My First Impressions of Dragon Quest VII – Week One

Dragon Quest VII came out on the 3DS little over a week ago in the West after having been exclusive to Japan for three years, and as a new budding fan of the Dragon Quest series, I must say that I am enjoying it.

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The best way that I could possibly describe Dragon Quest series is that it is just “Classic Final Fantasy with Akira Toriyama’s artstyle” which in my eyes is a great thing. In this day and age where Final Fantasy has gradually evolved as a series, and turn-based combat mostly left forgotten in the past, Dragon Quest keeps its traditional keepsake and retains what made Final Fantasy amazing to begin with.

Having only played a portion of DQVIII, I honestly don’t have much experience with the series, which is why I quickly jumped on Dragon Quest VII when it released on the 3DS, because I’ve heard so many great things about the series and I’ve wanted to return to that classic JRPG goodness. Needless to say, I’m extremely happy that I decided to play DQVII.

As of writing, I’ve only so far put 29 hours into the game, which in reality is only a small portion of what is a 130+ hour game, and boy do I feel like I got a lot to go yet. The plot of the game is only just forming, and I have unlocked vocations just recently that spiffs up the game’s combat quite considerably. But let’s get into why I am enjoying this game so much.

The game starts off with the protagonist and his royal friend, Keifer, sealing up a hidden entrance to a place in a ruined temple. The game then cuts to the hero, who I’m going to refer to as Auster here on out, is getting lectured by another friend Maribel because she wants to know what he and Kiefer have been up to. Fast forward a little ways, the game’s introduction lasts quite a few hours. And eventually Auster and Kiefer discover this secret off-limits temple on the island, which by the way is the only place in existence in the current world, and are greeted by an Imp who tells them gather stone fragments, which Auster, Kiefer, and now Maribel, restore a column and are then teleported to a new island, in the past, and must save it from peril and its eventual doom. This is where the game’s main hook lays, in that the party jumps island to island restoring them in the current world, saving them from something perilous and moving on to a new one and so forth. Each island has it’s own self-contained stories, which are mostly based on fables and classic literature covering different nationalities like Scotland, Germany, and France for example. This adds some interesting exposition to the game’s overall plot and adds to the game’s depth and charm. With these different stories the game feels fresh when it comes to plot and story-telling, that I never get bored of what’s going on, because there’s always something new and intriguing going on.

The game itself though, despite being remade and simplified, does feel dated and can get tedious at times. The game contains literal hours of exposition before having another battle, multitudes of back tracking, and can sometimes get boring in that you are constantly just running around talking to people, which can certainly aggravate many gamers. However, it hasn’t bothered me, as I enjoy exposition in RPGs, and I typically care about the plot over combat, especially in older-styled JRPGs like Dragon Quest.

The combat in Dragon Quest VII is turn-based, and you plan all of your party’s moves within a turn and just hope it turns out for the best. Each character has a different skill archetype and even more so with the unlock of vocations. The vocations is the biggest thing going for the game’s combat, which I haven’t yet really experienced as I’ve just unlocked the system. But I can say that it does add to a character’s ability in combat, for example, I made Auster into a Sailor, which is a vocation that boasts health and defense, while teaching Auster water-based physical abilities. And I turned Maribel into a mage because she has a lot of MP and already knows quite a few spells, and with this vocation she can learn even more damage-based spells and further increase her amount of MP. So it definitely adds variety in how you build characters, which is awesome in my book. And the vocations also give the characters different outfits which is also really cool.

With it being a 3D remake of the original PlayStation game, it definitely looks better, but it’s not as good as Dragon Quest VII, while it looks fine on the 3DS, I can’t help but feel that it would’ve served better as a remake on PS3 and/or PS4, because it could’ve really benefited being on those consoles. Though with being an extremely long RPG, it also makes sense being on 3DS. So blah, it looks alright, but could certainly better.

The soundtrack is pretty nice, it doesn’t touch any Final Fantasy in terms of scale and greatness, it’s awesome in its own right. The remake also comes with a newly orchestrated soundtrack, so that’s pretty neat too. There is of course no voice acting, which I don’t mind because the localization is pretty tightly-knit and varied.

Anyways, these are my thoughts on Dragon Quest VII so far. I intend to write progress updates and maybe even a eventually a review for this absolute massive JRPG.

 

My Experience With Clinical Depression and Growing Up With It

Depression is a sad thing to have to live with, and I’m speaking from experience. I was diagnosed with clinical depression at the age of 7. So I have lived with depression for more than half of my life and I’m just a teenager.

For me, depression symbolizes the lack of motivation and self-will, the self-degradation of all that negatively happens to a person afflicted with the overly-there illness. There isn’t a day that goes by that I’m extremely tired, laying in bed thinking of all these things that I know hurt me, and it just piles on my stress and anxiety. I have no ability to change how I feel at whim, permanently lacking any feeling except for hurt and tragic despair. It’s something I hate having to live with, and now it’s just permanently attached to my mind, it’s hard to hope that it’ll ever go away, and it certainly hasn’t yet.

Growing up with Depression I’ve never had a good time in school, never really making any attachment to any of my peers, simply to avoid exhaustion and the possibility of getting hurt. Missing days at a time because I can barely get out of bed let along hop on a bus in a timely matter and deal with the same monotony as everything else in my life. Nobody else I’ve ever come to known have had any understanding of depression, some have had it but don’t know anything about, some extremely ignorant to the fact that mental illness exists, and some have no clue that it exists because it’s not something really ever openly discussed.

My inability to have any motivation to do things that I know I need to, has led me into a lot of issues, namely, Truancy. The past few years have been an extreme struggle getting to school. I stay at home, waking up in time to get ready and go, but not getting up, tears forming up in my eyes as I’m disgusted by the fact that I can’t get up to prevent further harm for myself and my family. I fall back asleep and wake up again hours later, disappointed and alone. No one to help and I can’t help myself, being persecuted for not attending school, being unable to be excused because I have the inability to see a therapist and/or a psychiatrist. The ignorance forming as to what I have to deal, forcing myself to defend my feelings, to defend myself because there’s no one else who will. Nobody knows the reason why I don’t go, I can barely figure it out. I can’t control how I feel, how I act, not when I’m in my home crying because everything is crumbling around me. This is me, this is who I am, this isn’t who I want to be. I want to feel good, I no longer want to feel hurt. But will that ever happen, well let’s just say, I have no hope, especially now of all times.

This is something I and myself alone have to deal with, nobody else there who understands, nobody else there besides myself and I can’t protect myself. A building crumbles without support, and here I sit, alone and afraid. Nothing hurts more than living with extreme sadness for years. And for those of you who do suffer from depression or anxiety, know that I understand, and hope you get through it, because it’s beating me up, and it shouldn’t even exist.

Legend of Mana; Still One of The Best JRPGs I’ve Ever Played

When somebody mentions the Mana series (Which is pretty rare in itself), it’s often about Secret of Mana or the original Final Fantasy Adventure, which are both fantastic games, but there’s still the black sheep in the series. Legend of Mana is the first game I have ever played, and I’ve played through it so many times since then. When it released for the PlayStation back in 2000, many people panned it because it was nothing like Secret of Mana except in concept, so it was essentially thrown into the bin of obscurity and rarely talked about despite being a fantastic game, which honestly depresses me.

Legend of Mana is what I would describe as being a sidescrolling Beat-em-up JRPG, as in the gameplay involves the player maneuvering around a 2D plane, hacking away at enemies with weapons and magic, but its true mechanics are something a person could completely miss in their first playthrough. At the beginning of the game you are to select a specific area of a world map as your sort-of playing field, where you place location blocks, this little thing can affect the entire story of the game, affecting what subplots you’ll go through, and which ones you won’t. Even where you place location blocks and the order in which you progress will affect subplots, everything has to be in a very particular subset for the player to do everything the game has to offer, and even then its possible to miss some things. The game is very deep in both it presentation and features, the stories it presents are often depressing and  you can play instruments to capture elements to then work into magic and different weapons with unique properties, this game was seriously way ahead of its time.

The game’s artstyle is that of a mix of pastel and water colors, the background scenes look like both renaissance art and something you’d see out of an old Disney animation, the pixel art on enemies and and characters are extremely detailed and at the time really only the PS1 could present graphically. It’s a beautiful game to look at, and the game is essentially a beautifully illustrated collection of fables.

The stories Legend of Mana tell are not only sweet, but are so intricate and thought-provoking it hurts. Legend of Mana is a tale of sadness and that of a dying world, different people from different lands all suffering from the wilting tree of mana, separating the world into different blocks, breaking the binds between them, stuck. That’s the message Legend of Mana tells me.

The music composed by Yoko Shimomura is nothing less than stellar, all tracks presenting a tale of grand fables, boss themes are often bombastic and moody, location tracks atmospheric and emotional, conveying the message not just by presentation but by sound as well, and that perpetuates the meaning of the stories so longingly told within the game. Just have a listen.

Legend of Mana holds an extremely special place in my heart, not only for the sake nostalgia, but as being one of the most fascinating and wondrous games I’ve ever experienced. The only fault I can give is that it’s convoluted, but that also plays as its greatest strength. It’s a game I feel should be played by everyone who has a love for JRPGs and amazing stories in video games.

The original game for the PS1 is quite expensive, hovering around $50-$90 USD for a used copy, but it’s easily attainable for those with a PS3 or Vita on PSN for $5.99. And if you do decide to give it a go. I hope that you will have the same amazing experience I’ve had with the game.


Thanks for reading this. If you want to read more about my opinions on games and other geeky things, check out my other blog posts and my Twitter.

A Little Bit More About Me

Thought I’d go ahead and tell off a bit about who I am, other than what I’ve said in the About page on this here blog. I’m 15, a teen. I’ve been writing on the internet since early 2014 and I absolutely love doing it, getting my thoughts on different stuff out there for virtually anyone to see. Which I don’t know, makes me feel quite good about my writing, and encourages me to express myself both on and off social media. So, just to give you a broader idea of whose words you’re reading from, I’ve been physically disabled my entire life, having had a prenatal stroke. Which in turn not only affects the right side of my body, which is weaker and smaller compared to the opposite side, it also affects me psychologically. I’ve had migraines for as far I remember, I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety at the age of 7, aspergers syndrome at the age of 13, and ADD at the age of 14. It’s always been something I’m very open about, but never really talked about unless asked about it. It’s something I’ve had to come to terms with all these years, and something I always feel that I absolutely have to overcome in some way. It affects the way I live, and how I act. It is something I know is pretty different from the norm, I have personally never encountered another person with my disability, or mental disorders. It’s weird, and I take pride in that, and something I never want rid of, only wishing that I felt better about how it has effected my life, and how it’ll forever change how I sometimes perceive things.

But enough about that sad story, I want to talk about what I do! I play video games, of course. I still have a very faint memory of playing LoZ II: Adventure of Link on my Grandmother’s NES at the age of 2, something I believe is likely my farthest memory. I’ve always loved playing games, watching my Grandmother play Final Fantasy VII, VIII, X, and X-2, its something I’ve always cherished and likely the reason why I’m addicted JRPGs and sappy anime. As I get older, I play more and more, branching off of JRPGs and playing the likes of Uncharted, Metal Gear, Grand Theft Auto, and so so so many indie games. I’ve played so many games since entering the realm of teenagehood than I’ve likely have pre-12. The reason for why I have good feelings about video games, is not only because its something I find extremely fascinating, it allows me to escape from my stresses and helps me to cope when my depression flares up, which is more often than I’d like to admit. It gives something to do, something to be a part, it gives me a chance to talk to people who love video games as much as I do, all from different backgrounds. It gives me something to be hopeful for, impatiently waiting for the game I’ve been so hyped about, sharing my experiences of games with other people, sharing each others favorite games and why. It’s something I have loved doing, and the internet has helped me with that. I’ve been a writer for a site a bit over a year now, writing features about different issues and subjects that pertain to video games. Talking to a group of whom I consider friends daily about games and all sorts of stuff, something I seriously enjoy doing and being a part of.

I’ve loved writing since I learned how to, writing short stories, and later poetry, bring praised by teachers and peers alike on my ability, my fluent language and far to big vocabulary, for both a child and teenager. So that’s why I enjoy writing, is because I know I’m good at it, certainly enough to be writing for a site as a sorta unpaid, untrained doodad games journalist.

Music has always been something that I’m very passionate about, despite my disability, and difficulty playing most instruments. I’ve enjoyed listening to, and experiencing, so many genres of musical, from Renaissance classical to Modern Rock. Though I must warn you, I have a loathsome relationship with modern Pop, and all forms of Country music. And at sheer mention of either, could potentially turn into quite the long debate. Heh. But yeah, I feel emotion through music, the chords, beats, the all-to-powerful lyrics that the singer wants to convey to the listener, regardless of its meaning or material. All of it I have massive amounts of respect for, and something I eventually want to contribute to in some way.

Movies, anime, cartoons, tv shows! I love it all. I like watching all forms of entertainment, whether it be a Disney fairy tale, or some British Comedy that I currently find extremely hilarious. I’ve watched quite a lot in my short 15 years on this planet, but it is another form of media I find fascinating and have quite an amount of respect for.

Well, my mind is getting tired now, writing takes too long if you ask me. Thanks for reading this, and I hope in this you’ve learned a bit about me, and I hope you continue to read my blog, whether it be about myself or any of the above topics. And remember to visit my Twitter for epic stuff!

 

It’s Finally Happening!

Oh yes! My blog is here and ready to go! I’m ready! My brain is ready! Dare I say, my body is ready! I’ve wanted to start a blog for almost two years now, so I can just get my thoughts out and onto the interwebs. I feel great about finally coming up with a blog title and figuring out how to use WordPress. I’m excited to see where this goes. What this will do, and what I can come up with. Anyways, stay tuned for blog posts where I will ramble about both video games, music, and other things us geeks like, but mostly I’ll gush on and on about video games. In the meantime, check out my Twitter¬†for updates and my thoughts about games n’ other stuff!