One of the first RPGs out the gate next year is the 3DS version of Dragon Quest VIII, which launches on January 20. It's not a full remake like the recently localized Dragon Quest VII, but the new version of Dragon Quest VIII does feature an assortment of enhancements and changes from the original 2004 release. We're here to help list out the differences.
Nintendo invited us to a lengthy hands-off demonstration for Dragon Quest VIII, where they showcased many of the new additions. While the 3DS port may not have the visual flair of a console release, it hosts many quality-of-life improvements, including:
- Battles are initiated through enemy icons on the field instead of random encounters (except when traveling on the ocean). Monsters that are recruitable for the Monster Arena are marked with a special icon.
- A fast-forward mode can be set in battle, hastening battle animations
- The alchemy pot can produce multiples of the same item from the game's onset, and creations are now instant instead of requiring time to pass.
- A quick menu on the lower screen allows easy access to Baumren's Bell (to ride the Great Sabercat) as well as Zoom. As expected, there is also a minimap on the bottom screen.
- Additional stat tweaking and balancing
The 3DS port has more than just mechanical improvements, however. Most notably, two new characters are available to join the original party of four. The bandit pirate Red will join naturally over the course of the game and is the only character able to use fans as a weapon. She also gets an ability to revive party members and can use gold to damage enemies
Meanwhile, monster master Morrie requires a little extra work to recruit - and the only member who can use claws for weapons. He can help boost the party's Tension and can call enemies to aid in various ways. When in combat, you can switch out party members at any time without costing a turn, which can be incredibly advantageous in certain battles.
There are also new story scenes added, notably to expand on the past of the Hero main character and of the game's villain - Dhoulmagus.
There are also two new post-game dungeons for those who want additional challenge.
Finally, a large new addition to the game is that of a photo mode. This mode allows the player to take pictures of both the party character in various poses as well as monsters in their habitat (the Nintendo demonstrator told me it felt a little bit like Pokemon Snap to him.) Participating in Photo-Mode challenges isn't just for the sake of photography, it can reward you with items and equipment you can use in the main game.
Other changes include:
- New monster arena challenges
- New Costumes for Yangus, Angelo, Red, and Morrie (Only Jessica and Hero had alternate clothes in the original)
- New Recipes
- New Equipment
- New Monsters
- Option to marry Jessica at the end in place of Princess Medea
Finally, we want to note other changes from the PS2 version that have come about for a variety of reasons.
- Firstly, Jessica's English VA has been changed - likely due to new recording required for additional scenes, and Jessica's original voice has long been retired from acting.
- The musical score will not be fully orchestrated like the English PS2 version or Japanese 3DS version. There is no certain reason why this is the case, but it likely has to do with complicated restrictions on licensing and royalties. This was the same case for Dragon Quest VII on 3DS.
- Some of the costumes/outfits have been changed from the PS2 version. There is no given reason for the changes, but it could be due to meeting CERO A standards that have changed since the original 2004 release. Oddly enough, one of Jessica's outfits seems to be more revealing than it was originally. (Here are a few comparison pictures in a gallery from GameFAQs user Tiael) Note: The 3DS images are from the Japanese version and it is unconfirmed if the NA/EU version will be identical.
- A couple of scenes have been altered for potentially similar reasons in the Japanese version.
- Marcello (Angelo's brother) stabs his own arm in the PS2 version to free regain control of himself. In the 3DS version he casts magic instead.
- A small NPC scene shows a master forcing his servant to eat dog food in the PS2 version. In the 3DS version, it is altered slightly such that the servant is intimidated by the dog instead.
It may not be the HD remaster some wanted, but I'm still especially eager to try out this new version of Dragon Quest VIII. Look forward to our review early next year, and feel free to ask any questions.