Despite being immensely popular in its native Japan, the Dragon Quest series of role-playing games has never caught on in the US like its genre cousin, Final Fantasy. However, Square Enix has faith in its potential, and the company is taking another crack at it with today's North American release of Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King for the PlayStation 2.
In addition to launching a multimillion dollar ad campaignk, which is already in midswing, Square Enix has positioned the game for success in the market with new updates exclusive to the North American version of the game. Among the changes made are new voice-overs, a full orchestral soundtrack, a reworked menu system, new battle abilities, and revamped animations. And if that's not tempting enough, the company is also including a playable demo of the much-anticipated Final Fantasy XII.
As the first PS2 edition in the series, Dragon Quest VIII is also the first fully 3D installment, as well as the first installment to make it stateside under its original name (previous games have been released as Dragon Warrior in the West). After an evil wizard steals a magic scepter, the castle from which it was taken is cursed, and the king is turned into a toadlike creature, with the princess becoming a horse. Now it's up to players, as the lone unaffected resident of the castle, to set out with a portly companion (the king) and the princess to track the wizard down, reclaim the scepter, and break the curse.
Dragon Quest VIII is rated T for Teen and retails for $49.99. For more information, check out GameSpot's full review.