Review by Miradias

"Dragon Warrior VII"

Dragon Quest VII set record-breaking sales in Japan and the day of its release had to be declared a holiday. Gamers everywhere have been chomping at the bit for this game to arrive in their respected countries and are jumping at the chance to play it. With the little tidbits Enix had been releasing, this game was stirring quite a frenzy in the gaming community. Finally, a totally new Dragon Warrior game was coming over to our side of the world. We had an appetizer of things to come with the Game Boy Color releases of Dragon Warrior I/II and Dragon Warrior III. With news of Dragon Warrior IV being released in Japan sometime in 2002, gamers couldn’t wait to play something fresh, something bold, and something new. How does Dragon Warrior VII hold up to these expectations?

Graphics: 7/10
In the realm of graphics, let’s just say they pick up where Enix left off with Dragon Warrior VI. Unfortunately, that was back in the SNES era, and the rest of the gaming community has moved on. We all know graphics don’t make the game, but graphics do have a tremendous effect on sales and overall appeal. If this game had been released when the Playstation was first introduced, the graphics would matter as much for the final score. However, the Playstation has proved how great a game can look and exactly what can be done. Examples of this are shown in titles such as Final Fantasy IX and gamers have come to expect that level of graphical accomplishment. The simple sprites sure are old school and provide a classic feel, but not the way that’s appealing to the average gamer.

Sound: 9/10
Fortunately, Enix has brought back many of the tried and true sounds from the original Dragon Warrior series. From the recognizable start up screen to the save music and stairway usage, Enix has kept some of its more familiar sounds around. Though the sounds do get rather dull and repetitive eventually, the music keeps you from hitting the mute button. The overture and town themes are done very tastefully, and fit their respective scenarios. Ranging from the peaceful lands where monsters don’t attack, to the wilderness scenes where trouble waits with every step, the music is with you to keep you in the mood.

Story: 9/10
The beginning of the story revolves around the Hero, Prince Kiefer of Estard, and their childhood friend Maribel. The group of kids accidentally discover the power hidden within the ancient ruins on Estard Island, and thus the story begins. Saving past lands from certain doom, and collecting assorted shards to activate pedestals in the ruins are what occupy your time for the most part. This can get very monotonous, and can get even more annoying. However, the real strategy of this game begins to excel when you finish the Dharma Temple quest. So, all in all, the story should keep you intrigued from the start of the game, all the way to the final battle with the Demon Lord.

Gameplay: 10/10
Character classes play a major role in the development process in Dragon Warrior VII. Changing classes is not only enjoyable, but very important for your endurance in future endeavors. Without the help and utilization of these roles, your characters would not only grow stale, but weak as well. When developing with character classes, your entourage grows stronger though stat changes, and skill growth. With ten basic classes ranging from Warrior to Shepard, your characters quickly begin to realize their true potential. After maturing in the classes, you can even learn hybrid skills. These skills are learned if a character matures in a certain class and then switches to another. For example, if you mature a Cleric and a Mariner, you can learn the skill HolyAura. Exploit this growth by trying to gain as many character classes as possible.
In addition to character classes, your party members can train in monster classes. By using a monsters heart (an item found after defeating enemies or in treasure chests) you can acquire a specific monster class . For instance, Gabo can learn the ways of an Evlturtle if he obtains the correct monster heart. Mastering two or more monster classes may open up the opportunity to train as a different monster class without the use of a monster heart.
The battle system of Dragon Warrior VII gives you no problems and is easy to learn. With the wide variety of skills and spells, Dragon Warrior VII lets you utilize an ample array of attacks and magic. The battle scenes are like those of a revamped Dragon Warrior III, on the Game Boy Color. The battle view is that of what your characters would see from their own perspectives. Enemies act like they are attacking, and spells hit the screen and the screen will move. A particular favorite of mine is the way Imps attack, which involves the creature jumping up and shooting miniature ray beams out of its hands. Despite the outdated graphics, this action looks very impressive.

Overall: 9/10
Dragon Warrior VII does start off a little dull and very slow. The random encounter rate does sometimes seem to vary from “every five steps” to “once in a blue moon”. The 3D rotating angle does make it hard to jimmy through small openings where sometimes being a pixel off will make your attempts unsuccessful. Sure this can get annoying and convince people to quit, however those of you that stick with it will be happily rewarded in the end. The story can get very deep at certain points and motivates you to keep going. If you get stuck or tired of adventuring, you can always stop for a little romp in a casino and try your luck at some slots or poker. The game is difficult, but mostly because you can get stuck missing a single shard and spend hours trying to backtrack to where it can be. Overall, whether it's the many years we had to wait for the US release of another Dragon Warrior game or the hours it takes to master a class, this game is well worth every second.

If you are a hardcore Dragon Warrior fan or just plain love RPGs, I would strongly recommend Dragon Warrior VII to anyone looking for a good time. So, generally, plan on buying this game. This game is not for everyone though, especially to those who are attention deficit and have no patience. But for the hardcore DW/RPG fan, go for it.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 01/12/04, Updated 01/15/04

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