Traditional as can be. For better and for worse.
What They Say:
Travel to the past to save the present as you restore forgotten lands and battle an unknown evil in this classic DRAGON QUEST adventure completely rebuilt from the ground up for the Nintendo 3DS system. Customize your party with over 30 vocations and level up in turn-based battles to learn new spells and abilities in this timeless quest!
Featuring character and monster designs from acclaimed artist Akira Toriyama, in the Dragon Quest VII game, you’ll explore an ever-changing world filled with mystery, intrigue, and danger. On your quest you’ll meet a captivating cast of characters that will help you change time as you solve their problems and save their lives. Expand and share your adventure even more with the StreetPass™ feature—send and receive traveller’s tablets to explore new dungeons that contain rare monsters and unique equipment.
Dragon Quest VII has all the themes and sounds that fans will remember from the original version of the game enhanced for the 3DS. The higher quality audio adds to the experience in this remake, ranging from chirpy tunes to slower, more emotional songs. There was no voiceover added, but that doesn’t hurt the game in any way.
The graphics have also been redone for the 3DS remake. The characters, environments, and colors really pop out in full 3D. Famed creator of the Dragonball franchise, Akira Toriyama, returns and it really shows. The characters all look very fantastical and colorful. The game is composed of dozens of different islands that you will unlock and travel to throughout the course of the game. These locales are varied enough, from forests to volcanic islands alike. Character designs are, unfortunately, recycled in storylines. While that’s typical for NPC’s in games, this also applies to some main characters. It is understandable considering the scope of the story, but still can be confusing at times.
After naming my protagonist, you find yourself in a quiet, seaside fishing village. Like the start of many JRPG’s, you begin your tale inconspicuously, as the son of the best fisherman in town summoned by the king. Unlike most JRPG’s, Fragments of the Forgotten Past takes its time getting going. You run around your small, lone island in the world, getting to know the villagers and being eased into the story for upwards of around 2 hours before you ever point your little wooden stick at a nasty blue (for whatever reason) slime. This may feel like a bummer for some, but I quite enjoyed the quiet first couple of hours. It was nice exploring and familiarizing myself with my home island, as there is a large amount of backtracking to it throughout the game.
The game consists of you and your party traveling to various islands in different time periods before returning the islands (and yourself) back to present day and filling in the world map. Each island has its own self-contained story to mixed results. Some are quick and forgettable, whereas others (such as the first island you visit) had depressing implications that still weighed heavily on my mind dozens of islands later. While there is an overarching story, these smaller vignettes are the real stars. Other JRPG’s, including most of the Dragon Quest franchise, aim for grand and vast stories, but I greatly enjoyed Dragon Quest VII’s more simplistic tale of friends dreaming that there is more to their world than just their tiny, two town island. That simplicity won’t resonate with everyone, though, with pacing and other issues slightly hindering the experience.
The gameplay itself is far too simple yet surprisingly burdensome. Combat is the classic turn-based affair, but with a menu overload. It takes so many button presses to just get through a single turn. There are no auto or repeat options available. This makes grinding even more of a chore than it already is. The same complexity can be applied to the normal menu and saving as well. I spent almost a good ten minutes just trying to familiarize myself with the dozen different options in the menu, several of which (like quicksave!) are buried underneath other vaguely named selections like “Info”. I know it is a Dragon Quest staple, but it is disappointing in 2016 to have to always trek to the nearest town or village, find a priest, press press press, and then finally save. It is also way too easy to accidentally select no to “Do you want to continue?”, leading to many times of the game closing when I didn’t want it to and having to restart it all over. Thankfully, the vast number of different classes (30+!) help to differentiate the gameplay enough and keep things mostly fresh.
Dragon Quest VII, also, does a great job of utilizing some of the 3DS’ unique features. Pretty early on, you get your own haven town to build up with merchants and citizens and more importantly, collect monsters in a Pokemon-lite type of game. You can then send them out to collect tablets that are in turn used to access playable mini-dungeons. They are pretty generic and recycled for the most part, but they still do a decent job at extending the gametime well past the main story.
Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past is a remake many, myself included, have waited a long time for and it does not disappoint. New features, better graphics, and an entire console JRPG experience available on the go offset the often outdated gameplay design. While it isn’t for everyone, gamers looking for a more relaxing, rainy day-type of game, will enjoy Dragon Quest VII’s Chrono Trigger-like, time-bending adventure.
Released By: Nintendo of America
Developer: Square Enix
Release Date: 09/16/16
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
This review was done with a review copy of the game provided by Nintendo of America We are grateful for their support.