Dragon Quest is a series with a rich history in Japan and a much loved fan favourite from Square Enix around the world. The latest entry to hit Nintendo’s 3DS is Dragon Quest VII Fragments Of The Forgotten Past which started off as a Playstation title back in 2000.
Straight up I’ll confess and say that I’m having a hard time settling into this game. The last DQ game I played was back on the DS which was Sentinels of the Starry Skies and I thoroughly enjoyed that title. With DQ VII, I’m finding difficult liking any of the main characters. So far in the game, I’ve encountered the main hero who as per DQ history doesn’t have a name, you give him a name of your choosing. His best friend is Prince Kiefer, a bratty kid who runs around pretty much doing whatever he likes which also irks the local townspeople and his father, the King. And then there’s Maribel, a well meaning friend to the Hero but who wants to find out what they’re up to and then cries foul when she gets sucked into their adventure.
The whole adventure kicks off when your character’s fisherman father brings home a strange tablet which he found on his latest fishing expedition. The tablet has strange powers which come into play in a local ruined shrine which then kicks off the adventure. The story I like but then again SE have had many years of crafting and telling beautifully interwoven stories so I’d expect nothing less.
Visually is where I’m also having a hard time. I accept that it was a PS1 game but I also know that the 3DS is capable of much better visuals. It’s probably being kept as close to the original graphics for nostalgic value but you can tell that they’ve been sharpened up without drastically changing the era 2000 graphics. However the backgrounds do have a nice DQ charm to them. Anyone familiar with the DQ series will feel right at home with the visuals and environments.
Looking at the fighting system, I actually like how it’s been implemented. No random encounters here when you’re out and trying to mind your own business. You can see the enemies spawn on the map as you move about and can choose to walk into them or just avoid them altogether. Having said that, most enemies will give chase if they see you and try to run you down but for the most part if you just keeping walking away from them, they’ll eventually give up and leave you alone. Also, when you walk back to the area where you first encountered them, they’ll more than likely be gone. When you do engage in a fight though, this is where I’m finding a bit of an imbalance. Even in the first dungeon, the monsters seem to be a little overpowered against the team and find healing items are very hard to come by. Even when you find your first trader before entering the dungeon, with the gold you have accrued so far, it’s a very delicate balance between using it for weapons (I could only afford 2 leaving my Maribel empty handed) or buying healing items which means you’re then fighting with bare fists making the fights last way longer. I’m not sure if I’m just doing this wrong or if this is something the series is known for.
I will persist with this game as I do want to see what it’s like after scratching the surface and also, I’m a sucker for most of the games that Square Enix have been involved with, either as developers or distributors.
Final Score: 7/10