I recently experienced my first proper Dragon Quest game with Chapters of the Chosen for the DS and have since fallen in love with the series. As a result of my sudden infatuation, I've set out to acquire and play through every localized Dragon Quest title right up until I replay the fourth entry... on the NES. And, so that I remember this occasion after I've moved on to the next amazing and shiny thing, I've decided to chronicle my adventures right here.
If you've played any of the games I'll be talking about, I'd appreciate your comments as I don't know anyone locally who I can talk to about this wonderful series.
Part Four: Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King... CONCLUDED!
So long as there are results, I really don’t mind grinding. Games like Secret of Mana make it really easy; in many areas (such as the small room with the switch just before the dwarf village), you’ll find a spot where you can stop, and just kill one baddie over and over again by exiting and reentering the room. It seems like a tedious process, but the ~30 experience points earned each time quickly add up and you’ve gained five levels before you know it. Other games, like Illusion of Gaia, put an interesting spin on the mechanic by effectively level-capping you every step of the way. It can be very rewarding in some games, but irritating in others… like Shiren the Wanderer, where even if you grind intensely, one wrong move will just put you back at level one anyway.
I thought I was exploiting an oversight in Dragon Quest IV, but after playing VIII, it’s seems obvious how the makers of this series must feel about grinding: Even though you’re rewarded in the game with stat bonuses each time you level up, I almost feel as though the game itself rewards you at a certain point for all the hard work you had to do to reach the level you made it to in the first place. Very late in the quest, a very specific and once-elusive enemy becomes easier to find than a number in the Yellow Pages. Yes, you all know I’m talking about metal slimes. And not just regular metal slimes, mind you, but liquid metal, and even metal king slimes!! What I mean to say is, after the bulk of the game, it becomes really easy to find metal slimes and kill them for experience. As a result, you have the choice to carry on with the game or stop and grind for the little guys to make the game as easy as you want it to be.
After I had received the Godbird Stone, and before heading for the final dungeon, I happened upon a small hill just south of the Dragon Graveyard. I went there to get a treasure chest, but when I warped into a random battle, I was suddenly confronted by no less than seven liquid metal slimes. Thankfully, I knew how to properly dispatch these little brats from Dra Que IV; I had all four characters select critical-or-nothing attacks. Three of them missed, and four slimes had run away, but then Yangus attacked and–WHAM!—the slime went down in one hit. The other two slimes didn’t flee in the second round and I took care of them too. The battle ends, and I’m told I just gained 30,150 experience points.
Oh, it’s on.
Two-and-a-half hours later, my party had gained fifteen levels. I had gone from a competent fighter to an invincible badass. And now, at level 52, I felt ready to finish the game.
I’ll try not to bore with all the details of the Black Citadel, save for that it was easily the longest dungeon in the game, with some of the toughest enemies. Granted, my monster parties took care of all of them, but they sure looked like they were working hard! The last area was really awesome. It was a room that I entered via staircase that just went around in a big circle. The interior was sort of like an indoor town (like an inverted Orkutsk), but every time I went around, the place started to wear, and crumble. As I continued around, poison bogs started to flood the streets and after three or four 360s, all that was left were metal bars and a staircase leading down. I should note that none of these changes happened in real-time; I would pass them, and by the time I passed them again, they had changed. Anyway, at the bottom, I finally fought Rhapthorne. He… didn’t look like I expected him to. He looked sorta like Cinderella’s fairy godmother seen through the eyes of Tim Burton. With the help of my monster parties, I quickly took him out. Was I done? Not even close. A few details and other bosses later, Rhapthorne had taken residence in the sky, now looking less like a woman and more like Danny DeVito’s character from Disney’s Hercules, but only fatter. You know, the trainer-centaur… thing?
I was then sent on an errand for seven orbs, which really played a cool part in the final battle. They were supposed to hold the souls of the seven sages, and my party had to pray in unison for seven straight turns to surround Rhapthorne with them in order to break a magical barrier… all the while, Rapthorne is attacking us with some pretty powerful spells. I had to stop praying a few times just to heal myself, but when we finally got all seven sages out there and they broke the seal, I killed the fat bastard in all of about five minutes. Seriously. I was only at level 54, but I felt absolutely overpowered. What the hell would have happened had I leveled up to 99?!
So, four days ago, on a Friday night (10/24/08), I finally beat Dragon Quest VIII. I was treated to what seemed like an hour-long ending, and it was beautiful. I grimaced at the kings real face… he was better off as a troll! But at least he was happy again. Yangus started an exporting business with Red; Angelo resumed his role as a lady-killer; Jessica moved back to Alexandria and patched things up with her mom; and the hero became the highest ranking palace guard in the castle. The best part of all, however, is when Medea stood up that squatty prick, Charmles, at the altar and ran away with the main character. Awww, a match made in heaven! Then the credits rolled… after sixty-five glorious hours, I was finally done with the game.
Or, at least, I really thought I was. After it was all said and done, I was shown a quick snapshot of a mysterious temple that I recognized from the world map, put had previously served no purpose. It prompted me to save my game, I did so, then returned to where I was before I fought the last boss, and instead flew to this odd temple.
I’ll try and make this short (I know this is starting to look like a wall of text), but basically, the temple warped me to this incredibly long dungeon, and eventually led to a little village deep within tall, tall mountains. At the gate of the village, the little mouse that had been in the hero’s pocket the whole time finally jumped out, transformed into an old man, and revealed himself to be the hero’s grandfather. I couldn’t make this up. Apparently, the hero didn’t suffer the curse that the rest of his kingdom did because he is of Dragovian lineage. The mystery is finally cleared up!
At that point, I was given the option to enter the Dragovian trials (DOES THIS GAME EVER END?!), but I decided against it. I figured it was high time to move on to the next game: Dragon Quest I. And I did, but I did so via GameBoy Color. I stopped and realized I’d rather play it on the NES, and now I’m just waiting for it to arrive. More on that in about a week.
Thanks for reading.
Total elapsed time across entire Dragon Quest series: 100 hours, 9 minutes. (IV & VIII)