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What’s in Your Box: Binder Full of Heroes

/ Nov 5th, 2016 No Comments

Dragon Quest Heroes

Each week, we here at Gaming Illustrated are always playing a number of different video games. However, we may not be talking about them in reviews or editorials. That doesn’t mean they aren’t worth talking about, but for any number of reasons an avenue to speak on them doesn’t come up. To remedy the issue, we’re going to ask our staff (and you, honestly) what’s in your box?

What’s in Kalvin’s Box

2016 is flying by. It is already November. Damn… the one benefit of it being November is we’re that much closer to Final Fantasy XV releasing. I am more excited for that game than anything else this year, really. Hype aside, I’ve been playing some cool stuff this week. My obsession with Dragon Quest continues with Dragon Quest Heroes: The World Tree’s Woe and The Blight Below. I’ve also haven’t been able to put down World of Final Fantasy.

Woes and Blights

I wish I was more familiar with the Dragon Quest series than I am. My first introduction to it was when I was in high school when Dragon Quest VIII released. 2005 is late to get into a series, but the PS2 was where my love of JRPGs began. Dragon Quest VIII is a phenomenal game. I am beyond excited to replay it when it releases on 3DS in January.

It’s only recently that I’ve started to get into the series. Sadly it has been more through spin-offs than main entries of the series. My love of Dragon Quest Builders can’t go unspoken. It is a brilliant application of the spirit of the series to the voxel building genre resulting in an addictive and charming game that doesn’t feel aimless. I’ve also recently been digging into Dragon Quest VII, which is good, but the pacing is slow.

I bought Dragon Quest Heroes last year. Like many games in my library, it has sat on my shelf. Until now, I needed something to play and I wanted to continue my foray into Dragon Quest. Obviously Dragon Quest Heroes is a wildly different beast than either Dragon Quest Builders or the numbered entries, but it works out for the best.

Dragon Quest Heroes is a musou game like Dynasty Warriors developed by Omega Force, the architects of the musou genre. Similar to Hyrule Warriors it creates an original storyline in the spirit of the series using popular characters from the Dragon Quest series along with some original ones all thrown together.

The game focuses on an original story where humans and monsters cohabitate peacefully until one day all the monsters go crazy and start attacking the humans. Since the monsters lived within the city walls, things go bad quickly. It is up to you, the main protagonists, and your loyal friend to beat back waves of hostile monsters to protect the king. Once you reach the king, however, you find he is no dainty reed but a bawdy, strong warrior taking on monsters single-handedly with his mighty bo staff.

Dragon Quest Heroes

The king ain’t no punk.

Despite urging him to retreat, the king joins your side and helps you secure the castle from the nasty monsters. With the castle secure, you must venture forth throughout the world to help secure peace and figure out what caused the monsters to turn on humans. Along the way you’re joined by many popular Dragon Quest characters from different worlds hinting that something more than just unruly monsters is an issue.

The musou gameplay works well with the Dragon Quest vibe because heroes are able to mix weapon attacks with magic resulting in visually stunning effects. The game’s upgrade paths offer a good way to tailor different heroes to their strengths while adding strong moves to their repertoire. Plus the ease of blocking and dodging, and switching between heroes on the fly makes the gameplay feel dynamic.

Dragon Quest Heroes

Being able to create your own four member party to best fit missions is a nice option.

One cool gameplay twist that adds a level of strategy to the musou level design is the ability to summon monsters to fight on your side. By defeating monsters, you can earn monster medals that can be used to place friendly monsters on the map. This is useful when you’re defending a point with multiple paths of monsters coming toward you.

Level design will be familiar to anyone who’s played a musou game before. There are multiple paths with enemies coming down that you need to clear and take control of to satisfy victory conditions. The nice twist for this game is the paths have portals that you need to shut down to prevent more monsters from spawning instead of enemies ceaselessly spawning. Plus, the game has giant boss battles that are tough and wildly engaging.

Dragon Quest Heroes

The visual effects are spectacular.

The musou genre is really hit or miss. The genre is most successful when it is doing spin-offs where plenty of attention and care is paid to honoring the source material. Hyrule Warriors being a good example even if it leaves a bit to be desired at times. Dragon Quest Heroes is a truly shining example of being a great musou game and a great Dragon Quest game.

Stacks on Stacks on Stacks

World of Final Fantasy is another huge surprise from Square Enix this year. Like Dragon Quest Builders it is a quirky spin-off of a beloved series with unique mechanics. World of Final Fantasy is a bit more traditional than DQB though. At the core, World of Final Fantasy is a turn-based JRPG. Where it shakes things up is its stacking mechanic.

In the game, you control a pair of twins that have an important part to play in a prophecy. They have the ability to switch from a Jiant to a Lilikin (or big to chibi) at will. This plays an important role in the stacking gameplay because in both sizes they are able to stack mirages.

World of Final Fantasy

World of Final Fantasy is seriously adorable.

The twins start out with a small amount of mirages available to them, but by fulfilling certain conditions in battle, they are able to capture new mirages using prisms. This is what makes the game so addicting and exciting because basically this is Final Fantasy Pokemon.

Square has tried to incorporate a monster catching style gameplay before in Final Fantasy XIII-2 and Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance. Both to middling results neither had the same addicting quality that the Pokémon games create. Thankfully, Square didn’t give up on incorporating the mechanic and finally with World of Final Fantasy they nailed it.

Kalvin Martinez

Kalvin Martinez

Senior Editor at Gaming Illustrated
Kalvin Martinez studied Creative Writing at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He writes reviews, prose and filthy limericks. While he is Orange County born, he now resides in Portland, OR. He is still wondering what it would be like to work at a real police department. Follow Kalvin on Twitter @freepartysubs
Kalvin Martinez

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