Growing up in the 80′s and 90′s I played a ton of what are today considered classic RPGs. Dragon Fantasy Book I is trip back to the days of old. I laughed out loud many times at the many references to game and pop culture found throughout the story. With its very unique blend of style and humor it makes the overall product feel very rich and satisfying. One of the best examples of it’s humor and style is in one stage you find an outhouse that it is a save point. When you click on it, you get “Finds a scrap of toilet paper. Guess it’s better than nothing.” Then as you leave the save point it says, “We aim to please, you aim to pease.”
The story is divided up into four chapters, and you can start at any chapter you would like with the first one being the main story. While the 3rd chapter features the story events leading up to the next game, chapter 2 and the intermission chapters are fun side stories that add to the overall story of the game. The intermission chapter is Minecraft-themed and quite hilarious.
The main story begins with a boy named Ogden who rescues Princess Becca of Wester from a dragon. He then becomes her personal bodyguard. 30 years pass and now Queen Becca is celebrating her son Prince Marlon’s 25th birthday. He is to become a man on this day and be crowned King. At that moment some monsters crash the party and the prince is abducted by a Dark Knight who flees through a portal. Ogden comes out of hero retirement and follows them through the portal to save the prince.
This title looks like the classic Dragon Warrior (Dragon Quest) games on the NES, which totally fits the game’s classic design. They have added to this version of the game an enhanced feature which changes the graphics and sound from 8-bit to 16-bit. This setting can be changed on the fly at anytime during gameplay. This is a great feature that allows you to experience this fun title in two different ways.
I really enjoyed the chip tunes soundtrack, as it gave me that wonderful feeling of nostalgia. Both the 8-bit and 16-bit tunes fit the title really well and you can tell there was a lot of time and thought put into each track. The sound effects are pretty standard 8 and 16-bit bleeps and bloops; they serve the title well.
The gameplay itself is pretty much just like Dragon Quest. You walk around on a top down map and get random encounters. The only minor complaint I have is that the movement speed is a bit slow and I wish they had added a dash button. Monsters are not visible on the map just like in the days of old. The encounter rate on this game is pretty high, but it is based off of games where the rate was much higher. Dungeons are pretty straightforward which is good since like many older games there is no map. Even with no map there won’t be very many path finding issues you will run into.
Battles themselves are turn-based and you have your standard fight, magic, item and run commands. The combat is very simple though I love the battle text. For example, you’ll run into a wolf monster named Blitzer and his attack is “Ask the tough questions.” Another monster encounter sees you battling against skeletons named Biggs and Wedge. A slime-like monster, The Jingle bell Rock Monster, attacks by singing off-key. A vampire monster named the Sangria Enthusiast wants to spike your punch when he attacks. When defeated, he says he’s hit a dry spell. As you can see, some of the names of the enemies and the attacks they do are hilarious. It made the game fun and interesting as you run into all the different monsters. Some of the monsters can become quite difficult when venturing into new areas. If you use that time tested method of grinding for gold and exp for a bit you will be able to handle them in no time. On the Vita you can issue commands using the touch screen if you would like though I personally never did.
While the gameplay is a little basic (as retro-styled RPGs should be, for better or worse), I had a great time with this title. Its humorous look at great RPGs of the past is just wonderful and I look forward to seeing what comes next in the series. For the price point of the game and the fact that it’s a cross-buy for the PS3 and Vita consoles, plus the fact that it features cross-saves, you really cannot go wrong with this one. If you loved the NES and SNES RPGs of the past, you should pick this one up today.
Game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.