Years ago, being a jRPG fan living in Italy was not easy. All too often, in fact, the titles belonging to this genre were not distributed on our market, forcing those who wanted to recover the Japanese or, when it went well, American versions to jump through hoops (and crazy expenses).

One of the titles never landed in Europe was Enix’s Dragon Quest VII, whose western adventure stopped in the American territory leaving many fans of the Old Continent dry-mouthed. Fortunately, three years ago Square Enix and ArtePiazza made an excellent remake for Nintendo 3DS, which also came to us with a version completely translated into Italian.

After so many years, therefore, we finally have the opportunity to enjoy ourselves Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of a Forgotten World, a great traditional jRPG characterized by a rich history, well-studied characters (rendered in an excellent way by the unmistakable style of Akira Toriyama) and exciting game mechanics.

The exploration of the maps is much more enjoyable in this remake, compared to the original version.

Since this is Dragon Quest, there is obviously also a good dose of grinding, but thanks to a series of tricks made by the developers for this remake, many historical defects of the series have been mitigated.

But let’s go in order and let’s start from the story. The protagonist is an inhabitant of the island of Estard, which according to a legend should be the only land that has emerged in a world completely covered by water.

The inhabitants live in a simple way, relying on the exploits of heroic fishermen who regularly venture into the sea to recover food and resources. The father of the protagonist, Pinnus, is the best fisherman on the island, he is respected and loved by all and he can’t wait to be able to take his son with him on long boat crossings.

Thanks to a mysterious artifact recovered by Pinnus in his last trip, the adventure of the protagonist and his companions begins, a journey between past and present that will dramatically expand the horizons of the entire human race.

Passing through a magical portal, in fact, the hero and his friends will reach islands different from Estard, which in the past were not yet submerged. By completing a series of tasks in these settings, the group will be able to re-emerge the islands in the present, slowly expanding the game world and adding important pieces to an enjoyable and exciting storyline.

The fragmented nature of this tale makes Dragon Quest VII particularly suitable for the Nintendo portable console, guaranteeing fifty hours of fun for the most hasty players, and over seventy for those who also want to complete all the secondary missions.

The settings have benefited greatly from the new technical realization.

To advance in the story it is necessary to recover the fragments of the ancient tablet, essential to unlock new environments to explore. These fragments can be found almost everywhere, but compared to what happened in the original version of the game, where it was necessary to search randomly by sifting through every corner of the maps, in this remake you can rely on a practical talisman that reacts when there is a fragment nearby.

The other major change to the game’s structure concerns the random encounters, blunder and delight of the old jRPGs. In Dragon Quest VII for Nintendo 3DS, the developers opted for a more modern solution, with the monster models clearly visible in the settings.

Considering that we are talking about Dragon Quest, however, avoiding the fights you end up losing the precious experience necessary to face the toughest battles, then forcing you to retrace your steps to level up.

The freedom granted to the player is therefore fictitious, but at least it allows you to choose where and when to focus on the fighting and where to leave more room for history and exploration. The only phases in which the random fights are still present are the sea trips, but it is a sensible choice that absolutely does not add to the experience.

Going forward with the story, the clashes become more and more interesting thanks also to the presence of vocations, the Dragon Quest version of the Final Fantasy job system. Each vocation unlocks new skills and new costumes for the various characters, allowing you to create the most suitable party for the various situations proposed by the game.

Random fights remained only during sea voyages. In the rest of the game you can always choose whether to avoid enemies.

The numerous fights that must be faced in the game are managed through the traditional turn-based system, which, however, in this version has been enriched with a new AI capable of controlling the characters who work alongside the protagonist.

Fortunately, purists can choose to turn off this option (for an experience more in line with the original), but it’s nice to know that for the lazy or less savvy players with jRPGs an interesting alternative has been introduced.

Technically speaking, we are faced with a first-rate title, able to make the most of the (certainly not avant-garde) features of the Nintendo 3DS. Compared to the original version for the first PlayStation, all the settings have been redone from scratch and can be explored with love, by rotating the camera to appreciate every detail. The same care has been dedicated to the models of the characters and creatures, allowing now to enjoy the best of the unmistakable character design of Akira Toriyama.

For jRPG fans, therefore, Dragon Quest VII is a highly recommended purchase. The improvements made for this remake touch every aspect of the original game, from the technical one to the actual gameplay. We are facing the perfect meeting point between tradition and modernity, in a genre that struggles to find the right way to evolve.

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