Welcome to Mechanically Beautiful, where we look into the widely debated topic of whether or not video games are considered art. I’m here to say that yes, I do believe video games are a form of art. If you are not a believer of this idea, then maybe these articles will change your mind. But even if they don’t, you will get a chance to hear about and maybe look into some beautiful games in the industry. Today we look at the eighth installment of one of Square Enix’s many RPG series, “Dragon Quest 8.”
“Dragon Quest” is definitely one of Square Enix’s lesser known series. It basically got blotted out by “Kingdom Hearts” and “Final Fantasy”, like many of their other games they develop or publish. However, “Dragon Quest” is still a very good JRPG series, and holds up its own in a lot of cases. “Dragon Quest 8” is basically the best of the series to date. The thing I find interesting about the series though, is it art style and aesthetic choices. This game is not beautiful because it has a super unique art, or because it melts your face with colors and particles; this game is beautiful because it’s weird. Many RPG fans know of the usual tropes that apply to things like monsters in both Western and Eastern RPGs. You always get little things like rats, wolves, or pigs to start fighting. Then you move up to stuff like dragons and the super powered undead warlords. “Dragon Quest 8”, however, is weird and quirky and throws you at some very odd enemies and characters. So this article is going to be about the beauty in this games weirdness. I will talk about the graphic style just a bit though to give you an idea cause I do also like that part of the game.
The game’s graphic style is what I would describe as goofy and cartoony. Yeah using some big words here. It has a very bright and colorful…color palette? The main character, who is named by you, wears a bright blue shirt with a bright yellow overcoat and orange bandanna. You get the idea he is vibrant and saturated. Another character you meet has a weird leotard style outfit that is half green and half red. The monsters of the game are also covered in color. The animation and proportions of things like monster also have those doofy look to them. Things like big fat ogres with big heads and tongs and then tiny hands. Skeletons with missing teeth and weird arm to hand size proportions. The whole style is very non serious and pleasantly colorful. It has a feel akin to a young child’s anime.
Most RPGs take their giant rat enemies very seriously. The games often claim that they’re fearsome killers. “Dragon Quest” isn’t like that. The first enemies you fight in the game are actually tiny little raindrop shaped creatures, with giant smiles on their faces called slimes. The funny part is they can actually be deadly and the characters freak out at the sight of them. Now usually enemies get scarier and meaner looking in RPGs but, again, “Dragon Quest” does not care. The enemies get bigger and more “fearsome”, but they still look very silly. One of the enemies you fight is a huge green axe wielding dragon/lizard thingy. Now this is of course a terrifying concept because something like that would murder you with ease but you gotta kinda love him in this game. He can barely swing the axe around and he has a big doofy “evil” grin on his face with a giant jaw. He also has little, tiny wings on his back that can’t lift him off the ground at all. Things like the skeleton enemies have odd movements. They spin their heads around and laugh like idiots as they chop at you with their sword in an awkward looking chopping motion. They wear armor that shouldn’t really stay on them the way it does and they’re missing teeth. One of the best things is the final boss. He is a massively fat, floating, purple guy with a “evil mastermind” goatee and ridiculous looking goat horns. He is also holding a skinny very unimposing looking staff. The game even sometimes takes regular enemy tropes and makes them silly. Many RPGs have you battle giant vicious woodland creatures like giant wolves, rats, or spiders. Well, you do fight some woodland creatures in “Dragon Quest 8”, like foxes. The difference is, these aren’t just regular old foxes. These are foxes dressed up in musketeer outfits, battling you with fencing sabers. You get the idea here the ridiculous looking and odd monsters go on and on but there is another major point of silly I would like to mention, the characters.
As I said, there is a guy you meet wearing a bright green and red leotard. He is the owner and runner of the monster arena. He also has a large Spanish looking mustache and a balding head. He also for absolutely no reason is a giant pimp and has like four wives. Even the main characters of your team are weird. Angelo is your standard looking pretty boy with flowing silver hair. He also wears an all red suit with a cape and is not nearly as smooth as he would like. He tries to be super suave, but he’s doofy at times. Your tank team member Yangus is a little, short, fat guy who wears some sort of weird spiky yellow helmet. He has on a big fluffy fur vest and runs around like a dwarf. He used to be a bandit, but he was really bad at it and ends up helping the main character, to repay him for saving his life. Yangus isn’t very friendly and always walks around with an annoyed look on his face. Jessica is a rich girl who left her home looking for adventure. She is a very hot headed, angry girl, who wants to solve a lot of problems by trying to blow people up with her magic. She wears a low shirt and runs around in a long red skirt. Lastly you have King Trode and his daughter, the princess. An evil spell turned the two into creatures. The king is a small, short, green goblin with big lips and little teeth. He is wearing what looks like orange monk robes. The princess is also now a horse. The hero and princess actually had a romance before the game, but clearly that is on hold. King Trode is also a very energetic and posey, constantly jumping around and yelling at you to do stuff. These are just the main characters as well as a side character who I find very funny, that I have mentioned here. There are plenty of weird characters that you continue to meet through the game.
This game is a beautiful gem of an RPG as well as visual. Although I was talking most about the concept of it’s weirdness it is still a pretty looking game especially for the PS2. I think this game is an absolutely excellent RPg and carries a great sense of humor. I recommend this game to any RPG fans and then you two will see all the weird and quirky I am talking about.