Dragon Quest series producer Noriyoshi Fujimoto has personally always wanted to remake Dragon Quest VII for a portable system. Dragon Quest VII was originally made right before the digital era, so basically in the analog days. All the development documents were written on paper, ArtePiazza Shintaro Mashima explained in a Dengeki Interview.
Fujimoto added that the amount of documents used to develop Dragon Quest VII was insane. The company keeps all the old documents from the previous series, but Dragon Quest VII has so much that it has its own section for it. When a remake for the 3DS was in talks, they had to brace the fact that they’ll be going through each and every file. It was a now or never situation for them to remake Dragon Quest VII, due to it already being 10 years since the release of the original PlayStation version, and believed that waiting any longer would be too late.
When ArtePiazza and Square-Enix met up, they would haul about 40 books of documents, consisting of the scenario texts alone! It took them about a year to copy everything from paper to stored data on PC, and while they did that, they thought of new remake ideas while transferring each batch of documents.
When Dragon Quest VII was first released, it was the first three dimensional Dragon Quest game to date. A lot of planning was involved on how to give it a new presentation while keeping the same Dragon Quest feeling to it. Now that better technology is available, making it a three dimensional game wasn’t a problem, but their focus was on how to best utilize the 3DS graphics and its features.
Fujimoto actually sat down and played through the PlayStation version of Dragon Quest VII with Yuji Hori, the creator of the Dragon Quest series. He mentioned that even Hori realized how difficult the game was with all the problem solving and puzzles. When they made the original version, the idea was to make a "riddle solving adventure" game. During their recent play, even Hori pointed out the change of era. Fujimoto said, "Solving some of the puzzles felt very exhilarating at times. Whenever you got stuck in the game, the frustration would build up."
With that in mind, they’ve decided to add features such as the stone shard radars. They also worked on making the overall tempo better for a smoother game play. From the starting point of Estard Island to the number of puzzles and overall difficulty, they’ve revised many things for the upcoming 3DS version.
Another big change is how early players will be able to experience their first battle in the Nintendo 3DS version. In the original Dragon Quest VII, it took a good hour or longer until the first fight. This time around, they’ll be introducing the fight earlier so players can enjoy their adventure while participating in heated battles from start to end.
Due to the story volume of Dragon Quest VII, some found that the leveling pace felt really slow compared to other Dragon Quest titles. For the 3DS edition, they’ll be increasing the leveling pace so it can be up to par with the other DQ titles in that regard. The addition of the visual encounters was meant for that purpose, allowing players to have the choice to fight whenever they want.
The idea is to make the game easier to play, not making it easier overall. By allowing players to have more decision making, rather than forcing them to fight or solve puzzles, it makes for a better tempo. The tough enemies will still be just as tough. They’ve made useful spells, such as Evac (used to escape from dungeons,) to be available at earlier levels in the game.
They’ve added class exclusive costumes that visually correspond to each class. Prior to that, the characters always looked the same regardless of any class changing.
Dragon Quest has been known for having an in game menu window, rather than screen. For Dragon Quest VII on 3DS, they’ve made it an even better experience to provide smoother game play. They put a lot of thought into the camera works, while allowing players to have two different angles to play from, which can be adjusted at any time: