Dragons. Pesky creatures that seed life on worlds and then come back once evolution has advanced to the point that civilization is tasty, and feed on us. If the last two games are to be believed, we're due for them to come make Tokyo their nest and nearly wipe out humanity in 2020, and then try a second time in 2021.
Those wars are old news in 7th Dragon III Code: VFD. The year is 2100 A.D. (77 U.E.) and our silent protagonist (INSERT YOUR NAME HERE) arrives at a building that houses a virtual reality game '7th Encounter' made by the popular 'Nodens' game company. Standing near the gates is a nervous and sickly looking girl named Mio. When the bunny plushie thing at the ticket gate turns our protagonist down for not having a ticket, Mio sees this as a chance to try the attraction without having to go in alone, and uses her golden invitation ticket to get the player invited inside along with her.
7th Encounter is a virtual reality recreation of the 2021 dragon attack on Tokyo Tower, and it's a game meant for 4 players - 3 fighters and one navigator, a noncombat support role that Mio volunteers to try out. A slightly jarring game/story break happens where we're then asked to create two other characters in the character maker to join our party. I played this part (the prologue) in the demo version of the game which came with pre-rolled characters and didn't allow you to make your own, so for this chapter I had a protagonist who was a female Samurai named Yaiba with Agent, Duelist and God Hand party members also already created to add. I went with Samurai/Agent/Duelist for starters and hopped in the simulation, fighting my way up Tokyo Tower. We do so well that the admin pulls the plug and drags us up to Nodens HQ to meet Allie, Julietta (*don't ask what his real name is), and Nagamimi, that rabbit plush from earlier which is actually a living creature.
Nodens is a game company only as a front and as a money-making operation, their real objective is to save the world from the imminent invasion of the 7th true dragon. To do that, their plan is twofold: First, to find proper 'Dragon Hunters', so-called S-rank supernatural ability wielders who can fight dragons like they did in 2020 and 2021 during the first two invasions. The game was a way to find them. The second objective is to decipher the 'Dragon Chronicle' by gathering data from the other six true dragons in hopes that the data from it will be of use against the 7th final true dragon. Mio is a little overwhelmed by all this, they ask her to stay since they could really use an S-rank navigator, but she bows out and runs. Bad timing, because right after she leaves the building, a dragon vanguard attacks Nodens HQ and starts frying the civilians outside. Our team rushes out to save Mio despite Nodens telling us to stay put and wait for the ISDF (International Self Defense Force, I'm assuming) to arrive, but they won't make it in time so we go and beat the shit out of some dragons to save Mio, but then get a bit too cocky and take on a dragon that kills us in one turn. Luckily, an ISDF squad headed by agents named Yuuma and Tougo arrives, Yuuma basically psychic-punches the dragon in the face and kills it just like that.
Nodens and the ISDF don't see eye to eye on a lot of issues, but they make a businesslike semi-truce and agree to work together for now. It helps that Nodens actually developed a - wait for it - working time machine in order to go to the past and future so that we can gather samples from the other 4 true dragons that don't appear in this era (we already got samples from two of the true dragons). I'm a bit surprised that they invited a goddamn time machine and the best use they can think of for it is filling up their Dragon Chronicle thing, but sure, let's go with their plan. The head of the ISDF sends Yuuma and Tougo to act alongside our the newly named 'Squad 13', the same call-name that the player's team had in 7th Dragon 2020-II. The ISDF clearly has ulterior motivations though - one big one is that our first destination is 12,000 years ago at the lost city of Atlantis, a civilization that devloped powerful dragon-killing swords forged from their magic-infused Orihalcum ore. It's cool, I'm sure Yuuma and Tougo won't steal it from under our noses once we find one. Actually, why shouldn't they? They are the ISDF, and we're some weird rogue eccentric private company. They think our Dragon Chronicle plan is dumb, though! I guess that settles it, if they don't believe in McGuffins then they must be evil or misguided. Yuuma and Tougo seem like nice enough guys, though. Especially Yuuma, he's way stronger than Squad 13 right now but is impressed by how quick we're improving.
Atlantica is in near complete ruins from the attack of true dragon Niara which started a few months earlier. Only the capital city Atlantis remains intact, and the King already took his best soldiers to battle Niara and they never returned. Everyone here has pretty much accepted that they're about to die, and their last-ditch plan is to basically use the power of their star crystals that they rely on to keep Atlantis running to self-destruct themselves but take Niara down with them. Despite this, when we run into an injured Atlantis boy, our protagonist wants to send them back to U.E. 77 for healing and treatment from the dragon sickness that the poisonous flowers which always accompany dragon attacks cause. Nagamimi reluctantly allows us to send him back while scolding us for trying to save a civilization and people who live 12,000 years in the past. He's got a point - aren't we already causing huge time paradoxes? What's gonna happen to the timeline if we actually send people from Atlantis to A.D. 2100 Tokyo? Nevertheless we do send him back, and then the game just throws open the 'rescue' mechanic and allows us to keep rescuing civilians we see around the maps and send them back to base for treatment, so we're building up quite a hospital ward of Atlantians back at Nodens HQ, I gather.
Atlantians are so damn cute, these are the 'Lucier' race that shows up in these games. The girls all have fluffy animal ears. The boys, they, uh...have pointy elf ears, I guess that's cool too? We get complimented on our own small, cute human ears a few times throughout Atlantis. After getting some experience and clues dragon-hunting in Atlantis, we teleport back to base and get our personal 'My Room' built, where the game gives me the option (since I loaded from the demo data) of creating a new protagonist. So of course I go ahead and make a self-insert, replacing the demo party's Agent with a new agent named Mellow and make him the main protagonist. Gee, I sure hope Mio isn't going to be too surprised that her new friend had a sex change and total body transformation between the last time we met (I'm sure she won't even notice, the player's 'identity' in this game is a very thin one).
Right now our character-making only has access to the four 'Tokyo style' classes: Samurai, Agent, Duelist, and God Hand. Samurai is a pretty balanced all-around physical attacker class with two sword styles that can be switched between. Agent is basically the 'Hacker' class from the previous game with some minor tweaks - they 'hack' enemies which then allows them to do really powerful things like make them attack their own allies, drain them, etc. and they can also set up effects that add support followup damage to other character's attacks. Duelist is not the kind of duelist class you usually think of in games, these are Yu-Gi-Oh style card duelists, they randomly draw a red, yellow or blue card each turn and can play them (or combinations of them) to deal a variety of effects and also set up 'trap cards' which activate on certain enemy actions. God Hand is a martial-arts and healing class, they seem to excel at single-target damage and also party healing, I didn't include one in my first party so I'm still not sure yet how good they are.
With character modification (and way too much grinding out of curiosity and wanting to try different things) out of the way, it's time for us to continue our search for blacksmiths who can forge dragon-killer swords. We enter a cave-like area of Atlantica infested with dragons and fight our way through until we meet the remnants of a Lucier blacksmithing clan, who attack us at first until we beat them down and make them drag us to their leader, who explains that they don't have any dragon-killer swords here because they gave it to the King when he went to fight Niara, and as mentioned earlier, they haven't heard back and he's presumed dead. Lots of their senior blacksmiths also left and they're short of materials so it's not like they can just easily forge a new one, either. They have a prophecy about 'Dragon Hunters' who will someday appear and who they should hand a dragon-killer sword over to, but have a hard time believing we're those Dragon Killers considering we're still pretty weak. Forget killing true dragon Niara, we probably couldn't even handle the Emperor-class Dragon (emperor dragon is one level weaker than true dragon) controlling this area, they say! Well, that sounds like a good way to prove ourselves and also help out this clan, so our next goal is to go hunt down this Emperor dragon and give it a royal beatdown.
They reluctantly agree to continue their self-defense of the settlement and leave hunting the Emperor dragon around these parts up to us, but they want us to bring some of their folks with us, both to help us defeat the dragon and to get them valuable experience. Awesome, this opens up two new Atlantis classes (Rune Knight and Fortuner) in the character creator and also unlocks the adorable Lucier character portraits. Rune Knight seems to be this game's ultimate 'tank' class, with abilities that make them more likely to take hits, covering abilities, defense up boosts, a bit of healing, and a couple elemental attacks. Fortuner is a debuff-dependent class that applies various bad status effects to enemies (poison, paralyze, burn, freeze, sleep, etc.) and then has abilities that do even worse things to enemies who are affected by those effects. They also have some party support in the form of HP/MP gradual recovery and some other neat tools. I make one of each and then throw my so-far unused God Hand from earlier to fill out Party 2, Atlantis style with one Tokyo assist.
The game also explains a neat mechanic here that's different from the previous game - you can have multiple parties participate in combat, the 'back row' party supports the first row with various boosts and assist attacks, and you can switch between parties in dungeons in case one of them is getting low on LF/MN. The back row parties also thankfully get experience and skill points too, so no need to grind starting over from Lv.1 on the weakest enemies, they'll catch up quickly to the first party. The system seems pretty neat at first glance, and it also solves the problem of "so many cool classes, but only 3 party slots to fill!" Now you can use all the neat classes and switch between them at will. A lot of the classes also synergize well together - just for an example in my first team, the Agent lays down Fire: TROY debuff which makes an enemy more susceptible to hacking and adds extra fire damage whenever any different party member uses a fire-elemental attack. Samurai or Duelist uses a fire attack and TROY activates which does even more damage. Same deal with the Fortuner - other classes like can apply debuffs instead so that the Fortuner can skip straight to wreaking havoc with the abilities that require enemies to already be debuffed.
So to recap - we're traveling through time to collect samples of each true dragon to prepare for the imminent arrival of the 7th true dragon back in A.D. 2100. The ISDF and Nodens are in an uneasy truce for now. Mio is still too scared to come back for navigator duty, it'd be nice to have her giving directions instead of the psychotic plush bunny. The Atlantians are still planning on self-destructing themselves to take down Niara, but we're trying to find an alternate way of defeating her without needing to do that. We've caused untold amounts of time paradoxes that will probably never be explored by the game. There seems to be no use of the 3DS' 3D functionality so far. I want to scratch a Lucier's fluffy ears.
Random JRPG blogging about the games I'm currently playing.