Dragon Warrior Quest VII Box Art

I am free! That is the first thought that popped in my mind the moment after the credits rolled and the Message “the End” appeared on the screen. I had been brutalized, enslaved, and mentally imprisoned by the highest selling PS1 game of all time in Japan. The game? The 7th installment in the long running Dragon Warrior series (Dragon Quest in Japan).

To start, let me make a few things clear here before I start this review, I know literally no one that has ever played this game, it is really a rare game, and a hard to find title on Gameshops. SquareEnix might release another batch of DWVII games now that DQVIII encountered moderate success in the US. I am a collector and a hardcore Traditional RPG player and that is the reason why I bought DWVII in the first place.

Now, for the formal review…ahem… While I and every other RPG fan in the world owes (partially) the birth of the traditional RPG genre to the Dragon Quest/Warrior series, outside of Japan the series never caught on or earned any popularity specially in the US. The reason for this is not that the Japanese have a greater appreciation of art than the rest of the world does…the reason that the first seven DW/DQ games never reached mainstream popularity anywhere but in Japan is because…quite simply the series sucks! (can’t speak for the eight installment.) And the ‘suck’ factor has never been more apparent than it is in DWVII.

That said, I feel sorry for the 4 plus million of Japanese players that bought the game, and I also think they should get some psychological counseling too. This is truly the worst RPG I have ever played, and I mean ever. I thought that no game could ever beat Time Stalkers to claim that most prestige less title, but alas, I can safely say that DWVII has out done itself in every category to un-proudly claim the award.

DWVII is so bad that it has emotionally scarred me. It is the longest traditional RPG that I have ever played clocking at 110 hours…yes 110 hours! It took me 7 months to finish. Under normal circumstances I could have finished an RPG that long in maybe 10 to 12 days, as I finished FFVII in five days and that one took me 52 hours.

However, what made DWVII an affair of 7 long months was the fact that after the first five hours I realized that the game was a total waste of time and playing it was the biggest single mistake I have ever made in my life. Being that I am a respected reviewer in the net ( or so I delude myself in thinking), I will , as always, go into detail in order to explain why DWVII is officially the worst RPG game that this reviewer has ever played.

Let’s start with the graphics. Yes, I know that graphics are really the last thing that a hardcore RPG player should look for in a game. But there are certain standards of quality that have to be met in order to make a RPG for the PS1 and that standard was set in 2-D by Wild Arms, and in 3-D by FFVII and Grandia. Therefore, any RPG that came after these titles had to at least approach a similar degree of quality in order to get any sort of credibility as a full fledged AAA RPG title.

Sadly, DWVII never reaches that standard, in fact, it couldn’t have ended up any farther from it. To say that the game looks like dog crap on a card board is not an over statement, because that is exactly how the game simply looks.

Small pixilated sprite characters populate rough, and lifeless amateurish looking 3-D backgrounds that were probably originally intended to be 2-D constructions since their layout is very primitive to say the least.

The character sprites are most embarrassing, lacking on detail and fluid animation. It wouldn’t have made a difference if Akira Toriyama, or the junkie that smokes dope on the corner would have made the designs since the graphics are so bad that the art work is never truly seen as Toriyama intended, and maybe this was for the best, as we will learn on the very next paragraph..

The character designs for DWVII are some of the ugliest, most disproportionate atrocities that I have ever seen on an RPG game. It was like Toriyama donated his worst designs to the game, rather than throw them in the garbage bin where they belonged.

I don’t know who designed the generic locales in which the game takes place, but they are barren and completely uninspiring, and offensively look half done. ‘Half done’ really describes the entire game in some aspects. The worlds truly look devoid of life, and detail, specially when stacked against masterpieces such as Grandia and Xenogears.

The graphical package presented here would have scored horrendously low had the game been a 1995 PS1 title but the game came out in 2001 (2000 in Japan). So, there is really no excuse for the visuals sucking the way they do.

To me it really looks like the visuals (just like the rest of the game) were put together quickly and in an effortless manner. Shame on Enix.

The Battles don’t fare much better, as the backgrounds are flat. The monster designs are okay, if only because they are actually presented in large sprites, their design remains sub par for the most part.

Dragon Warrior Quest VII Screenshot

Any of the FF games that I have played on the SNES are actually more visually pleasing to the eyes than DWVII. Also, another complaint on the battles here is that you can’t see the main characters on the screen while in battle, while fans of the series might say that Enix stuck to tradition, I say that Enix slacked and decided it was just easier not to show the main characters on the battle screen.

The game features some badly done FMV, which made wonder why they were done at all, perhaps ARMOR PROJECT/BIRDSTUDIO (the developers) probably felt that they hadn’t embarrassed themselves enough by showing us how badly they were as graphic designers, that they decided to show us how they are actually even worst as CG video artists.

Musically, there is not really much to say other than the compositions are average fare and that by the 30 hour mark I was sick and tired of the game’s crappy melodies. The fact that I still had about 80 more hours left of listening to this garbage should never be understated.

As I said before, the compositions weren’t exactly terrible but the lack of variety and the NES quality of the sound just stuck the final nail on the music’s coffin.

The Composer, Koichi Sugiyama, who apparently is the series composer, does an average job, he is nothing to write home about. I have seen many sub par RPGs that have better music and Aural quality. Since we are on the topic of sound now, I must note here that the sound effects are also from the NES era.

Which brings us into the gameplay, yes Dragon Warrior plays like an old school game, and I don’t mean like FFVI or Lunar old school. I mean like 1989-1992 old school, then kind of old school that sucked.

But at least, FFI,didn’t take me more than 50 hours to get through. DWVII out does any traditional RPG that came before it by actually lasting over 100 hours of tedious, frustrating and repetitive gameplay.

The world in Dragon Warrior VII is huge and everything pretty much can be explored the whole search for ‘shards’ to open up new lands, but the concept gets old quick and not long after getting old it becomes a nightmare.

See, shards (which have to be collected in order to move the plot forwards) can be hidden anywhere in the world, and most of the time you really have to guess where they are hidden because no one really tells you where they are. While most are given to you, there are some that will make you wander around aimlessly in order to find them.

Considering that there are more than twenty lands in the game, each with a past and a present version of it. It wouldn’t be an understatement to say that it could take hours upon hours of searching before you can find one of the missing shards, and you are able to continue progressing through the story. This issue becomes very problematic 80 hours in, near the end of disc one (I know most people won’t even survive the first 20 hours so perhaps I shouldn’t worry about that).

The game has a sick amount of mini games and side quests. Most of these are stupid and meaningless. It is as if the developers thought the game was so great that anyone with half a brain would actually stick around after finishing it in order to finish the secret dungeons and build the “amazing” Monster Park.  That gamers would accomplish all  of this while striving hard to collect all of the Tiny Medals. It’s mind boggling that the developers actually thought out all of these minigames through, and yet, they couldn’t give us a solid battle system or a user friendly job class system.

Moving on to the battle system, DWVII’s breed of turn based battles is as primitive as it gets, don’t be surprised if you pick up a copy of FF Origins and make the shocking discovery that FF1 actually has a more advanced battle system than DWVII! The battles are right out boring, this becomes apparent after ten hours in (this should have been a sign for the developers to make the game shorter, and sign to which, apparently, they turned a blind eye to).

Really, I can say that I probably fought more than 5,000 random battles, at the very least, and that at least 90 hours of game time were spent on these long stretches of battles in which all I had to do was press the Triangle button over and over and over. It is on these combat stretches where I actually found the only good thing about DWVII.

With DWVII, Enix finally created the ultimate cure for Insomnia, I fell asleep four times while battling in the game. I wasn’t playing until late at night or anything either (In fact I only played only one to three hours a day, since the game was so awful, that is why the game took me 7 months to finish). It all happened in plain daylight, I just collapsed out of boredom and slept for at least two hours the one time until my mom woke me up. DWVII can have that powerful of an impact on a person.

While I will admit that some of the bosses require some type of strategy in order to be defeated, it all depends (like in every other RPG) on how high the level of your characters is and what combination of classes an specific character has mastered.

When I beat the game my main character was at level 45, which doesn’t seem like much considering that I had played for 110 hours. At times, it can take an hour or two before your characters can level up and that hour or two is filled with constant random battling.  Anyone attempting to tackle this miserable beast better find a spot to cash on Metables (which can give you 10500 EXP per kill) or these misguided souls might never see the end credits in the game.

The Class system in DWVII is very user unfriendly. A lot of classes are useless and it can take more than 1000 battles to master some of the more powerful ones. To make things even worse the system is glitch full! At one point I was trying to get three of my characters to master an specific class, and after 500 battles only one of my characters had mastered the class while the other two were still on level one!?

Unfortunately, leveling up alone won’t do much good so you better get used to mastering a combination of classes if you ever want to see the disastrous ending that DWVII has to offer. However, like I said before, most people will likely never get past the first 20 hours so why even bother to explain this?

Either way, the combat and leveling up system can be summed in one word… Tedious. Prepare for 90-100 hours of boring, sleep inducing random battles, there you go old school freaks!

So far, the graphics in DWVII are the lowest of the low, the sound is NES quality, and the Gameplay is boring, long, frustrating, and painful. So what’s left? THE STORY!

While this category has redeemed many a terrible RPG in the past, in this case it will only serve to dig DWVII deeper into the hole! Realize this, your main character doesn’t speak (unless the game is Chrono Trigger, Zelda or Alundra you know you have a problem), and doesn’t have an interesting back story, I mean c’mon he is a fisherman!?

Your accompanying cast has no emotion, and very few lines. In fact, they never talk, and when they do it is to say something stupid and uninteresting. So, what you get is a cast that you don’t care about in a world that is broken into pieces, which each piece of land having their own little subplot, and  each subplot being a bad cliché stolen from another story.

The Story in DWVII consist of  20 plus of the worst clichés in RPG history all put together into one neat little package. The story follows the over used pattern  ‘free a land from evil and move to next, free the land from evil in said next land while moving through the clichéd situation in that land’ and repeat and repeat for about 80 tedious hours until you finally resurrect god and kill the demon lord.

But, to extent the agony further said god turns evil itself and locks the lands that you previously unlocked again. It felt as if as the developers thought that I was having such fun unlocking lands that it was imperative to more or less have me repeat the same crappy pattern again, but only for about 30 hours this time! Gee thanks ENIX!! NOT!!!!

There is absolutely no character development, and the story feels like it belongs in the pre FFIV era. FFII has a better PLOT! The Plot would have sucked even if Enix had delivered a competent translation…but they didn’t, the spelling mistakes run rampant and the game reads horribly, it feels as if the developing team behind this abomination locked itself in a room from 1993 until 200o and never witnessed the evolution of the genre. While there is cursing in the game, it feels forced and out of place.

Dragon Warrior VII is a game that began with a whimper and ended ended with a fart, instead of the proverbial BANG. The ending like everything else stunk, and was an HOUR long.

There were no FMVs (thank God) but there were a lot of sprites talking about nonsense for a FULL HOUR. Lord have mercy on us all!!!

Not only that, but the whole game ends with a message from one of the characters that left your party not 20 hours in, as if the message would bring a tear to my eye, in fact the existence of some characters in the game is questionable to say the least, as they served no real purpose to the story.

In my opinion, the game should have ended somewhere around the 20 hour mark. That way I might have given the game a 3.0 in my score in a show of gratefulness for sparing me the pain and suffering of having to play a single hour more!

But, the game over stayed its welcome for far too long, had the game ended at the 80 hour mark when you first Kill the damn Demon Lord (what a silly name, is not as bad as FFV’s X-Death but close enough), then maybe a 2.5 would have been granted in the over all score.

Instead, however, Enix decided to slap in DISC 2! Which made no sense really, I mean, for all intents and purposes the game should have ended with the death of the damn Demon Lord, but IT DIDN’T and I was forced to endure 30 more traumatizing hours of the crap that is DWVII.

Of course, in order to keep my rep as a hardcore RPG gamer I stuck around till I finished it, since I had a duty to write this review in order to save any innocent soul that might stumble upon the game thinking that it’s great because the game is a god in Japan and DQVIII might be decent ( I don’t know since I haven’t played that one), but you most remember that in Japan games about mosquitoes stinging people are massively popular, so that should tell you something…

Either way, I stuck around till the end but those seven months were the most traumatizing, depressing months of my young life, I feel like was robbed of seven months of my life, and I am was thinking in suing Enix actually, I mean that is how scarred this game has left me.

If it hasn’t become clear after this review, the moral of my rant here  is that you shouldn’t buy DWVII. Yes, it’s rare, and yes, the game is huge in Japan, but it simply sucks and it will be a waste of your money and your life to play it.

This is by far the worst RPG that I have ever played and the most traumatizing bad gaming experience that I have ever had. It’s one thing to be forced to play a bad RPG for 30 hours, is another completely different one to play one for 110 hours, the longer the DWVII went the more I hated the game and everyone involved in its creation.

Gameplay: 1.0– 90 hours of tedious random battles? Enough said! But the game is full of glitches, an awfully tedious save system and gameplay mechanics that belong in 1989.

Graphics: 2.5-In a class of its own very few games can claim to look worse. Akira Toriyama or not, every visual aspect of the game is blatantly bad.

Music: 1.5-The Compositions are mediocre, but they are repetitive and after 110 hours you will hate it along with the Special Effects.

Story: 1.0– Non existent, liberate lands and kill the demon lord while resurrecting god. No character development at all and the translation stinks. The bummer is that I had to endure this for 110 hours.

Replay-ability: 1.0-Not many will have the fortitude, or should I say recklessness and monk like discipline to finish it, and anyone who replays the game after finishing it, is either not human or of this world.

Overall: 1.0-This officially holds the spot for the WORST GAME EVER reviewed by yours truly Samuel Rivera. Thar is no small feat as I have played many, many bad RPGs, but this one easily takes the award. I guess I will have to take that prestigious award away from Time Stalkers, never thought I would live to see this day…*sobs*

Metacritic rated Dragon Quest VII a 78.

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By Samuel Rivera

An avid video game player and book reader, Samuel has been playing video games for the last 31 years. He has played nearly every PS1 JRPG known to man, and loves Ocarina of Time more than any other game.