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  1. Developer: Square-Enix, ArtePiazza Publisher: Nintendo Platform: Nintendo 3DS Release Date: September 16th, 2016 ESRB: E10+ Dragon Quest must seem like a weird series to look in on from the outside. If you were to travel to Japan, there“d be no arguing its relevance there. The main theme plays on trains today, Dragon Quest III made kids and adults go crazy a few decades back... It“s certainly safe to say that it“s as recognizable there as something like Final Fantasy is in the West. Fans here are much harder to come by. But they are legion, so to speak — often having to form campaigns or move proverbial mountains to convince Nintendo and Square-Enix that the franchise still has a place in the West, outside of quirky spin-offs and mobile ports. As history is known to repeat itself, the two 3DS Dragon Quest games that die-hard fans have been clamoring for since at least 2012...were finally confirmed for release outside Japan, last year. Dragon Quest VIII is the only entry left in the main series that I“ve yet to play. From what I hear...it“s bold & beautiful, it“s very character-driven, it“s newcomer friendly, and it“s one of only a few examples of Dragon Quest feeling “modern”. Dragon Warrior VII, as the West knew it in the days of the original PlayStation... is none of those things. As you can tell from the graphics alone, there was little separating it from the Super Nintendo entries that came before it. It“s been harped on for its obscene length — some saying it took over 100 hours to see the credits roll. Even die-hard fans could list numerous flaws, without so much as a second to think about it. Enter: Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past on Nintendo 3DS, a remake of the PlayStation game many once knew... that rebuilt everything from the ground up, including fully 3D-rendered graphics, a fully orchestrated soundtrack in Japan, and a brand new script for the West. There are a few out there to tell you what exactly has changed between the original game and its remake. But I'm not one of them. This was my very first time with VII. I can“t really tell you how things were, but I can certainly tell you plainly how things are. And that“s why — before I say anything else — I have to give caution where it“s due. If you are brand new to Dragon Quest, I promise that VII on 3DS is not the place to start. It took me 80 hours to reach the credits, and I“d guess anyone who touches the game will average a minimum of 72-75. Its length alone is incredibly daunting! Again: the original game was over 100 hours; the developers consider 80 hours to be that journey at its most trimmed down... and I genuinely feel they“re right. I can“t confidently say that any substantial part of the narrative or world deserved to be cut in transition from PlayStation to 3DS. Everything I ever did felt worthwhile, even if I didn“t necessarily agree with some mechanics or choices made. And that“s the other point I“ve got to hammer in. Many of my contemporaries have or will harp on Dragon Quest VII for being “stuck in the past”. Don“t get me wrong: I love that about these games. But the voices of dissent are absolutely correct. You can“t select a single enemy to target out of a group of them. There“s inventory management: characters in your party are only able to hold up to a certain number of items, while a Bag you pull things in and out of takes care of the rest. Permanent saving can only be done in towns, often making dungeons harder [or at least more of an endurance test] than they should be. There are numerous caveats about Dragon Quest games in general that most hobbyists will call “archaic” and “poorly aged”, at best. If you are intimidated by a super long Japanese RPG that“s the equivalent of a stubborn old man, in terms of its mechanics, I implore you to wait for the port of Dragon Quest VIII on 3DS instead. That game was much more beloved in its time, and it definitely seems like an easier pill to swallow. ...If I still have your attention after that, then the rest of what I have to say is mostly smooth sailing. Let“s keep coasting along, shall we? Fragments of the Forgotten Past is, at its core, a tale of world-building... literally. The world starts out as just a single island. You play as a fisherman“s son, who begins his day running a series of mundane errands that automatically try your patience right from the start. But if you stick with it past that first 90 minutes or so, you“ll wind up in a mysterious land with your best friend the prince and the mayor“s daughter... as the very first monster you“ve ever seen, a Slime, draws near. As the story slowly unfolds, you“ll set out to find 130 strange fragments... whose purpose is to literally piece together the 18 major civilizations of the world. Whether one set of fragments takes you to a tiny village, or another has you traversing an entire continent... this wide, wild world is handled in brilliantly strung together vignettes. The fisherman“s son is destined to become a hero, and figure out why the whole world became so small in the first place... by saving one island at a time. Each major location has a history... and you“ll often get to experience and change its history for the better, first-hand! There“s not a whole lot of character development in the party, if I“m being honest. Your cast of playable characters is certainly unique (and they typically have something funny, helpful or honest to contribute to the unfolding story, if you press the “Party Chat” button right as a crucial plot point happens), but the people they meet are of much more importance to the narrative as a whole. The “world” of Dragon Quest VII is absolutely my favorite part of the game, by far. It scratches a personal itch for me that games like Golden Sun managed in the past. And — consistent with the rest of the series — it“s filled to the brim with puns, strong accents, and allusions to real world places and endeavors. Certain aspects of the game are arguable, but its script and story are absolutely wonderful. Before I start to pick things apart, here“s just a few more high notes. The visuals were practically peerless when the game first came out almost four years ago, and they“ll still impress today. Nobody brings a monster to life quite like [character designer Akira] Toriyama does! Battle scenes are consistent with the dungeons you“re exploring in, often going out of their way to reflect precise detail that goes above and beyond most generic battle backdrops. Characters themselves are perhaps the most animated I have ever seen in my 25 years as a Dragon Quest faithful. When the king is mad at your foolhardy best friend, the camera pans as he slowly looks you both in the eye, and strums his fingers impatiently along the side of his chair, tapping and waiting for the prince“s latest excuse. While the music isn“t fully orchestrated here in the West, it“s definitely a few steps up in quality from the PlayStation MIDIs of the year 2000. Its arranged expertly enough to fool an untrained ear, at times. The level of care and attention I've seen here far exceeds series standards. Even when the game would test my patience, the ludicrous degree of polish is what kept me pushing forward. And gosh, does Dragon Quest VII test your patience. Its stubbornness is among its biggest flaws. Here“s an example: One part of my quest took me to an island with a tiny village called Providence. There“s a mountain right outside the village that leads up to a church, and... I must have climbed up and down that mountain five separate times in order to advance the story, and only one of them had the place rid of monsters. The concepts of backtracking or retreading old ground is something Dragon Quest VII takes pride in, for goodness sake. You may think you left the fiery volcano you journeyed down around Hour 15 behind — but you“ll be coming back around to it around Hour 65! Sure... there are new enemies, and a brief bit of a new location inside your retreading... but that aged, stubborn concept is what“s going to make even the most patient RPG fan or Dragon Quest veteran scratch their head. One bit that is unique to the remake is the act of initiating battles. The PlayStation original featured random battles, where enemies could not be seen. The remake generates enemies you come in contact with to prompt a battle. While this concept worked fine in Dragon Quest IX... the level design in VII has you going down a bunch of tiny corridors where encounters are often impossible to avoid. It“s easy to dodge a big, fat dragon on the world map as you“re going from one town to the next. But that same dragon will probably take up your whole bit of walking space, if you“re packed into a tiny hallway after some treasure. And because the enemies are randomly generated and not set….you could kill a dragon in front of the chest, take about 5 seconds to open it up, and have another dragon spawn right behind you where you just were. It didn“t grate on me too much, but... goodness, is this an example of a time where a balanced random battle system is sometimes superior to an unbalanced enemy encounter system. Fragments of the Forgotten Past is, at its core, an endurance test. If you can endure the first 90 minutes without a fight... things pick up, and I feel most players will genuinely appreciate where you are & how you got there. If you can endure the more rugged parts the entire 80 hour journey... you“ll probably walk away with a smile on your face, as I feel this world is among the best Dragon Quest as a series has to offer. I've had a blast, and I“m going to push my time with the game beyond what“s required and go explore some post-game dungeons, recruit some monsters, and even create Traveler's Tablets to StreetPass with. But this isn“t a game where I can say, “Everyone should try this! Everyone will love it!” For all of the above reasons and more, Dragon Quest VII is an incredibly nuanced experience. It“s a great game that“s targeted at a very specific crowd of people — I just happen to be one of those people! If anything I“ve said appeals to you, especially if you“re familiar with how Dragon Quest as a series “works,” I don“t think you“ll regret giving this one a try. Pros + Herein lies a spectacular example of world-building as a plot device. The story is told in a series of vignettes that capture a range of emotions. + Dragon Quest mechanics are tried and true. If traditional turn-based battles and bosses that test endurance versus a certain gimmick are your cup of tea, you'll fare all right. + For being such a long game, there is adequate signposting every step of the way. Easily playable in small bursts. Cons - The game is stubborn to a fault, often forcing backtracking and dungeon retreading to hammer in the idea of hardship. - The encounter system does not mesh well with the dungeon design. Small corridors lead to many a forced fight. - Length could work against the experience here, if you're not patient with some antiquated game mechanics. Overall Score: 8 (out of 10) Great The remake of Dragon Quest VII will test your patience. But if you endure, you'll come away knowing (and probably enjoying) one of the best worlds that Dragon Quest has to offer.
  2. In today's news, more NX rumors surface, SEGA teases Sonic news soon, we get some more information on Dragon Quest VII, and more! Read on below for the full scoops. New NX Rumors Surface Still no official word on what Nintendo's next platform codenamed 'NX' will be, but new rumors are circulating about the console's technical specs. A survey from GFK (a client of Nintendo) which was leaked from Liam Robertson (who has ties to Unseen64, a site about unreleased and cancelled video games) seems to add further fuel to the fire about connectivity between a handheld and console unit. Furthermore, it makes mention that video calls will be able to be made through your TV through the NX and it will support 4K/60fps video streaming and gameplay graphics at 900p/60fps. Finally, a sensor bar is also reportedly supposed to be bundled with the system; an interesting tidbit for sure, if true. As usual, take this all with a grain of salt until we get actual confirmation from Nintendo, which will hopefully come sometime before E3 (if not at the trade show itself). Source: Nintendo Inquirer SEGA teases Sonic news in February If you're a Sonic fan, good news -- you might be hearing more Sonic game news very soon. Apparently SEGA's teased an announcement of... some announcements to come in February on their Tumblr page. Might they reveal a new Sonic game or two? It's possible considering that this year is the 25th anniversary. Stay tuned... Source: Sonicthehedgehog.tumblr.com New Info on Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past Many fans have long been awaiting Dragon Quest VII remake here in the US, and yesterday brought a slew of new info on the localization. Namely, Dragon Quest VII is basically a brand new game with all new writing and no random encounters (you'll see the enemies on the map). Also being implemented are a story summary feature and Streetpass feature that will net you tablets. Keep an eye out for more Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past news leading up to its release later this Summer. Source: Siliconera https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kuzx7OKR40Y&feature=youtu.be&t=6m10s Aryll speaks for Toon Link in Hyrule Warriors Legends Hyrule Warriors Legends on 3DS is slated to include a few new characters that weren't present in the Wii U version of the game. Chief among them is Toon Link, and recent information has revealed an interesting tidbit about him. Other incarnations of Link usually have a fairy speaking in behalf of him throughout the game but Toon Link will have none other than his kid sister Aryll speaking on his behalf, which should be a nice change. She'll be speaking to him through the power of the Pirate's Charm, the same item that Tetra and The King of Red Lions used to communicate with Link in The Wind Waker. You can hear her talking at the 6:10 point in the video above! Of course, you'll also be able to hear her for yourself when the game launches on March 25 in North America. Source: Zelda Informer Twilight Princess HD amiibo functionality detailed Wondering what the Wolf Link amiibo will do when used with the upcoming The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD? Well, we finally have an answer. According to this week's Famitsu magazine, using the amiibo at a certain location will allow the player to experience "Thorough Battle: Trial of the Beast." Clearing it will net you a "Bottomless Wallet," which can carry up to 9,999 rupees (the max amount, safe to say). Also, the amiibo will allow you to import data from Twilight Princess HD into the upcoming Legend of Zelda Wii U game. What the data is is currently unknown still; expect to hear more leading up to the game's release. Finally, other Zelda-related amiibo will be able to be used once a day for different effects, such as replenishing arrows, hearts, and even making enemies dish out twice as much damage (thanks, Ganondorf... I guess). Source: Nintendo Everything Knuckle Sandwich is a visually stunning, upcoming Earthbound-inspired indie RPG Who doesn't love Earthbound (am I right)? 2015 saw a slew of indie games inspired by it, such as Citizens of Earth and the ever-popular Undertale (which I hear may have won our Game of the Year 2015 honor). Anyhoo, an upcoming indie RPG from Andrew Brophy called Knuckle Sandwich looks to be inspired by the SNES classic as well. The game stars a boy who's living on his own for the first time, and gets caught up in a mystery where people are disappearing from town. No release date has been detailed just yet, but Knuckle Sandwich will be coming to PC at some point. Be sure to check out the game's trailer above. Source: Polygon What news stood out to you today? Do you think the new NX rumors have any merit? And will SEGA announce something exciting for Sonic?
  3. Today Nintendo held a press event where they revealed quite a bit about the upcoming RPGs that are coming to 3DS this year. Fire Emblem Fates Special Edition 3DS Announced Not surprising at all, but definitely very cool -- Nintendo has announced an official limited edition New 3DS to celebrate the release of Fire Emblem Fates on February 19. The Special Edition Fire Emblem Fates New 3DS will feature black and white art based on the game and will retail for $199.99. Sadly, neither version of the game is included, however. Both versions of the game will retail for $39.99 separately. Additionally, the third story, Fire Emblem: Revelations will launch as DLC for $19.99 on March 10th for gamers who have bought Birthright or Conquest. Also, Nintendo announced that new map DLC will be released regularly starting with the first on February 19. Players will be able to buy them separately or all-at-once as a discounted Map Pack 1 bundle for $17.99. With prices like that, it seems like Nintendo is poised to make major bank on this title. Bravely Second: End Layer coming in April with its own Collector's Edition Yup, it's true - Bravely Second: End Layer has finally been dated for release on April 15. The game will also be receiving a collector's edition that includes the following: The game 10-song original soundtrack2 250-page deluxe art book Also, a demo version of the game called Bravely Second: End Layer РThe Ballad of the Three Cavaliers will be available to download shortly before the game comes out and offers its own unique story as well as new jobs and areas to explore. More RPGs dated for release in 2016 Fire Emblem Fates and Bravely Second: End Layer definitely aren't the only games releasing this year for 3DS; here's a look at the release dates for some other Nintendo-bound RPGs that are on the horizon. As Jonathan would say - "DRAGON QUEST!!!" Final Fantasy Explorers - Jan. 26 Project X Zone 2 - Feb. 16 Pok̩mon Red Version Feb. 27 Pok̩mon Blue Version - Feb. 27 Pok̩mon Yellow Version: Special Pikachu Edition - Feb. 27 Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past - Summer 2016 Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King - Q3/Q4 2016 Source: Nintendo Press Release Not a bad day for announcements, certainly. What are you looking forward to from these announcements? Let us know below!
  4. Many thought Square Enix was done remaking the older Dragon Quest SNES titles for DS (Dragon Quest 4, 5, and 6, respectively), but Siliconera has revealed that the seventh game is also getting the remake treatment as well, this time for the 3DS. Dragon Quest VII originally released on the Playstation some 12 years ago (where it was known as Dragon Warrior VII in the West), so this is a surprising announcement indeed. It will be fully remade in 3D and feature orchestrated music from the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra, and is also being developed by ArtePiazza (the developer behind the Dragon Quest remakes on DS and the original Dragon Quest VII). While no announcement has been made for localization in North America or Europe yet, Joystiq has reported that Square Enix is evaluating the game for Western markets. Dragon Quest VII: Warriors of Eden is slated to release in Japan on February 7, 2013.