[PS3/Vita Review] Dragon Fantasy Book I
Experience an all-new old adventure! Fight your way through hordes of strange, silly, and scary monsters! Explore the caves, castles, and dungeons of an ancient evil! Meet warriors, princes, pirates, zombies, and crazy old woodsmen in a huge world of epic retro adventure!
Dragon Fantasy Book I is a Retro Japanese Role Playing Game (RJRPG!) developed by Muteki Corporation. This game is an enhanced port of Dragon Fantasy which has been out since 2011 on iOS and Android.
This release is cross-buy and cross-save between the PlayStation 3 and the PS Vita and can be played in either the original 8-bits version, or the (as of now) PSN exclusive 16-bits mode!
This game feels like a cousin of Dragon Quest/Warrior on the NES and features a similar gameplay. If you liked RPGs back then, I’m pretty sure you’ll enjoy Dragon Fantasy!
Dragon Fantasy Book I – Gameplay
The game starts with the coronation of Prince Marlon becoming the new King of Wester. As soon as the crown has been given to the new King, two monsters appear, and a retired and bald soldier named Ogden is quickly asked to get rid of them. Right after that, the evil Dark Knight appears, kidnaps the new King and takes him to his Palace.
Dragon Fantasy Book I is divided into 3 chapters that somewhat runs in parallel to each other, and a fourth special one based on the world of Minecraft (!). Like I said earlier, this game can be seen as a close relative of Dragon Quest/Warrior on the NES, and that is particularly true when playing in 8-bit mode (modes can be changed on-the-fly, so it’s up to your own retro taste)!
The game features a good cast of playable characters through the different chapters, and the dialog shows a refreshing sense of humor. There are a lot of monsters in the game, but there isn’t enough variety because a lot of them are palette-swaps (a stronger version of a monster in a different color). I noticed that each monster class also have their own attack patterns, which is a nice touch during the combats.
Battle System The battle system is reminiscent of those found in Dragon Warrior I-IV. Battles are randomly encountered while walking on the field or in dungeons, and the encounter rate is very high. While it’s perfect when grinding to get stronger, getting from point A to point B without utilizing items or magic is a tedious ride.
For the battles themselves, enemies appear in front of you and can be fought with either attacks or magic spells. An extremely nice addition to the PS Vita version is that all menus (in and out of the battles) can be completely controlled by touching the commands on the screen.
I found the difficulty of the first chapter to be on the hard side, representing the difficulty that used to be the norm back in the NES RPG days, and later chapters are easier because you have more people in your party. Expect to grind a few levels the first time each new area or dungeon is visited, but at least the combats are fast paced and usually over in a few seconds. The good news is that often a single level or a new piece of equipment does a whole lot of difference, so once you feel ready to tackle a dungeon, it can be done in a single run when your level is high enough.
The major issue I had with the game is its lack of directives. More than once I felt completely lost because I didn’t know where to go next, mostly because I hadn’t spoken to/found the person holding this information. For a moment, I grinded levels for around half an hour in order to be strong enough to reach a place I wasn’t supposed to go yet. It isn’t such a big deal by itself because when I found my way back I was way over leveled, but I think an in-game map or a ! mark above important people would’ve helped a lot.
Final Thoughts All in all, I enjoyed my time playing Dragon Fantasy Book I. It’s a great retro-JRPG that is reminiscent of old NES games with its difficulty and game design. I particularly liked the option to switch from the default 16-bits to the original 8-bits version of the game. If you liked RPGs back then, I suggest you try this one out!
Closely following this game, a PSN exclusive sequel titled Dragon Fantasy Book II is already planned to release this summer for the PlayStation 3 and the PS Vita!
[review pros=”Cross-buy and Cross-save!
Playable in either 16-bits or 8-bits modes
PS Vita touch controls
Funny dialogs” cons=”Very high random encounter rate
Lacking directives about in-game objectives” score=82]
You can purchase Dragon Fantasy Book I from the PSN.