Tuesday

why i hate dragon quest: journey of the cursed king

"A survey conducted in 2006 by the magazine Famitsu earned the game the #4 spot as the best video game of all time after Final Fantasy X, Final Fantasy VII and Dragon Quest III.[1]"
from the wikipedia page.

eurogamer review: 9/10


there is no explanation as to why you keep getting attacked.
every game has a plot. a plot is important in games because you need to know why you're doing something; why you would set out on the adventure and risk your neck. it also needs to tell you why everything is attacking you. 'a plague of monsters sweeps the land' is one fairly good reason. 'everyone is driven insane by a rage virus' is another. crikey, even 'rival gang member' has it's own kind of logic. this game has a plot, but it's completely unrelated to the creatures you're fighting. you can't walk outside anywhere without getting attacked by birds and little bits of slime - so how come everyone else can?

turn-based random monster fights.
no. it's something you did 25 years ago before computers could handle enemies wandering around; that doesn't make it wrong. it's just lazy. as are the monsters themselves; initially they seem interesting or weird, but they go through the same old colour changes as they get harder as you get harder.

needles animations, text, and button presses.
this is a very simple game. the core mechanic is decades old, and not much has changed. but twenty years ago, all you'd have got was a bit of text - turns of a fight would be doled out simply and effectively. it's just numbers. but you have to sit through these repetitive animations - fun the first time, but soon you just want them out the way so you can get on with the actual game, which is basically just maths. and it's true all over the game. the inventory menu is basically a 2-d grid, but you have to maneuver one dimension at a time. you go to the shop, where you can buy and sell; 1. press a button to say hello. 2. choose buy or sell. 3. press a button to enter that menu. 4. press a button to get rid of the message from the seller. 5. move down to the item you want and quantity, press a button to purchase it {n.b. - that's the bit you actually want}. 6. press a button to confirm. 7. press a button to choose who'll carry it. 8. press a button to say if you want to equip it or not. and then to get back out of the menu, it's another 5 button presses. just to exit the menu. this is a game that doesn't want to be played.

there is no main character
your character - you - never says a word. lets consider grand theft auto 3 a minute, and why that works and this one doesn't. in gta3, you are alone. you are a thug; you follow orders. not saying anything makes you associate with that character more. however in this game, an rpg, you'd expect some kind of interaction. it just furthers the feeling of a lack of control in the game.
it was made worse when i changed my line up so that yangus was at the front, not 'me'. suddenly he appeared as the avatar in the world map. now, i only see the hero in fights. the best thing about the game is the voices; they're quite english. but our hero never speaks. you get to know everyone very well but the character who is meant to be you has no personality. ok so, you're not meant to get to know them - you're meant to be them. so what they've done is just be as absolutely vague as possible. well as long as you're a young male i guess that's ok. it's still rubbish though.

'this path is blocked by a landslide!'
and it's later cleared for absolutely no reason when you need it. see also when you go looking for the npc brains in pickham (and you have to find his house, even though yangus knows where it is), he's not in. and then your horse and cart gets nicked in a completely unrelated distraction. of course he's back when you get back. for no reason. the right way to block a path is by filling it with monsters you can't beat at the lower levels. which is weird because they're there too. the blockage is just to stop you thinking you might be able to go that way... the game's almost on rails.

preset characters
i like modularity. customisation. i like a basic template which i can fill in. character generation. a logical set of rules that can be used to determine any character from a starting point; there's none of that here. the characters, there are four of them and you have no choice over who they are, have absolute limits as to the armour they can wear and weapons they can use. so yangus can use clubs, axes and scythes, but no-one else ever can. this isn't because he's stronger than the others or anything; it's just a fact of the game. when he levels up, he can choose to specialise more in one than the others. this is just about all the freedom with the characters you get. each character has their own special trait as well; this leads onto the next point. the hero has courage, yangus has humanity...

it's sexist.
angelo has 'charisma' and jessica has 'sex appeal'. jessica's armour options include bunny ears, hairclips, fishnet tights, silk robe. see the next one.

the characters look the same no what what armour you've equipped them with.
if i take off yangus's hat and give him a turban, i want to see him wearing a turban. for all the men in the game, only the weapon is reflected on their sprite. jessica, however, will wear that dinner gown for you. ugh.
i mean, when i was playing kotor, sure, i had that bastilla lass running around in her rather nice matching bra and pants, but only while she didn't have any actual armour since her clothes didn't provide any protection. and jessica looks about 12 because of her stupid japanese eyes.. wait that's not what i meant...

simple plot elements - like what you were doing one day before the game starts - are revealed throughout the game as if that's somehow privileged information
although this maybe because i didn't have the box or manual.

i'm deleting my save games.
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