Gamespot Score: n/a
My Score: 8.2
(+)Pros: - Incredibly stylish feel and atmosphere, - Chibi characters look great (and cute), - Amazing soundtrack, - Different classes, each with different abilities and allows tons of experimentation, - Bleak story and world, - Great select-able character voice work, - Lots of visual flair during battles, - Tense and exciting boss battles, - Provides a good challenge for most of the game, - Great presentation.
(-)Cons: - You can only put 3 characters in your party, - Environments aren't too varied or impressive, except for a select few areas.
Gameplay time: 30-40 hours
God I haven't touched my handhelds in a long time (blame my internship and "Atelier Meruru"), but I sure as hell will some time in the future (have to get to playing "Class Of Heroes 2" and "Pokemon White 2"). I'm a sucker for JRPG dungeon crawlers, stuff like "Etrian Odyssey" and the "Shin Megami Tensei" series always get me all riled up, so its no surprise that something as stylish and good looking as "7th Dragon 2020" would slip by me. I was hoping for an English release, it was a no-go, so like any sensible gamer, I refused to pass this up just because it was in Japanese. I looked up a translation spreadsheet and dived straight in, needless to say I didn't regret it one bit. "7th Dragon 2020" is an extensive dungeon crawler experience that has a theme different from most, but feels stylish and is fun to play.
Enter the year 2020. Humanity has been mostly wiped out by the dragons. The entirety of Japan has been plagued with flowers that the dragons use to mark their territory. The pollen these flowers are dangerous to mankind, which makes Japan almost a state that is unlivable in unless something is done. To deal with the dragons, the corporation known as Murakumo has stepped up, recruiting brave individuals with battle infused talents to fight against these dragons. They live in an underground base, and want to take control of the central building in the city for base operations. Assembling soldiers and skilled fighters all around, they decide to storm the building and its inhabitants, the monsters and dragons. You are among the many of brave individuals who wish to fight for mankind, you and your team of adventurers must fight for Murakumo and liberate Japan of its existing dragon lords.
Little chibi samurai = awesome.
"7th Dragon 2020"....is a stylish game. There is no denying that. I have played a lot of dungeon crawler JRPGs, first person, 3rd person and what not. Every one of these games has its own feel, but nothing quite speaks for itself like "7th Dragon 2020". The entire setting of the game, the (somewhat) post apocalyptic feel, the remnants of a destroyed modern day Japan, stylish characters, so on and so forth. The characters in the game are just so effing stylish and cool, it basically drew me in the moment I saw the Japanese website.
The atmosphere is great too. I mean, it might be post apocalyptic, but part of me just felt that the game gave off a really "groovy" atmosphere. Character art and portraits are beautiful but in-game models are cute little chibis which look pretty cute. With how everything is designed (monster and character wise), the chibis actually fit surprisingly well and everything looks great.
Dungeon crawlers have always been about a single formula that has been changed every now and then. Bring your party of characters, go into a dungeon, explore, fight enemies, get treasure, kill the boss, get out, go to the next dungeon. Then along the way you get side quests which require you to backtrack. "7th Dragon 2020" doesn't do it too differently, but it makes sure that us as players are entertained pretty much all the time. Enemies are encountered randomly like in "Etrian Odyssey", displaying an orb that glows red signals an approaching enemy encounter, and battles are your standard turn based affair.
The soundtrack during the entire game is f**king KICKASS, especially during regular battles and boss battles. Hell some of the map OSTs are pretty damn funky as well. Hatsune Miku is in the game, and if you make her join you, you can change the soundtrack into Miku singing.....which is rather weird. Well if you aren't a Miku fan the original soundtrack is already f**king OP, if you do like Miku, having her tune into your speakers is always a good thing (some of the Miku esque boss themes sound REALLY amazing).
Yes yes...KILL THAT DINOSAUR....dragon....thing...
Spicing up your party with the right characters is always important. You start the game creating your character, followed by the rest of your party shortly afterward. There are plenty of character types, both male and female for you to choose from (5 males 5 females), followed then by 5 different classes in the game. The classes are as follow: Samurai (a consistent DPS, self buffer), Trickster (okay DPS, inflicts status ailments), Berserker (insane DPS, needs to charge up, like a glass cannon), Psychic (magic DPS, primary healer class) and Hacker (buff your team/debuff enemies, inflict status ailments).
All classes have a massive pool of skills, and you choose which skills to add when your characters level up. The game's skill system follows that of "Etrian odyssey", when you get points, which you distribute into the skills you want to learn/level up. Also, you get to choose the seiyuus for your characters, and trust me, there are some really amazing voice works here. You want your characters to sound good for your entire 30 hour + game don't you.....
Battles can be a visual flair, especially during boss fights. Your characters can dish out some pretty neat looking attacks, ranging from screen splitting sword strikes , bazooka explosions and colorful magical blasts. Each class will get their own special moves later in the game, and those look even more badass than usual skills. Speaking of these boss battles, the game has plenty of them. While there are only so many "main" boss fights in the game (probably 1 at the end of each chapter), there are dragons sprinkled around each dungeon which you can kill, kind of like "F.O.E"s in "Etrian Odyssey".
They just lurk around, sometimes blocking your way...I'll count them as bosses. Bosses are powerful (duh), they can wipe out your party in mere turns if you aren't careful, and it helps that the intense boss theme plays in the background, making you all excited and shit. Of course, with big bosses at the end of dungeons, mini bosses lurking around every corner to whoop your ass up....its safe to say this game is pretty challenging. At least for a good portion of the game.
Emiri Kato?! Yes please.
For a dungeon crawler, "7th Dragon 2020" has some pretty saddening party restrictions. You can only bring 3 characters along for the ride (you can create plenty more though), which is sad. Other games allow you to bring up to 4-6 members, which allows for so much more variation in tactics. Also, the environments aren't too amazing except for a few. The entire game is based on a city area, and most areas are in the city, which makes sense, but many feel the same with plants and flowers sprouting everywhere. Other than the ice map, the desert factory and that 2nd map with train tracks forming a globe, everything else doesn't feel too spectacular.
"7th Dragon 2020" is a dungeon crawler that is a lot of fun. It doesn't stray too far away from the regular formula when it comes to the overall gameplay, but the style and atmosphere make it one hell of a unique experience. It's one of the more visually appealing PSP games, it has a bleak story, it presents itself well (the menus and stuff look amazing), and overall it feels like I'm playing something different. It definitely doesn't look like a dungeon crawler JRPG at first glance. The sequel is up now, and I'll get to it, that's for sure.