4 Year RPG special Part 1: Dragon Quest 7 for the PS1 review

As you all have heard over and OVER again, I love the RPG and JRPG genre. Moneywise, they are usually some of the best games you can get because they take hours to beat. They also have pretty fun stories, if a bit generic at times. You can get action or turn-based combat in these genres and also get a great cast of characters to carry you along the combat and story. A lot of my favorite games of all time are RPG’s and JRPG’s. Though my love for them is big, it doesn’t mean I love or enjoy every single one of them. Final Fantasy 13 and its sequel are, in my opinion, incredibly average RPG’s (if you don’t judge them as Final Fantasy sequels). Quest 64 is considered to be one of the worst RPG’s, along with titles such as Lagoon, Hoshigami, and others that I can’t list off the top of my head. However, there is one RPG that people have tried to convince me that I was way too harsh on, Dragon Quest 7. Until now, I was going off of old memories when I played a few hours of it and just didn’t like it. Now, it IS a solid RPG, but I think this is one of the hardest RPG’s to recommend to anyone. It has aged poorly and it is way too expensive for its own good. Don’t get me wrong, it is a good game. It is like I said, just super hard to recommend to anyone who isn’t a RPG fan or a hardcore Dragon Quest fan. Let us get started then on the first RPG in this special, Dragon Quest 7 for the PS1!

To give this game credit, the setting is pretty fun. You are the son of a fisherman and live on this island in the middle of the ocean. This would seem utterly bland in everyone’s eyes until you realize that the island you are on is the ONLY ISLAND IN THE ENTIRE WORLD! Seriously, you live in a small village that is a part of a kingdom, and it’s the only village and kingdom you have ever known. One day, you and the prince of the kingdom, Kiefer, and the daughter of the hotel owner that is in your village decide to venture over the island and find some unknown rooms inside a temple that has been on the island for many centuries apparently. All three of you go inside and head into one of the rooms and get zapped to another island that has apparently been there in the past. From this, a grand adventure begins where you meet many unique characters, like Gabo, a young wolf cub turned human, Melvin, a knight that literally fought with God, and Aira, a female swordswoman/dancer. Like I said above, the story can be interesting and the fun-filled monsters, quirky characters, and unique and familiar story is here, but here is where the biggest issue comes into play. The game’s story and pacing is terrible. It’s boring, slow, and tedious. There is just so much filler shoved into the game’s pacing, and maybe it was added since it took forever to get this game released, but that is no excuse to extend an RPG’s time of 40-50 hours of completion to 70-100 BORING HOURS! To give an example of how boring this game is, you do not and I repeat DO NOT get into your first battle until you are TWO HOURS IN!!! That is bullocks! I mean, in every other RPG, you get into your first fight at least in the first 5, 10, or on the 20 minute mark, but MAN, did they screw this part of the game up. Again, it has its fun characters and charm of the franchise, but holy macaroni, does this game have a terribly paced story. Before I move on, even though I just ranted on how poorly paced the story is, it does have some truly great moments that caught me by surprise while playing through it. The story is still generally paced badly, though.
The gameplay is, of course, of the traditional JRPG style. You have your party of four fighting monsters in random battles in a first person perspective. It’s nothing new, since every main Dragon Quest game has had this same combat, until Dragon Quest 9 and 10 which ditched the first person perspective of games like Wizardry. The main draw of the game is that it follows its Dragon Quest 3 and 6 family members and has class changes, but I will explain what is wrong with the whole class system in the complaints section. If you have played Final Fantasy 3 or 5, you can make your characters gain abilities in different job roles like warrior, wizard, healer, and you get the idea. If you can master the basic classes, more advance classes will be available so you can get much better abilities and stats. There are also monster classes that you can obtain by collecting monster hearts. Of course, what would an RPG be without side quests to complete? You can do many things, such as collecting monsters for a monster park, rebuilding a town like in Breath of Fire 4 and Act Raiser, collecting medals, going to a casino, and of course taking on bonus dungeons with bosses that are much harder than the final boss of the game. I mean, what do you expect when you literally get to fight God? Overall, this is probably the biggest RPG on the Playstation. You don’t get into your first fight till 2 hours in, you don’t get your first ally until 12 hours in, and you don’t get to change job classes until you are 25-30 hours in. While this is usually a good thing, I will explain later on why this kind of backfires on itself.
The graphics, while looking like Grandia and Wild Arms 2 to an extent, don’t really look good even when this game came out. It came out AFTER the PS2 came out and the graphics are rather ugly. I am not usually a graphics snob, but man, does this game’s graphical presentation look terrible. Even the colorful monster designs of Akira Toriyama look pixilated and muddy. The monster sprites don’t even move. I mean, when you look at games like Suikoden 2 that use pixelated sprites to represent the characters and enemies, they are smooth-looking (for back then) and fully animated. The only time the enemies move is when they attack and then they look like a screenshot of the game that you would see in a magazine article. The monster designs are still good, but this game’s graphics just look lazy. The music however is much better. At first, I did not like the music. It sounded just as cheap as the graphical presentation, but over time, it grew on me and then I heard a lot of great tunes. I still think that Dragon Quest 8’s music is still superior.
So, what is wrong with this game? Well, I can easily say there are a whole lot of things wrong with this game. Besides the cheap graphical presentation and music, the game feels padded and filled with distractions. Once again, the first fight in the game is TWO WHOLE HOURS IN! What is with the sluggish-as-heck pacing?! Any gamer these days will not have the patience to get through this game. It is amazingly bad pacing. You do not even get different classes until 30 hours in. Usually RPG’s like to get you into the job system about 40 minutes to an hour in. You are about halfway through the game when you get to this point and it is just tedious. The pacing is also hindered with the very tedious game design sin of backtracking. Yeah, I know a lot of games like Dust: An Elysium Tale and the Vanillaware games can do the backtracking thing right, but you are REALLY forced to backtrack to the same areas over and over and over and over and over. For example, to unlock new areas to travel back in time to, you have to find all of the shards in the islands from the past AND the islands in current time. This means if you miss one, again, ONE shard, you will not be able to move onto the next area. I think that is the biggest sin this game commits, it’s too long. Nowadays, we want our games to be long, and back in 2001, this was probably a bargain back then, but oh man, there is WAY too much stuff here. I know this is one issue, but this one issue of pacing and execution makes everything else suffer. The story, the gameplay, the grinding, and everything else suffers because of the pacing. Heck, the CGI cut scenes that are few and far between are ugly. Akira’s artwork definitely looks ugly within those cut scenes. The story suffers a lot since it has that Fallout and Elderscrolls kind of story telling where it wants you to be immersed within the game’s setting, and then about halfway through, the game’s story becomes more apparent. The story does have a lot of touching areas, but the bad guy doesn’t really reveal itself till halfway through or a little after that.
This is easily one of those RPG’s on the Playstation that has not really aged well at all. With commitment, you are playing a rather solid RPG and entry in the franchise. Obtaining this game however, is a whole other story. This game did not sell well here in the States. It sold 4 million in Japan, but they could have been wrong. This shows in the game’s sales over here in the states being 200,000. It is one of the hardest to find PS1 games and easily one of the more expensive games. It doesn’t go near the Suikoden 2 or that special Assassin case thing for Elemental Gearbolt, but it can be about 90 dollars and and up. The Japanese version is about 20 dollars on Ebay. This game has no re-release and I mean NO RE-RELEASE. No DS version, no PS2 version, and that is saying something when every other game besides Dragon Quest 8 and this game get a re-release on different consoles throughout this franchise’s lifetime. This is a solid RPG, but compared to games like Suikoden 2, Final Fantasy 9, Wild Arms 1 and 2, Grandia, and Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete, it is less worthwhile and more expensive. Here we go then, let us hope the next RPG in this special will leave a more positive impression on me.
This game gets a 7 out of 10