One of Japanese game studio Level-5's most critically acclaimed roleplaying game is now available for $20 on iOS or Android phones and tablets, and includes tweaks to both the gameplay and graphics.
I’m looking at Dragon Quest 8 on my iPhone 5 as I type this. Hard to believe a game as grand and clever and open-ended and now going on a decade old can exist on a device this slender and elegant and totable, a device no one was really thinking about in 2005 (save Steve Jobs and Jonathan Ive), but that now goes hand in glove with millions everywhere.
But when you think about the decade thing, it makes sense. The PlayStation 2 version arrived in 2005, about a year ahead of Final Fantasy XII and in the vicinity of Xenosaga 2, Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga, Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones, Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, Gothic 2 and Freedom Force vs The 3rd Reich. Good times.
But now I’m babbling. What I mean by “makes sense” is that Dragon Quest 8, being a PS2 original, ran at lowish NTSC and PAL resolutions, whereas the horsepower in your average iOS or Android mobile these days hangs out in Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 territory.
The iOS/Android version isn’t cheap: Square Enix usually charges $10-$20 for its phone/tablet ports, and Dragon Quest 8 sits at the pricey end of the spectrum, or $20. But then you’re getting a higher-resolution version of the game, a “reworked” combat engine that supports “one-tap” battles and “more complex play,” and an overall interface redesigned for touchscreens, though it uses an on-screen directional pad for navigation, one of those interface-shoehorning tricks I’ve never cared for. That’s the price you pay to see the thing converted without having to radically reimagine it.
It’s a shame Square Enix isn’t doing more HD ports of games like this to consoles like the PS4 or Xbox One (or handhelds like the Vita). I’d rather play a game this expansive and time-consuming with a gamepad (if you haven’t played it, it’s a mammoth thing that can easily consume over 100 hours). But I’ll take what I can get, and close by noting that the game supports iOS 6 and above (the iPhone 5 or a 3rd-gen iPad are recommended) as well as Android 4.0 and higher.