September 17, 2016
Nintendo, Square Enix
Enix, Heartbeat, ArtePiazza
You’d be forgiven for having not played the sixteen year old Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past before, as the original PlayStation One game was never released here in Australia. Luckily for all of us, the game has been remade and released for the Nintendo 3DS, giving insight into one of the most popular JRPGs in history with updated graphics, sound and some gameplay tweaks to go along with it.
Things will feel instantly familiar for those who were lucky enough to play the original, and as the title sort of implies, you’ll be gathering fragments of the past which then unlocks portals to new realms. While most RPGs will have a clear and established enemy and quest line from the outset, Dragon Quest VII focuses on smaller stories, where each realm will have you learning about their culture and their problems. Once you’ve assisted them, you’ll venture to a new realm and so on and so forth.
This approach suits well to the handheld format in the sense that there are smaller, contained stories that require solutions, except that the game remains to be a bit of a slog. The opening hours are a bit slow; it’s going to take you at least an hour before you first experience combat, for example.
A regular play through without exploring all of the side quests is still going to take you around the 100-hour mark which is no small task either, and there isn’t a lot of variation with the turn-based combat, with most of the battles easily won by repeatedly pressing the A button. There are additional spells and abilities that you can lean on, but they are sort of hidden in clunky menus that haven’t improved much over the original.
“…the beasts in particular really pop and are full of colour, with the battle animations also noticeably great…”
The obvious difference from Dragon Quest VII on the 3DS and the original version is the dramatic and wonderful update to the graphics. The main characters and the beasts in particular really pop and are full of colour, with the detail in the world and the battle animations also standing out as noticeably great, with enemies reacting differently to the mix of attacks and spells.
I didn’t realize just how much of an upgrade it was until I went back to look at the original PS One version, and wow, comparing them side by side you can clearly see the huge amount of work that has been put in to improve on the old design. The music is also worth a mention, with a score that adds to the ambience and really brings even the more mundane moments into a more memorable place.
- Visual upgrades
- Small stories easy to digest
- Fantastic classic RPG
- Super long
- Combat is simple
- Clunky menus
I’m super stoked that Dragon Quest VII has been given new life to an audience of gamers who likely have not experienced it before. Sure, it’s an incredibly long game and sometimes that length doesn’t feel entirely justified, but the upgraded graphics, thoughtful storytelling and engaging-as-always Dragon Quest universe will keep you playing anyway. It’s certainly not without its quirks, but for newcomers, this is the perfect opportunity to play the absolute best version of this clever and absolute classic JRPG.