness. His soul had previously been imprisoned inside the sceptre by the Seven Sages, and he plots to remove the seals by killing their heirs as soon as possible. At that point, the party realizes the sceptre is missing. They rush over to Dominico's estate, only to see that Rhapthorne has succeeded in mortally wounding David after taking control of Dominico's dog, Sir Leopold, as his next host. After Rhapthorne flees, David utters his final words, as a repentant and grieving Dominico laments over him. With only two heirs left to kill, the possessed Sir Leopold absconds to the snowy mountain valley of the north. An old woman named Marta, who happens to be the one of the two remaining heirs, lives in the wintry countryside.
After running an errand for Marta and finding her son Marek, the party comes back to Marta's house only to see it set ablaze by Sir Leopold. Holding her son Marek hostage, Sir Leopold forces Marta to come out and face him. He manages to kill her, and flies away to find the last living heir.
On the advice of Marek, the party enlists the aid of the Godbird Empyrea. With the power of the Godbird's Soulstone granting them flight, and the dark tree leaf from Tyran Gully sensing Rhapthorne's evil spirit, the party tracks Sir Leopold down to the Lord High Priest's mansion and engage him. After defeating the possessed dog, he loses his grip on the sceptre, and dies. The Lord High Priest goes into shock, and faints. Meanwhile, Marcello (the new Abbot, and Angelo's half-brother) enters, and frames the party for attempting to assassinate the Lord High Priest, and has them exiled to Purgatory Island. Marcello picks up the sceptre, but manages to resist Lord Rhapthorne's evil influence. He assumes his position of the Lord High Priest thereafter.
The party manages to escape from Purgatory Island, returning to face Marcello on the Holy Isle of Neos, and defeats him. In his weakened state, Marcello gives in to Rhapthorne's influence. With the heirs of the Seven Sages killed, Rhapthorne is resurrected in flesh and blood. He destroys Neos to raise the Black Citadel from beneath it, and raises it into the sky to stage his attack upon the world. The heroes battle their way through the Citadel and defeat Rhapthorne in his first body, triggering the Citadel itself to crumble in an attempt to destroy them. However, as they escape, Rhapthorne is able to unleash his full power and incorporate the Black Citadel into himself, transforming into a massive devil looming over the land, before breaking the barrier to the Shadow Realm, unleashing his servants, and sealing himself behind a huge shield. Empyrea calls upon the heroes to destroy Rhapthorne once and for all. The Sceptre of Trodain, imbued with Empyrea's essence, is now an essential weapon for the party, able to unlock the power of the seven orbs containing the spirits of the Seven Sages, to penetrate into Rhapthorne's mighty barrier and engage him in mortal combat. After finally ending the reign of Rhapthorne, the party restored peace to the world. King Trode and Princess Medea are changed back to their human forms, and the curse of Trodain, along with its thorns, is lifted and removed.
The princess's wedding
Seven months later, the Hero is assigned to escort Princess Medea to her arranged wedding with Prince Charmles of Argonia. After reuniting with his three friends, the hero sets sail for Savella Cathedral with the king and princess. Prince Charmles meets with the entourage personally, and forbids the party from attending the ceremony within the Cathedral. On the day of the wedding, the Hero manages to slip into the cathedral with Yangus' help. However, the Princess is nowhere to be found. The Hero escapes, and finds the Princess at the cathedral courtyard waiting for him. They return to Trodain in a carriage steered by King Trode, and live happily ever after.
An "alternate ending" can be achieved once the first ending has been viewed, which unlocks the Dragovian Realm. A well-experienced party of heroes can challenge the Lord of the Dragovians at the Heavenly Dais. If successful, the hero's true origins are revealed, and the alternate ending will replace the first ending, where the player defeats Rhapthorne again. In the alternate ending, the Hero is revealed as the son of the lost prince of Argonia. His mother was a Dragovian maiden who escaped to the human world and met Clavius' older brother, but her father did not agree to the relationship and took her home. Following after, the Prince died just short of the Dragovian homeland. The hero was born shortly afterward, but sentenced to exile in the human world, as his birth took the life of his mother. Ashamed for his actions, the maiden's father went with his only surviving kin, as the mouse Munchie. Upon defeating the Dragovian lord, who had become mad after trying to abandon his human form, gives the Hero his father's ring.
King Clavius, after some contemplation, acknowledges the hero's right to marry the Princess after seeing the ring, which allows him to finally feel at peace with his lost brother. The two are wed at Savella Cathedral, much to the scorn of Charmles, who is finally confronted by his father over his initiation test earlier in the story. The newlywed couple come out of the cathedral together and embrace each other, much to the surprise of the other party members. They return to Trodain in the same fashion as the first ending, and live happily ever after.
- Hero - The Hero is a royal guard of Trodain, who journeys with King Trode to hunt down Dhoulmagus and make him pay for his crimes. His pet mouse, Munchie, always rides in his right coat pocket.
- Yangus - Yangus is a former bandit who journeys with the Hero and King Trode. Like the Hero, he is a party member from the start of the game. It is highly implied that he and Red had a romantic relationship prior to the events in the game.
- Jessica - Jessica is a voluptuous, short-tempered, and tomboyish sorceress born to a wealthy family in the town of Alexandria, and the third party member. She seeks to avenge her brother Alistair, who is slain by Dhoulmagus. In the 3DS remake, Jessica may marry the Hero in the new alternate ending.
- Angelo - Angelo is one of Maella Abbey's Templar knights and the fourth party member. Though unable to live with the strict moral code of the Templars, with his lust for gambling and women (especially Jessica), he is faithfully devoted to Abbot Francisco.
- Red (3DS only) - Red is a tough and ruthless pirate captain of her private ship. She is playable in the 3DS version after the finishing the Pirate's Cove dungeon. It is highly implied that she and Yangus had a romantic relationship prior to the events of the game. She also has an associate in the black market who she bought Princess Medea in horse form from, Dodgy Dave.
- Morrie (3DS only) - Morrie is the quirky and energetic owner of the Monster Arena who has an especially soft spot for the Hero. He is optionally playable in the 3DS version after defeating him in the tournament. He always has a posse of bunny girls at his side, albeit Marrie is his favorite, much to Merrie's chagrin.
- King Trode - King Trode is the King of Trodain, and the titular character of Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King. He was transformed into a toad-like creature by the evil wizard Dhoulmagus, and is trying to find a way to lift the curse upon him. During parts of the game, if you press the Select button, King Trode will give you helpful advice. He is also playable during the party's time in Tyran Gully.
- Princess Medea - Medea is the daughter of King Trode. She was turned into a horse when her father was cursed by Dhoulmagus. She travels with the heroes by pulling the cart with their supplies. She and the Hero are close childhood friends. In the end, though, it turns out she loves the Hero and they get married in both endings in different ways. During the game play, you find a spring where Medea turns human for a few moments and gives some evidence that she loves the Hero.
- Marcello - Marcello is the captain of the Templar Knights who guard the Abbot with their lives. However, Marcello wants more power than was offered, and after he takes over following the Abbot's death, he becomes a partner to High Priest Rolo. With this opening, the resulting events that Marcello causes will set the stage for the fate of the world to be decided. Was the only wielder of Rhapthorne's sceptre that didn't become a mind slave (at least, until the hero weakened him).
- Sir Leopold - He is the spoiled dog of the great magician Dominico. Leopold is let out of his cage by the mistake of a servant, and after the previous wielder of the Sceptre drops it, Leopold picks it up and is taken over by Rhapthorne. After he is beaten by the Hero, drops the sceptre and dies.
- Dhoulmagus - Dhoulmagus is a jester who, in order to get revenge on those who insulted him, stole a magical sceptre from Trodain Castle. However, when he attempted to unleash its power, it overwhelmed him, and allowed Rhapthorne to take over his body.
- Lord Rhapthorne - Lord Rhapthorne is the main antagonist who is heard, but not seen until the end of the game. His spirit was trapped in the Trodain sceptre that Dhoulmagus possessed in the beginning of the game. Lord Rhapthorne possesses Dhoulmagus through the sceptre, then Jessica, then a fearsome pet dog named Sir Leopold, then finally Marcello, who resists him partially; until he killed each heir of the seven sages to release his energy and assume a corporeal form.
Like the other games in the series, Dragon Quest VIII's designers include Yuji Horii as scenario director, Akira Toriyama as the art designer, and Koichi Sugiyama as the music composer.
Unlike the original Japanese version, the North American and European localisations of the game mark a departure from previous Dragon Quest titles, due to the inclusion of voice acting in certain parts of the adventure pertaining to the advancement of the storyline. The game nevertheless retains the series' tradition of allowing the player to name the lead character, reconciling the two by having the voice acting script skip all instances of the hero's name (e.g., the line, "Okay, [Hero], my boy..." appears onscreen, while the voice acting says, "Okay, my boy..."), and occasionally replacing the name with Yangus' nickname for the hero, "'guv" (as in "governor," pronounced with a Cockney accent) In addition, small changes, such as the removal of the traditional 8-bit sound effects that accompany attacks, and magic abilities, were made. Despite other games in the series being edited during localisation for North America, Dragon Quest VIII has no editing in it. The English translation is credited to Plus Alpha Translations and AltJapan.
Several characters from previous Dragon Quest games make a cameo appearance, among which are the Fighter and Warrior from Dragon Quest III; Ragnar, Healie, and Torneko (here called Torneko Taloon, a combination of the names by which he's known in Japan and America) from Dragon Quest IV; and the legendary bird Ramia from Dragon Quest III. There is even an allusion to the Dracolord (Dragonlord) from the original Dragon Quest present during the course of the game.
Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King was released in North America on November 15, 2005, and shipped with a playable Final Fantasy XII demo disc. Additions and changes to the North American version of Dragon Quest VIII include: voice acting, new animations, enhanced music and sound effects, additional spells and attacks, and a new menu interface. It was also the first game in the Dragon Quest series to bear the original, Japanese "Dragon Quest" name (rather than "Dragon Warrior") in North America. Dragon Quest's North American name was changed, due to a trademark conflict with the role-playing game DragonQuest, which was published by wargame publisher Simulations Publications in the 1980s until the company's bankruptcy in 1982 and purchase by TSR, Inc., which then published it as an alternate pen-and-paper RPG line to Dungeons & Dragons until 1987.
In 2003, Square Enix registered the Dragon Quest trademark in the US, making the "Dragon Warrior" name obsolete. Thus, this installment of the series was the first after 2003 to be released outside of Japan and to receive the word "Quest" in its title.
A demo disc for Dragon Quest VIII was released in America during the fall of 2005 through certain venues, including Shonen Jump magazine. Dragon Quest VIII is also the first flagship Dragon Quest game to be released in Europe. It was released in Europe on April 13, 2006, under the title Dragon Quest: The Journey of the Cursed King, dropping the sequel number. Unlike the North American version, the European version does not contain a Final Fantasy XII demo.
iPhone and Android re-release
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