Dragon Warrior VII - Retroview

In the world, only this island is...
By: Solon

Review Breakdown
   Battle System 7
   Interface 7
   Music & Sound 5
   Originality 6
   Story & Plot 7
   Localization 7
   Replay Value 3
   Visuals 7
   Difficulty Hard
   Completion Time 70-120 Hours  

Spells are many and beautiful
Spells are many and beautiful
Dragon Warrior VII

   The Dragon Warrior series (Dragon Quest in Japan) has always been the greatest among RPGs. It has been around since the dawn of RPGs, and it still is. Since I am quite a fan of the Final Fantasy series, I decided to test out the one and only game that has been said to give Final Fantasy so much competition. And I must say that Dragon Warrior VII was a pleasant surprise.

   The battle system is important in any RPG, and Dragon Warrior VII is no exception. The game has the old-school look it seems to always have had, and you cannot see the actual party in the battle area. Instead, you only see the enemies, sort of as if you were to see them from the perspective of the characters in the party. This is quite original, at least for the one who has never been into the Dragon warrior series before, and I have never seen any RPG handle battles this way before.

   Battles are difficult though, especially the bosses. Perhaps this is also meant to give the player a nostalgic feeling, since many of the old NES games were very hard. Sometimes I found myself facing up to three or four bosses in a row... now that's a challenge. The interesting part of the battle system is the classes. When you get to change classes on your party members, battles will become much more fun. There are all the classic ones; mage, fighter, warrior, cleric etc. Also, you can mix two classes to reveal a secret one with new cool abilities and spells. There is a lot to do here, and you won't get tired of this in the first place. Don't be discouraged if it takes a long time to get to the Dharma Temple to change your classes. This game is LONG, and you haven't even finished 1/3 of it when you come to the temple. It took me around 20 hours to get there.

   The interface is just as any other RPG. The menu system reminds me a little of Suikoden 1, especially with its inventory (mixing up equip and other items in one list). This is a lot easier to use and a lot more smooth than in Suikoden though, especially when upgrading equipment. Also, there is: Talk, Cast, Look, etc. in the menu, if you need to talk to people, cast a spell that works in the field or investigate something. Most of these things can of course also be done without going into the menu, which makes it feel a little unnecessary. Another thing that some people might find a little frustrating is the controls in the game. They are not similar to any other RPG, and they cannot be changed. There is no need to worry about this though, as you'll get used to it really quick.

Many dungeons are like this...
Many dungeons are like this...

   To me, this is an original game. I have played a lot of RPGs, but I have never played anything like Dragon Warrior VII. For many others this is a nostalgic title, which makes it quite hard to decide what I should say about its originality. If you have never played a Dragon Warrior game before, you should still check this one out. I can't speak for the true fans though, since I am not one of them.

   The game really has some good music, although it seems to repeat itself many times. The same town theme comes up many times and I was really tired of the "sad town theme" that I enjoyed so much in the beginning of the game. Sound effects are special as well, since they are from the original game. If I have understood things right, this is sort of a tradition. Enix has always included the old sound effects from the first games in the newer ones, to give the player a nostalgic feeling or something. That is quite cool, and the sounds are funny as well.

   All this is followed up by a huge plot, with very slow development. Your party lives on a small island, which is said to be the only island in the world. When you and your party start to solve some puzzles in an underground cave near your village, strange things start to happen. Other islands appear in the world, and terrible things have happened to all the people on the different islands. You are the hero, and you are destined to save the lost people of the world. As usual. Don't get me wrong here though, I liked this way of building up the storyline.

   While there are a lot of dialogue in this game, the localization needs to be good. And it is... I didn't find that many spelling errors, and the overall dialog is smooth. The graphics are also quite nice. The game is in 3D, with an adjustable camera similar to the ones in Breath of Fire IV or Xenogears. All in all the game has good graphics. While the graphics might not be as beautiful as in Chrono Cross or Final Fantasy IX, they are still above average.

You get to fight cats!
You get to fight cats!

   One of the things that made me really frustrated about this game is the difficulty. This game is hard. Those of you who are used to playing Final Fantasy and the likes will be surprised while playing this game. My party was often very weak and I stopped for leveling up many times throughout the game. As if that wasn't enough, the game itself is very long, up to 120 hours if you level up and do some sidequests.

   Personally, I would never play through this game again. That doesn't mean it was bad though, just that it's way too long to have a decent replay value. If you're a really fast player, you'll finish this game in 60 or 70 hours, while most people will play for more than 80 hours before finishing it.

   In conclusion, I liked this game. It has a special feeling over it, and if you start playing it seriously, you will be stuck 'til the end. It is now proven, you don't need to play (or even like) the older Dragon Warrior games to enjoy this one. My advice to you is: pick this game up. You certainly won't regret it, even if it is your first in the series.

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