Fragments of a Forgotten Past: Why I Was Wrong About Dragon Quest VII

A little over a year ago, I played Dragon Quest VII for the first time. I found the 3DS version to be slow, so I started up the PS1 version (which was supposedly even slower) just to see if it grabbed me more. It didn’t. In fact, I struggled with my entire time with Dragon Quest VII. I even wrote about how much I disliked it at the time. It wasn’t all bad, though. I wrote a follow-up the next week called “Redeeming Qualities of Dragon Quest VII,” and I mostly stand by that post.

It’s that first post that I have an issue with. I suppose I could do what most folks do on the internet; I could delete it and act like it never happened.

Or, I can just say, “I was wrong.” Here’s why.

Going Back to Estard

As the lockdowns around the U.S. continued because of COVID-19, I started to really miss playing Dragon Quest games. I had spent so much time with them, but I had gone almost all of 2020 without playing another one. Sure, it was only April, but I had a serious Dragon Quest jones (I sang that last bit to the tune of Cheech and Chong’s “Basketball Jones,” fyi).

I don’t why Dragon Quest VII kept calling me back. Maybe it was because I was so harsh on it last time and wanted to see if I liked it better the next time around. Or maybe that saying–“Distance makes the heart grow fonder”–is really true. I’ve said on Dragon Quest FM a time or two: “The longer I’ve been away from the game, the more I think I actually liked it.” So, maybe it was time to see if that was really true. Whatever the reason, I finally gave in, charged up my 2DS, and booted up Dragon Quest VII again.

And I’m really glad I did, too.

Since replaying Dragon Quest VII, I’m taking the game at a much slower pace and I’m enjoying pretty much every moment of it. I still wish you unlocked the Vocations system earlier, and there’s still a few backtracking issues I have, but it’s much better than I remember it.

There’s even puns I missed! Like this one:

The great thing about being in lockdown is that I’ve had more time to play video games. I’ve had more time, and Dragon Quest VII demands more time from you. It can be a daunting game in that it asks you to invest a lot of time and effort, but it’s also one that needs to breathe.

That’s why I sit it down for a few days, and then pick it back up and go through an island’s story before sitting it down for a few days again. The game is pretty episodic, so it’s perfect for this kind of playthrough. Last time I played it, I was trying to get through the entire series in a single year. I wasn’t rushing through it, but I wasn’t exactly sitting it down to breathe for days on end. This time around, the slower pace is much better for me. Slow and steady, you know? Nice and easy.

Replaying With a Twist

This time around, I couldn’t just play Dragon Quest VII at a slower pace. I needed something to mix it up. I lucked into finding the manga series Warriors of Eden online, and in fantastic condition. Fourteen volumes. Thirty bucks. You do the math. How could I say no to that?

Now, as I’m replaying Dragon Quest VII, I’m reading the manga alongside it. I can’t read Japanese, so it’s really just looking at the pretty pictures, but it’s fun! And while the events of the game are fresh on my mind, it’s not hard to see what’s happening in the story of the manga series.

It’s been a pretty cool way to replay the game and see some DQ content I had never seen before. Right now, I’m only on the fourth volume of the manga, but most of the divergences in the story are minor. Honestly, it’s a pretty faithful adaptation of the game.

Better the Second Time

For whatever reasons, I’ve really enjoyed my time with Dragon Quest VII this second time around. I think a few factors have contributed to that:

  1. I know what to expect now. I know what the game’s pacing is like, and I know in advance that it sometimes moves slowly. I know when I will unlock content I love, and I know when I’ll have to face story beats I don’t really like.
  2. I’m taking it easy. I’m not trying to push through the game on a timeline so I can get to the next one. I’ve got nowhere to go and nothing to do. I’m just playing this game like a super chill Matthew McConaughey, playing bongos in the nude like it’s 1999 all over again . Everything is just “All right, all right, all right.”
  3. I’ve played the other games now. I’ve said this before: I think I made a huge mistake playing Dragon Quest VII right after beating III and before playing the Zenithia Trilogy. I should’ve played them all in order, but I didn’t. You know that old saying about hindsight, right?

Dragon Quest VII is by no means perfect, but playing it for a second time has certainly made me appreciate it more. I know I was kinda hard on this game in the past, but instead of casting Thwack on my older posts and pretending like they never existed, let me offer this new one up. Consider it a retraction…or an apology to DQ VII, depending on how you look at it.

Austin King

Austin King

I love my wife, my three daughters, JRPGs, & old wooden ships. I write stuff. Obsessed with #DragonQuest. Podcast: @dragonquestfm

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