Looking for a classic RPG to sink your teeth into and also take on the go? Square Enix and Nintendo have released the epic JRPG adventure Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past on the Nintendo 3DS, bringing one of the long running series’ classic quests to a new audience and this time around with 3D visuals. But is revisiting this old school adventure on a smaller screen worth your time?
Developed by Square Enix / Published by Nintendo
Available on the Nintendo 3DS.
*Review code provided by Nintendo
In Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past, players take on the role of an unnamed boy who along with a prince named Kiefer and a local town girl named Maribel seek a way out of their boring, monotonous lives by exploring the ruins of a mysterious temple. Living on a small, solitary island named Estard with no other landmasses in the world save their own, the group discovers magical plate fragments hidden through the land that can summon new explorable islands. But just what is their purpose, and why were they hidden in the first place?
Storywise, Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past is a superb, old school JRPG tale, starting out small and innocently enough with three youngsters trying to break from their daily routines until they get involved in an epic quest to save the world from a terrible threat. The dialogue is simple and charming, and the plot keeps players constantly on their toes with new surprises, twists and developments as they go exploring new islands and locations, facing off against foes and gaining new allies. It’s a great adventure and definitively one of the series’ best, and it’s an excellent chance for newcomers to experience it for the first time.
Being a remake of a game that first released on the PS1, the visuals have been revamped on the 3DS version, and they look magnificent here, breathing new life to a classic adventure. Gone is the old 2D sprites on a 3D environment; instead everything here is rendered in 3D, from the main characters, NPCs, enemies and environments. The new look is fresh and fantastic, full of color and personality thanks to the signature Akira Toriyama designs that are cartoony yet expressive. The game also works excellently with the 3D options of the 3DS, so players looking for a great looking 3D adventure with depth will find it here.
The gameplay is solid too, returning to the turn-based action of old-school RPGs. Players explore a myriad of towns, islands and dungeons as they seek to find fragments and restore lost islands, and along the way will engage in tons of strategic battles against various creatures and big bosses and solve a couple of puzzles along the way. Exploration is done through a third-person perspective, be it at location or the overworld map, and the 3DS facilitates the experience by hosting a map at the bottom screen so players can track where they are, which is pretty nifty.
Combat starts when players run into enemies or during story-related cutscenes (unlike the random encounters of the original), and shifts to a sort of first-person viewpoint where players make selections of their actions and then complete them after choosing them all. Players are armed with the standard selection of JRPG options like attacking, defending or using magic spells or abilities that rely on magic points, and acquire more options as they level up. Unlike other RPGs however, players can’t select individual targets in battle, and instead must select enemy parties, requiring players to put a little more effort into choosing who to take out first, and dying means losing half of your hard earned money unless you want to load your last save at a church (save point). Thankfully players can also get new equipment to improve characters stats, as well as purchase items to heal or cure adverse status effects, and will also get the chance to specialize in jobs and get unique skills, though unlike the original, won’t be able to master every class and get every skill. The combat system is very old-school, so expect some micromanaging, but it’s also easy to get used to, especially if you’re into traditional RPGs, and it’s also very satisfying.
The other element present in Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past are the puzzles, which range from exploring the environment for hidden fragments, which is simplified thanks to a stone that alerts you if one is nearby, to navigating progress-impeding obstacles, like large gems that block your path but explode when they cross others of the same color, and more. Some of these have been simplified for the 3DS version – with some sections from the original PS1 shortened or skipped, but overall these puzzles remain challenging and entertaining, and are welcome breaks from the turn-based combat.
When it comes down to it, Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past is a excellent remake and wonderful modernization of a classic JRPG. With new visuals, classic turn-based combat and an entertaining island-hopping adventure full of thrilling action and twists, it’s a game that every RPG fan shouldn’t pass up, and a great experience to take on the go.