The original Dragon Quest VII: Warriors of Eden, renamed Dragon Warrior VII in North America due to continued copyright conflict, was one of the final roleplaying games to grace the original Sony PlayStation in its twilight years, and while it did receive decent acclaim, most reviewers felt that it graphically looked like one of the first games on the console rather than one of the last. Years later, Square-Enix remade the title for the Nintendo 3DS, remakes and ports being a strong tradition for the franchise, although as the series was in something of a downswing outside Japan, years would pass before their American branch announced a localization, titled Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past, for the most part an ideal rerelease.
Rather than utilizing random encounters like the initial version, Fragments instead utilizes visible enemies on the overworld and in dungeons, with holy water and the spell Holy Protection causing foes indicative of weaker enemy parties to vanish, allowing for stress-free travel for the most part. As advancing in the game’s diverse class system requires players to fight foes on par with or greater than the party’s levels, this is definitely a blessing, and while some have protested this system, it’s hardly abysmal, and is definitely preferable to typical randomized fights. In case the player yearns for quicker encounters for instances such as grinding, they can instantly summon foes with the Whistle skill.
Combat itself follows traditional turn-based rules, with player input of character commands and execution likely dependent upon agility, though often random. As allies master class skills gained from the system introduced somewhere around ten hours into the game, players might actually find it preferable to let the AI control their actions, with an advantage being that characters executing commands in this fashion don’t decide their skills until they reach their turns, accounting for possibilities such as characters being revived the same turn they die. The battle system definitely works aside from the random turn order, although one step back from the original game is that intermediate and advanced skills don’t carry over when characters change class.
The seventh entry largely revolves around the collection of the subtitular fragments to unlock the namesake forgotten past, and fortunately, finding them is much easier in the remake than in the original, with the player able to get regular hints on where to find the next map pieces, which shaves off a dozen or more superfluous gameplay hours. Granted, the developers continue to refuse certain dated traditions to due, such as endless dialogue when shopping and the ability to make permanent saves only in churches with an equally-daunting amount of dialogue. Even so, the mentioned improvements in advancing the main plot definitely help more than hurt.
The story itself is fairly interesting, with most of the sealed islands having interesting substories that ultimately tie in with a later goal in the game, and the main playable characters have some story behind them, even if most of them are average Joes. Furthermore, a late-game goal of seeking the help of elemental spirits has been done in the past, although the translation definitely aids the plotline, with regional dialects in some cases, even if the remake sometimes goes overboard with them. Regardless, the narrative is a definite draw to the game.
Koichi Sugiyama has always done a nice job with regards to his music for the series, and definitely doesn’t disappoint in this regard, and what the tracks sometimes lack in quantity very much make up for in quality. Many sound effects in battle, though, are dated, but otherwise, the audio is pleasant.
The visuals are a definite improvement over those in the PlayStation version, with better proportions for the character models and a definite fleshing of artist Akira Toriyama’s designs, with some nice details such as the mouths of character models moving in sync with dialogue. The environs look nice as well, although there is occasional blurry pixilated texturing, and there is the rare slowdown. Even so, a nice-looking game.
Finally, given the aforementioned easier nature of finding map shards necessary to unlock islands, playing time runs significantly shorter than in the PSX version, somewhere from two to three days total, with some nice post-game content as well.
Overall, the Nintendo 3DS remake of Dragon Quest VII is a marked improvement over the original version, given improvements to things that very much shave superfluous playtime such as the easier time locating map shards and advancing the main plotline, not to mention solid features inherited from the initial incarnation such as the solid class system and quick combat, the new localization spicing the plot well, the great soundtrack, the pleasant visuals, and plentiful post-game content. Granted, the remake retains archaic features indigenous to the franchise, and there are minor steps backwards regarding things such as intermediate and advanced abilities not carrying over to other classes, but those that missed out on the PlayStation version will be in for a treat.
+Quick combat with excellent class system.
+New features shave superfluous playing time from original.
+Great story and localization.
+Superb post-game content.
-Intermediate and advanced class skills don’t carry to other occupations.
-Random turn order in battle.
-Endless dialogue when shopping.
-Most of the main cast are average Joes.
-Translation can go overboard with foreign dialects.
-A few graphical impurities.
The Bottom Line:
A great remake.
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Game Mechanics: 8/10
Lasting Appeal: 10/10
Playing Time: 2-3 Days