Game Review: 7th Dragon III: Code VFD (3DS)
09/01/2017 Leave a comment
Whenever I begin thinking about JPRG games I automatically imagine the large catalogue readily available for PlayStation platforms; however look further and you’ll realize that the Nintendo 3DS also has a relatively large catalogue of JPRG Games; and I’m not referring to the endless amounts of Pokemon or The Legend of Zelda games.
Fitting in to this ‘forgetable’ selection of JPRG Games for the Nintendo 3DS is the recently released 7th Dragon III: CODE VFD; a sequel of sorts to the previously released PSP and Nintendo DS games and today I’ll be taking a closer look at it.
|Title:||7th Dragon III: Code VFD|
|Publisher:||Koch Media / Deep Silver|
|Resolution:||800 x 240
Developed by SEGA, and published by Koch Media within Europe, 7th Dragon III: CODE VFD is a dungeon-crawler-styled JPRG that manages to create a unique experience with an exceptionally detailed and in-depth story. To some CODE VFD may seem like a stand-a-lone title making it’s first appearance into the world; but in actuality it’s the third and final part into a long-running JPRG trilogy that first made it’s appearance on the Nintendo DS eight years ago. Does this mean that CODE VFD is unplayable to newcomers? Not at all as fortunately enough the events of the past games are – from my knowledge at least – not referred to.
With that being said the story within CODE VFD follows the player – who can be chosen from a selection of different character classes and named to their desire – as they are recruited into being a member (or an agent if you prefer) of a secret organization that aims to protect the world from destructive dragons. The main objective is that the player, along with other team members who can be recruited and created at will, must locate the dragons scattered throughout time in order to defeat the ultimate dragon (codenamed VFD) in order to prevent the entire world from being destroyed.
It’s your typical end of the world storyline and it’s this story which continues to get more intense, and if not a little bit desperate, as you progress forward. The interesting aspect of this story is how it begins – of which you may have experienced if you played the demo – is that for the first hour of gameplay players find themselves taking part in a ‘simulated version’ of the actual game. It’s explained that the secret organization created this ‘Simulated Dragon Hunting Experience’ to find people who have the skills and abilities to hunt and defeat dragons and those who score high would be recruited into the group.
It’s this starting point which not only introduces the gameplay but also lays down the foundations of future events.I believe this style of introduction is a relatively unique way of starting a game; as it means we get to experience some of the gameplay at hand without having to sit through endless hours of dialogue; additionally this ‘simulated’ experience allows players to be walked through the gameplay without disrupting the flow of the game.
In terms of actual gameplay then 7Th Dragon: CODE VFD offers some relatively interesting experiences and, in my eyes at least, combines elements from two of the popular JPRG genres; namely turn-based-combat and dungeon-crawler, to create a truly unique game. How exactly? Well upon entering a dungeon players are able to freely navigate around a map – with the map layout being uncovered the further you explore – similar to a dungeon crawler – but when a battle does take place (of whch they occur at random) the combat takes place in a turn-based-style whereby players have to choose a character to attack an opponent with. Unlike traditional JPRG games, such as Pokemon, Final Fantasy and Persona, only the opponent (or monster) is displayed on screen and as such character models of your team are not displayed until the attack takes place; a trait mostly featured in dungeon-crawlers.
Like mentioned previously; it combines both popular elements into a single game and strangely enough it works exceptionally well. Unfortunately while combat is relatively straight forward – as players can attack with regular attacks or abilities – the varying amounts of character classes makes combat a game of luck if you are not familiar with each character classes strength and weaknesses. Creating a balanced team and in turn grinding those characters to create a stronger team is key to survival; as focusing on a single class, and using them in every battle, will result in failure – even after a few hours in the game.
In total eight different character classes exist, each of which can be customized in three different outfit styles (Atlantis, Tokyo and Eden) with forty voice actors (Japanese only) and player-created-names, with each one offering different combat styles and attacks. For instance the Samurai Class will deliver deadly sword slashing attacks while the Duelist will deliver weaponised attacks; mages on the other hand will deliver a stronger magical attack as well as be able to heal characters using their own ability. That’s not all either; as not only can you choose three characters for your main party but additional characters can be used as support characters to aid you in battle and what’s more unique is that ultimate team unison attacks can be used on your enemies. These unison attacks are not only good to look at but can deal a destructive amount of damage to your oppponent depending on the number of characters being used within the attack.
Basically CODE VFD offers a wide-range of possible characters and play-styles; but while over thirty character combinations exist it’s not possible to change the ‘visual’ appearance of the character other than three defined methods. This isn’t exactly a bad thing as while characters display on screen during dungeon exploration – of which they are presented in chibi form – they do not display during combat; so any visual changes wouldn’t be noticeable. This being said the three included outfit variations do make-up for the lack of any ‘build-in-customisation’ for a characters appearance.
Of course not being able to change a characters appearance with in-game costumes is slightly disappointing, as it is something you’d come to expect from a JPRG game, but while the outer appearance of each character cannot be changed (other than the three variations) you can change and upgrade the equipment that they use. As per the norm fighting enemies and locating chests scattered around the game-world will reward players with money (or at times new weapons) which can be used in turn to purchase new weapons to give your characters an edge in battle. If you’ve played any other type of JPRG Game then this functionality will be second nature; however as these options feel ‘slightly hidden’ you may find yourself using the base weapons for quite some time which in turn makes the battles a lot harder.
The focal point of 7th Dragon: CODE VFD may be to travel around hunting various dragons in order to stop the world from being destroyed from a superior dragon; but along with this ‘ongoing objective’ is an endless supply of side-quests and even a dating option; each of which add a refreshing experience to a relatively standard JPRG experience. The side-quest option can vary from helping characters in the base with mundane tasks – such as beta testing or item delivery – to combat out in the field; but each will reward the player with money and the potential items. The dating option on the other hand, of which unlocks several hours into the game, allows your main character to build relationships with other characters and –if the relationship status is high enough – your ‘close partner’ will gift you with rare items and weapons.
Personally the side-quests and dating aspect are two features I’d never really explore in great detail; but they have been implemented here in 7th Dragon III: CODE VFD and help to separate the regular gameplay which – at times – can become tedious with its ever-grinding and self-explorative nature. For me this is where 7th Dragon III: CODE VFD begins to fall down; it’s a great game with an ever-expanding storyline and customizable options but the constant grinding, potentially sluggish combat and non-linear-approach makes the game at times more tedious than enjoyable. For instance countless time did I forget where I needed to go for my next objective, as their was no map indicator, and I’d spend large amounts of time walking around looking where to go. Although this was an issue for me the more annoying aspect was the ever increasing difficulty of battles and the slow-paced-gameplay during combat when fighting overpowered enemies even early on in the game.
Ignoring these complaints, which to be fair would only come from those who aren’t highly experienced to the old-school ways of dungeon-crawler-styled turn-based-combat, then 7th Dragon III: CODE VFD is an engaging detailed JPRG game that offers an expansive selection of characters and refreshingly compelling story that gets better the further you progress forward.. It’s refreshingly difficult game and it works well on the Nintendo 3DS. If you are looking for a new type of JPRG experience then 7th Dragon: CODE VFD should be one to get.
7th Dragon III: Code VFD is now available within the UK for the Nintendo 3DS and is available as a digital-download from the Nintendo 3DS eShop and as a physical cartridge from numerous retailers.