Dragon Quest 7 - Reader Retroview  

The Holy Quest
by Lucky Melchior

80+ Hours
+ Intriguing plotline.
+ Excellent musical score.
+ Good class system.
- Somewhat crude 3d graphics.
- Little originality
- Perhaps too long.
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   In November of 2001, Enix released Dragon Quest VII on the Playstation to North America as Dragon Warrior VII. It was the first time a Dragon Quest game was released across the Pacific since Dragon Warrior IV was released in 1992.

   The story is a highlight of Dragon Warrior VII. You play as the son of a renowned fisherman in the small village of Fishbel. Fishbel is located on the small island Estard which is the only land mass in the entire world. You are best friends with the Prince of Estard and the two of you are bent on uncovering the mysteries of the forbidden ruins on your island. The plot takes some time to develop, but eventually you will find yourself journeying back in time to the specific moment in each continents' history where tragedy struck. You must save each area from it's plight and restore the land to the present. There is some development of each character's personality, though not much into their backstories, but like with most Dragon Quest games, the story is more focused on the adventure. Your character's will become emotionally involved with the people of each land as you try to help them through their respective calamities. Though the overall story arch is a somewhat generic good versus evil story and there is no tremendous development of your characters, the story is very good overall. It is very interesting how the story was implemented and you really get drawn into each land's respective catastrophe.

   Koichi Sugiyama once again produces an excellent soundtrack. The main overworld music is a very good track as usual. I also particularly like how the overworld and town music changes when you enter an area that is in trouble. These particular melodies are outstanding and they really fit the situation. The sound effects on the other hand are almost exactly the same as the earlier installments of the series. While this gives the game a nostalgic feel to it, they are not of high overall quality.

Classic Dragon Quest battles. Classic Dragon Quest battles.

   This game represents the Dragon Quest series' first foray into 3d graphics. While not especially bad, the 3d graphics are a bit crude, especially considering the time and platform. The camera angles for the 3d graphics used in village and dungeon maps are pretty decent though. However, the graphics for battles is still entirely in 2d. As with most Dragon Quest games Akira Toriyama’s monster designs are pretty pleasing to the eye, although there are a fair amount of recolors. Overall, the graphics are average to slightly above average, again, considering the quality of the graphics of other games released on the same platform at this time.

   Dragon Warrior VII employs the tried and true basic turn-based system with options to attack, use magic or special skills, use an item, defend or run away. Enemies are encountered randomly on the world map and in dungeons. Characters gain experience and consquently raise their levels by defeating ememies. However, the best aspect of the battle systems is the class system. Roughly twenty hours into the game you will gain access to a temple which allows you to change each character's class. There are eight basic classes Warrior, Fighter, Mage, Cleric, Jester, Mariner, Thief, Sheppard, Bard and Dancer. Each class has eight levels before it is mastered and typically each level results in the character learning a new spell or skill. It requires a certain amount of battles to be fought in order to gain class levels. It is important to note that only fighting monsters on par with your level or stronger will result in gaining class levels. After mastering some basic classes you gain access to intermediate classes. For example if you master Mage and Warrior you gain access to a Ranger class which can learn magical sword techniques. There are also a handful of advanced classes as well combining 2 intermediate classes. There are also monster classes, but they can only be learned by finding special items. Overall, the class system is very good, but could have been outstanding if they added a few more human classes and spells. Overall the battle system is good, but not great. The core battle system is very generic, but the class system makes it slightly above average overall.

Dragon Quest enters 3d Dragon Quest enters 3d

   The interaction and interface are average overall. The game utilizes the classic Dragon Quest menu system. Pressing the "X" button opens a menu with options to talk, search, use and manage items, equip weapons and armor, view character stats and miscellaneous options. You can use the triangle button to circumvent the menu to talk to people and search the area. There is also a function in the menu to fully auto-heal your party. While this seems like a functional idea it is not implemented very well. The A.I. rarely heals your party in the most efficient way, often just chanting a low level heal spell over and over until all characters are healed.

   Dragon Warrior VII is an exceedingly long game. Even the savviest veteran RPGamer will likely take at least eighty hours to complete the game. Many RPGamers will take well in excess of 100 hours to complete the game, especially if they complete every sidequest. The length of the game does hamper replay value a bit. Although there are reasons to replay the game, such as two bonus dungeons which only become available after you complete the game at least once. You also may wish to replay the game to try different variations of classes.

   Overall, Dragon Warrior VII is a very good game. Players can find themselves engrossed in the intruiging storyline and deep class system. The game is not without it's flaws with it's basic battle mechanics and unassuming graphics. I also caution casual gamers as the game is quite lenghty and can be quite difficult at times, but those fans of classic RPGs willing to make the commitment will find a pretty darn good game.

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