By Steve Baltimore / September 17th, 2013
|Title||Dragon Fantasy Book II|
|Release Date||September 10th, 2013|
|Age Rating||ESRB: T|
A little while ago I played a nice retro-style indie game called Dragon Fantasy: Book I. I found this game very charming with its unique sense of humor and fantastic Dragon Quest-style combat. When details of Dragon Fantasy: Book II started to emerge, I was pretty excited. The game was said to have 16-bit style graphics with a combat system similar to Chrono Trigger. Now that the game is released, let’s see how if fares.
The story continues the adventures of Ogden and his comrades. The game begins with Ogden having a dream in which he must save a group of maidens from becoming dragon barbeque. A mysterious voice tells him to head south to save them. At the end of the path, Ogden’s worst fear must be confronted in the form of a huge dragon. After defeating the dragon a huge skeleton warns him that the Flame Bringer has risen before and shall do so again. A lair will be his downfall, and the child shall bring them together. He is then told to find the void stones before the Flame Bringer rises again. Ogden then arrives at Port Awesomegrogg where the imperials are still hot on their tail.
I would highly recommend playing the first game if you want to get the most out of the story. Although this title does try to bring you up to speed it, you will miss out on some references to the first game. The plot plays out like the middle part of a continuing saga – it has lots of loose ends. This only makes me more excited to see where the story goes in the next game.
The graphics are very much 16-bit. If you remember playing classic JRPGs on your SNES console you will feel right at home here. It was like a trip back to those times as soon as I saw them. There are even some mode 7 style effects when walking around the overworld map or sailing about on your ship. Personally, I think the game looks a bit better on the Vita screen, but it still looks quite nice on a HDTV via the PS3. I did notice one issue on the Vita version – there is a bit of screen tearing on the overworld map as it scrolls, so hopefully this will be fixed in the first patch.
The music is this game is wonderful; the chiptunes really took me back. I haven’t heard a great retro-style soundtrack like this in quite a while. From the more whimsical themes of some of the more outlandish towns you visit, to the catchy battle theme, this is one great soundtrack. The sound effects are pretty plain, though. You get the clangs and clashes of battle and a few effects when spells or abilities are triggered. There is nothing wrong with them, but nothing special about them either.
The game is played from a top-down perspective. The overworld is really quite large, and there are tons of dungeons and towns for you to find and explore. There are no encounters on the overworld map, so you can roam around freely to find all of the extra, hidden areas. Most of the dungeon maps are pretty straightforward; there are plenty of twists and turns but nothing that will make you pull out your hair. You will find treasure chests lying about in the dungeons.; treasure is always good, right? Campfires are also found within the dungeons, and you can use these to save your game. These campfires will also restore all of your lost HP/MP
Combat plays just like Chrono Trigger for the most part. You will see enemies on the screen this time around. As you approach them, they will attack you and combat will commence. Your party will consist of four party members. Battles are still completely turn-based, and yes all of the quirky attack lines from the first game are found here as well; some of them are even better than last time.
You have your basic commands: fight, item, skills and run. When selecting a skill, either place a box around the target or pull up a red circle. If there is a box around a single target, this means that skill will only affect that one target, but if there is a red circle then any enemy in the area will be affected by the skill being used. Skills will consume MP so you will want to keep an eye on how many you have during battle. After battle you will be awarded experience points, gold, and maybe a nice item drop if you’re lucky. If you are defeated in combat you will have to reload from your last save or select continue to go back to the last time the game autosaved. I would not rely on the autosave; it works well but you may end up redoing more than you intended. Most of the boss battle are pretty simple if you leveled up enough in the previous dungeon. This is not really that big of a deal in this game, as the battles are pretty generous with the amount of EXP. you receive.
There are times when the storyline will break up your happy party, leaving you with a few empty slots to fill. This is not a problem since you can capture the monsters found in the game and make them your allies. All you need is a capture net, and you’re all set. Capture nets come in two varieties, normal and deluxe; as you may have guessed, the deluxe is pretty much a guaranteed catch. If you are using a normal net, you will have to weaken the monster a bit before it can be caught. When monsters are caught, if you are short on party members, they will join up you with immediately; if you have a full party, you can pick them up in the next town that has a pub.
Captured monsters will gain levels, stats and skills just like your other party members. You will gain skills and better stats as their level increases. Though most of the monsters will gain the same skills, the better monsters will do more damage as their stats are higher starting off. You can also equip your monsters with weapons, armor, and other equipment. This equipment will be slightly different from what your normal party members use. You can find some equipment for your monsters in the in-game shops, but you will mostly have to craft anything that is really good for them to use. More on crafting items in a minute.
As you explore the various towns found within the game, you can talk to the many NPCs that inhabit these places. Some NPCs will give you quests; these can be as simple as go here and pick up an item to go kill this monster at a set location. You can take as many of these as you want to take. The game keeps track of all your quests in a handy quest log. I’m very glad they included this feature, because otherwise this would have been a real pain to keep track of. Also, in most towns you will find your standard inn, item shop, weapons shop, pub and usually a church so you can save your game.
In some items shops you will notice there is a work bench. This is used to craft items, which are usually much better than the items you can purchase from the shops. You can craft better equipment and consumable items as well. First, will will need to purchase the crafting manuals from the item shops. There are few different ones to purchase, and each will let you make better and better items. To craft an item you simply need whatever materials are needed to make said item, and these materials will be listed in the menu. These are found in treasure chests or by getting them via monster drops after combat.
If you are fan of 16-bit retro-style games, I don’t see how you can go wrong with this one. You will spend about 15 hours completing the main quest; if you wanna grab all the trophies and find all of the game’s extra goodies it will take about twice as long. The $14.99 price tag for a cross buy for PS3/Vita is very reasonable for the amount of content found in this game. I love the cross save feature that is found in both of these games. You can be playing on either Vita or PS3, save your game to cloud and continue on the other console.
All in all, this is a really solid title. The folks at MUTEKICORP have done an excellent job with it. Its quirky sense of humor, wonderful combat, great soundtrack, and great style make it one of the best retro-style indie games I have played to date. It does have a few issues with bugs, such as a frame rate drop when it autosaves on the PS3 and a few instances of creatures taking the long way around to attack you during combat. These issues are being addressed with the first patch, a later patch will add in online drop-in-and-out multiplayer to mix. Even with the few small problems, the game is worth it and will be an even better experience for players once the patch is available.
Game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
Dragon FantasyDragon Fantasy Book IIMutekiMuteki CorporationPSN