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I Can Count to Nine: A Journey through Dragon Quest - Part 6/7

Well, it's disappointment time.

When we got to DQVI, this project seriously ran out of steam. This is partly due to the fact that my friend and I don't like VI very much, and partly because interest had mostly died out at this point where I originally posted these writeups. I gave up on writing about VI pretty quickly, and although I like VII much more (if that 3DS remake makes it over, I will buy a 3DS), I couldn't muster the energy to keep doing the longform writeups I did of the first five games. Looking back, I wish I had, but since the writing was all about the shared experience we had playing the games together, there's no way to go back and fix it. So here's what I did write about 6 and 7, for what it's worth.

Week Sixteen


Dragon Quest VI (SFC)

One of Dragon Warrior VII's many touching moments.

Week 26

We made damn good headway through 7 this week (26, week 7 of DQ7), making it all the way to the swap to Disc 2, which is near the end. Next week we may finish 7 altogether. I can already see 8 coming. Cor blimey, guv!

I love 7 for its deep, philosophical stories - parables, almost - but holy crap is it dark. This game is by far the darkest in the series; not only are the twisted cruelties of the Demon Lord on display, the depths of human cowardice, selfishness and fear are also explored.

There's a village threatened by monsters which is saved by the altruism of its priest. He makes a deal with the head of the monsters - the priest and the monster will trade appearances, and in exchange the monsters will stay out of the village for so long as the priest lives. However, the villagers are unaware of the deal and only see a monster wearing priest's clothes return to town. Unable to speak, the transformed priest merely mopes sadly, staying in the temple.

Despite the fact that the "monster" never does anything to harm anyone, the villagers fear and distrust him. In their fear and anger they come to blame the monster for all of their problems despite the fact that he hasn't done anything. They soon plan to kill him, and this is where you come in; they try to get you to assist them in killing the monster. Observing that the monster isn't actually harming anyone, we caution that perhaps he isn't evil; for this, we are locked in a barn so that they may kill him without our interfering. A child who agrees with us lets us out, and we find the villagers beating up the monster, who does not even try to defend himself; sickeningly, this doesn't seem to dissuade the mob at all. When we intervene, the prefect of the village declares us in league with the monsters and runs us out of town.

Of course, we defeat the monsters and return to town, to find that the villagers are in the process of crucifying the monster - no shit, actually crucifying him; I told you this game was dark. He returns to his human form and the villagers realize their mistake just in time to avoid killing him. In the night, the priest leaves the village behind forever. We happen to know that he goes on to lose his memory and save another village, dying in the process, in an earlier location in the game - the time travel mechanic is uneven, allowing things like this - but that's another story.

The worst part, however, comes when we return to the present. You see, although the conduct of the villagers was horrible, you can sort of understand it in the situation they were in, and they were genuinely sorry afterward. No, what follows is far worse and less defensible.

A recurring theme in Dragon Warrior 7 is that the details of our past exploits are frequently lost to history. For example, the HellWorm that saves the village I mentioned last week is honored in the present, but as a man - nobody knows it was a HellWorm. However, in most cases the spirit of the story is preserved, at least. Not so with this village: when we arrive in the present, the whole town believes that when the priest saved the village, everyone rallied to support him - and that travelers came and tried to kill him, but they drove them off. That's right, WE have been made into the villains of the story. A few in the town still carry on the real truth, but they are called liars. They seem resigned; one man says that when enough people believe a lie, that becomes the truth.

Working with some children, we manage to find proof of the truth. When we bring it to the Prefect, however, he destroys it! He is so invested in the story of the villagers' heroism that he continues to maintain it's the truth, pretending nothing happened. This injustice is maddening, but it's true to life, and a brilliant piece of storytelling. In the end, due to selfishness and cowardice, the truth is never made known, as it's more convenient to believe in a lie.

There is a small note of hope for human nature, however. The children, chastised as liars by their parents, refuse to give up. They maintain that no matter how they are punished, they will keep telling their parents that lies are lies. To me, it's heartening to know there are still some who value reality over convenient narratives. I hope this is true in real life as well.

There's also a city whose curse is truly twisted - newborn babies turn into monsters and leave town - the insane grief of the parents is seriously hard to watch. That story has a happy ending, however.

The boss at the end of disc 1 is actually the Demon Lord Orgodemir, the final boss, weakened severely after a fight with God in which He was slain. Even so, we just *barely* squeaked out a win, with everybody out of MP and all our items used up. It was intense.

We've really gotten attached to the characters in this game. Aira is strong but kind; Melvin displays a decorum appropriate for God's top soldier of legend, but lets a mischievous streak show now and then as well. And Gabo, always good for a laugh with a piece of dialogue about wondering how something tastes or what, exactly, is going on, has a really touching little speech he gives right before the fight with Orgodemir. Not sure if he'll survive the coming battle, he says he's really enjoyed traveling with Lucky and has come to understand some things about human nature, its dark side and its best potential. It really is a moving little moment.

And I ramble a lot. Hopefully next week we can finish up 7.

Week 27

OK, I was pretty dumb to think we had a chance of finishing this week. After reviving God and getting a nice ending fakeout, God goes nuts and seals the world back away (spoiler alert: it's really the demon lord). We then have to wake the four elemental spirits for help, which we're still in the middle of doing. Still, we made some progress and the end is in sight: if not next week, then the week after.

The Wind spirit turns out to be kind of an airhead bimbo, leading to a fantastic party chat line:

Aira: That was the Wind Spirit? Seemed more like a tornado. I mean 'slut.'

Week 28

This week, we beat Dragon Warrior VII! The final battle with Orgodemir was even closer than the one before, with one character down and everybody else out of HP and MP - we were just a turn or two away from annihilation when we won. What a rush!

We're not ready to move on to VIII yet, though. Next week, there is still the matter of the bonus dungeon and taking on God, one of the most insane bonus bosses ever. He can attack up to five times per turn!

I forgot to mention that this game has an awesome subplot about a badass pirate named Sharkeye. His ship has a goddamn castle on it! I'm serious, a real castle! Is that sweet or what?

Week 29

It took us all day (almost entirely taken up by the longest grinding session of the project, getting everybody up ten levels to 50), but we beat God! Now Lucky's story is at an end.

Next time: the travels of Castle Guard Ocho!
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About tim333one of us since 5:53 PM on 12.11.2007

Regarding my 1001games project: There's only one deadline. I haven't hit it yet!

I'm a 90s gamer and Sega kid for life. I like platformers, adventure games and JRPGs. I'm not that into first-person shooters or sports games.

I spend more of my time playing older games than new ones. I do have a PS3 now, though, and I like buying games on PSN. I like the Wii and have a ton of games for it. I'm encouraged by some of the stuff out on Wiiware - to me, games like Bit.Trip Beat are more appealing than the "triple-A" titles coming out on the HD consoles.

Some of my all-time favorite games are Sonic 3 & Knuckles, Dragon Quest III, Heroes of Might and Magic III, The Curse of Monkey Island, and Dance Dance Revolution.