| Dragon Warrior VII - Review
Something Old, Something New...
By: Jake Alley
| Battle System
| Replay Value
| Time to Complete
In the heyday of the NES, the Dragon Warrior series was practically synonymous
with RPGs. While this dominance still holds in Japan, the series has been absent from the western
world for nearly a decade. It now returns in the form of Dragon Warrior VII, yielding an
interesting mix of nostalgia and freshness.
The most familiar feature in the Dragon Warrior VII is the library of sound effects.
Every familiar sound found in the NES games, from the slash of a sword to the gaining of a level
sounds just like it always has. Some of the music also strikes a familiar chord, particularly on
the title screen. The rest of the game's songs are for the most part very standard PSX fare, making
these nostalgic touches all the more noticable.
Thankfully, the archaic menu system of the earlier Dragon Warriors is not dusted
off in this fashion. While players may be disturbed by the fact that pressing the X button brings
up a menu of commands, further exploration will reveal that the interface is in fact essentially
the same as any other modern RPG. It simply doesn't follow the standard conventions of button
|More swirly time portals than CT.
While the sound effects seem to be the oldest aspect, the graphics seem to be
the newest. Dragon Warrior VII uses the same blend of hand drawn sprites as found in such games
as Final Fantasy Tactics while exploring towns and dungeons. However, it's in the battles that
the graphics really shine. While monsters appear as the same detailed hand drawn images the series
has always featured, when attacking or casting spells, they exhibit elaborate full animations.
Although grandiose FMV sequences expected from modern RPGs can also be found in the game, they can
be counted on a single hand and are less than astounding.
These cosmetic features all bring their fair share of nostalgic appeal to the
game, but the true strength of Dragon Warrior VII lies in the gameplay. Battles throughout the
first quarter of the game offer up the same simple tried and true format featured in every game
in the series, and indeed the vast majority of RPGs in existence. Roughly twenty hours in however,
players gain access to the most rewarding class change system in history.
|Enix and our Q&A host share a common interest.
Classes range from mundane standards like mages and fighters to more bizarre
selections like shepherds, teen idols, and sailors. As characters advance through these classes
they gain new abilities which they keep forever, and fully mastering the right combinations of
classes opens up more powerful ones. With over thirty classes to master in total, players can
spend a full hundred hours completing the game and still not see them all. Those who wish to have
a somewhat shorter experience will have to plan carefully to find effective combinations of these
classes to survive the rather difficult bosses.
Since addictive and challenging gameplay alone cannot hold a player's attention
for the 80 or more hours it takes to complete Dragon Warrior VII, the game also offers up a decent
albeit not particularly innovative story. As the game proceeds, new areas of the world are constantly
unlocked, each featuring a new town or two in need of saving. While this episodic format has been
found in countless RPGs, Dragon Warrior VII does it better than most, and maintains enough variety
and plot twists in its sub-stories to keep from following into a predictable pattern.
|Jigsaw puzzles open new lands.
While most RPGs send the characters on their merry way after cleansing an area
of evil, Dragon Warrior VII more often than not forces players to re-explore each area of the game
after beating a boss before moving on. This causes the tone to shift back and forth between grave
drama and light-hearted fun constantly, and yields a translation to match. For every dry and dismal
tale of woe, one can find a silly anecdote to balance it out, a number of which are actually quite
funny. Unfortunately, while the inhabitants of the game will freely offer up information to aid
one's quest, the descriptions of many combat skills are confusing and misleading.
While other RPGs may offer up more flash and experimentation, there is a good deal to be said
for tradition done right. And with a full 80 hours worth of solid and engrossing gameplay, that's
just the sort of experience Dragon Warrior VII offers up.
Editorial Note 11.09.01: RPGamer would like to add the following statement. Three staff members from RPGamer worked on the game, and will be found in the credits. We took every precaution to make sure this did not influence the review in any manner, but you, the reader, should be aware of this. RPGamer would like to apologize for not originally mentioning our involvement in this review.