First, I am not somebody that has a lot of favorites. I don’t have a favorite color, number, food, or anything like that. I have preferences, sure, but if somebody off the street ran up to me and yelled “QUICK, WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE MOVIE?!” I wouldn’t have an answer. More likely I would go in the opposite direction for fear of strangers with an unknown interest in me moving in my direction. I don’t really have a favorite book, and I say Brandon Sanderson is my favorite author simply because of the fact that he is who I aspire to be, and also he has literally made me enjoy books that I tried not to.
But I do have a favorite game. Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King, is basically everything I’ve ever wanted in a game.
– It is an RPG, which I like for a multitude of reasons. First, you can’t lose. If you can’t beat a boss you can always come back later. Second, I like leveling up, customizing my character and making him more proficient in stabbing people with swords or building a character to specialize in healing and all that kind of stuff. I don’t really care about doing the best in these games, because they’re single player, you aren’t competing. You play these games for the story. In a way, you live the “Hero’s Journey”. Which flows into my next point.
– It is an adventure game. It has four different continents that you explore in their entirety and all the countries tie together to make an awesome history that you piece together. In Dragon Quest VIII, you go around the world chasing a bad guy that does bad stuff, but it turns out that there is more going on than it really told you. What happened in the prelude to the story is a trigger that causes a chain reaction of events that, eventually, all seem independent of one another. It isn’t until you finally beat the came (and, to an extent, beat the “extra” final boss) that you learn the whole story.
– It has a crafting system. I like finding cool materials and smashing them together to make something better than the best thing you could have bought at the store. But in this game the crafting system isn’t merely “find fifty scraps, some leather, and a goat hoof.” No, in this game you use your head. You find these recipes that give clues. For example, you can find a piece of paper that says “Something pointy + Iron Nail = Thief’s Key”. Now you have to go around town looking for an item that could fit that description. It can be a piece of armor, or a weapon, or something that has a one time use in battle. Naturally in this case a weapon sounds more likely, so you go from there. If you’re lazy you can always look up the recipes online, but I think the coolest part about it is the fact that the best weapons in the game are all made this way.
– It has an amazing soundtrack. America was lucky, and in the English production of the game the soundtrack was redone with a full orchestra, which puts the world on an entirely new level of wonder that can only occur when you feel as though you’re really living in a completely different world. When you are in the overworld, you can almost feel the lazy breeze over the grass and the warmth of the sun beating down. When you’re in a tavern, you can hear a piano playing a lively tune you could dance to if you feel so inclined.
– The lead character design for this game was Akira Toriyama. You know, the guy that
made Dragon Ball? Yes, it does show. Yes, it is awesome. Heck, when the hero goes full power it’s almost like he’s going Super Saiyan. It’s almost like you’re playing a sword and sorcery Dragon Ball game.
If any game could make me emotional, it is this one. This masterpiece never gets old for me. I could literally pick it up from at any point in the game and just continue playing. I’ve probably put over three hundred hours into the game (with PS2 saves, it’s hard to tell. The memory card could never hold that much space at one time.) I know there are flaws. I can see them. But with everything else that was done right and my nostalgia of it having been the game I grew up with during a much happier time, it is just perfect. Even if there are games that are realistically higher quality games (which would, granted, be hard to come by), my level of nostalgia for this work of art would render it untouchable regardless. I think of it almost like a close relative. I can bash it and insult it, but it’s only because I love it so very much. Nobody could insult this game in front of me. I will fight them.