I mentioned in a previous post that I personally believed that Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past should be adapted to movie form, and I believed that if this were the case, it could succeed as a movie where so many video game movies have failed.
First, I would like to establish that this film would need to be animated. It would be much harder to adapt to film the aesthetic that the Dragon Quest (or Dragon Warrior, as it used to be called) has established for itself over the past few decades. The art style of Akira Toriyama is very appealing, which can be seen in the success of Dragon Ball, and we already live in a reality where his work was adapted to live action and it looks like this:
(From MMO Site)
There’s just a loss of charm/appeal that the original art style has. Animation itself also allows for audiences to accept something like this:
Imagine what a slime would look life in live action!
Anyway, I hope I have established my case for animation over live action. It could be either 3D or 2D, honestly – they have managed to translate Dragon Quest into both mediums, so I’m not worried about it. Moving on.
I personally feel as if Dragon Quest VII would succeed not as a feature-length film, but rather as a series of interconnected short films – or perhaps even as a episodic television series (it would have to be an anime), due to the structure of the game. The general premise of the game is that there exists only one continent in the world. There were more continents in the past, but they were destroyed by some evil power. Our heroes – the Protagonist, his best friend/prince of the island, Kiefer, and his fellow villager Maribel – manage to find a way to visit these places right before they become devoid of life and resolve these crises, slowly saving these continents and restoring them to the present day.
The player, as the protagonist, goes from continent to continent and tries to combat whatever problem is ailing the land in order to restore the world back to the way it was. Each place contains its own self-contained story, and this is the primary reason why I feel like this game should be separated into short films – to try to cram all of the content into one film (there are over 15 islands/continents to visit, by the way) would only be a detriment to the overall narrative. To try to cut down the amount of islands resolved would be a mistake, in my opinion, as it would make the audience feel like the world itself is small. Saving these 10+ continents is no easy task, and doing so makes you feel like you’re making the world bigger and bigger, returning it back to the way it should be. To lose that feeling would harm what the audience should experience.
The short stories that occur on the islands themselves are beautiful (despite the fact that developers said, interestingly, that they really didn’t spend as much time on the narrative as much as they did on the puzzles).
Admittedly, the stories are kind of simplistic, but it’s the characters in the stories that provide a lot of the depth. You’ve got a multitude of tales of love, revenge, tragedy, heartbreak – there’s a wide variety.
I actually wrote a super long 1000-word retelling of two of the stories that happen in this game, but found this article that I think gets the emotional capacity of these narratives across better. Please, PLEASE read it if you really want to understand the heartrending ability that Dragon Quest VII’s narrative can provide.
And yes, story isn’t everything, especially for a fantasy adventure like this. But that’s where the magic of this game being an RPG could shine as well – there could be incredible, exciting action sequences that are an exaggerated/expanded version of the regular battles of Dragon Quest VII. Their first fight could be against a band of slimes trying to overwhelm them. Another fight could be against mechanical soldiers using lasers and other technology to take down our heroes. All the while, our protagonists use moves like Metal Slash and a Boom spell (basically a fire spell) to take these enemies down. You can have the environment have more of an effect in the battles. This could be very fun to watch.
I really hope I’ve gotten across at least some of the fantastic storytelling that made the game so good for me. These narratives lie in fantasy while remaining grounded in humanity and reality that RPGs can lack sometimes, and these stories, I feel, could very well stay this good while being translated to film form. I hope I’ve made my case.