7th Dragon III Code: VFD is a really interesting throwback to old school turn-based RPGs, that feel right at home with the older Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest games. Code “Very Fancy Durians” is the game that I didn’t know I needed to get me back into turn-based combat. While I’ve always been a fan of RPGs, lately I’ve been finding it more difficult to have my attention held for longer than an hour or two at a time by these styles of games. Vicariously Furry Dogs however, had me up until three in the morning before an 8:00 am work shift. RPG fans will have a reason to dust off their 3DS if they haven’t picked it up in a while, because this is exactly what you’ve been missing.
In a futuristic world, legendary dragons have appeared, dropping humanity into a very formidable dilemma, as the dragons wreak havoc upon the word, spreading a very fatal disease and destroying cities. In this crisis for humanity, one company, Nodens, has discovered a way to fight back, sort of. It is up to you to travel back through time, confront ancient and powerful dragons, and retrieve tissues samples from them in order to create a…serum for the disease, I suppose? I may have missed the reason the genetic samples would actually work as a deterrent. Regardless of the fairly stereotypical JRPG plot, the writing is surprisingly well done, and even the generic NPCs have some form of character. You can talk to a random mob character and, as far as I’ve seen, they all have their own lines, which give a bit of insight into their character, even if it’s something basic. As for the main cast, while most fit into the common JRPG formula, they each have their own quirks and aspects that bring out their personalities. Your player characters on the other hand, are entirely self insert. What I mean is that your player character is chosen by you, including voice and class. While the customization is nice, this means that apart from a few in-battle call-outs your character is basically a mute. So all those scenes where you’d expect a big dialogue is a bunch of script prompts and body motions. Thankfully, most of the exposition is either done by other characters that happen to be around, or over fast enough that a nod or head shake is all that is necessary.
The customization is nothing to scoff at, with four starting classes available in both male and female, as well as two different costume sets and three color palette choices each. There are also enough voice files to have a few rosters of characters prepared with no voice overlap. Character portraits are not limited by class either, so you can feel free to choose only the appearance you want, even though some of them may look a little…odd, let’s say. Character classes are all have their own unique traits and weapons, and with three main fighters and a host of supporters to aid in battle, party composition is basically “whatever you like best”. As an example of the unique character traits, we have samurai with a sheathed and unsheathed stance, god fists that inflict stacks of “god depth” on an enemy, which will allow for more powerful moves, duelists that draw elemental cards every turn, which can be used to either lay traps or summon elemental creatures to attack, and agents, which use guns and can “hack” enemies to give debilitating status effects. Support members will be brought with you to battle, and will earn points on predetermined turn numbers depending on the character class. You can then call your supports to help beat up monsters, or perform party buffs.
Combat, as mentioned previously, is turn-based. You select you action (attack, skill, guard, exhaust, escape, item) and whoever is the fastest presumably goes first. It seems the duelist traps get priority, however. Exhaust acts as a sort of one-off power-up for whatever move you choose on that turn. You build an exhaust gauge by getting hit or hitting enemies. While the combat basics are pretty standard, the unique unit actions make it interesting. Additionally, some of the tougher enemies will give themselves shields or status ups that make them tougher. These can be removed by using a partner attack like mentioned previously. Each class has their own set of individual skills, which you can unlock more through side quests at one of the main Nodens desks.
While not fighting of the hordes of Vicious and Feral Demons, you go crawling through dungeons and sprawling Venues of Fine Décor. Areas are fairly sizeable for handheld dungeons, and the scenery is nice, if not a little choppy at times. Unit motions are fluid, the end of battle poses are class specific, which is interesting, and it’s nice seeing your party members follow along behind you. I’ll now take this opportunity to address the elephant in the room: the side quests. Whoo boy. Side quests in Voluptuous Frenzied Dandelions can broadly be described as either “fetch quests” or “monster hunts”. Basically it’s either “kill so many of these things” or “kill these things until they drop something you want”. Thankfully drop rates tend to range between “pretty decent” and “this is a nuisance”, but don’t seem to fall into the territory of “Oh dear gods of RNG please, I’ve been at this six days”. As a broad view, side quests tend to be annoying, yet manageable. What should pull your interest more than the side quests is the building renovations. Once you earn some DZ (dragon zenny) you can spend these points to either create or renovate rooms and floors of the Nodens company building. These rooms can an inn style room to sleep and recover, or expanding the available skills and items in the shop.
So how do you get DZ anyway? Well, as you’re out wandering through Hell’s high waters, tough enemies will show up on the field map. Instead of the usual “encounter gauge” that fills up, and initiates a random battle when it gets full, these enemies will be visible to start, and generally wander around a map. These are dragons, and they drop DZ when defeated. The dragons are much tougher than normal enemies, and are incredibly aggressive, even to the point that they can invade battles that are currently ongoing. If you get into a random encounter close enough to a dragon, they will hear you and start running towards the battle. If you are still in combat by the time the turn limit is up, the dragon joins the fight. This can be either good or bad, as a tough fight will turn nigh impossible when the Very Frightening Dragons come running, or you could leave an enemy alive to buff up your characters, and prepare for the intrusion.
The best part of the dragon fights though? The music. The soundtrack in Venerable Fine Dulcets is absolutely stellar. At some points I simply stopped playing and just sat there listening to the music. Even after six straight hours, the music was still great to listen too. The zone themes are well done, the boss music gives a great feeling of tackling a tough task against a potentially divine creature, and even the normal battle theme doesn’t get grating. Probably my favorite part is that the field theme picks back up right where it left off before getting into a battle. That’s right, you’re not just hearing the same looping five seconds over and over again between fights.
Overall, 7th Dragon III Code: VFD is a great RPG that is sure to be in the top picks for 3DS owners. While there are some issues with needing to grind out some levels, annoying side quests, and an encounter rate that sometimes makes it seem the floor is made out of demons, the quality of the rest of the game more than makes up for it. Special mention goes to whoever decided to still give KOed characters full experience from fights. That man (or woman) is a gracious gift to humanity. It truly feels as if the developers had a meeting, and the first guy said “how do we sell-“ and got promptly thrown out, while everyone else sat down and asked themselves “how do we make this fun?”. 7th Dragon III Code: VFD is a Veritably Fantastic Diamond.
Article by Richard