Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King (Also known as Dragon Quest VIII: The Sky, the Ocean, the Earth, and the Cursed Princess in Japan) is a Turn-Based RPG released for the PS2, Android/iOS and 3DS. There are 3 versions of Dragon Quest VIII which are Japanese, European and North American.
Release dates for each version are as follows:
- Japan PS2/Smartphone/3DS: Nov 27, 2004/Dec 13, 2013/Aug 27, 2015
- North America PS2/Smartphone/3DS: Nov 15, 2005/May 28, 2014/TBA 2017
- Europe PS2/Smartphone/3DS: Apr 13, 2006/May 28, 2014/TBA 2017
The Rating for each version are as follows:
- Japan: CERO All Ages
- North America: ESRB T (Age 12+)
- Europe: PEGI 12 (Age 12+)
The Dragon Quest series is often referred to one of the godfathers of the JRPG genre as it is one of the first games within the genre. While the series isn’t as much of a titan in the west as it is in Japan, William Cassidy of Gamespy claims that “the common wisdom is that if you ask someone from Japan to draw ‘Slime,’ he’ll draw the onion-like shape of the weak enemies from the game.” that alone is a testament to it’s popularity in Japan.
With that said however, Dragon Quest 8 was the first game of the series to be released in Europe. Changes between the English and Japanese versions of Dragon Quest games, while minor, are quite common in the series, this is no different. But, instead of minor changes such as editing a few icons, more major changes were made this time around.
The most significant of these changes would be the appearance of the menu.
As you can see the overall menu has been overhauled for the English versions of the game. The Japanese version’s aesthetic is consistent with the previous games in the series while the English version has more details and color.
Not only the menu was changed but the entire soundtrack as well. Instead of using the same in-studio recordings as the Japanese version did, the international versions of the game received orchestrated versions of the entire soundtrack. Take a listen of the battle theme present in the Japanese version:
And here is the orchestrated version made exclusively for international versions of the game.
Both versions of the game have voiced cutscenes and while the Japanese voices are amazing, the English voices are high quality too. While it is quite cheesy and campy, I feel that it fits the colorful world of Dragon Quest.
Despite all these changes, No effort was made to censor the game in any way like previous games. All dialogue remains the same as the Japanese version, just translated into English of course. Square Enix have yet to release a but it is most likely it is the first game releasing in Europe. The gameplay itself is the tried and true formula of old RPGs from the 80s. Considering this released in the early 2000’s, the change in menu design and soundtrack was to add more flare to the game which would appeal more to newcomers of the series.
This in no way is a bad localization, in fact it’s a very well done localization. The changes made can either add or take away to the experience depending on your preference. Do you prefer the classic look and aesthetic of the first 3D Dragon Quest? Or do you prefer the face lift they gave to the menu and soundtrack in the International versions?