Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King (PS2) Square Enix 2005
Dragon Quest is the original J-RPG. It's sequels continue to this day, but I consider the 8th game to be the series masterpiece. Dragon Quest VIII follows the efforts of a merry band of adventurers to retrieve an ancient scepter that can restore a cursed kingdom to normal. Along the way, the story takes plenty of twists, and each time the ending feels close some new enemy manages to appear. The graphics were a huge leap over the previous Dragon Quest titles, with Akira Toriyami's art being rendered in beautiful cel-shaded 3-D. The music is nice and soothing for the most part, with the battle music being a fun blasting tune that makes you feel tense with each encounter. What may turn off some players is the oldschool nature of the game play. There are no save points in dungeons or on maps. You have to grind levels and fight the boss when you are truly prepared to win. It is a throwback, but a pleasant one, in a time when every series tries to hold your hand through the game. It is one of the finest games on the Playstation 2, and really cheap these days. Pick it up and enjoy a very long, difficult but awesome classic J-RPG.