My review of 7th Dragon III Code:VFD is up.
Sure enough, the 'extra dungeon' content wasn't that meaningful in terms of story, but it was a nice addition to try out near-max level party combinations. It takes place in one of the many parallel worlds created by our universe re-arrangement tomfoolery - pay the 1st true dragon Iot 50 Dz at the gate for entrance to this realm (if you kill every dragon in the game, you'll have just enough to afford it).
It's basically just a boss rush. Iot spills some dialogue about how this is a parallel world created from one of the many time paradoxes and divergences we caused when we rearranged the universe, and how the first true dragon of this world is about to be born and seed life in it. Besides that, it's a boss rush of all the big boss fights from the main scenario with their stats jacked way up. The two main suggested parties here are Vanisher/RuneKnight/Mage (no big surprise, I figured that one out on my own) and Samurai/Fortuner/Mage. The Samurai team is pretty neat, it uses a strategy I didn't come across when I played without a guide - the main problem about teams without Rune Knights is that they're squishy, but Samurai has an ability that raises everyone on the team's max HP. I didn't realize how strong it was when that skill is raised to max level, with that maxed you can safely use the squishy caster Fortuner and Mage classes to wreak some serious havoc. I also saw a couple fights where God Hand was one of the recommended options, but never needed to try it. Poor Duelist/Agent classes, I wonder if they could manage to power through this dungeon. I'd love to see a 3 Duelist team cardfight their way to the end.
Anyway, the final (real) boss is our buddy Blaster Raven sitting up at the top of this dimension near the first baby dragon that will eventually become a true dragon and seed life on this alternate world. He's having a moral dilemma here - does he kill the baby dragon and prevent dragons from creating another catastrophe, or does he let it live so that it seeds life on this world, since without the dragons there would be no humans? He can't decide, so he asks Squad 13 for a fight, winner gets to decide what to do with the dragon. This is the hardest fight in the game, but I was clearly overleveled, I'm not sure why the wiki suggested grinding to Lv.95 when it was clearly overkill. I'm kicking myself for using a guide, I should have gone in blind for more fun. Especially since you don't have to hold back on items, you can just keep feeding your Mage the Exhaust gauge refill item and have them keep using their ultimate attack to inflict paralysis and huge damage on Raven. Yeah, paralysis works on the very last strongest boss, that's 7th Dragon, baby.
Anyway, it's not super deep or anything, but at least this was a simple philosophical question with no weird time travel nonsense. Once you beat Raven, he leaves the choice of what to do with the dragon up to you. Iot shows up to see your decision. Is it better to let this thing live so that eventually it will seed life, even if that means that later on it will come back and invade? Or is it better to kill it now and let this alternate world be a barren and lifeless one, but at least one without suffering? I'm not actually sure what I would choose if I had to make a choice like this in real life, but I chose to let the baby dragon live and scamper off, I'm sure this universe will eventually raise up their own elite squad of catgirls to repel the dragon invaders too, it'll work out. Hopefully, maybe. Then I reloaded and fought Raven again just to see what happens if you decide to kill it - a fight starts with the weakest dragon enemy in the game, the very last fight in 7th Dragon III, if you make this choice, is against an enemy you can beat at Lv.1. My Vanisher's auto-skill instakilled it when the fight started. Poor thing. Either choice you make though, Iot reminds you that this is just one parallel universe out of countless, and some of them will have dragons regardless. Nice of them to leave open the possibility of future 7th Dragon games after we wrote dragons out of existence in this universe, I guess.
Well, that's it for 7th Dragon I guess. Fun game, neat customization, love the style. Too bad about the story, lacking in a few other places too but still satisfied with the purchase overall. Time to take a couple weeks off until the release of Atelier Sophie on the 19th.
Nobody has ever accused me of being an artist, so MS Paint is the best you're going to get. This pretty much says it all but let's go through the finale to this game anyway.
With Haze and Hypnos defeated, we return to Tokyo and get some time off while Julietta works on pinpointing the next dragon. Yoritomo stops by to take us dragon hunting in Tokyo and along the way, admits to being Mio's father - her mother was an artificial lifeform NAVI unit, all of whom died to the dragon flower sickness (which I guess explains both Mio's navigator abilities and constant sickness). He entrusted her to Dr. Nagumo (the doctor who has been working on a cure to the sickness) to raise, to protect her from people who might want to use her for her navi abilities. He feels pretty shitty about it, as he should, but oh well. He also mentions that he considers Yuuma to be like a son to him as well since he was born basically out of the same research that Mio's mother was from (and again, despite Yuuma's speed-aged appearance he's only 12).
During this 'break time' chapter you can finally start finishing up dates with the named characters in the game (13 in total). These are entertaining enough, you get to know more about each of the characters and they'll tell you more about their motivations and backgrounds. Also, almost all of the date lines end with heavily implied (but tongue-in-cheek) comical cut-to-black sex scenes, regardless of your character's gender. I was playing my adorable catgirl Lucier as main character during these parts and I think I slept with almost the entire Nodens corporation, from Allie to Julietta to Yuuma to Mio and many, many more including our friends from Atlantis and Eden. Just to confirm that character gender doesn't affect these scenes, I switched back to a male MC and reloaded before Yuuma's final date and it happened exactly the same way, so yeah. Finishing these dates also gets you really good weapons/accessories, so you'd better embrace swinging both ways for the sake of the gear!
Anyway, returning to the main story, Dr. Nagumo has finished a vaccine for the dragon flower disease, but it's not mass-producible and has only one dose, which he gives to Mio. She doesn't want to take it, but we convince her to since she's the best support Squad 13 has and if we defeat the true dragons then the dragon flower disease will disappear too. Meanwhile at the ISDF HQ, Yuuma is insisting on having the data from Haze and Hypnos installed into him against Dr. Nagumo's objections. He really, really wants to be stronger than Squad 13 and feels like as an artifical lifeform he has no purpose besides this. Well, surprise surprise, five true dragon essences was a little overboard and when Yuuma steps out he's got dragon claws hanging from his face and he's now completely enthralled by the idea of being the 'pinnacle of evolution' and fully on-board with the dragons' plan of forcibly speeding up the evolution of humanity by any means possible. He kills the head of the ISDF in front of Dr. Nagumo and Yoritomo, and rampages out of the base.
A common theme that a lot of characters have been noticing is that the dragons and their disease are behaving unlike a natural disease, it's more like it's selecting people to speed up evolution, killing off weak people but giving strong people even more power, which explains Squad 13's incredible growth in such a short period of time. Speaking of growth, Nodens CEO Allie has always been pretty enthralled by how quickly we're growing, nice of her to notice. Oh geez, wait wait wait! Too late. Nodens HQ and the entire world starts drowning in heavy, unbearable dragon flowers and dying off. The last true dragon is none other than our Nodens CEO who has been giving us missions this whole time, Allie, or 'ND' as she calls herself now. So what's 2nd true dragon ND up to? She's obsessed with growth and evolution, and her whole plan has been to find people capable of surpassing and subsuming all the true dragons and all humanity and to awaken as the new '7th Dragon' and merge with the whole universe to lead us into a new dimension of existence. There was never a 7th, there are only 6 true dragons, it was all a lie.
Just in case we're not aware of how fucked we are just yet, ND goes ahead and kills off most of our party members to go along with all the world's population that's dying. Urania and her Atlantis buddies, our Eden friends, all killed by ND. Yuuma lands on the scene, he knows what's up, ND wants him and Squad 13 to fight so that whoever wins can go on to become the 7th dragon. Mio tries to run up in Yuuma's face and get in the way with a cheesy talk about friendship and how strength isn't everything, to which Yuuma swings at her and Yoritomo lands on the scene just in time to cover Mio and take the fatal blow from Yuuma instead. The corpses and JRPG tropes are really piling up now.
ND tells us to kill her so that we can use her to finish deciphering the Dragon Chronicle and use it to do the whole 'merge the universe' nonsense. She's even brought her own dragon-killer swords with her, it's the quest and shop counter girls, Chika and Rikka! Their hearts form the dual swords used for killing ND, and they attack us on ND's command, forcing us to defend ourselves. At least Chika's painful never-ending overtime work at Nodens will finally be finished. This battle was very easy, after Hypnos my main team switched to Rune Knight / Mage / Vanisher, which is frankly just ridiculously overpowered. When we refuse to finish Chika and Rikka off, Yuuma goes ahead and rips out their hearts for us, RIP you two. ND decides things have gotten a bit too melodramatic and tells us to meet her later for the showdown now that we've got the swords, and of course we'll have to settle things with Yuuma before we get there too.
Anyway, now that almost all of humanity is dead maybe we should go yell at Julietta and find out what he knows about all this, considering he's been working with Allie all this time. We go with Dr. Nagumo (who is still alive for now) and Mio to go confront him. Here's where he spills his whole backstory - he used to be a researcher with the ISDF, which is the organization that took over world recovery efforts after 85% of the population died in the 2020-2021 dragon attacks. He became disillusioned when the ISDF only saved rich countries, countries they could get favors from, and left poor countries to rot, actually encouraging them to degrade even further and turning Julietta's dragon research into weapons to arm them in civil unrest and the like. He was totally on-board with Allie's idea of merging humanity with the Dragon Chronicle and evolving them all to the next stage, but he totally had no idea she was actually ND, the 2nd true dragon. Well gee, I guess that's okay then. Anyway, he's had a change of heart after seeing all of us working to save people in the past, present and future but it's a bit late for that, isn't it? Well, it's not like we have many living people left to assist us anyway, so we're not about to turn his help down. He and Dr. Nagumo work on tweaking the Dragon Chronicle just a bit so that instead of Squad 13 merging with it and becoming the 7th Dragon, we can instead break all the rules of the universe and basically rewrite everything from scratch, if we can pull it off. To do that, we still do need ND's true dragon sample, so while Julietta and Nagumo are working on that we go to our showdown with ND. If you feel like exploring Nodens company before setting out, you can go to every floor and all the NPCs are dead from ND's dragon flowers.
The route we're taking to ND goes straight through the building that the Murakumo group used as a base in 7th Dragon 2020-II, which means a nostalgic dungeon (and maybe a lazy excuse to re-use more assets). On our way we bump into Yuuma, who we must of course settle things with first. Yuuma's fight has a gimmick where he heals himself to full every turn so you have to take him from 100% to 0% in one turn. That should be tricky, but with Rune Knight and Vanisher it's actually ridiculously easy because Rune Knight's Brave Sword and Vanisher's Earthquake abilities are obscenely overpowered. Maybe I should have stopped using these classes past mid-game to preserve difficulty. Oh well.
Anyway, after Yuuma's dead it's time to finish things with ND. Again she blabbers about evolution and how it's like raising seeds into flowers, and when she's finally done talking turns into her dragon form and tells us to come get her. We do, pretty easily, again thanks to the late game Rune Knight, Vanisher and Mage skills being so damn strong. We take a sample from her corpse and rush it back to Julietta (Nagumo and Mio are already dead), and Julietta uses it to finish the altered Dragon Chronicle that he and Nagumo finished to give us a chance to turn things around, and activates it. Say goodbye to everything.
Nagamimi yells at us to wake up. Speaking of Nagamimi, he said he didn't quite know what he was either in his date conversations, but that he figured was probably something similar to Emelle and Aitelle, a wandering remnant of a dead planet or something similar. Anyway, we're in a conglomeration of the past, present and future, of all life forms and dragons, of all time-space, you get the idea. Nagamimi tells us that 'VFD', the will of the dragons to evolve to the next layer of being, is about to be born once it absorbs us. Normally that would have happened automatically, but the adjustments they made to the Dragon Chronicle gave us a chance to instead go try and beat down VFD and reverse everything. Oh, and he also goes ahead and drops a teleporter back to Nodens, but to a different time axis Nodens back when everyone was still alive. You know, just in case we want to go back and buy stuff, go on dates, do quests, etc. Uh huh. Anyway, it's nice for people who have unfinished quests at the end of Chapter 5.1 since once Chapter 6 starts literally everyone on earth is dead, I guess. We fight our way through this area with spiritual help and encouragement from our friends' essences who got clumped up in this huge clusterfuck of timespace. We also learn the identity of the mysterious observer who has been watching us this whole time, it's the 1st true dragon that seeded life on Earth, here to see how we decide to handle things.
It's time for cheese warp factor infinity as we finally face VFD and it speaks IN ALL CAPS ABOUT EVOLUTION AND THE NEXT STEP FOR THE UNIVERSE and evolves not just once, but to three different forms ('this isn't even my final form!'), some tentacle spire looking thing, then a seahorse/octopus looking thing, and then yeah, finally it just turns into a huge dragon. Each fight you can swap which of your 3 parties faces each form if you want (since you'll keep the LF/MN status of your last used party), but my Rune Knight / Mage / Vanisher party was able to just face all 3 forms by themselves. I'm kind of glad I didn't have this combo for the fight against Hypnos or that wouldn't have been nearly as epic feeling.
Well, we beat down VFD and sever the fabric of reality, and Nagamimi tells our main character to wish really hard. We do, and the universe rearranges itself. Next thing we know we're back in Tokyo next to the Seventh Encounter VR game, and a familar voice calls out to us. Hey, what a cute girl, who is - oh god, it's Nagamimi! She (!?) tells us that it's our fault that she has this form now, and gives us the lowdown on what happened - we rearranged reality from scratch, except we left out the part about dragons existing from the rebuilt reality. Oh and by the way, nobody knows who you are anymore! Well, some people who had really strong connections might feel something, Nagamimi says. So it's off to go check out Nodens in this peaceful dragon-free world. Nobody recognizes us until we reach Dr. Nagumo, who feels like he knows who we are just can't quite wrap his mind around why. Same thing when we go meet Julietta, he starts crying for some reason he can't understand and then shares that he's about to invent a time machine and feels like he wants to go make friends with people from the past and future...hoo boy.
We come back to talk to Nagamimi. Sucks being the hero who saved all of spacetime and nobody (besides Nagamimi, anyway) even knows you did it, huh? Well not so fast, Mio's coming back from grocery shopping in the plaza near 7th Encounter with Yoritomo, and as soon as she sees the protag, she drops everything and calls our name. Mio was the only one who remembered, she always believed we'd meet again. The protagonist says their VA's line about this being just the start for the two of them, and then credits roll. Daww.
So, yeah, that's about it. We rewrote the rules of the universe to get rid of dragons ever existing - but it seems things didn't work 100% as we expected, since some people still slightly remember us (and Mio completely does). Also, if you reload your finished game save data, a new dungeon opens up, a shadow realm that the 1st true dragon gatekeeps, pay up 50 Dz (basically, hunt every dragon in the game to have enough Dz to enter) to proceed to the post-game dungeon. I'm not sure how canon or serious the postgame stuff is, but I'll finish it before I put a review up, so still one more (probably short) update to go. I will be using a guide for optimum grinding/party composition for the postgame dungeon since I remember these things being pretty frustrating and crazy from 2020-II - taking a look, it seems the wikis have already identified how incredibly broken the Rune Knight (and to a lesser extent, Vanisher and Mage) class is.
There's not much to say...this was a pretty silly ending. You know, it seems to be a pattern in some Japanese media (which will go unnamed, I'm sure you can think of examples) where when the story gets too fucked up, they just throw up their hands in the finale and go "You know, forget it, just make everything melt, break dimensions, have the protagonist become God and fix or ruin the universe, whatever!".
It can't be helped.
Destination: Kazan Republic, Eden, 7200 A.D.! We teleport into the middle of another disaster - the seal on 6th true dragon Haze is breaking and his dragon flowers are sprouting everywhere again. Even though this is the future, it looks more like a medieval fantasy setting. I guess that means that human society gets reset by another near-extinction event between 2100 and 7200, normally? It's not just humans here though, Lucier are also working alongside humans as 'huntsmen', dragon hunters who work in guilds. To get our bearings on the current situation, we stop by the local guild office and see none other than the 7th Dragon series recurring character - Emelle.
Emelle and her younger sister Aitelle are remnants of the doomed planet Hypnos, which was destroyed by dragons. Emelle appears throughout various time periods (and in every game, as I understand) to help humanity wage war against dragons. In 7th Dragon 2020-II she was a top commander of the Murakumo group that commanded Squad 13 back during the 2021 invasion. In this game in particular she's basically anti-dragon wrath incarnate and has trouble maintaining the cool and calm composure she normally has. She's leading a group of elite Eden citizens (a dumb but strong warrior guild warrior woman, a genius researcher, and a fox-eared attendant) from various countries to deal with the situation with Haze. As a secondary objective, she's also searching for her younger sister Aitelle. Aitelle is wandering around still looking for someone named Takehaya, her love interest presumably from the first game.
Because we're so smart and tactful, we just straight up tell Emelle and her group that we're time travelers from the year 2100 A.D. here to hunt Haze. While Emelle's followers here are all shocked, she isn't, considering she's a time (and planet) traveler herself. She enlists our help (or we enlist hers - same thing really) to defeat Haze, whose seal is broken and is currently located inside a strange sealed structure in Kazan Republic that nobody remembers being there. This is actually a piece of the ancient city of Atlantis, showing up here because of our meddling in the past, the same stratum that we defeated Nyala in. Well, we know just who can get us in, and we go grab Urania from Tokyo and have her come to Eden with us to break the seal on the place. It seems that Urania is something of a legend here, she's known as the priestess who helped save the Lucier race from extinction to the Lucier in Kazan Republic here, another result of our time meddling.
Emelle's group offers us aid in the form of recruiting some local dragon hunters from the guilds. Hooray, Eden classes unlocked! The Eden classes are Mage and Vanisher. Mage is basically just Psychic from 7th Dragon 2020-II, but maybe I shouldn't say 'just', because Psychics were ridiculously powerful back then and I'm sure they will be the same here as Mages. They have all different elemental attacks, extremely powerful nonelemental damage, super attack setups, HP and status ailment party heals, and much more. The other class is Vanisher - Vanishers use a huge mortar launcher/greatspear. They have an additional in-battle resource, blasting powder, which their strongest attacks use up and they have to reload if they get too low. For now they're not too strong, but that's probably because their skills are very expensive and I can't afford to max them out yet, I'll bet they're really strong when you have enough skill points to max out their blasting powder and the attacks that use a lot of it. I go ahead and make one of each and then throw my Fortuner from the Atlantis party in there to round it out. 9 party slots but only 8 classes - well, I really doubt you can go wrong with Mages, so I make a second Mage and send him to the Atlantis team.
We enter the Atlantis ruin with Emelle's group and run into Aitelle, who is teleporting here and there on her search for Takehaya. Emelle tries to catch her and rope her into helping them hunt Haze and crush, kill, murder, massacre, destroy, obliterate all dragons. She's a little obsessed and crazy mad with defeating dragons, is what I mean. Aitelle tries to tell her to chill out a bit and let some of that hate go, but disappears before the conversation can continue much longer, and we execute an emperor dragon guarding the way to Haze which sends Emelle into another fit of laughter about hunting dragons. Geez Emelle, take it down a notch. Her hate is getting to be too much, something strange happens and we get an emergency call - a brand new strain of the dragon flowers, blue ones this time, are sprouting all over Eden and killing even more people. When Emelle's attendant Nagiri goes to check on her, she sees Emelle's rage manifesting as the blue flowers.
Due to the sudden influx of blue dragon flowers, there's a bunch of people in Eden who need saving, and you guessed it, we're building another floor right under the Atlantis refugee ward to hold Eden refugees that we save. We also bring two of Emelle's crew back with us, the warrior woman and the scientist, to study the blue flowers and figure out what's going on. Really, really bad news - Emelle is awakening as a true dragon, along with her sister Aitelle she's actually the 4th true dragon, Hypnos. She goes off in a fit of rage on her own to go kill Haze by herself, and we chase after her, because things are going to get really bad if two true dragons end up fighting each other. Yuuma comes with us too since he's finished cleaning up Tokyo of the major dragon threats and there's no sign of the 7th dragon yet. Emelle is going crazy and she slaughters all the dragons on the way to Haze, and then takes a slice at Yuuma too when he approaches, talking about how she's got to kill all dragons. Yuuma mentions that she must have lost the ability to distinguish humans and dragons, but Emelle retorts that Yuuma is a dragon-mixed abomination, she can sense the true dragon essences he's installed so far.
This pisses Yuuma off pretty badly since he considers himself the ultimate anti-dragon weapon, so being called a dragon is basically the ultimate insult, and he loses it and spars with Emelle while the scientist from earlier fires a weapon he and Julietta developed that returns Haze's seal to the dragonkiller sword for us to use. We can focus on Haze while Yuuma and Emelle are doing the 'who hates dragons more' dance. Haze is a chump and not that difficult to beat, just gotta watch out for the instant-death attacks and be ready to blow some expensive revival items to power through the fight.
Next up we've got to pursue Emelle, who is continuing her dragon-killing rampage even as she's transforming into a dragon and spreading blue dragon flowers everywhere. Mio volunteers for navigator duty even though she's really sick, and comes up with a plan to split the party in 3 to quickly defeat the area's emperor dragons and then converge with Yuuma to take Emelle on together. This was kind of neat, we have 3 parties now so splitting into 3 makes you use everyone if you haven't been (I have, but I imagine some people are forced to use new party members here). When we reach Emelle, Yuuma grabs the dragon-killer sword and is about to clash swords with Emelle, but Aitelle teleports in and gets stabbed in the back by a shocked Emelle, also throwing Yuuma off guard and blasting him back hard.
Aitelle has been trying to calm her sister's rage this whole Eden trip but it's really no use anymore, having stabbed her own sister Emelle really loses it this time and finally fully awakens as 4th true dragon, Hypnos, named after her dead planet. True dragon Hypnos is actually a creepy combo of both Emelle and Aitelle, with Emelle's sword stabbed through both their chests joining them together. Yuuma is once again too injured to fight so it's up to Squad 13, Emelle's subordinates ask us to put her out of her misery. Yuuma is getting really sad now, he's supposed to be the ultimate anti-dragon weapon but so far every true dragon has been hunted by Squad 13, not him. Anyway...
This. Battle. Was. Awesome!
Seriously, great fight. The music for this battle was amazing, and the fight is hard as balls, finally a fight that kicked my ass hard and made me go prepare myself better after losing three times. It also helps that the enemy is someone we know well. This fight reminded me a lot of the final boss fight of Stella Glow. Anyway, I finally beat it with my newly created third party - Vanisher, Mage, Fortuner.
With Emelle finally put to rest, she makes us promise to hunt the dragons, all the dragons (give it a rest, girl!) before fading away with Aitelle. RIP Emelle. We've got two new true dragon samples from Eden, I'm sure Julietta will be happy. Time to report back and check on the situation in Tokyo.
I mentioned last update that I like how debuff classes are viable even against bosses - so far that seems to still be mostly true, but lately I've been having a really hard time making use of my Agent and Duelist characters. Agent just takes too long and too low probability to get a hack in even with TROY and Hacking maxed for somewhat underwhelming effect, and Duelist is just seems too luck based when I have limited skill points and have to specialize in one element (if I don't draw that element's cards I'm screwed, or have to waste a turn getting cards). The other two Tokyo classes, Samurai and God Hand, seem to be holding up fine. Rune Knight seems ridiculously strong thanks to its taunt and defensive abilities along with Mage being an all-around offense/defense/resurrection god. Vanisher is getting stronger as I get more SP for its insanely expensive abilities, I'm sure it's very scary when maxed out. Fortuner is still holding on, it's getting harder to debuff some bosses but I can still do it, like I still managed to apply bleed to the 6th and 4th true dragons, but if I had to choose between Fortuner and Mage I'd take Mage every time.
Oh, and I'm gonna go ahead and make a random prediction: I bet Yuuma ends up being the 7th true dragon somehow. We know that humans can turn into dragons now, and he's been installing dragon data into himself all this time, the ISDF thinks he's their ultimate anti-dragon-weapon, so I'm betting on the ironic twist of him actually awakening as the 7th dragon. Maybe I'm wrong, but it wouldn't be surprising. Poor guy, he's only 12, he doesn't deserve all the shit he gets in this game.
With our Lucier party members joining Squad 13, it's time to set out to hunt a nearby emperor-class dragon. The two ISDF soldiers Yuuma and Yoritomo are coming with us as usual, splitting up the dragon-hunting tasks along our way to the main lair. When it's time for the big fight against the emperor dragon though, Yuuma collapses in pain and can't help us - Yoritomo says something about the 'installation side-effects' kicking in again and pulls Yuuma out of combat. No problem, Squad 13's got this, we easily kill the emperor dragon. Yuuma's pride takes a pretty big hit when he regains his composure just in time to miss out on the fight, and a mysterious cloaked figure who was watching the battle muses about how incredibly quickly (main character name here) is gaining strength, to go from a complete novice to taking down an emperor-class dragon in just a few days time.
Back at the Lucier blacksmith settlement, they finally agree to help us get our hands on a dragon-killer sword. For that though, we need one of the royalty's help so they can reforge it - the only royal left is Urania, final Queen of Atlantica after her dad's failed raid on Nyala (I spelled it Niara last time, but it showed up in romaji in game, apparently they go with 'Nyala' for the third true dragon's name). Unfortunately, Lucier society is highly stratified and the royals have a history treat lower ward dwellers like the blacksmiths here like dirt so they don't think they'll be able to get the nobles to listen, but the leader of the militia here is old childhood friends with Urania so he thinks we can convince her. We get turned away at the gate by the guards and her royal advisor, so we sneak through an underground passage to find and convince her. With everyone's help (and a timely attack from a dragon that we save her from), we convince her to abandon the plan of destroying their star crystals in a suicide attack on Nyala, and instead try to defeat the third true dragon and save Atlantis.
Back in Tokyo, Yuuma calls the protagonist out for a private meeting where he spills the beans about what he is - he's an artificial life-form created as an anti-dragon weapon. Besides being genetically engineered from birth, he's also been 'installing' the combat info on the true dragons we have samples of so far. He's been speed-grown in a lab so he's actually only 12 years old despite looking like an adult, too. Funny, I'm used to the opposite in JRPGs (young girls who are 'actually hundreds of years old'). Anyway, he feels like fighting dragons is his only purpose in life and he's pissed that the protag is growing so quickly. He's actually a pretty friendly guy, just a bit over-competitive. Okay, maybe more than a 'bit'. Let's hope he doesn't overdo it again and end up getting even worse side-effects.
Mio also finally gathers her courage and comes back to Nodens, volunteering to help the protagonist by being a Navigator. Unfortunately she's got the incurable sickness that spreads from those flowers that the dragon invasions always bring, so she's bedridden a lot and can't always help us. She's also got a dead mom, a missing dad, and ISDF's Yoritomo behaves strange around her. Hmm. A famous doctor is also working on a vaccine for the dragon-flower disease without success so far, but Nodens tops mention that maybe gathering the samples from true dragons to analyze the Dragon Chronicle might also let us find a way to cure her sickness too.
Julietta finally gets on our case for our constant rescuing of Atlantica citizens, but his objections are overridden by the protagonist and the company president, who helps us create an entire refugee ward underground the Nodens building. That's right, we're setting up a refugee camp for citizens of an ancient doomed civilization. Sure, why not? When we check a book in the library on the history of Atlantis, suddenly we start seeing things about a hero who appeared and helped them defeat Nyala in the history books. Was that there before? We're not quite sure. Back at Nodens, once you build the Lounge, you can take characters on dates. This was one of the features I remember advertised about the game, but it's kind of funny, your protagonist is a complete silent blank-slate character, and you can have them go on dates with...your other silent, blank-slate characters you created. So far that just involves watching them talking and sitting next to each other in the lounge's bar. Sending two generic characters on a date. It's so silly, I thought the dating stuff back at base was shoehorned in Fire Emblem Fates but that's got nothing on this. Maybe it will improve a little bit later when named characters like Mio become available to take on them, but I doubt it.
It's time for the decisive battle, so we set out with our Tokyo/Lucier combined Squad 13 and the ISDF to go hunt the 3rd true dragon, Nyala. Sure enough, Yuuma's side effects act up again and Yoritomo makes him sit out of the battle again, much to his disappointment. We've got this though, our party beats Nyala down and our protagonist finishes the dragon off with the dragon-killer sword. Atlantis is still in shambles, but we've evacuated some of the survivors and their queen, so there's hope that they can eventually rebuild their society. We take the survivors and bio-samples from Nyala for Nodens and the ISDF's use and head back to Tokyo.
The timeline is starting to get thoroughly fucked. Julietta mentions that he thinks the timeline shouldn't be able to be changed, because it's theorized that any past change that would affect the future would simply create a parallel universe (hence why it would be pointless to go back a bit further in time and save Atlantis before Nyala wasted it, something that Urania requested). This timeline is definitely showing effects of our meddling, though - just one example, Nyala was the true dragon that invaded in the year 2020 (apparently,the main boss of 7th Dragon 2020). In 2020 Nyala was heavily injured (probably from a wound taken from the Atlantians' suicide crystal destruction plan). When we go check a history book on the 2020 dragon invasion after our time meddling though, the name of the true dragon that led the invasion is smudged out, Nyala's name has disappeared from the history books, presumably because we actually killed it back in Atlantis. So which dragon led the 2020 invasion in this timeline, now? This is getting loopy.
No time to worry about time paradoxes though, the third Tokyo dragon invasion begins with swarms of vanguard dragons landing all over the city. The ISDF scrambles to defend the city and country, and while protag wants to go too, he gets told no. We've got to keep gathering samples from more true dragons throughout time to decipher the Dragon Chronicle, so our next stop is hunting the 6th true dragon called 'Haze', 5,000+ years in the future, in 'Eden'. The ISDF is busy with the whole 'dragons wrecking our shit in the present time' stuff so we've got to take this job alone. Now I'm really sad that I didn't get around to playing the first 7th Dragon, because our destination is a name I recognize from the short wiki summary I read - Kazan Republic, in Eden. We're heading to the time that the first 7th Dragon was set in. I'm sure there will be tons of treats and nostalgia in Eden for people who played the first game, tons of things I will miss out on. Oh well.
On a less serious note, Nodens opened a cat cafe 'Nyaadens' and we can now also rescue lost cats to send to the cat cafe. Nagamimi suggested that we open an animal-ear cafe instead since we've got those cute Lucier refugee girls, which I think is a great idea, but sadly he was just kidding. I'm glad the game decided to try exploring the consequences of time travel even though it will probably end up dumb, it's better than just ignoring it. I wonder if we'll end up saving Eden and taking in Eden refugees too for a Nodens HQ full of time travelers.
One thing I remember from 7th Dragon 2020-II was that in that world, the dragons conquered every corner of the globe except for a small section of Japan and the U.S., everyone else collapsed soon after the invasion, and this game's library confirms it, mentioning that the 2020 and 2021 invasions wiped out 85% of the human population. Please start building your anti-dragon bunker in preparation for the year 2020 so that you can be one of the survivors.
The battle difficulty took a sharp nosedive since last update, every fight has been pretty easy since we got the ability to have a 2nd party. The only somewhat difficult fight was against Nyala, that was a bit scary, but I got lucky and beat it first try. One thing that I like about this game (and 2020-II, not sure if it's also true of the other 7th Dragon games since I haven't played them) is how bosses are still susceptible to debuffs, so classes that heavily rely on debuffs like Agent and Fortuner can still be useful against even then strongest bosses. A lot of RPGs have the pitfall of making debuffs basically worthless since small-fry are better off just killed with direct damage and bosses are immune, but 7th Dragon strikes a good balance there.
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.
Another thing to list on my JRPG wall of shame is the fact that I'm going to be playing the latest 7th Dragon game without having played the first two out of four games in the series.
There are 3 games prior to this from what I understand: 7th Dragon (on DS), 7th Dragon 2020 (PSP), and 7th Dragon 2020-II (PSP). I've only played 2020-II, I was drawn in at the time by the interesting art style and wanted to bite straight into the latest title. I definitely should have gone in order, because the first two games have been sitting unplayed on my backlog since then. I'm especially interested in the first game on DS since it's not set in Tokyo like the next two - actually, I heard there's an English fan patch out for it as well. I'm sure a lot of people reading this know much more about 7th Dragon than I do.
7th Dragon 2020-II was a charming game that had a hilariously cheesy plot involving the U.S. being up to no good and being arrogant underhanded pricks until they were finally taught how superior Japan is at dragon killing. It ended with the U.S. special forces playing a supporting role to the true glorious nipponese heroes defeating the invading dragon leader, it was so wonderfully campy. I took a quick glance at the plot outline of the first 2020 game and it also apparently had America being jerks, so I'm really looking forward to seeing if the tradition of tsundere game developers with something to prove continues in 7th Dragon III Code: VFD.
The game seems to have recycled an awful lot of assets from 2020, but some models have been improved and it definitely seems like the character classes have been given more depth, so I'm looking forward to it.
Random JRPG blogging about the games I'm currently playing.