I feel as if I won’t finish this game until next year, because BOY does it love to drag, but I really am enjoying it and I thought it would be fun to do a quick write up about it.
I think, generally speaking, I consider the best RPGs ever made to be on the Playstation. My all time favorite RPGs, Pokemon Yellow and Baten Kaitos Origins are not, but I feel as if Playstation brought forth a number of great RPG franchises that peaked on the console. Final Fantasy is the most prominent, with games like Final Fantasy VII, IX, and Tactics being put out in relatively quick succession to critical and commercial success. I don’t personally like Tactics, but I think that’s just a preference thing.
There were other prominent series in this era as well. Breath of Fire, Suikoden (Which I am VERY anxious in trying, because I am quickly realizing that 90’s Konami was incredible) and others. But I had never really heard of Dragon Quest before, save for some articles in Nintendo Power back in the day about the DS remakes and how the artist worked on Dragon Ball and Chrono Trigger.
Those articles drove me to Chrono Trigger, not Dragon Quest. Although I reasonably liked it, and recently played it a little again on it’s twentieth anniversary, I’m not one of those people that consider it one of the best games ever made. Again, I have to stress… It’s a good game, and I enjoy it a lot, but it was over a decade old when I first played it. RPGs are not a genre that typically age well, I find.
So I didn’t pick up the first batch of Dragon Quest remakes, although I really liked the concept of one, the one where you pick a wife and go on adventures with her. At the time, I was still trying to get started with my Final Fantasy collection… I think Final Fantasy IV came out that year, and I only managed to beat it last year. Obviously, RPGs are not exactly my thing, but now that I have more disposable income, I can afford to experiment a bit in titles like Dragon Quest.
So what do I think of VII, my first ever Dragon Quest game? It’s okay. Nothing special, but I’m reasonably enjoying myself, especially since the last RPG I played was Earthboung Beginnings of all things.
After that piece of tedious bullshit, Dragon Quest’s relative accessability and straight forward nature is really appealing to me. It’s charming, cute, and has a fairly interesting gimmick, with it’s two worlds nature. I find that I’m having no trouble overlooking the game’s problems as I sit back and play it.
In fact, I’m very surprised, because I feel as if a lot of this game’s issues should be more annoying than they actually are. For example, the game’s premise involves you shifting between the distant past and the present in order to save islands and the people who live on them. However, unlike other games with a dual world mechanic, like Zelda, you are forced into exploring these islands one at a time in a fairly linear way.
This leads to situations where you sometimes need to clear an area in the past, head to the present, go to that area AGAIN, go through an area that has somehow not changed at all in the amount of time passed, and collect something that you really should have gotten in the past. The game is actually worse than The Thousand Year Door in this regard, because the constant backtracking to areas you have already been to before never really stops, or at least hasn’t yet for me.
This doesn’t really bother me as much as it could have, because the world feels really lively and charming to me. You really get to know the people of each island you save, and you really want to help them solve their various problems. It sounds basic, and it kind of is, but I think it works.
The combat is simple and straightforward, but it works.
Figuring out what to do is pretty simple and straightforward… but it works!
I feel as if this game doesn’t try to do anything fancy or creative, but in a way that’s kind of refreshing. Too many JRPG games these days try too hard to to be subversive in some way, from Earthbound Beginning’s general aesthetic and setting to pretty much everything about the The Last Story’s gameplay.
Dragon Quest VII is just a really simplistic RPG with some neat ideas, and honestly that’s a lot more preferable to me than something like Undertale which was clearly made by someone who thinks they made something deep and life changing. I don’t know about you, but finding a village full of animals and slowly trying to uncover just what exactly happened to make that town what it was is a lot of fun, and that’s all I really need from an RPG.
It shows it’s age in many, many, ways. This is a game first released twenty years ago, after all. But I think it’s something to be noticed by fans of the genre. It’s straightforward, sure, but adventures don’t have to be complicated to be thrilling.