As I worked my way up the stairs, I knew that two snipers were waiting to pick me off when I made it to the top floor. I knew because they'd killed me about a dozen times before on previous attempts... I reloaded from my last save once again, trying to figure out how I'd dispatch them before they could, for the thirteenth time, take me down. I slowly crept along a two-foot-high wall (it used to just be a wall, but the activity in the area had left it a pile of drywall and wooden boards) and peered out to my left. Bam. There it was: I saw the first sniper's laser sight furiously looking for me... tracing the laser back to a window, I lobbed a grenade into it and, seconds later, the sniper flew out the window with a booming explosion. Great, that's one of two. Turning around, I quickly spotted the source of the other laser pointer, stood up, and fired a rocket at it with my trusty launcher. I knew it was overkill, but boy, was it ever satisfying. Unfortunately, I only had time to breathe a too-soon sigh of relief before a strider walked down the street, set its sights directly on me, and opened fire...
? What blog is this? Dragon Quest
?! Oh, my bad! I recently got an Xbox 360 and had been entertaining myself with The Orange Box
... I played through all three Half-life games
, and Portal
. I also made my way through Resident Evil 5
as well. In fact, the aforementioned games are only two of ten games I've played through since the last DQing blog. Six of them were on the DS (Shin Megami Tensai: Devil Survivor, Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars, Henry Hatsworth and the Puzzling Adventure, Rhythm Heaven, Broken Sword: The Director's Cut, and Super Mario 64 DS
), and two were on the Wii (Klonoa, MadWorld
). Hey, whatever, I told myself when I started this thing that I wouldn't let it get in the way of me playing new games.
But, seriously though, I have been playing Dragon Quest VII, little by little, since I finished DQV back in March. It was only about a week ago, however, that I finally decided it was time to really get back into it and play DQVII to completion. I've been moving along at a pretty good pace; I'm 25 hours in and I just reached the Dharma Temple for the first time.
Dragon Quest VII: Warriors of Eden
---------------Getting the Game:
Another really easy acquisition. I wish I had something more interesting here besides just saying "I came, I saw, I bought, I played," but that was the case yet again. Cost came out to $39.00 including shipping.
Since I've already covered so much ground in the game, I don't think I could touch on everything I want to say about it in a single blog post. I ramble way too much as it is, and detailing almost half of this epic game at one time would stretch this post on for pages and pages. Instead, I just want to talk about the game's mechanics in this post, and I've got another post ready for tomorrow that'll tackle most of the story elements up to this point (at least, the ones that were important to me). So here goes:
I know I've said it many times before, but I really, really like the engine used in the new DS remakes as well as Dragon Quest VII. It's incredibly smooth and very efficient as an RPG engine. The only real difference between this and the DS remakes is that it's--understandably--much less refined; the menus are clunky & needlessly complicated, and there's a ton of slowdown in 3D areas. Still, it's very pleasant, and as always I enjoy pressing the L and R buttons to constantly rotate the camera.
There's not really a nice way to say it: for the most part, Dragon Quest VII looks pretty bad. The FMVs are grainy & seem somewhat poorly done, the sprites are hardly animated, and even the parts that are rendered in 3D are mostly very basic. This would of course be okay if the game came out, say, within the launch window of the PlayStation, but this game came out in 2000. Even Capcom's two PS entries in the Breath of Fire series looked leagues better than this game.
Really though, the most baffling thing about this game, graphically, is the method Enix chose to deliver the cut scenes. They're pretty rare, but when they do show up, they look like some janky, pre-1995 3D TV show like REBOOT or something. I know that this is what most RPG cut scenes from the PS era looked like (see Legend of Dragoon, Legaia, etc.), but I guess I expected more because, well, this is freaking Dragon Quest we're talking about!!! I mean, doesn't Akira Toriyama do the art for Dragon Quest? Well, then why didn't they have fully animated cut scenes, a la the PS remake of Chrono Trigger, or Breath of Fire IV, or Xenogears? Really, it's a small complaint in the end, but as I play through the game, I'm often surprised by how dated some of the visuals look.
On the upside, the areas are all very bright and colorful, and the geometry is occasionally breathtaking; it's always awesome to go into a huge town and rotate the camera until you're completely concealed by some huge piece of architecture.
Before I played this game, I read a few old reviews that criticized the game's translation, stating that its characters were written very blandly and that the script was rife with spelling errors. I very much disagree with this; my allies don't tend to talk a whole lot, but they're very enjoyably written, if admittedly a bit one-dimensionally. Maribel is clearly a spoiled rich girl, and that's the part she plays. Likewise, Keifer is a restless prince with aspirations for adventure, and that's the part that he plays. But despite their one-dimensional personas, their thoughts are well verbalized and they often make me laugh.
It's true that there are spelling errors. The further I get into the game, the more typos I see. But they're so minor that it's really more something to laugh at than something that really irritates you. Or at least, I don't mind anyway.
As is usually the case with Dragon Quest games, I absolutely adore the characters; Maribel, Keifer, and the entire supporting cast are endlessly endearing. And even though they play their roles about as one-dimensionally as the cast from Gran Torino, I'm fine with it because I feel they just play their roles so damn well.
Gabo is really the only exception. Don't get me wrong, I like him, but I don't know if I buy his ability to talk. To give some background here, Gabo starts off as a wolf cub, but then gets transformed into a boy by an evil demon. Seeing as he's only a boy in appearance, he can hardly speak at all. But, later, he gets hit with another spell that gives hime the ability to talk, and all of a sudden, he's f*cking Wilbur from Charolet's Web; he's able to verbalize and articulate complex thoughts and understand situations on a human level.
I like Gabo the way he is no doubt, but it's impossible for me to make the connection between who he is now and the goofy drawing of him in the instruction booklet
. Two totally different people.
The pacing in this game is crazy! It's unlike any other RPG I've ever played, let alone any other Dragon Quest game. It must've been at least three hours before I fought a single battle, and at twenty-five hours, I've only just reached the Dharma Temple so I can start changing classes. The game progresses at a very, very slow pace, so much so that it keeps age-old DQ elements feeling fresh and new. ("Wow, I can use a spell that'll take me to a place I've already been?! NEAT!")
Even more unique, though, is the general flow of the game; because there are no monsters on the present day world map, I can easily go an hour or two without fighting any battles between each adventure. So, after I rescue a new continent in the past, I'll go back to the present and spend a huge amount of time exploring new content and collecting shards. By the time I finally find enough shards and go back in time to a new area, I feel like Matt Damon from the beginning of The Bourne Identity; I forget that my characters and I know how to fight, and I always spend a few minutes in awe as I rediscover my badassness.
---------------God, or Goddess?:
This is the first Dragon Quest game I've played that didn't have a goddess in it (except DQI, but that doesn't count because there's no church at all). This game instead has a god and it really has me confused about a couple of things. I have to wonder if there was ever a goddess in Japan and if the goddess in NA came to us with the name "Dragon Quest." Also, there's a cross as the religious symbol, as opposed to the trident in the other DQ games that I've played. I'm lurking around a few forums right now, trying to figure out where the idea of a god or goddess came up at all in Dragon Quest, and how this was concieved in Japan and America. It's certainly interesting...
For what it's worth, I prefer having the goddess and the trident, as opposed to the god and the cross. Why? Well, for some reason, it feels awkward in Dragon Quest VII whenever someone says something like "May God protect you," or "God is always watching you," because it feels like I've got real-world religion in my video games, which I'm really not comfortable with for some reason. I feel like having the goddess in there with a fake religious symbol keeps things light-hearted and somewhat whimsical.
In the end, it's not like it really matters though. Just something I'm definitely curious about.
UPDATE: Thanks to the Dragon's Den forums, I've learned that "Goddess" didn't come about until Dragon quest VIII came to America. At that point, Japan adopted the idea and that's why we now always have a goddess and a trident in DQ games.
Ok, that's it! I'll have actual play experiences up tomorrow. Has anyone else here played Dragon Quest VII? What did you think? Feel the same/different than I do so far?
As always, thanks for reading!
Total elapsed time across entire Dragon Quest series: ~195 hours -
IV DS - ~30 hours
VIII - ~70 hours
I NES - ~20 hours
DQM:J - ~20 hours
V DS - ~30 hours
VII - ~25 hours
Total amount of money spent on Dragon Quest Series: $259.00 (IV, VIII twice, slime controller, I, I & II GBA, Joker, V DS, V SFAM, VII)
For the past Dragon Questing blogs, click the links below:
---------------From Dragon Quest V:
No Wonder Everyone Loves This Game: Dragon Questing, Part Ten
Coming to America Sans Eddie Murphy: Dragon Questing, Part Nine
---------------From Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker:
I Guess They Can't All Be Gold: Dragon Questing, Part Eight
---------------From Dragon Quest I:
Returning the Ball of Light: Dragon Questing, Part Seven
Getting a Grip on a Classic: Dragon Questing, Part Six
Going Back in Time: Dragon Questing, Part Five
---------------From Dragon Quest VIII:
The conclusion of an Epic: Dragon Questing, Part Four
Discovering the Monster Arena: Dragon Questing, Part Three
How to Give a Boy a Heart: Dragon Questing, Part Two
Meeting the Cursed King: Dragon Questing, Part One