Okay, so I couldn’t just leave it at that with regard to Dragon Quest VIII, so here’s another set of screenshots showing later in the game. In particular: the Dragovian Trials – an unlockable quest in which you take on a series of ever more powerful dragons, for unique rewards at the end of the game.
Fighting through the seven (count ’em) dragons is a real challenge, and the very last battle makes you fight all seven again, one after the other, without any escape (or healing) in-between. Winning the battles is helped by attaining a rare power, called ‘Dragon Soul’, which becomes available to the Hero at level 65. Yes, that’s 65… Thankfully, reaching level 65 is not that difficult if you’re good at harvesting Metal King Slimes. The only problem is: Metal King Slimes run away 50% of the time in combat. So getting one to stay in order to kill it and gain the 30,000 Experience Points it awards is hard. Unless you’re playing in an emulator with access to quicksaves…
Beating the Dragovian Trials gives you the opportunity to unlock the instant alchemy pot (which creates things instantly, instead of having to wait for them), and also a Legendary Monster, called Hev. Not to mention a set of special armour, and a unique sword.
You don’t have to do the Dragovian Trials to complete Dragon Quest VIII, but you do have to complete it to 100% the monster list and be awarded the Gospel Ring (a ring that, when worn, allows you to run around without triggering random battles), and also to get the “good” ending. The good ending is worth it though. In spite of the cartoony graphics and rather simplistic storyline, the ‘good’ ending will no doubt warm the heart of anyone who’s played through this great Japanese Role-Player.