Dragon Quest fans: Get pumped. Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King, developed by Square Enix, is coming to the Nintendo 3DS family of systems in the U.S. in just two days.

Although I am admittedly new to the Dragon Quest franchise, it was fun playing the game with a fresh mind, no prior knowledge about the games, and no expectations. This story-driven role-playing game has a straightforward mission, with hours worth of content as you’re traveling through a beautiful, colorful world. Your goal is to save the world from a twisted magician, Dhoulmagus.


Your team is filled with a pretty awesome squad. You, the Hero, start out with just two other characters following your journey—Yangus and King Trode (not playable)—who are probably my favorites. They crack jokes and are filled with personality, most notably Yangus with his Cockney accent and always calling you, “guv.” Later, players will meet Jessica, who has a tragic backstory (no spoilers here!) that causes her to also want to go after Dhoulmagus, so she joins the team. Angelo later gets assigned to your team a little bit down the line after you meet him.

Off the bat I could tell that this classic game would have some updated features. The worlds almost seem limitless, filled with fields, valleys, plains, mountains, and more, but fans of the classic version will immediately notice that your enemies are also roaming these lands. This means no random encounters like many of the previous iterations of Dragon Quest games. If you get too close (like I did so, so many times) or if the monsters spot you, they will start chasing you down until the battle begins.

By the way, the best monster out there? Hands down the Bunnicorn. Yes, that’s a bunny with the horn of a unicorn. #blessed. The Bunnicorn is just one of the more than 250 monsters you will face throughout the game.

N3DS_DragonQuestVIII_screen_01When a battle begins, you have the option to fight, intimidate, or flee. If you choose to attack, you can (literally) attack, use an item, cast a spell, use an ability, and defend or psyche up. They play out as traditional turn-based battles, but there is now a fast speed option, chosen from the battle menu, to move things along quicker. This option works best for me. When enemies are defeated, your team will receive experience and gold coins, which will level you up and let you buy weapons and armor, respectively. Enemies can also drop items.

Fans will also enjoy the Monster Arena. Morrie, a brand new party member playable exclusively for the Nintendo 3DS, will introduce the concept. With the Monster Arena, you can recruit monsters to your team and put them against each other for the ultimate battle royale. Different combinations of monsters will release special attacks, and you can even use the team members to fight alongside you during the quest.

Eventually, Trode will teach you about the Alchemy Pot, where you can cook up weapons and medicine. As you keep exploring, there will be more methods of traveling instead of just walking everywhere, such as zoom (a transportation spell), a boat, a great saber cat, or a God bird (flying). Players can also take in-game pictures in photo mode to share with their friends in Nintendo StreetPass encounters.

Although the game seemed slow-paced at first, players must quickly begin leveling up and mastering all parts of the game, such as getting better weapons and upgrading your team’s armor right away. You have been warned: The first boss, the Geyzer from the cave underneath the waterfall, will be very hard to beat with a low level.

With a horde of new content, including fresh dungeons, monsters, bosses, quests, and a new possible ending compared to the original version, fans will not be disappointed with Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King.