Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Second Impressions: Dragon Quest 8 (PS2)

I'm posting this update to my impressions of Dragon Quest VIII, because I found I missed some important details in my first post, and I've grown into the game somewhat in the interim.

First up: Music.  I can't believe I left out the music!  The music is great in this very grand fashion, with big arrangements, lots of strings and woodwinds and stuff.  It has a very 'traditional' european feel to it.   While none of hte tracks have hooked me, they all create a pleasant environment.  In general, the whole game has that feel, which is sort of refreshing.  It's like stripped down, it feels like the creators just want to make the world live, and don't worry to much about being original.  And it works!  And there are fun little differences, most markedly that the churches you go to save and get your characters resurrected (an old DQ tradition) all worship a goddess, rather than god.  It's a small thing, but significant.

The monsters really are adorable.  The fight scenes are really well animated.  Everything moves quickly, so as not to bore you, but it also moves smoothly, which makes it nice to watch.  Favorites include the boot guy and drakees and the fencing foxes.  

Yangus, your first character, seems like he has an interesting arc ahead of him.  He is very rough, and speaks with a cockney accent.  However, his key skill element is 'heart.'  and As you dedicate skill points to it, he becomes more compassionate, which I think is really cool.  I don't know if this will reflect in the actual story, but I like the idea of the big brutish fellow being full of heart.  The lead hero, whom you get to name, and who does not speak, gains courage, because of course he does.

There are some issues with the interface.  I don't particularly like the control scheme.  R2 brings you into first person mode, which stops you in your tracks and allows you to look around.  This doesn't have much use, and the R2 button has a hair trigger, so I often find myself jumping into first person mode on accident, and it is obnoxious.  There is no option to customize the buttons, minus inverted axes (thank god).  The menus are very slow, and require a lot of redundant selections, which make the whole process rather cumbersome.  These are elements of throwback that I am not into.  Luckily, it really doesn't affect my play experience in any significant way, just slightly annoying.

How is her shirt not falling off?
Okay, now I have to take a minute to talk about my frustrations with the character of Jessica.  I like her, she is hard-edged, and assertive.  However, the designers decided to treat her as a sex object.  It's not enough that her first adventuring outfit features an absurd amount of cleavage, but her special skill attribute is 'Sex Appeal.'  It seems to be foisted onto the character to delight young boys, as her actual personality doesn't fit this at all.  Super irritating, especially as I've got Jane following me along a good amount of the time.  Consequently, I've refused to put any skill points toward sex appeal.  

Finally, as a final insult, Jessica is the only character I've seen change outfits, and each one is equally scandalous to the previous.  It's poor treatment of her character, and it annoys us both. There is no escaping it.  There is a sense that Jane is being excluded, because she really doesn't want to see this, whereas I may have an easier time shrugging it off.  

Apart from this deep irritation, I am thoroughly enjoying this game.  I also love that Jane watches me play.  But every time some cheap sex joke is thrown at Jessica, or a bunny outfitted girl, I feel like we're close to losing her.  


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