America - Front
America - Back
21st Nov 2019 | 1,663 views
“I am free!” That is the first statement that popped in my mind the moment after the credits rolled, and the Message “the End” appeared on the screen.
I had been brutalized, enslaved , and mentally imprisoned by the highest selling PS1 game of all time in Japan. The game? The 7th installment in the long running Dragon Warrior series (Dragon Quest in Japan).
Let me make a few things clear here before I start this review, I know literally no one that has ever played this game on its PS1 form, it is really a rare game, and was a hard game to find on Gameshops back in the 00s.
SquareEnix would end up releasing a remake (Which I haven’t played) of the game on the 3DS as DQVIII encountered moderate success in the US. Being that I am a collector and a hardcore Traditional RPG player, I bought DWVII in 2002 in spite of ho-hum reviews including a 6.75 from Game Informer.
While I, and every other JRPG fan in the world owes in part the birth of the traditional RPG genre as we know it today to the Dragon Quest/Warrior series. Outside of Japan the series never caught on or earned any popularity specially in the US until DQVIII.
If Dragon Warrior VII serves as an indication, the reason for this (The series not breaking out of Japan) is not that the Japanese have a greater appreciation of art than the rest of the world does…the reason that the first DW/DQ games never reached mainstream popularity anywhere but in Japan is probably quite simply that the series was very pedestrian.
I feel somewhat sorry for the 4 plus million of Japanese players that bought the game, and I also think they should get some psychological counseling too as this is truly the worst RPG I have ever played, and I mean ever.
I thought that no game could ever beat Time Stalkers to claim that most prestige less title , but I can safely say that DWVII has out done itself in every category to un-proudly claim that award.
DWVII is so bad that it has emotionally scarred me, this is the longest traditional RPG I have ever played clocking at 110 hours…yes 110 hours, and it took me 7 months to finish. Under normal circumstances I could have finished an RPG that long in maybe 10 to 12 days, as I finished FFVII in five days, and that one took me 52 hours on my first playthrough.
However what made DWVII a 7 long month affair was the fact that after the first five hours I realized that the game was a total waste of time, and playing it was the biggest single mistake I have ever made in my life.
A 2001 game that belonged in 1991
Let’s start with the graphics, yes I know that graphics are really the last thing that a hardcore RPG player should look for in a game. But there are certain standards of quality that have to be met, in order to make an RPG game for the PS1 and that standard was set in 2-D by Wild Arms, and in 3-D by FFVII and Grandia. Therefore any RPG that came after these titles had to at least approach a similar degree of quality in order to get any sort of credibility as a full fledged RPG title.
Sadly DWVII never reaches that standard in fact it couldn’t have ended up any farther from it. To say that the game looks like dog crap on a card board is not an over statement, because that is how the game simply looks.
Small pixelated sprite characters on rough, lifeless amateurish looking 3-D backgrounds that were probably originally intended to be 2-D constructions since their layout is very primitive to say the least. The character sprites are most embarrassing lacking any really detail or any fluid animation, it wouldn’t have made a difference if Akira Toriyama or the proverbial John Doe would have made the designs since the graphics are so bad that the designs are never truly seen as Toriyama intended and maybe this was for the best.
The character designs for DWVII are some of the ugliest most disproportionate atrocities I have ever seen on an RPG game. It was like Toriyama donated his worst designs to this game, rather than throw them in the garbage can where they belonged.
Toriyama has a particular, easy to identify art style which has been popularized by his greatest creation the Dragon Ball series (including Z and now Super) while Chrono Trigger’s characters were some of his best work, DWVII ends up showcasing some of his bottom of the barrel stuff.
I don’t know who designed the generic locales in which the game takes place, but they are barren and completely uninspiring, and look half done, in fact half done really describes the entire game in some aspects. The worlds truly look devoid of life, and detail, specially when compared to masterpieces such as Grandia and Xenogears. The graphical package presented here would have scored horrendously low had the game been released as a 1995 PS1 title but the game came in 2001, and there is really no excuse for the visuals stinking it out the way that they do.
My memory might fail me but Breath of Fire 3 was actually much more pleasant on the eyes. A game with the budget if DWVII being released in 2001 has to be held to a much higher standard than your normal run of the mill PS1 RPG.
The Battles don’t fare much better, as the backgrounds are flat, the monster designs are okay if only because they are actually presented in large sprites, their design still sucks for the most part, Akira Toriyama is really laid an egg here.
Any of the FF games I have played for the SNES are actually more visually pleasing to the eyes than DWVII.
Another complaint on the battles here is that you can’t see the main characters on the screen while in battle, while fans of the series might say that Enix stuck to tradition, I say that Enix slacked and decided it was easier not to show the main characters on the battle screen.
The game features some badly done FMV, which made wonder the reasoning for doing them at all, perhaps ARMOR PROJECT/BIRDSTUDIO (the developers) probably felt that they hadn’t embarrassed themselves enough by showing us how bad they were as graphic designers, that they decided to show us that they were actually even worst as CG artists.
A Mundane Aural Experience Fails to Lift the Presentation from the Ashes
Musically there is not really much to say other than the compositions are average fare, and that by the 30 hour mark I was sick and tired of the crappy melodies, and I still had about 80 more left of listening to the uninspired tunes.
As I said before the compositions weren’t exactly terrible but the lack of variety and the NES quality of sound (Yes it would be an injustice to the aural quality in the music of Games like Lunar and Final Fantasy VI, if they were placed in the same level with the quality of DWVII) really put a damper on things.
The Composer Koichi Sugiyama who is apparently the series composer, does an average job, he was nothing to write home about in this installment. I have seen many sub par RPGs that have better music and Aural quality. Since we are on the topic of sound now, I must note here that the sound effects are also from the NES era. There is no voice acting, the only thing present on DWVII’s sound department are recycled sound effects from past games.
Old School, But Not the Cool Old School
Which brings us into the gameplay, yes Dragon Warrior plays like an old school game, I don’t mean like FFVI or Lunar old school, I mean like 1989-1992 old school; the kind of old school that sucked. But at least FFI didn’t take any more than 50 hours to get through DWVII out does any traditional RPG that came before it by actually lasting over 100 hours of tedious, frustrating and repetitive gameplay.
First of all, while the world in Dragon Warrior VII is huge and everything pretty much can be explored the whole search for ‘shards’ to open up new lands concept gets old quickly, and not long after it gets old it becomes a nightmare.
Shards can be hidden anywhere in the world, and most of the time you really have to guess where they are because no one really tells you where they are, while most are given to you, there are some that will make you wander around aimlessly in order to find them. Considering that there are more than twenty lands each with a past, and present version, it could take hours, upon hours of searching before you can find one of the missing shards and you are able to continue.
This gameplay mechanic becomes very problematic 80 hours in, near the end of disc one (I know most people won’t even survive the first 20 hours so perhaps I shouldn’t worry about that)
The game has a sick amount of mini games, and side quests most of them which are inconsequential, and dumb, it is as if the developers thought the game was so great that anyone with at least half a brain would actually stick around after finishing the game in order to finish the secret dungeons, build the “amazing” Monster Park, and accomplish all of the former while striving hard to collect all of the Tiny Medals.
It’s mind boggling that the developers actually thought out all of these minigames, and yet they couldn’t give us a solid battle system or a user friendly job class system.
Moving on to the battle system, DWVII’s breed of turn based battles are as primitive as it gets, don’t be surprised if you pick up a copy of FF Origins and make the shocking discovery that FF1 actually has a more advanced battle system than DWVII! The battles are right out boring this becomes apparent after ten hours in (this was a sign for the developers to make the game shorter, and sign which apparently they turned a blind eye on), really I can say that I probably fought more than 5,000 random battles easily, and that at least 90 hours of game time were spent on these long stretches of battles in which all I had to do was press the Triangle button over, and over, and over again. It is on these combat stretches where I actually found the only good thing about DWVII.
The Ultimate Cure for a Problem that Afflicts Many Americans
With DWVII Enix has finally created the ultimate cure for Insomnia. I fell asleep four times while battling in the game, I wasn’t playing until late or anything (In fact I only played only one to three hours a day, since the game was so awful, that is why the game took me 7 months to finish). It all happened in plain daylight too, I just collapsed out of boredom and slept for two hours. In the one instance until my mother woke me up from the sofa because I had to go to work. Needless to say that DWVII can have that powerful of an impact in a person.
While I will admit some of the bosses require some type of strategy to beat, it all depends (like in every other RPG) on how high the level of your characters is and what combination of classes an specific character has mastered. When I beat the game my main character was in level 45, which doesn’t seem like much considering I played for 110 hours but really sometimes it can take an hour or two before your characters can level up, and that is an hour or two of constant random battling. You better find a spot to cash on Metables (which can give you 10500 EXP per kill) or you might never see the end credits in the game. The Job system is flawed, FFV’s kicks this game’s butt in that regard, and in every other aspect to say the least.
The Class system in DWVII is very user unfriendly a lot of classes are useless and it can take more than 1000 battles to master some of the more powerful ones, and to make things even worst the system is glitchy or at least quite unpredictable. At one point I was trying to get three of my characters to master an specific class and after 500 battles only one of my characters had mastered the class while the other two were still on level one!?
Unfortunately leveling up alone won’t do much good so you better get used to mastering a combination of classes if you ever want to see the disastrous ending that DWVII has to offer. However like I said before most people will likely never get past the first 20 hours so why bother to explain this?
Either way the combat and leveling up system can be summed in one word: Tedious. Prepare for a tedious 90-100 hours of boring, sleep inducing random battles.
So, at this point so far the graphics in DWVII are the lowest of the low, the sound is NES quality, and the Gameplay is boring, long, frustrating, and painful, so what’s left? THE STORY!
And the Path towards Oblivion is Complete
While this category has redeemed many a terrible RPG in the past, in this case it will only serve to dig DWVII deeper in the hole! Realize this your main character doesn’t speak (unless the game is Chrono Trigger, Zelda or Alundra you know you have a problem), doesn’t have an interesting back story, I mean c’mon he is a fisherman!? Your accompanying cast has no emotion, very few lines, in fact they never talk, and when they do is to say something stupid and uninteresting. So what you get is a cast you don’t care about in a world that is broken into pieces, in which each piece of land has its own little subplot, and each subplot is a bad cliché stolen from another story.
So you got about 20 plus of the worst clichés in RPG History all put together into one neat little package. The story follows the pattern of free a land from evil and move to the next, free the land from evil there while moving through the clichéd situation in that land, and repeat, and repeat for about 80 tedious hours *********Spoiler alert (though in such a bad plot …does it even matter?******************* until you finally resurrect god and kill the demon lord, but then god turns evil and locks the lands that you previously unlocked again. ******************************Spoiler Alert ends.
It feels as if the developers thought you were having such fun unlocking lands that you more or less have to repeat the same crappy pattern again but only for about 30 hour the 2nd time! Gee thanks ENIX!! NOT!!!!
There is absolutely no character development, and the story feels like it belongs in the pre FFIV era, in fact FFII has a better PLOT! The Plot would have sucked even if Enix had delivered a competent translation…but they didn’t. The spelling mistakes run rampant and the game reads horribly, it feels as if the developing team behind this abomination locked itself in a room from 1993 until 2001 and never witnessed the evolution of the genre.
While the game began with a whimper, it tragically ended with a fart instead of the proverbial BANG. The ending like everything else stunk, and was an HOUR long, there were no FMVs (thank god), but there were a lot of sprites talking about nonsense for a FULL HOUR, Lord have mercy on us all!!!
Adding insult to injury the whole game ends with a message from one of the characters that left your party not 20 hours in, as if the message would bring a tear to my eye, in fact the existence of some characters in the game is questionable as they served no real purpose to the story.
In my opinion the game should have ended some where around the 20 hour mark, that way I might have given the game a 4.0 in my score in a show of gratefulness from sparing me the pain, and suffering of having to play a single hour more! But the game over stayed its welcome for far too long, had the game ended at the 80 hour mark when you first Kill the damn Demon Lord (what a silly name, is not as bad as FFV’s X-Death but close enough), then maybe a 3.5 would have been granted in the overall score, but instead Enix decided to slap in DISC 2! Which made no sense really, I mean for all intents and purposes the game should have ended with the death of the damn Demon Lord, but IT DIDN’T, and I was forced to endure 30 more traumatizing hours of the literal manure that is DWVII.
Of course in order to keep my rep as a hardcore RPG gamer I stuck around till I finished it, since I had a duty to write this review in order to save any innocent soul that might stumble upon the game thinking it’s great because the game is god in Japan and DQVII The remake might be decent ( I don’t know since I haven’t played that one) but you must remember that in Japan games about mosquitoes stinging people were massively popular at that time, so that should tell you something…
Either way I stuck around till the end but those seven months were the most traumatizing, depressing months of my young life, I feel like was robbed of seven months of my life. I was thinking in suing Enix, I mean that is how scarred I felt the game had left me, I might even start taking some counseling.
Really I was having weird dreams of me preparing to slay a Dragon in a mountain in Puerto Rico, and this was all thanks to the traumatizing experience of knowing that the next day I would have to play DWVII even though I didn’t have to, but I was bound by my code of honor as an RPG reviewer to finish the damn thing.
Avoid the PS1 Version unless you are a Collector
If it hasn’t become clear after this review, the moral of the review is that you shouldn’t buy it, yes it’s rare, and yes the game is god in Japan, but it simply sucks and it will be a waste of your money and your life to play it.
This is by far the worst RPG I have ever played and, the most traumatizing game experience I have ever had. It’s one thing to be forced to play a bad RPG for 30 hours, it is another completely different one to play one for 110 hours, the longer the DWVII went the more I hated the game, and everyone involved in its creation.
I understand I might catch some flack from DQ fans, especially modern ones who only played the Remake and not the original 2001 disaster. I am willing to live with that.
Gameplay: 3.0- 90 hours of tedious random battles? Enough said! But the game is full of glitches, an awfully tedious save system and gameplay mechanics that belong in 1989.
Graphics: 2.5-In a class of it’s own very few games can claim to look worst. Akira Toriyama or not, every visual aspect of the game is blatantly bad.
Music: 4.5-The Compositions are mediocre, but they are repetitive and after 110 hours you will hate it along with the Special Effects.
Story: 2.0- Non existent, liberate lands, and kill the demon lord while resurrecting god. No character development at all and the translation stinks. The bummer is I had to endure this pedestrian tale for 110 hours.
Addictiveness: 1.0-Not many will have the fortitude or should I say recklessness and monk like discipline to finish it, and any one who replays the game after finishing is not human or of this world.
Overall: 3.0-This officially holds the spot for the WORST GAME EVER reviewed by yours truly. And that is no small feat as I have played many, MANY bad RPGS but this one easily takes the award. I guess I will have to take that prestigious award away from Time Stalkers, never thought I would live to see the day…*sobs*
Ljink96 posted 06/05/2016, 06:11
The fact is, Dragon Quest is still more popular than FF in Japan, where JRPGS are king. Need I remind you, Enix the developer saved Square, developer of FF, as they were about to go bankrupt even with FF, which resulted in the creation of Square Enix. If Dragon Quest kept going in the West like FF did and bear the poor sales like FFIV and VI, and eventually reach legend status like FFVII, it'd be at least half as popular.
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StreaK posted 21/06/2015, 01:30
Yeah, but selling great ONLY in ONE market (Japan) is not so great. Final Fantasy is evenly popular throughout the ENTIRE world. Now THAT is great. It's every bit as popular in NA as it is in Japan. You gotta appeal to the entire world to TRULY be great. :)
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