Overall score 80

I’m kind of new to the Dragon Quest franchise, as I’ve hardly played any of the games. Played a bit of Dragon Quest IX on the Nintendo DS for a bit, but I can’t really remember my experience with that game. Fortunately, much like the Final Fantasy series of games, you can more or less start fresh with any of the numbered entries of games. So when I dived into Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past for the Nintendo 3DS, it was quite easy to get into without any prior knowledge to the franchise. For a classic game though, does it still hold up, especially for a newcomer?

Dragon Quest VII on the 3DS is a remake of Dragon Warrior 7, which released on the original Playstation. Since I don’t have experience with the original game, I can’t fully comment entirely on what has been changed. The most noticeable change though is with the game’s visuals. Upgrading the look of the game to full 3D, compared to the sprites of the original. There’s also the addition of Streetpass features.

THE GOOD: For those unfamiliar with the Dragon Quest series, the gameplay is like your standard old-school JRPG. Turn-based battle mechanics, where you input the commands of your entire party first before the battle actually occurs. That small detail certainly made things feel slightly different compared to other JRPGs I’m used to, where each character in the battle has their own turn to act. Added a bit of extra strategy, since you’ll need to think a couple steps ahead when deciding which actions you want to commit to. Kind of enjoyed that slight tweak, so I’d say that aspect of things still holds up nicely. Also, the battles aren’t completely random since you can see all the enemies on the field. So you could dodge some unneeded battles, if there’s enough room to walk past without getting noticed.

Like many JRPGs, the start of the game is a slow grind. DQVII takes a good while to set itself up and it can be a couple hours or so into the game before you start setting off on your adventure. It’s quite the adventure though, once it gets going. And once it does, it was easy to get into a flow of how the game operates.

I really liked how the game implemented the whole time travel aspect, where you’ll be adventuring into the past in order to change things in the present through fragment pieces that you find throughout the world. Find enough fragments and you can piece them together to form a new island, which opens up a new adventure. I enjoyed how each new island you formed introduced you to a whole new adventure. Mainly due to how unique each adventure felt. Sure, there are similarities to be found, since there was usually some evil enemy to overcome. However, each adventure did feel like their own thing and that helped keep things fresh throughout the game. Since it was like discovering a whole new story each time.

As mentioned earlier, DQVII is a remake of an old game. It does feel dated in some spots, but I was surprised at how much there was to this game. As you progress further into the game, new mechanics eventually get introduced. Like an area where you can befriend monsters and earn tablets that house special dungeons for you to explore, even obtaining tablets from others via Streetpass. Casinos with mini-games you can play in order to earn items or money. Then there’s the whole class building system that lets you change your character’s class in order for them to learn new moves. Even encouraging you to always be changing classes once you master one in order to learn more skills for your character and to unlock even more advanced classes.

There is certainly more to the game than I had originally thought. It might sound overwhelming, but the game does a great job as easing you into it all. Even better is that there are lots of resources within the game that can help you, should you find yourself a little confused on certain topics. There is even places you can go to that will hint at what you need to do next, in case you’re stumped on how to progress. I really liked how the game doesn’t do much to hold your hand, but it is can easily help you if you’re in need of it.

THE BAD: Dragon Quest VII is a remake of an old game, and it does show. The main part where this is apparent is with the menu navigation. It just feels slows overall. Takes a while to move items around and to even sell them. Even battles can feel like they drag on a bit, mainly cause navigating menus felt slow. It’s probably my main issue with the game. While there are other minor ones, it still falls under the fact that this is an old game. So if you were hoping that this remake helped modernize some things of the game, I would say that it didn’t quite do that, or at least enough of it.

OVERALL THOUGHTS: While the experience of Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past felt very dated, I still had a great time with it. There’s a lot of content in this game, and if you find yourself quite into it, you’re looking at around 70+ hours of playtime to be had. All depending on if choose to do some extra grinding or to explore the other aspects of the game outside of the main story. I have dabbled a bit into some Dragon Quest before, but I would say that this was more or less my first actual experience into what this series is about. And I have to say it made me very interested in checking more of it. So for newcomers who have yet to see what Dragon Quest is, this DQVII remake is a great start. There are many JRPGs already available on the 3DS, but if you’re at all interested in the old-school realm of things, Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past comes highly recommended.

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