Quite a bit of a fuss is being made over Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past’s enhancements, and for good reason. This is a remake so well executed, it may be difficult to remember this is a 16 year old game. There are new and improved graphics, a snazzier remastered soundtrack, and StreetPass elements that allow for randomly generated dungeons. Those are all great things, and we should absolutely call attention to and appreciate those upgrades. However, the details and special extras are what helps make this Nintendo 3DS game even more special.
The sights and sounds hit you immediately. Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past is a gorgeous game. The 3D world and characters are quite detailed, with a camera that can offer a 360 degree view in towns and on the world map. It’s quite a difference from the original game, which placed 2D character sprites in a rudimentary 3D world. But, it’s also almost directly paying tribute to the PlayStation JRPG. Every location is an almost perfect update of the original’s places. The hero’s home is a good example, as even the bags on the walls are in the same places. It’s a situation where I’d recommend looking up a let’s play of the the first half hour or so of the PlayStation version, then going into the Nintendo 3DS remake so you can appreciate what ArtePiazza has accomplished. Extra items could have been added or omitted for flavor, but you can see the point by point inspirations for each part of the game.
Taking the time to temporarily revisit the original game would also mean you’d be able to appreciate Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past’s new localization. Like the Nintendo DS revisions, dialects have been injected into the script for a more flavorful experience. This not only helps keep it consistent with past releases, but adds to the overall ambiance. These additional islands and continents are resurfacing after having been missing and isolated for years. Of course people are going to sound different.
Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past’s script helps better define characters’ personalities, something someone might not realize unless they’ve played both versions. Maribel is a good example. In the original game, we’re basically told she’s the bossy mayor’s daughter. In this remake, her tone and attitude is better conveyed through her behaviors. When you’re introduced to her in the PlayStation game, she asks if she’ll ever get to know what the hero and Prince Kiefer are doing, but isn’t particularly adamant about it. After you respond, she lets it drop and tells you to rest up for the next day’s festival. In the Nintendo 3DS version, Maribel outright threatens you, saying she’ll get to the bottom of the situation and expose your possible indiscretions. The remake does a better job of showing, rather than telling.
Pollack, the hero’s father, has experienced quite the shift in personality as well. He’s established as a hero fisherman and portrayed as quite a good guy. Yet, the original game’s initial interaction has him chastising the player for taking too long to bring him a sandwich. He’s a better role model in Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past’s new script, thanking his son for the lunch and encouraging him in his endeavors. He comes across as more of a caring father and local hero.
Another feature relating directly to Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past’s gimmick helps make the game better. It has players gathering tablets to return to the past, save innocents from unpleasant situations, and thus restore these places in the present. In the original release, finding those fragments could be rather trying. You’d have to go back search every nook and cranny, perhaps revisiting past locations, in the hopes of getting each stone. The Nintendo 3DS has a radar that clearly shows when a piece is nearby, even if it’s one that would be acquired by a story event, making it easier to enjoy this unique approach to time travel.
It’s only part of the rebalancing. The entire job system has been given a once over in Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past. It’s easier to level up jobs once you take them, which means it isn’t as difficult to acquire skills and start experimenting with hybrid classes like the Monster Masher, Sage, and Luminary or master classes like the Summoner. Since the master classes are essential in the end game, this means less grinding and more time actually enjoying the adventure.
The visible encounters also mean more time spent on more worthwhile matches. You can see the enemies on the map, making it easy to shoot for monsters you need to tame or strong opponents that will give worthwhile amounts of experience. While some fights are unavoidable, due to the dungeon and map layouts, Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past gives you much more control than before.
A glance will show you all the obvious ways Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past have changed. This is a careful remake with meaningful additions. But, many of the best alterations are ones that aren’t as obvious. The improved script, visible encounters, fragment radar, and adjusted classes all work to this entry’s benefit, making an already timeless JRPG even more enjoyable.
Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past will come to the Nintendo 3DS on September 16, 2016.