Dragon Quest VII is finally here. The adventure begins! The long wait for the pal region release on Nintendo 3DS is over. I’ve been dying for some Dragon Quest in Australia and for a while I honestly thought I’d never see it. Other franchises have always overshadowed it and greedily consumed what market share is available; behemoths like Final Fantasy, for example. This lead to a lack of faith in the franchises ability to sell to western audiences. A view that was compounded by the relatively niche demand for JRPGs here and poor sales in the past. I’ve always loved the game style and the stories of this genre. Square was a nexus point for me as a kid for great RPGs. Back before the prevalence of the Internet and the ability to Google things, seeing the emblem of a publisher on a game case that I knew had released good games, of a certain genre, counted for a lot. Most of my saved pocket money went to these sorts of purchases.
Now that I’m past the cranky back-in-my-day portion of this post, let me just say that Dragon Quest VII is a tidal wave of nostalgia. I have no idea how well this game is going to do here but I hope that it exceeds expectations. I would love to see more of the remastered games along with the future releases translated and accessible and this game only ferments that desire. There are so many excellent titles out there just waiting to be experienced. It seems like such a shame that so few make it to our shores. Obviously these companies are looking to make money and invest in titles sensibly but it feels like we miss out on a lot.
Dragon Quest VII is a game heavy on narrative so the translation needed a lot of attention and care. So far it is phenomenal. It is so polished and nuanced that you can feel the passion and dedication of the team behind the project. This is important because aside from sales the need for quality translation is the other primary obstacle western audiences face in the localisation of this style of game. These titles are driven by narrative so the amount of text in-game is often titantic and complex. Nintendo and Square have delivered in this respect. It would have been an enormous undertaking but given how much I’m enjoying the game so far, and how polished and lucid the translation is, I am immensely grateful.
I’m about twelve hours into the game so far and I adore it; this game sings to the completionist in me. The art and character design is completely charming; all designed and orchestrated by the great Akira Toriyama of Dragon Ball fame. The combat is the traditional turn based strategic approach and there is a compelling job system. The game has you traveling through time, restoring islands and continents lost to the past. I’ve really only touched the tip of the iceberg because this game is extolled as a 100+ hour campaign. This is the first game in a while that has evoked this kind of feeling, this nostalgia. It makes me miss being able to spend a hundred hours sprawled in front of the TV as a kid maxing characters and collecting the ultimate weapons in Final Fantasy VII or VIII and taking on super bosses. Or games like Secret of Mana or Secret of Evermore, Chrono Trigger and Terranigma before them.
Recently Atlas has been scratching these itches for me; games like the fantastic Persona series and the awesomely dark Shin Megami Tensei IV. There is still some great stuff coming out but Dragon Quest VII is the first significant move that Square has made in this respect for a while in our region. I’m so glad to see them back at the table. The quality of this release the remastering and the translation so far bodes extremely well. All that needs to happen now is for people to buy it. I’m going back to play some more. This is going to eat into my free time but I don’t care – it’s so good.