Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King, is a role-playing video game developed by Level-5 and published by Square Enix for the PlayStation 2. It was released in Japan in 2004, in North America in 2005 and PAL regions in 2006, making it the first main series installment released in the PAL region. It is the eighth installment of the Dragon Quest series and it is the first English version of a Dragon Quest game to drop the Dragon Warrior title. A version of the game for Android and iOS was released in Japan in December 2013, and worldwide in May 2014.
Dragon Quest VIII uses cel shading for the characters and scenery and is the first game in the series to have fully 3D environments and character models. The game retains most of the series’ role-playing game elements, such as turn-based combat and the experience level system. Dragon Quest VIII follows the silent protagonist and his party of allies as they journey towards the goal of defeating the wicked Dhoulmagus, who cursed the kingdom of Trodain and its people. Dragon Quest VIII was a critical and commercial success, later being released under the Sony Greatest Hits brand.
In Dragon Quest VIII, the player controls the Hero in a fully three-dimensional environment. Players are able to pan the camera a full 360 degrees around the character, as well as look in a first-person perspective mode. The visual controls allow players to examine people and objects more closely than the top-down perspective of the game’s predecessors. With a new fully integrated world, towns and dungeons are no longer identified by two-dimensional icons found on the world maps. Players can guide the Hero across vast landscapes to reach full-size towns and buildings.
Battles are randomly occurring and turn-based. When encountering an enemy, the game switches to a battle scene with the enemies facing the party where characters from both sides take turns attacking each other. These battle scenes have visually changed dramatically from earlier games in the series, yet retain a similar text based menu system for battles. In the earlier games, battles were shown from a first-person perspective. For this installment, the battles are shown in a first-person perspective while choosing what to do, but the view then shifts to a third-person perspective with all of the members of the Hero’s party shown on the screen along with the enemies. During battle, each character in the party has the ability to attack, use items, or use magic and skills. Dragon Quest VIII also introduced the tension system, which allows the player to choose the “Psyche Up” command for a character during battle. This command allows the player to skip a character’s turn in order to build “tension”, making that character’s next attack stronger. By using it multiple times in succession, the character’s attack will do more damage. Another new feature, the Alchemy Pot allows players to mix items in order to create new, stronger items. This can be done while walking on the world map. There is also a monster capturing feature, but it is not as fundamental to the gameplay as it was in Dragon Quest V. The player may find enemies visible on the world map that can be recruited if defeated and used during the Monster Arena mini-game and during battle.
Through the traditional experience point system, characters advance through experience levels and develop their abilities, similar to previous games in the series. Defeating enemies grants experience points and gold to the party, which allows the player to purchase items and weapons at in-game shops. In addition to this, Level-5 incorporated a secondary skill development system to allow players a chance to customize each character to their liking. After characters gain an experience level past level four, they accrue skill points distributed as the player chooses among five different skills—three different weapon skills (which vary from character to character), “fisticuffs”, and a character-specific special attribute. Gaining enough points in a skill can allow the character to gain strength in weapons and learn new abilities and magic spells.