7th Dragon III Code: VFD (Nintendo 3DS) Second Opinion Review

By Rudy Lavaux 19.02.2017

Review for 7th Dragon III Code: VFD on Nintendo 3DS

The never-ending tale of JRPGs not seeing release outside of their home turf remains one that Cubed3 is sadly all too familiar with. That basically means that a lot of great games, franchises even, would not see the light of day anywhere but in the country from which they originated. The 7th Dragon series is one such fine example. The original Nintendo DS was a RPG powerhouse, yet, just like Soma Bringer, a lot of those didn't come out here. The title at hand saw one game released for Nintendo DS in 2009, and two more for the PSP in subsequent years, the latter two of which being noteworthy for featuring Hatsune Miku in them. After Imageepoch's demise in 2015, a studio behind such titles as the Luminous Arc and Arc Rise Fantasia titles, the future of this last instalment seemed uncertain. However, thanks to SEGA, development on this could eventually be finished and the product be brought to market, marking the first time that the franchise saw an official English release. Now, in December 2016 and on Nintendo 3DS, the final chapter in this series came out in Europe as a Nintendo eShop exclusive and it is time to see what we've been missing out on, all those years.

In the year 2100, the world has already seen the threat of the true dragons bring all life on it, including humans, to the brink of extinction. Said threat came not only from them, but also from the miasma-like toxin they produce which causes dragon sickness. Dragons represent a formidable danger, but not one which the strongest of human warriors and their weapons are unable to face against. The true dragons however, which are essentially the highest tier of their kind to have ever existed, are near invincible, and the menace of the most powerful of all of them, the 7th dragon, looms on the horizon.

Humanity's one chance of survive is the completion of the Dragon Chronicle. This is done by collecting samples of all the rest of the true dragons, so it will be up to a party composed of the hero and its companions to find and collect them in order to complete the Chronicle and finally be ready for when the 7th dragon will come. The company behind this whole plan, Nodens Corporation, hiding behind their game company cover, created a VR-like dragon battling simulation game, played in VR pods, to gauge the potential of players and find the most able candidates to become bona fide dragon hunters, which as could be expected will turn out to be the protagonist and its party of heroes.

That party, like in '80s RPGs, is entirely made up by the player, with a range of pre-made appearances, colours palettes, and alternate hair styles being available for mild visual customisation. After making a party of three, characters are assigned a class that they won't be able to change before reaching level 30. Only four character classes are available initially, but more unlock for up to eight possible classes, as progress is made through the story. The fact that these are entirely made up, however, comes at the expense of any characterisation, other than the personality that the player wishes to instil into those through minimal dialogue choices. Similar to the original Final Fantasy, the heroes have no story of their own, and are never seen speaking their mind, for they have none.

Screenshot for 7th Dragon III Code: VFD on Nintendo 3DS

Instead, the focus is on the main NPCs whom, conversely, are ripe with witty lines of dialogues and are attributed very well-defined, strong personalities of their own. Nagamimi is a fine example of this; a weird, foul-mouthed, rabbit-like, doll-looking living being who it is never quite revealed what in the world it is other than it is definitely NOT a robot. While lack of characterisation may sound like an outstanding negative point, this is not altogether an unexpected move for this particular sub-genre of RPGs. So if it is perceived as something off-putting, it is not something the game is to be blamed for, but rather the sub-genre itself to which it belongs.

The latter has gradually fallen in disuse after the RPG formula drifted more towards complex and heavily written heroes. The choice of "soulless" heroes, however, still remains some people's favourite today as some still prefer to instil their own personality into their characters, and it could be argued that this is preferable to a cringy psychologically tormented hero that it's impossible to relate to, although there are both good and bad on both ends of the spectrum. At least, one can assign a voice to the playable characters, selecting from an impressive cast of notable Japanese voice actors, both male and female and mostly under the age of 35, who all have experience in the field of anime and video games. Therefore, there's bound to be some recognisable or even fan favourite voices in there to assign the party of heroes that the player will be playing with for dozens of hours. Those voices are essentially heard in battle however, and nowhere else.

As the party of heroes will do battle through those so-called dungeon areas, they will gain money to be invested in buying better gear and items, as well as experience points, levelling up each character, and upgrading their natural stats as usual. The more defining aspect of battles are the skill points they grant, which can be spent into customising the character to suit the player's will. These can be used to increase maximum life or mana points (this game's magic points system) to upgrade an existing skill that this character class has access to, or to unlock new ones altogether. Each class has its own learn-set, and using skills effectively, or even combining the efforts of characters to buff up or bring out each other's utmost potential, will be key to overcome the more powerful foes with class.

Screenshot for 7th Dragon III Code: VFD on Nintendo 3DS

Indeed, character customisation is of the utmost importance and at the centre of the entertainment offered by this title, as exploring the possibilities offered is both a captivating and rewarding experience. Like a lot of other dungeon crawlers, the world at hand in which all of this happens presents itself in the form of a hub town that the hero or heroine and its party return to in between the dungeon crawling parts. However, like many modern games of this kind, those sections do not actually happen within dungeons per se, but through a whole variety of locales. Where this title pulls off its very own set of tricks in that regard, is that those crawling and battling sequences take place at various areas of the world in which the 7th dragon series takes place, and at different time periods.

Whereas the first title in the series took place in a sort of medieval future, and both PSP releases done so in a post-apocalyptic 2020 Tokyo, 7th Dragon III: Code VFD takes place in 2100, and has the player travelling back to two other time periods at which the so-called "true" dragons spoken about in the series appeared, including one right after the time period depicted in the original Nintendo DS title. Right off the bat, the game is clear about the objective, which is to collect dragon samples in order to complete the Dragon Chronicle, the information of which will be essential in being able to actively fight and defeat the seventh and final true dragon when it strikes Tokyo. 256 Dragons will have to be tracked down and fought across every dungeon traversed by the party for completion, which given how tough they are, can seem like a lot.

However, completing the story, without aiming for completion, turns out to be surprisingly short for a RPG, clocking at about just about 35 hours for a leisurely paced playthrough and about double that amount for total completion. This is still plenty of good value for money no doubt, doesn't overstay its welcome or feel dull after such a long time period, and does offer a good sense of accomplishment after it has run its course, which is all one could ask for. Defeating dragons yields Dragon Zeni, which is used for ordering the development of more gear to be bought from the item shop, as well as develop the main hub town of the game by adding new facilities to it.

Screenshot for 7th Dragon III Code: VFD on Nintendo 3DS

That town is mainly comprised of the Nodens Corp building, to which floors will be added in exchange for the aforementioned currency. Furthermore, this is where heroes can receive side-quests, which become progressively available at a designated desk at Nodens Corp, and which also reward with money, items and/or rare and unique gear. These can involve anything from collecting an item from another NPC in town, to collecting monster drops, or even killing enough of the latter and act as nice distractions from the main story, especially those that grant access to otherwise unobtainable gear.

Certain quests with the best rewards are only available as DLC, however, none of which are free with the only free DLC available at time of writing being a Nagamimi doll for the hero's dorm. Overall, 7th Dragon III is a very solid package that should entertain any fans of RPGs, especially those who can cope with the stricter aspects of dungeon-crawling, which can otherwise be mildly off-putting at first, although, this one is among the most easily approachable for those new to the genre. This is helped by the pleasing visuals. It reuses a lot of assets from the PSP titles, namely enemy 3D models, although it features a less super deformed look on the characters themselves. It's also worth noting that this ditches stereoscopic 3D altogether in favour of more stable performance, although some frame rate dips can be perceived in some dungeons and the anti-aliasing capabilities of the Nintendo 3DS, are not put to use.

What it may slightly lack from a pure technical standpoint, however, is completely made up for by a formidable art direction which never lets down at any point. The presentation is also spiced up further by a wonderful soundtrack composed by maestro Yuzo Koshiro whom older fans will know for Streets of Rage or Actraiser, while younger ones will know him mostly for the Etrian Odyssey series. It's an all-round very attractive proposition from Sega that brings closure to a unique franchise that non-Japanese players only get to experience now, very late indeed, but which can still be thoroughly enjoyed without any previous experience with the series, as it does a good job of retelling previous events that would be important for a full understanding of the storyline.

Screenshot for 7th Dragon III Code: VFD on Nintendo 3DS

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

7th Dragon III: Code VFD is a good, and surprisingly accessible dungeon-crawling JRPG. Sporting bright visuals, exquisite character and level designs, and rich cast of voice actors and great OST, it's a pleasure for the eyes as much as the ears. Mild hiccups in frame rate and overall heavy aliasing do nothing to detract from what is undoubtedly a great experience; one driven by a compelling story filled with humorous situations and thoroughly loveable and interesting non-playable characters. As for the lack of proper characterisation of the playable characters, although regrettable, it comes with the territory in this particular RPG sub-genre. Nevertheless, this presents an attractive package that only really suffers from being released in Europe in a time frame already crowded with other JRPGs. Anyone reading this further down the line however and looking for another JRPG to sit through on their Nintendo 3DS may confidently dive in with this one.

Developer

SEGA

Publisher

SEGA

Genre

Turn Based RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

There are no replies to this review yet. Why not be the first?

Comment on this article

You can comment as a guest or join the Cubed3 community below: Sign Up for Free Account Login

Preview PostPreview Post Your Name:
Validate your comment
  Enter the letters in the image to validate your comment.
Submit Post

Subscribe to this topic Subscribe to this topic

If you are a registered member and logged in, you can also subscribe to topics by email.
Sign up today for blogs, games collections, reader reviews and much more
Site Feed
Who's Online?
Azuardo

There are 1 members online at the moment.