Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Revelation Review

The third and final installment of the Zenethian trilogy, Dragon Quest VI was originally released on the SNES in 1995 and became renowned not only for the quality of the game, but for pushing the limits of the SNES with its graphics and scale of the game world. This is one of the largest SNES games in storage size. This was part of the main why it never made a foreign release, and also due to Enix closing their doors on their North American sector. Though in 2010 it was remade for the first time on the DS, and released in the US and Europe a year later, to complete any hardcore DQ fan’s collection with finally having all 9 games released, as this was the last Dragon Quest game that never saw the light of day outside of Japan.

Dragon Quest VI is known for its exploration of two large worlds, the real world and the dream world; similar to the Dark and Light worlds from Zelda’s Link to the Past. Both of these worlds are full sized and essentially double the scale of your adventure. Though this grand adventure, you are followed in your quest for your past by a growing cast of characters who are also on a search for their lost memories of their past.

Story:

You play the game as the hero, which has no default name, as you awaken from an alleged nightmare by your little sister. You are then instructed by the village elder the annual festival is coming up and you must go and collect the crown that the elder has ordered from a nearby town. Upon entering the town, you discover the crown maker is missing and you go off to find him, only to discover he is hanging on the edge above a giant hole. In the process of saving him, you fall into the hole and find yourself in a strange world where nobody can see you, but you quickly find a way back through a mysterious well. Afterwards you return and finish your task of getting the crown and return home. During the festival the mountain spirit appears and tells you that you must leave the village once again, as you are the only one to defeat the evil that plagues this world. And so your quest begins.

Gameplay:

As with the other Dragon Quest games, the gameplay in VI is your incredibly traditional JRPG with random encounters and a simple turn based battle system, all done in first person. As you gain more party members, you can employ tactics to your battle to let the AI do the work for you. While largely untouched from the previous entrees, they do introduce a diverse class system to create some variety to aid your strategies in battle. While the class system was first introduced and only used in DQ3, 6 has made many improvements to it. Unlike in 3, your class levels up separately, and at a faster rate. This is because once you max out the level of two classes, you can unlock a hybrid class to gain much stronger abilities. The slight downfall for some people is that only certain combinations unlock hybrid classes. A plus side to the class system is that once you change your class, all of your abilities transfer over, thus increasing your movepool which comes in handy the farther you get in the game. One aspect of the class system some might find tedious, is that you can only change your classes by going to Alltrades Abbey and talking to Jack of Alltrades (good God, what a terrible pun, is that supposed to be funny?), and there is only one in the game. So every time you want to change your classes, you must trek back to it. Luckily by this point you have the Return spell which you can warp travel.

Visuals:
The character and monsters are once again designed by Akira Toriyama. The game also has the typical DQ trope of having a few reoccurring monsters and doing the color swapping after certain points in the game, so nothing new for veteran DQ fans, but may be seen as a bit lazy for newbies to the series.

Another lazy aspect of this remake, is that it uses the same engine as the previous Zenithian DS games. Though luckily unlike DQ5, they at least updated the engine a bit, so the graphics actually look a bit nicer. The trees aren’t 2D and are fixed when you rotate the camera, and also things like water graphics in towns also look nicer.

Music:
Koichi Sugiyama once again composes the music for this game. While personally some of the town and overworld music may not be as great as DQ5, there are still some fantastic tracks. The music for the towns are bright and cheerful and vary with the dark and gloomy dungeon sounds. A staple of the DQ series is that there is a fully orchestrated OST available for the fans of the soundtrack, and even the opening title sequence of the Dragon Quest theme is performed by an orchestra.

Conclusion:
So if you were a fan of SNES classics like Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy VI, and looking for a great lengthy RPG to your DS collection, Dragon Quest VI will gladly satisfy your RPG needs. While the story may not be as dramatic of an experience as DQ5, the darker, grittier nature of DQ6 will still not disappoint you.

Music: 8/10.

Visuals: 7/10.

Story: 9/10.

Content: 8/10.

Conclusion: 8/10

And that concludes the Zenethian Trilogy of Dragon Quest games.

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Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride Review

Part 2 of the very loosely connected Zenethian trilogy (read the DQ4 review to know why) in the Dragon Quest series, and the first of the two “lost epics” to be released outside of Japan (with the other one being DQ6). Dragon Quest V is a game that has quite a legacy in its home country but is largely unknown to the rest of the world. For over a decade, it has delved in relative obscurity and was only known to the hardest of the hardcore fans who either had to learn Japanese to play the game, run through the game without knowing Japanese, or downloaded fan translated patched roms, but as of 2008, Dragon Quest V was remade on the DS and got its long awaited worldwide release, so we finally get to see what the fuss over the game is about.

Released in 1992 on the SNES (Super Famicon for the purists) DQ5 was the first game in the series to be released on the new console. It was later remade as a PS2 game featuring 3D graphics, and a live orchestra soundtrack, and remade again for the DS. Some might feel that we got short-handed with the DS version, but either way it’s still makes a solid DS game.

Story:
Despite being released about 15 years too late, the game is still praised in its unique storytelling, which spans several generations of the hero’s life. In typical Dragon Quest fashion, you play as the silent protagonist who has no default name. In the early parts of the game, you play at a young 6 year old boy who is on a journey around the world with his father Pankraz. The early stages involve you exploring a cave by yourself, ghost-busting with your old friend Bianca, save the Fairy Kingdom and playing with the bratty Prince Harry.

Though through a series of events, the game fast-forwards several years until your adult age. With this, things change a bit and you are now able to enlist monsters into your party to aid you in your journey. Also in this section, you even go through the dramatic event of getting married. This is where the DS version changes up from the original version. In the other two versions, you had two choices for wives, this one adds a third. You can select between your childhood friend Bianca, Nera, the daughter of a rich entrepreneur, or Nera’s older sister Deborah, who is special to this version of the game.

This section is very unique, as it’s supposedly the first video game to depict a pregnancy. Regardless of who you pick, she joins you in your party as a fighter, though this is where the similarity ends. One of the more petty results, is that your children’s hair color matches the hair color of the mother. The more important reason, is the overall stats and skills of the three women. Bianca is the heavy magic user, Nera is more of the healer, and Deborah is the physical attacker. There’s ongoing flamewars over which girl you should pick, but the two biggest camps is for Bianca or Nera. Deborah gets the low end of the flamewar as she’s not an original character, so you can see how she’s kind of thrown in. The Bianca haters are against her, because the game sort of guilt trips you into marrying your childhood friend, but it’s not like there’s any real consequences of not picking her, but we all know how dumb fans can be…

The last section takes place 8 years after the last section, and this is where your children become important characters. They also don’t have default names, and you name them yourself. The son is the physical attacker, and your daughter is the magic user.

Throughout the course of the game, you go through a revolving door of party members. So the only static character in the game is you. Later on in the game, your monster party does stay static (well depending on how often you switch around monsters you recruit), but all the human characters do pop in and out various times in the game. This is definitely a plus for those who are big on switching around their members to prevent getting bored, but the ones who go OCD and want their party to be static, this is a big no-no for you.

Gameplay:
For the main gameplay, it’s your typical Dragon Quest game which means it’s very traditional. So there isn’t much that needs to be talked about. What we do need to talk about that’s unique for this game in the series, is the monster recruiting.

Allegedly the game that inspired Pokémon, Dragon Quest V introduced the ability to recruit monsters into your party. Despite Megami Tensei doing it in 1987, Dragon Quest is a bigger hit, and was a much more “family friendly” adventure. Unlike Pokémon where there’s a strategy to recruiting, and you can recruit any monster, Dragon Quest V just has a limited number, and they randomly join you when you defeat them. Basically you just fight them and if you’re lucky enough, they’ll ask to join your party.

Monsters, like your human party members, level up, and can equip weapons and armor. Each monster is unique to what it can equip and what types of moves it can know. If your party gets full, the monsters get sent to a “Monster Gramps”, which is an old man who takes care of your other monsters. Think of him like the PC’s in Pokémon.

Graphics:
For the graphics, there isn’t much to say that hasn’t already been said, as it uses the exact same engine as Dragon Quest IV’s DS remake. This is definitely kind of a lazy thing to do when you’re releasing separate games, though it’s possible they did this because the developers were producing them at the same time, but they should do some changing up like they did in the DS version of Dragon Quest VI (more on that in a different review). So if you want to read about the graphics, look at the DQ4 review.

Music:
Once again series veteran Koichi Sugiyama has composed the soundtrack, as he has every other DQ game, and he once again hasn’t failed us (will he ever?). There’s a multitude of wonderful tracks on here that change for the given mood. While not as awe inspiring as the soundtrack of the PS2 version, but that’s kind of hard to compare when you’re using a real orchestra, but this is nicer quality than the SNES version. We do get a full orchestra for the Dragon Quest fanfare at the opening sequence. There’s several heartwarming tracks, and several beautiful tracks. If you’re a big fan of the soundtrack, it’s highly recommended to check out the Symphonic Suite renditions of the soundtrack, as that’s all the orchestrated versions of the songs.

Verdict:
Dragon Quest V, despite getting a 15+ year late release, it’s still a timeless classic that any RPG fan should sink their claws into at least once. With its unique and engaging storyline, it’s difficult to put the DS down to see what happens next.

Music: 9/10.
Visuals: 6/10.
Story: 10/10.
Content: 8/10.
Conclusion: 9/10

Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen Review

The Dragon Quest series is a household  name in Japan, but in the US, hardly anyone that isn’t an RPG fanatic know of this series. This game is the first in the loosely connected Zenethian trilogy of Dragon Quest games. When I mean loosely, I mean very loosely, as the only real connection between these games is that there is a castle Zenethia, and the dark world of Nadiria as the demon world. Other than that, they really have fuckall to do with each other.

The original version of this game was released in 1992 in the US as Dragon Warrior IV. While a very late release for the NES in the US, its impact in the realm of RPG’s with its innovative storytelling, and the final boss Psaro with its multiple form boss fight. The game was remade for the PS1 using Dragon Quest VII’s engine, and was planned for a US release as entailed in the back of the DQ7 manual, but it never came to be. The game was again remade for the DS, but is more like an enhanced  port, rather than a full on remake, as it’s just an updated engine.

Story:
The first part of the loosely connected Zenethian Trilogy in the series, IV decides to split up the game into 5 chapters, with the first four chapters focusing on a different character, or group of characters, that all come together to join you in the final chapter where you finally get to play as the hero you named before you started your adventure. Each chapter has a miniature story that you go through that, like the characters, all come together in the final chapter.

You have:
Chapter 1 – Ragnar: a soldier in the castle town of Burland. He discovers that the children of a nearby village have been disappearing and he must go and rescue them.

Chapter 2 – Alena: Alena is the tomboyish Tsarevna (princess) of the Russian speaking land of Zamoksva, she sneaks out of the castle to go on an adventure to test her strength. She is followed by her tutor Borya and her priestly friend Kiryl.

Chapter 3 – Torneko: Torneko is a merchant from a small town with a dream to run a thriving business with his family in the castle town of Endor. Out of all the chapters, this one is quite strange as it’s not as very action oriented as the rest of the game. You spend a large chunk of the game either running stores, and even running around raising money to have items for your store.

Chapter 4 – Maya and Meena: Maya and Meena are two dancers who go out on a quest to exact revenge on the man who killed their father.

Chapter 5 – Hero: You, the Hero’s, peaceful hometown has just been attacked by monsters and during this, your dying friend reveals that you are really the Legendary Hero and you must follow your destiny to rid the world of evil.

The PS1 and DS remakes also contain a prologue and a Chapter 6. The prologue consists as an intro for the hero, and Chapter 6 is the aftermath of defeating the evil Psaro the Manslayer.

Unlike many of the Final Fantasy games, Dragon Quest as a series isn’t necessarily renowned for its rich storytelling, the series largely focuses mostly on the quest. That’s not to say the story is bad, it’s just not a story driven game. You should also keep in mind that this was originally an NES game, so the storytelling can feel archaic to those who aren’t familiar with the style of retro RPGs.

Gameplay:
For the gameplay, it’s largely the same from the NES original, but there are a couple of archaic features that have been updated from the original. They added in auto-target, which is where if two party members target the same monster and one kills it before the other, the second one will attack a different monster. In the original, the second character would just miss, which would mean a lost turn. They also gave you a bag which gives you a limitless inventory. Also in the original, in Chapter 5, your party members were on auto-pilot, which they removed so you can choose to manually control your party.

For the unaltered gameplay, it’s your typical JRPG, so there isn’t much to explain that people don’t already know since the series is known for its very traditional gameplay. The series is largely the standard model other RPG’s based themselves off of. Everything down to the exploration and battle system is very standard. For the very standard turn based battle system, you can either manually control your characters, or pick between different tactics where your everyone but the leader is on auto-pilot. This is all done in a first person view, so all you see is the monsters and the portraits of your character above your stats. So if you were looking for a unique gameplay experience, then you’ll probably be very disappointed.

Graphics:
The graphics may be loads better than the NES version, but if you’re expecting fancy graphics for the DS, then you should look away. The game looks like a souped up SNES game, but it’s detailed enough to make you not really worry about it. Despite looking like a fancy SNES game, the towns and dungeons are in a somewhat 3D environment. While still keeping a top down view, you can rotate the camera a full 360 degrees around in villages and in certain dungeons. With this, you can notice that the buildings and trees are actually made of polygons that add more depth to your environment. While the PS1 version has a more isometric town with 2D sprites with the houses looking more three dimensional, the DS version looks more smooth and the houses blend with the sprites better than the PS1 version.

The game utilizes both screens in an interesting fashion. Much of the game takes place on the lower screen, but when you’re in towns and in large dungeons, the visuals extend into the top screen, giving you more to see. This is a pretty neat feature, and adds more depth to your world, allowing you to see how large the castles and such are. In the overworld, the top screen shows you the world map. It’s interesting how accustomed you get to this when you decide to play the NES version, and you’re having to search for a map to figure out where you’re supposed to go.

A complaint that some people have with the game is that there is a lot of cookie cutter graphics that they have throughout the game. They have sprites for the same generic townspeople, down to the trees and houses in the towns. Despite the fact that each town has a unique layout to it, some people are not satisfied that the various towns themselves feel too copy and pasted. Though if you’re familiar with the franchise, this isn’t anything new, but if you’re a newbie to the series, this is something to consider.

The artwork is where Dragon Quest is known for. Returning to the series, the famed manga artist Akira Toriyama of Dragon Ball fame once again has come to design the characters in your party and the monsters. While he designed them for the NES game, the DS game does more justice to his art. The monster sprites in battle, while two dimensional, are animated and the animation for the spells are nice enough to get the job done. Another minor complaint newbies to the series will find is that as you get farther in the game, they’ll start color swapping some of the monsters. If you’re a veteran to the series, or to other RPG’s from that era, it’s not that unusual (even Final Fantasy is still guilty of it), but it feels a bit lazy for modern gamers, so you should keep in mind that this is a game from 1992.

Music:

For the music, series composer Koichi Sugiyama returns to compose the music. While a massive step up from the simple NES soundtrack, it still sounds massively similar to the PS1 version, but the opening Dragon Quest theme is performed by a real orchestra which is always better than a midi track. The interesting aspect of the soundtrack is that they have different overworld themes for each chapter, and they even change it in the middle of the 5th chapter when you gather all of your party members from the first four chapters.

The music itself is very well composed and sounds fantastic when performed live in a full orchestra, so if you really enjoyed the soundtrack, each DQ game has a full orchestral album. The town music itself is very bright and cheerful and you’ll end up humming the theme when you’re visiting in and out of town. While there are several tracks on the OST, it’s not as diverse as modern RPG’s, so you’re going to end up hearing the same town music in pretty much every town that doesn’t have a castle and the same cave music over and over. So if you’re looking for a diverse soundtrack, this might be a concern for you if you easily get sick of hearing the same songs over and over.

Dragon Quest IV is a fantastic game and is highly recommended for those into the classics, but if you’re a fan of modern RPG’s, this game as a whole will probably feel too archaic for you. So if you’re not a hardcore RPG fan, or looking to bask in classic gaming, Dragon Quest IV is not the game for you.

Music: 8/10.
Visuals: 6/10.
Story: 7/10.
Content: 7/10

Conclusion: 7/10

Shin Megami Tensei Nocturne – First Impressions

Like many people, I was introduced to the Shin Megami Tensei franchise through Persona, namely Persona 2 Eternal Punishment, so I was always interested in the main series. I was excited when I finally found it available on the PSN for $9.99, because I had difficulty scouting a copy on the PS2, and even then it was still kind of pricey (though I shouldn’t talk as I paid for Persona 4 before the price drop). This was the first game in the main series to come to the US.

Even though this is SMT 3, there were three previous games, none of which ever came to the US… unless you want to count the iOS version of SMT1, but I don’t know if I should consider that or not. Reminds me of how there’s two Persona 2’s… now I’m just getting off track here.

So like the previous games, Nocturne follows the same formula of recruiting demons to form your party, but this is also the first game that’s 3D. The previous games were all first person. It’s also full 3D, none of that 3D, yet fixed camera angle bullshit. For a PS2 game, it still holds up to this day, maybe it’s the unique artstyle that keeps it unique, but hey whatever works.

At its core, it’s still mostly a traditional turn-based RPG with random encounters. Fighting with demons you’ve recruited is reminiscent of Pokemon, but with evil demons instead of cuddly Pokemanz. Also the recruiting business is also more complicated than capturing Pokemon. You just talk to them and hopefully make the correct dialog choices and they’ll join you, but sometimes you’ll never recruit them. Maybe my level isn’t high enough?

With the demon aspect, it’s not that much different from Persona 3/4, also like those two games, you can fuse demons together to make more powerful demons. Huh, maybe there should be arcana? Though what am I saying, this is the original series and Persona is the spinoff.

So far with the story, the premise is interesting, but I’m currently not sure what the hell the story is so far. The premise makes it seem like there’s more of a story heavy plot, but it isn’t. I’m not very far, so hopefully that’s the case. I’m about 9 hours into the game, and still don’t know what the hell is going on. I’m not too worried, Atlus has never let me down.

Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland Plus – First Impressions

Ah, the Atelier series. I remember having a blast writing the review for Atelier Totori, and I while I did enjoy the game, I wasn’t sure if the series was for me and told myself I probably shouldn’t buy another game in the series. Well I ended up lying to myself and couldn’t resist buying Atelier Rorona Plus when I saw it for $20 at my local Gamestop.

Atelier Totori was my first game in the series, so in the back of my mind I was always curious about buying the first game, as I wanted to understand the references to the characters they were making. Well it seems like so far this game also doesn’t explain super much, as it kind of throws you into the game saying, “oh, that’s so-and-so”, and just has you go with it. It’s not a bad thing, but I was kind of hoping I could have some explanations. It’s not the only game series that does this, so it’s not that big of a deal.

So like Atelier Totori, this game is nothing short of adorable blushing anime girls and fetch quest after fetch quest. The plus version of the game is a remastered version with better character models, as I did think the chibi characters kind of made it look disjointed from the anime artwork. I saw the character models from the original version, and thought Rorona was 12, but found out she was a lot older than that during the dialog scenes. Now all the characters match the way they look.

I was surprised, yet glad that some of the gameplay is different from Totori. I was expecting Totori to be largely copied and pasted from Rorona, just a different place. Luckily there’s differences with things like how exploring works, and even with picking up jobs/advancing progress. Instead of having all the gathering places as separate spots, this game has you visit a location that has sub-sections in it to explore. Theoretically it’s not much different from the sequel, but hey, at least I don’t feel like I’m playing the same exact game. Also getting jobs are also slightly different. They aren’t always available, and you can still turn in the job when you’re late on it. You just won’t get the full reward.

So far Atelier Rorona hasn’t disappointed, though the dialog is just as ridiculous as the sequel, and the story is kind of crappier, it’s still just as fun of a way to kill time. It’s still adorbs as fuck, and finding stuff isn’t so bad. I’ll most likely end up picking up Atelier Meruru to complete the Arland trilogy.

Star Ocean: Second Departure – Review

Released in 2008 in Japan and in 2009 elsewhere, Second Evolution is an enhanced port of the 1999 game Star Ocean: Second Story, the second game in the Star Ocean franchise. Unlike the previous Star Ocean, Second Evolution’s original counterpart was released in the US.

One should take note that this is an enhanced port, not a remake, which is a term people love to use incorrectly. So if you already own Second Story, then you’re not missing out on much. Main differences are basically updated anime cutscenes/art, and new and much better voice actors.

Story:

Taking place 5 years after the first game, Claude C Kenny is a new ensign in the Earth Federation, and is working on the same space ship as his father, the great Admiral Ronyx J Kenny, one of the playable characters from the first game. They are on a reconnaissance mission to a strange planet, and Claude decides to investigate a strange device. A flash of light appears and he disappears. He then awakens in a strange forest and is confused at where he is. This is then disturbed after he sees a young girl getting attacked by a large beast, and then takes care of it with his trusty ray gun.

He talks to the girl he saves, who introduces herself as Rena Lanford. He finds out that he’s on an underdeveloped planet, and thanks to his gun, Rena thinks he’s the legendary Hero of Light, and proceeds to tell people about him. After some investigation, he talks to the mayor and finds out this planet is suffering from the mysterious object called the Sorcery Globe that came to the planet, and is spawning monsters. He then tells that he’s going to go investigate this Sorcery Globe, and Rena decides to tag along with him, and our adventure begins.

Gameplay:

Since First Departure was based on the same engine as the original Star Ocean 2, and this one is practically identical, there’s nothing new gameplay wise with First Departure, so you’re free to read the previous review on the gameplay.

Visuals:

Like mentioned above, it shares the same engine as First Departure, so it looks very similar. Compared to the PS1 version, it does look nicer, and the nicer anime visuals and cutscenes are a nice addition. The only thing missing from the PS1 version is that the items aren’t 3D and rotate around, which is kind of odd why it’s gone. It’s nothing drastic, but it was kind of nice to see.


Music:

The music is pretty nice in the game, and has some nice tracks. I think the first game has a slightly better soundtrack. Like the first game, they added a J-Pop opening theme.

Verdict:

Star Ocean: Second Evolution is a very good RPG to add to your system. It has a pretty solid story, and the battle system itself makes things more fun. You don’t have to have played any other Star Ocean to get into this game. Out of the two PSP games, this one is the better of the two.

Music: 7/10

Story: 9/10

Content 8/10

Conclusion: 8/10

Dragon Quest VII (aka Dragon Warrior VII) Review

Released in Japan in 2000 and in the US the following year as Dragon Warrior VII (keeping with the naming of the previous titles in the US, also keeping with tradition, it wasn’t released in Europe), it was the highly anticipated addition to the legendary role-playing series Dragon Quest and went on to selling over 4 million copies making it one of the best selling Playstation games. Especially when it’s boasting that the main story takes at least 100 hours to beat.

Well, it was only highly anticipated in Japan and the vast majority of those sales were from Japan. It went a bit under the radar in the US and became sort of a cult classic.

Are the Japanese and US audience that widely different?

To explain how this happened, we should start with a quick history lesson. Dragon Warrior IV was the last title released in the US before Enix decided to stop releasing games outside of Japan. So while Enix released 2 new games, and remade the first 3 for the SNES, the rest of the world was left out of the blue. It wasn’t until 2000 when Enix finally decided to release games in the US.

So while Enix started with releasing remakes of the first three games on the Gameboy Color and were critical successes, commercially they weren’t impressive. So by the time Dragon Warrior VII came out, there wasn’t a massive hype like the latest Final Fantasy or Legend of Zelda title, because we missed out on 5 releases, and there’s a nine year gap between DW4 and DW7. So a possibly successful series was made more or less forgotten by the general gaming community.

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Dragon Warrior VII also had two more things working against it: the Playstation 2 was already out, and so was one of the biggest titles in the entire library, Final Fantasy X. So not only was the rival series already on the next generation console, Dragon Warrior VII’s graphics were also pretty lackluster for a late PS1 release, so in presentation alone, it couldn’t compete against even the previous Final Fantasy title which was released the year before and looks several times better.

So enough on the history lesson, let’s actually review the game:

Story:

DQ7 is the first standalone game in the series as the first 6 consisted of two trilogies, though the second trilogy barely has anything to do with each other.

The game takes place on an island, the only island in the entire world while the rest is wide open sea. In keeping to the tradition of Dragon Quest games, the silent hero has no default name. This time you play as the son of the fisherman Borkano in the small fishing village blandly named Fishbel. You have two childhood friends: Maribel, the bitchy and bossy charming daughter of the mayor of Fishbel, and Keifer, prince of the neighboring city of Estard, well the only other town in the world.

The game begins with you and Keifer exploring the forbidden ruins to the east of town with Keifer wanting to figure out the secrets of the ruins. The two of you finally reach a strange set of rooms with several mysterious pedestals. You realize one of the pedestals has a stone slab in the middle of it and you piece it back together with some of the pieces lying around. Sadly it’s missing a piece and you walk back home empty handed. The following day, shit happens you guys come across the final piece and Maribel talks you into letting her join you into the ruins. When you guys finally completed the tablet a strange flash of light engulfs the trio. The three of you wake up in a strange forest and discover you’re in a foreign village in the past, so finally the quest begins.

So when Enix is boasting that this game takes about 100 hours to beat, they weren’t fucking around. That was the entire opening sequence and that takes 2 hours and then you finally run into your first battle and the actual quest begins. Most other Dragon Quest games (hell RPG’s in general) your first battle takes place the instant you leave town. This is one of the biggest gripes that American gaming critics had with the game.

Enix sort of “cheats” with the story by not making it a continuous story. The game is largely episodic with the main story interspersed between the episodes. The main goal of the first disc is to go back in time and restore the various villages by stopping the problem that has plagued the past, and then the landmass around the village will be restored in the present. After it’s been restored, you must visit it in the present and stalk it for more shards to complete the pedestals to allow access to the other villages. That’s the entire first disc in a nutshell, and that’s the first 60 hours of the game.

Disc 2 itself takes another 40 hours of the game. While I would have been satisfied with the game just being disc 1, disc 2 is a nice addition and adds more to the story.

The story itself is largely depressing, and can get pretty dark at times. While you venture through the game, you’re going to run into stuff like racism, natural disasters, towns ravaged from warfare, multiple acts of genocide, and slavery. So if you’re someone who cries easily, get your tissues ready for this game.

Gameplay

The game is very similar to other Dragon Quest games by keeping to the traditional RPG mechanics, so there isn’t much to explain that would be unfamiliar.

While largely untouched from the previous entrees, they do introduce a diverse class system to create some variety to aid your strategies in battle. While the class system was first introduced and only used in DQ3, 7 has made many improvements to it. Unlike in 3, your class levels up separately, and at a faster rate. This is because once you max out the level of two classes, you can unlock a hybrid class to gain much stronger abilities. The slight downfall for some people is that only certain combinations unlock hybrid classes. A plus side to the class system is that once you change your class, all of your abilities transfer over, thus increasing your movepool which comes in handy the farther you get in the game. One aspect of the class system some might find tedious, is that you can only change your classes at the Dharma Shrine, and there is only one in the game. So every time you want to change your classes, you must treck back to it. Luckily by this point you have the Zoom spell which you can warp travel.

So for such a large game, the gameplay is a very standard RPG with the gameplay doing nothing special or new, so if you want a very unique experience, it only does so through its storytelling, not through the gameplay.

Visuals

While the graphics themselves are decent, it suffered in development hell for several years, so while it would probably have been impressive as an early PS1 title, its development struggles made it a late release which makes the graphics feel really dated when compared to late PS1 games like Final Fantasy IX, and even Persona 2. Like I also mentioned above, it also looked really poor considering that the PS2 was already out and, in the US, Final Fantasy X was lightyears ahead in the technical department. So while it does seem poor as a late PS1 title, it’s not to say the graphics are bad, they get the job done for the most part.

Like every other Dragon Quest game, the monsters and characters are designed by Dragon Ball artist Akira Toriyama. The graphics engine is also the template for the DS remakes, so there isn’t much to discuss that hasn’t. Though the game’s view is more isometric, instead of top-down like the DS games, and the graphics aren’t as good as the DS has better graphics than the Playstation.

Though while the graphics are a bit dated, but get the job done, the game does have some very awkward cutscenes. It seems like Enix wanted to catch up to Square’s PS1 RPG’s by having cutscenes to show off the Playstation’s prowess, they look so out of place when you compare the cutscene to the graphics from the rest of the game. It’s even more drastic than Final Fantasy VII where at least the characters in battle resembled the custscene depictions. The cutscenes in this game look nothing like Akira Toriyama’s artwork. It’s pretty much like playing Final Fantasy VI and throwing in Final Fantasy 7 cutscenes.

Though luckily if you exclude the opening and ending cutscenes, there’s only about 2 cutscenes at most, so DW7 at least spares you the misery.

Music

Returning to the series, series veteran Koichi Sugiyama returns to compose the music to the game. If you’re familiar with his music in the other games, there isn’t much to talk about as the soundtrack doesn’t disappoint. While not my favorite soundtrack in the series, it still gets the job done, and the music does help set the depressing mood of the game. Like every other Dragon Quest game, there is a fully orchestrated version of the soundtrack available.

Verdict:

Despite its dated graphics and monstrous size, it’s one of the stronger titles in the series, but this game isn’t for the faint of heart. So while it’s not a very recommendable title for casual RPG fans, or people becoming interested in RPG’s, it’s still a very solid game that’s a definite must have for RPG fans who want a very deep and engaging game. Especially for those who are looking for a game that will last them awhile.

Music: 7/10.

Visuals (Or Graphics): 6/10.

Story: 9/10.

Content: 8/10.

Conclusion: 8/10