Dragon Quest VII has been a long time coming. The turn-based RPG series first hit European shores with Dragon Quest VIII on PlayStation 2, and only since then have we been able to work our way through the DS and iOS releases, finally catching up with our American pals.
Now, over three years since the Japanese release of this PlayStation remake, we can finally complete the set. If you're unfamiliar with the series, it feels a lot like most NES and SNES era JRPGs. Traditional, a little slow, and... perhaps a tad clunky.
In this entry you play a fisherman's son who teams up with the mayor's daughter and local prince to travel into the past to restore islands to his home world. As obtuse as that may sound, it's all quite digestible in-game.
Slow and steady... not always ace
If you aren't used to old-school JRPG trappings, or even if it's just been a while, you may find yourself getting impatient with Dragon Quest VII's leisurely pace. It'll be over an hour before you fight your first monster, around 10 before you can recruit monsters, and close to 20 before you can muck about with the class system.
In the meantime, managing items and equipment is more of a chore than it needs to be thanks to unnecessarily complex menu systems. Indeed, the creature comforts we've become used to with remasters seem to be missing here.
Why isn't the camera mapped to the unused C-nub on the New 3DS? Why is there a delay in opening the shopkeeper's inventory that ends up with me buying the wrong item? Why does the default camera position when I walk out of certain areas make me walk back in by mistake?
These niggles may be charming to Dragon Quest veterans, but it seems an oversight to not include at least an option to streamline the series' oddities for the uninitiated.
Old game, new tricks
All this said, Dragon Quest VII has received a complete graphical overhaul to reach the standards Dragon Quest VIII and IX set, with the added bonus of enemies appearing on the map, replacing random encounters.
StreetPass functionality means a whole host of new dungeons to collect, alongside new pieces of equipment. Some skills and shops have been rebalanced, and the addition of the radar makes finding shards of the old world easier than ever.
"The enemy are defeated."
What really stands out in this version is the localisation - it's downright delectable. Characters have distinguishable personalities, and each village you visit features its own regional accent that you'll be reading aloud in your head. I found myself wanting to speak with every NPC, never skipping a speech bubble.
Dragon Quest VII remains a veritable gem of an RPG that should be celebrated more so than ever thanks to this revamp, but it may prove too slow-paced and archaic for newcomers.