9.0

Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King review
Yangus is a funny name.

The good:

The overworld is humongous with no invisible walls. The only boundaries are unscaleable terrain.
The characters all have quirky personalities, apart from the mute HERO.
Each character can use a variety of weapons, including their bare hands.
Jessica's effing hawt. =D
There's a lot of customization available for each party member.
The villian isn't a typical badass guy in a cape with spiky hair; It's a jester called Dhoulmagus.
Epic story.
The characters have more than four animations each; More than most RPGs.
Art of Akira Toryama, famed creator of Dragonball and DBZ.
Very odd, creative monsters.
Many sidequests.
Angelo's effing hawt. =D

The bad:

Random battles are quite annoying.
You lose HP rather fast, causing you to use MP and Items very frequently.
Can be very difficult at times.
Every single character has a Britsh accent. Nothing against the English, but I'm from Texas, and it just gets a bit annoying after four hours.
King Trode's voice is especially frustrating.
Saving and Reviving can be a big hassle.
Most alternate weapons are completely useless, and Fisticuffs are just plain stupid.
HERO, Yangus, Jessica, and Angelo are the only characters you get in the entire game. Not too bad for most, but I just like having a variety of characters in RPGs.

Summary:

This is one of the best RPGs on the PS2, hands down. The story can be a teensy bit boring at times, but usually it keeps your interest. The gameplay is classic turn based 4 vs ? fighting, something that's been suspiciously absent as of late. It's been a lot of quirky, oddball fighting systems and real time combat for the past few years, which has left me yearning for a game like this for awhile.

The graphics are Dragonball Z inspired, because, like I said, Akira Toryama did the character designs. This is also the reason HERO's hair sticks up like a Super Saiyan as he goes into Super High Tension.

The colorful and friendly appearence of the world and character/monster models are decieving, however. The storyline is wraught with death and tragedy, vengeance and malice. It's much darker than you'd think.

The basis of the storyline is that a jester, Dhoulmagus, stole a super-powerful scepter out of Castle Trodain. He turned King Trode into a toad-like creature and turned Princess Medea into a horse. The scepter's power was too much for him, and as such he accidentally released a curse upon the castle, covering it in thorny vines and turning everyone inside into pseudo-living plants, trapped in time. Everyone, that is, except you.

As HERO, you've set out with King Trode and Medea on a journey to find Dhoulmagus, running into the bandit Yangus along the way. Some talk is exchanged, a bridge collapses, you save his life, he joins you. Soon after that, you meet the sharp-tongued mage, Jessica, and the healing swordsman, Angelo, and the five of you (six if you count Medea) try to find Dhoulmagus, for your own reasons. (Actually, Yangus is just following you around, he doesn't really have a beef with Dhoulmagus.)

All in all, this is a superb game that you should not hesitate to buy if you are an RPG fan. If you're not, try it first, but I personally enjoy it greatly.

(And I'm not biased towards RPGs, I'm a Halo player also.) =)

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