Dragon Quest VIII 3DS Preview: New Characters, New Dungeons, New Challenges, Black Sabrecats

Though Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King for the Nintendo 3DS isn't a ground-up overhaul the way Dragon Quest VII 3DS is, there's still tons of new stuff to get excited about.

Preview by Nadia Oxford, .

If you're still busy shoveling Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past into your body, you might want to hurry things up a bit. Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King is coming to the Nintendo 3DS on January 20, 2017.

Dragon Quest VIII isn't quite as hefty as its predecessor (which is easily capable of stealing away at least 100 hours of your life, even though the Nintendo 3DS remake of Dragon Quest VII streamlines the original PlayStation experience), but it's no brisk 20-hour game, either. In fact, the Nintendo 3DS iteration of Dragon Quest VIII adds new playable characters, new story content, and new challenges. It may be exactly what you need to get you through the frigid white desert that is January's game release schedule. Just add hot chocolate and a favorite blanket, and you're good to go for a long time.

Unlike Dragon Quest VII, Dragon Quest VIII 3DS hasn't received a complete graphical overhaul. Though I was only able to peek at the game through a video preview hosted by Nintendo, what I saw closely reflects the original release for the PlayStation 2. Incidentally, Dragon Quest VIII's sprawling open world is over 11 years old – it first came into being in 2004 – but watching it all unfurl before you is still pretty exciting, especially since Dragon Quest VIII 3DS gets rid of random encounters.

While it's nice to not have to deal with pop-up battles, make sure you still ride a Great Sabrecat every so often. Dragon Quest VIII 3DS adds two new species: A black Sabrecat and a white one. Both can be summoned with expendable bell items. They're merely palette-swaps of the original Sabrecat, but if you choose to say "No" to a melanistic variant of the Dragon Quest series' coolest mount, there is no helping you and you should think very hard about your life's choices.

Dragon Quest VIII 3DS also turns two of the first release's NPCs into major characters. Red and Morrie are playable as a Thief and Fighter build, respectively. Red's weapon of choice is a couple of razor-sharp fans, whereas Morrie prefers claws. Morrie's skillset is well-suited for slaying metal monsters, so hooray for easy experience farming. Red has a bit of the Dancer build in her blood, and therefore has an innate means of restoring characters' health and life. Both Red and Morrie have supplemental story and dialogue attached to them.

Early on, Dragon Quest VIII 3DS introduces you to Cameron, a camera enthusiast who offers rewards for snapping pictures of special monsters. The name "Cameron" should be a tip-off that puns are alive and well in the world of Dragon Quest VIII 3DS. In fact, Dragon Quest VIII closes a circle: The original PlayStation 2 release introduced the very British localization style that's been part of every Dragon Quest translation (and re-translation) since. And according to Nintendo, Dragon Quest VIII 3DS more or less uses the same translation as the first release of Dragon Quest VIII, albeit with additional dialogue coupled with the 3DS game's new content.

But we can't talk about what's been added to Dragon Quest VIII 3DS without mentioning what's been taken away: The orchestrated music. Japan has it, but the West does not. However, voice acting was a quintessential part of Dragon Quest VIII's localization, whereas the Japanese release lacks it on both the PlayStation 2 and the Nintendo 3DS.

Nintendo had to make a choice for Dragon Quest VIII 3DS's localization: Ditch the voices in favour of the orchestrated soundtrack, or downgrade to a MIDI soundtrack and keep the voices. It's a tough choice, but I'm personally pro-voices. After all these years, I can't imagine untangling Yangus' cockney accent from Dragon Quest VIII.

Besides, Dragon Quest VIII 3DS offers new characters, a new murderous X-Rank for the Monster Arena (if you dare!), a new story-related dungeon, a new challenge dungeon, new outfits for the characters, a streamlined alchemy system, and the aforementioned camera challenge. Losing the orchestrated soundtrack is a bummer, but then I just think of jet-black Sabrecats with purple mohawks, and I smile.

Look for Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King on Nintendo 3DS on January 20, 2017.

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Comments 25

  • Avatar for averyvc92 #1 averyvc92 A year ago
    Considering I pre-oredered this on a whim during the holiday sales on Amazon, I'm glad to hear they kept the voices! Plus no more random battles! Wahoo!
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  • Avatar for Verkambj #2 Verkambj A year ago
    I never finished this on the ps2 so I am eagerly waiting for the 3ds release.
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  • Avatar for mnicolai #3 mnicolai A year ago
    "Ditch the voices in favour of the orchestrated soundtrack, or downgrade to a MIDI soundtrack and keep the voices."

    Did Nintendo confirm this to you? The Japanese release had both the voices and the orchestra soundtrack.
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  • Avatar for nadiaoxford #4 nadiaoxford A year ago
    @mnicolai Nintendo confirmed it at PAX West. I linked to the Siliconera story.

    EDIT: Actually, Technobuffalo goes into better detail: Edited December 2016 by nadiaoxford
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  • Avatar for himuradrew #5 himuradrew A year ago
    Will finally get to play this properly as I missed it on the PS2...

    ... and no the shitty mobile port doesn't count.
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  • Avatar for moochan #6 moochan A year ago
    So this mean to have to deal with both DQ7 and 8? Man Jeremy either really love you or really hate you. Can't wait to replay this. 8 isn't my favorite DQ game but it's 100% a game people should play.
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  • Avatar for Barely-Able #7 Barely-Able A year ago
    How bout square enix offers us the orchestrated music as dlc? fat chance I know considering these games don't sell, but would be nice to have both music options.
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  • Avatar for The-Challenger #8 The-Challenger A year ago
    After playing through DQ VII I think I am ready for another dose of the DQ world and its slow paced battle system.Edited December 2016 by The-Challenger
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  • Avatar for Whinybabyclub #9 Whinybabyclub A year ago
    I think I'll just stick to my PS2 version. I can't imagine craning your neck for 100+ hours playing this on a tiny screen. Can't imagine it'll look all that great, or have a steady framerate either.
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  • Avatar for DoorCurtain #10 DoorCurtain A year ago
    Even if this release sadly won't have the orchestrated music, it's not that big of a loss since the orchestrated music was always composed to work better outside the game rather than within it. Most main series entries had an orchestral CD accompanying each game's release, so for me if I feel like listening to it I can do so when I'm not playing the game.

    Of course, I only say this because I have the luxury(?) of having missed out on the PS2 original, so this will be my first time playing it anyway. And in my opinion, keeping the English voice-overs while getting rid of random battles seems to make this the definitive version anyway.
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  • Avatar for Dreamboum #11 Dreamboum A year ago
    @nadiaoxford It says "During a recent panel at PAX West, Nintendo confirmed that the orchestrated music from the original release would not be available on its handheld port. In exhange, you’ll get to hear Yangus scream “Cor blimey!” about a hundred times throughout the playthrough. I can live with that."

    The author is talking about an exchange, not a trade-off. There is no mention of them ditching orchestra in favor of voices and even if there was, it's an indefensible stance when the japanese version of DQ8 has brand new voice-acting AND brand new orchestrated version.

    Even worse, we already know from DQ7 that orchestra and synthesized music weighs exactly the same. Many tinkerers has been able to inject the orchestrated music into their western copy as easily as a drag and drop. It is not a matter of space, it has never been so. And to add insult to injury, the western version has highly compressed voices that sounds like they're talking out of a tin can whereas the japanese version does not.

    There is also a lack of 3D effect, the missing cel-shading effect that is an essential part of the visual identity of the game, Jessica's new and underwhelming voice, longer loading times with 5 seconds of black screen for every battle (2 for the PS2 version). There is much to love in this version, but it's also lacking in many areas that are just unacceptable. If you listen to Nintendo, everything is fine to them, but in reality we're getting a game that is in many aspects inferior to our version 10 years after.
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  • Avatar for nadiaoxford #12 nadiaoxford A year ago
    @Dreamboum Does anyone know why the US version of the game opts for MIDI, then? When I asked Nintendo during the preview, I was told they explained at PAX.

    I didn't notice five second load times. In fact, DQ8 3DS lets you speed up battles. Maybe the load times were fixed for the US. If not, they're something that'll be noted in the review, I'm sure.
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  • Avatar for Frosty840 #13 Frosty840 A year ago
    @nadiaoxford It could be a space issue, if there's a borderline space issue where the orchestrated soundtrack is XGB and the voice acting is YGB in Japanese, but Y+ZGB in English.
    If the English voice acting pushes the game past a cartridge's memory limit then that could be a plausible reason for having to switch to a (space saving) chiptune soundtrack for only the English version, because the 3DS cartridge has a hard memory limit, which Wikipedia tells me is 8GB.

    I'm not sure if DLC could potentially push the total amount of memory use for a game past that limit; if it can, I'd hope to see the orchestral soundtrack made available as DLC for the game. That way they can provide "everything" on the physical cartridge, but also give people the option of downloading a "different" audio experience...
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  • Avatar for GeoX #14 GeoX A year ago
    I'm sure all the new content is great and all, but I gotta tell you...after playing DQVII 3DS, I am feeling seriously Dragon Quested out. I kinda forgot this, but it was true in the original and it's all the more true in the remake: the game is TOO DAMN LONG. All the tablet stuff that makes up, more or less, disc one of the PSX version is great, but after that it just goes unforgivably slack, and it was an effort of will for me to plow through to the end--and just FORGET ABOUT me doing any of the extra content. A hundred fifteen hours is substantially more than enough, and though I may feel differently in the future, right now I'm quite sure that if I never see that Toriyama aesthetic or too-clever-by-half DQ-style localization again, it will be TOO SOON.

    DQVIII--the original version, anyway--didn't have this problem so much, but I WAS well ready to be finished after seeing the alternate ending. I felt no impulse to spend any extra time fighting dragons and whatnot. As such, I can't help thinking that even MORE content is just going to be wasted on me, as tempting as NEW PLAYABLE CHARACTERS sounds.
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  • Avatar for Octopumpkin #15 Octopumpkin A year ago
    I prefer electronic music, so it's no loss for me. My favorite Final Fantasy soundtrack is VIII because you get the best of both worlds.
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  • Avatar for reptilio #16 reptilio A year ago
    I've been playing DQ7 and only DQ7 pretty much since it came out and I'm STILL not done. I got to the moss monster in the cave of the dwarves and died and lost a couple hours of progress a couple nights ago, I'm gonna have to dive back into it this weekend. I'll get 8...eventually
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  • Avatar for mnicolai #17 mnicolai A year ago
    @nadiaoxford I only asked because there has been some debate over the decision to remove the orchestrated music. Consensus seems to be that there is an issue with Sugiyama, either a licensing issue or the composer just not being happy with the way the music sounds on the 3DS speakers. Nintendo and SE have cited technical reasons, I was wondering if they shed any more light on it.

    I'm not complaining, very happy that the DQ dark ages are over. (for now)
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  • Avatar for SargeSmash #18 SargeSmash A year ago
    I honestly think it might be a little too soon for this. I haven't even finished Dragon Quest VII!

    I guess the other problem is that I played through the original release when it came out, and despite the additions, I'm going to find it hard to justify playing through it right now just ten years later, as opposed to the seventeen for DQVII.

    I'm still rooting for the game to do well, though! It's an absolutely fantastic RPG, and if you haven't experienced it, you should.
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  • Avatar for Dreamboum #19 Dreamboum A year ago
    @nadiaoxford I was replying forcefully there, I'm sorry.

    There's no definitive proof out there but Nintendo's explanation is simply not true. Most plausible theory is licensing issues with Sugiyama to use the orchestrated tracks whereas they don't have to go through it if they arrange it themselves. Nintendo might have been unwilling to spend more for the western version.

    Most people who knows their way around a 3DS will be able to appreciate the orchestrated soundtrack but what puzzles me most is the heavy compression of voices. It doesn't make sense considering the japanese version is pristine.

    For loading times, details are in this video :

    Loading times are a little bit faster in the downloadable version (and a New3DS)
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  • Avatar for nadiaoxford #20 nadiaoxford A year ago
    @Dreamboum No problem! Thanks for reminding me that load times may be faster on the New Nintendo 3DS; that's what I use, and if I wind up reviewing the game, I'll have to take that into account.
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  • Avatar for Obsidian-Ox #21 Obsidian-Ox A year ago
    I'm going to have to agree to disagree. The orchestrated soundtrack is what pulled me through in my 100+ hours with DQ VIII on PS2. The aural presentation in any game is personally a big deal for me, and often is the reason I continue to press on in long RPGs (especially the DQ series or SMT franchise). As a matter of fact, DQ VIII is the only DQ game I've ever finished, and I highly attribute that to the orchestrated tracks. I just never tired of it, and still occasionally listen to it to this day. I will buy this to support the cause, but I can tell you now that I probably won't finish it.
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  • Avatar for Fallout2 #22 Fallout2 A year ago
    The orchestral soundtrack of DQ VII is one of the best aspects of the game for me and it's sad that the English release cuts it for DQ VIII too. Then again to me voice acting is really not a priority. Will still buy because the DQ IV-VIII remakes have all been a brilliant addition to my library.Edited December 2016 by Fallout2
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