The Dragon returns

As you can find out here, the first details on Dragon Quest VIII have been released in Shonen Jump magazine.

I couldn’t be anymore excited if someone told me I’ve just one won the lottery and attained enlightenment! DRAGON QUEST! WOO! The most sophisticated console RPG series ever is BACK!

As you may know, Dark Cloud 2 (Dark Chronicle)'s designers and team, Level 5 have been contracted by Enix as the partners for the creation of Dragon Quest VIII. Ever since, the fifth in the series, when previous Enix employees, went off to form their own company, the three main series creators and their studios have used outside companies either affiliated with Enix’s many developer studios or elsewhere to complete the grunt work on the series. While Level 5 will not be contributing any great gameplay contributions to the project, apparently they were picked for their similarity in design goals between Dark Chronicle and Dragon Quest VII (naturally, they do have a lot in common). At the time, they hadn’t yet shown True Fantasy Live Online or completed Dark Chronicle, so its look like Enix’s legendary talent-finding radar is ever true. One wonders if Level 5 is much bigger than they were before, seeing as how they are also working on TFLO and Dark Cloud 3.

Either way, I think it really paid off. I never seen any game such a sense of adventure and new horizons as these screenshots show. Its the game’s sense of medieval charm down flat (okay, so that’s partially due to Akira Toriyama, but still…) and the scale seems perfect. Not too small to seem questionable for why its 3D and not too large whereas it seems travelling will get to be a pain in the ass: in other words, quintessential Dragon Quest, that is, perfect balance.

I am concerned that getting rid of the first-person view in battle will a) slow down the speed and b) keep some of the series more unique elements being able to be implemented, but as Enix hasn’t let me down for seven titles in a row and this looks so promising, nothing is going to keep my excitement and anticipation from bursting out of control! I do hope Gamespot is wrong and that they eventually include text descriptions with the animations/lack of animation. If not, I wonder how they plan on doing some of the things that relied on text in the past, i.e. party members quaking in fear and uncertainty, the superstar being able to hug a monster and make them woozy with lust by squeezing her breasts together on their face, merchants being able to call their legions of brothers to flatten the enemy, dark and bizarre random summons, monsters hiding in wells and bookcases, and indeed, the general charm of the text descriptions such as, “Explodet A is looking at Eiji with a sly grin on its face.” These have always been an important part of what distinguishes Dragon Quest’s legendary fun factor and I hope its not lost.

But I’m being a killjoy! This looks positively fabulous and I can’t wait to play it. I’ve always been disappointed that increasingly world maps where you select where to go and smaller worlds have become the norm with the need to keep 3D space reasonable in RPGs, but it looks like Dragon Quest VIII will be the first beside Skies of Arcadia to finally buck that trend. Its looks so enticing, I mean, the land just screams to be explored. It feels like you could just reach out and touch the leaves on the trees and feel the cool air in the forest in that one shot. Which goes to continually prove that beyond realism or graphical expertise, its a design first and foremost that recalls an intimately imagined world where each step feels significant and real. We know also that they plan on bringing back torches that you carry to lighten dark areas and day and night cycles will be back as well as the common searching and carrying elements, so puzzles should be as strong as ever.

I can’t wait! I can’t wait! I can’t wait! Now Famitsu doesn’t have to that damn one screenshot over and over again in the first place position for most wanted game anymore, and I hope the trickle of information continues on a regular basis. Its just pure torture to wait for this game. I just know its gonna be so sweet. I always wondered how Enix was going to follow up the amazing success story that was Dragon Quest VII and it certainly looks they’ll surpass their past efforts once again. Its also nice to see the series back to its days of being graphically impressive once again. Already I want to jump into the shoes of the totally appealing protagonist (much better look than the last one, I must say) and am dreaming up ideas for how this fits into the story we were left with at the end of Dragon Quest VII.