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by Enix

DW7-4.jpg (8743 bytes)OK, so I had a beautiful week in which my editor sent me the next installment of the Dragon Warrior series, Dragon Warrior VII. Having already gone through Dragon Warrior III for the Gameboy Color, I was eager to see what Enix would give me on the PSOne. It felt like a lot, holding it there in my hands, two discs worth. Dropping it in with thoughts of the cute anime characters on the packaging, and in the instruction booklet, I was unfortunately greeted with visuals that immediately sparked a twinge of nostalgia for the 16-bit days. My dream-like state soured at the graphical quality of the game, but that is where the bitterness stops.

DW7-5.jpg (9481 bytes)The game is still quite tough, even if the menu system is a tad bit archaic, along with the battle system, oh, and let’s not forget the ridiculous rigmarole of saving. Where others have streamlined, Enix continues stubbornly forward with what they developed years ago. And, truth be told, there is still a portion of my soul that gives itself over to the hardcore feel DWVII brings to the PSOne.

DW7-3.jpg (9610 bytes)The quest is an immense one, taking well over 100 hours to work through—one of the longest games out there right now that I can readily think of. I mean, where Enix skimped on the graphics, they made up with things to do—you’re always entertained in this game. There’s always something going on, a litter full of mini-games, classic characters, etc. It just rocks where it counts, and that would be in the gameplay department. DWVII balances dungeon exploration with land exploration, allowing you to roam freely throughout the game, enhancing and personalizing the experience of the RPG. You’re able to continue forward, pick up clues and progress through the quest, while at the same time taking as many side-trips as you wish. In this respect, the game is great. I didn’t find myself taking too much time in any one area. It makes you feel like you’re really Role-Playing and not just moving along with someone else’s storyline.

DW7-7.jpg (10375 bytes)DWVII begins on the island of Estard. You, the Hero, and your friend, Keifer, are trying to unlock the mysteries of the Ruins in North. As you can imagine, this is where the adventure begins. It won’t spoil much to say that within the Ruins you’ll discover the Tablet Room, which will serve as a portal to the rest of the Dragon Warrior world. You will need to discover various shards to unlock gateways through which you can travel to different lands. Eventually, the quest begins to center itself, and I mean center loosely as there are multiple mini-games and side-quests, around defeating the Demon Lord—and trust me, that’ll take you awhile.

DW7-6.jpg (10898 bytes)Enemies are aplenty in the game, starting out with, you got it, slimes and progressing on up to more difficult creatures. Count on dying a few dozen times and having to be trailed by those damnable caskets. DWVII forces you to earn and make your way through its world; it’s true to the actual RPG experience of not really handing you anything. You must buy or find the better equipment, ensure that your characters don’t die, pray if they do, etc. Of course, as I mentioned above, the mechanics of the game are a bit lackluster and seem clumsy and awkward compared to other RPGs out there on the shelves begging for our dollars.

DW7-1.jpg (11875 bytes)But, now comes the damning of this game: it’s competing with some other, very good titles on the PSOne, such as Tales of Destiny 2, which features a decent, albeit shorter, storyline, but offers richer graphics, and a better feel. The mistake Enix has made with DWVII is that they haven’t really improved upon anything but the quest itself. Now, some die-hards will damn me on that one, but Enix needs to get with the times and focus in upon all aspects of the game—not just one area.

Maybe my problem was that I had just come off of playing the GBC title and felt jolted being so roughly thrown back into that low-bit world on the PSOne. I know the PSOne can perform. It just strikes me to the core that Enix wouldn’t have done a better job on the graphical portion of the DW series, revamped some of their menu systems, etc. I don’t think they need to sacrifice content, but they really need to progress or else they’ll grow into catering to only a small niche of the market. Let’s see what they can do on the PS2 or whatever other platform they’ll be releasing their next DW title on. I just hope it doesn’t have a 16-bit feel.

Matt Baldwin   (01/17/2002)


Ups: Great story; lots of sidequests and mini-games; over 100 hours of play.

Downs: Seriously dated graphics; clunky menu system; awful save system.

Platform: PlayStation 1