Turn-based simulacrum

It turns out that 7th Dragon has a pretty great official podcast. This took me somewhat by surprise, because the only other official podcast I’ve heard from a Japanese game developer is Hideo Kojima’s Hide-chan Radio, an uninformative and overproduced monstrosity that would make the most cowbell laden early morning radio shock jock program seem subtle by comparison. On the other hand, the 7th Dragon podcast is just Director Nino Kazuya and PR guy Yosuke Uda talking about their game and answering listener submitted questions, with frequent guest appearances by Producer Kodama Rieko, best known for her involvement in creating Phantasy Star. It’s fun to listen to and also an embarrassingly effective marketing tool. At first I downloaded it just to have something to listen to on the bus, but now it’s almost inevitable that I will pick the game up at some point to satisfy my classic RPG craving.

One of the most interesting stories behind this game is its relationship to Dragon Quest IX. Apparently, they originally planned to make a classic turn based RPG as a result of the announcement that Dragon Quest IX would take a more action oriented approach. They saw a niche opening up, and they hoped that 7th Dragon would fill the gap created by Dragon Quests’ new direction. Unfortunately for them, Square-Enix got cold feet and decided that they would continue to occupy the classic RPG niche for themselves by reverting to a more conservative plan for Dragon Quest IX. This put 7th Dragon in the unfortunate position of being strikingly similar to (and scheduled for release in same month as) the newest installment in the series it was created to emulate. However, in a stroke of luck for the 7th Dragon team, Dragon Quest IX has been delayed at the last minute from March until this summer due to major bugs, leaving me and others who had planned to pick up that game next month much more likely to try out 7th Dragon in the meanwhile.

[[image:cg_7thdragon.jpg:Could this game be any more adorable? No, it could not.:center:0]]
One thing that seems clear to me while listening to this podcast is that they clearly know their audience. One great example of this is that 7th Dragon gives players the option to select between either standard or 8-bit Famicom style music. That kind of option is already pretty fantastic in and of itself, and it only gets even better if you consider that the composer is Yuzo Koshiro. You can listen to both versions of two separate tracks for yourself on their website. As someone who grew up on this kind of music, I am incredibly happy to see a major publishers continuing to make use of 8-bit sound in a new games.

While I feel a little ashamed at falling prey to such a blatant attempt to manipulate my feelings of nostalgia, I also can’t deny that hearing about this more or less instantly convinced me that I would like this game. In reality, the option for 8-bit music will probably have significantly less of an effect on my enjoyment of 7th Dragon than how well implemented the various game systems are, but the presence of 8-bit music is a pretty strong cultural signifier or sorts that this game is being made with lovers of classic RPGs in mind. This should have been obvious beforehand given that Nino Kazuya was also the director of Etrian Odyssey, but learning about the musical options really made it sink in for me. It’s an irrational way of thinking, but I can’t help but have some degree of confidence that a new turn-based RPG with 8-bit music will probably get everything else more or less right.

(Images from Famitsu)

14 thoughts on “Turn-based simulacrum

  1. This music is amazing. I think this may be the first time I’ve ever been sold on a game because of its soundtrack alone.

  2. huh! the character designs are cutesy, but not loli-creepy like a lot of EO. That’s.. really encouraging.

  3. I’m not sure I’m in love with the game’s character designs, but that music was phenomenal and I love that you can choose between the two styles. I would still probably stick with the new stuff, but it’s great that’s there and that developers are becoming more and more flexible about the user experience.

  4. As a big fan of EO, I cant wait for this and the 8bit deal sounds to get more common being the dark spire game does the same thing.

  5. The podcast is Japanese only? Dang, that sounded really interesting.

    That music is awesome though. I was really interested in this when it was first announced, but it fell off of my radar over time. Is there any news about a US release?

  6. 7th Dragon has an 8-bit music option, the newest R-Type has an original graphics options, and the Dark Spire has a wireframe option. It seems like there is a slow and steady trend of “retro-fitting” new games to evoke nostalgia. I hope more companies follow this lead.

  7. I wonder if this game shall come out in the US? I’m definitely interested now…in large part because of Yuzo Koshiro and Nino Kazuya. :P I love Etrian Odyessy (sadly I never did complete it though I did get up near the end…I really should restart the game eventually).

    You know, years ago I’d have never guessed the DS would be home to such hardcore RPGs as EO (not to mention awesome rouge-like games such as Shiren the Wanderer (or Furai no Shiren if you prefer)).

  8. This music is simply fantastic. It would take a pretty terrible game to sway me from purchase after Track 35.

  9. I was already excited about 7th Dragon, but after hearing the music, I really hope someone brings it out over here!

  10. As if I wasn’t already looking forward to this game enough, the soundtrack options are just icing on the cake.

Comments are closed.