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VIDEO GAME REVIEW

Dragon Warrior VII

Seventh Time Not the Charm

By Chad Serrant

staff writer

Published by Enix for the Sony Playstation

$44.95

Rated T for Teen

As I finished Dragon Warrior III for the Game Boy Color, I realized that Enix would publish a game from their famous Dragon Warrior series for the Playstation. My opinion of the new incarnation: it seems a little dated.

The Dragon Warrior series hasn’t changed much throughout the years, and the story is still very lighthearted. The main character is a fisherman’s son (who looks a heck of a lot like Nintendo’s Link), who lives on the only island in this world with the spoiled mayor’s daughter, Maribel, and the brave yet simpleminded prince Kiefer. He discovers an old temple that leads to other islands, and learns that his mission is to save the islands from disaster. As he saves each island from disaster, it appears in his world.

Unlike the first few Dragon Warrior games, Dragon Warrior VII is story and battle driven. The first island has no monsters on it, and you have to go through several story events before you can get to another island. Once you arrive on the new island, you can travel to the nearby town, which has some kind of problem. You solve the problem (either by fighting the evil monster or examining the right areas), and then return to your homeland and find clues to the next world.

The battle system has not changed much. The battle is turn-based, and the characters can attack or cast spells. Even the perspective is the same first-person view it has been since Dragon Warrior I. I was hoping for something a little new, perhaps a third-person view or maybe a time based system. This system was okay for Dragon Warrior I, but this is part VII. You think they would have changed something in seven ties.

We could argue about whether the battle system needs to be changed, but the graphics definitely need an improvement. In the overworld, the characters are 2D sprites on a 3D world that can be rotated to your liking. The problem is that the sprites are scaled horribly. I’m sure that this was acceptable 5 years ago, but this is simply unacceptable nowadays. Xenogears and Breath of Fire 3 were published at least two years before this, and they handled sprites a lot better. Luckily, the enemy sprites you face during battle look a lot better and are loaded with animation. If only they kept it up for the rest of the game.

Perhaps my problem with this game is “been there, done that.” Dragon Warrior I was revolutionary in its early days, but the RPG genre grew with time, and has added new features to the basic combat system. Final Fantasy IV added a time system so that fast characters could move more often. Breath of Fire added a Master system so you could adjust your stats when you level up. But Dragon Warrior hasn’t changed much since its original incarnation. That means you could buy a previous version (like the portable Dragon Warrior III for the Game Boy Color) and you won’t notice a large difference between part III and part VII. Why buy another copy of the game you’ve already played?

The music is very light. It fits the “let’s wander around solving lots of mysteries” approach that I like. Nothing is too serious, and the music has been of better quality than the previous Dragon Warrior games. Many of them are redone versions of previous Dragon Warrior music, like the main menu song and the save game song. The sound effects are also light, and are appropriate with the setting.

Besides the music, everything else about the game seems old and dated. There are no new innovative features to this game except the simple 3D implementation. If you want to taste the Dragon Warrior series, try part III for the Game Boy Color, and hope that Enix tries something new for part VIII.