[PS3/Vita Review] Dragon Fantasy Book II
Join Ogden and the heroes of Westeria in this classic JRPG epic, Dragon Fantasy Book II. Travel through the frozen wastelands of Tundaria, experiencing action packed battles without random encounters, using spatially aware Area-of-Effect attacks and power moves. Travel by a pirate ship, defending against enemies in thrilling ship-to-ship rock monster combat! Defeat oncoming hordes of demons and huge bosses that threaten the entire world of Dragon Fantasy.
Dragon Fantasy Book II is a 16-bit Japanese Role Playing Game-like release that was developed by Muteki Corporation, and it is a PSN release that can be played on both the PlayStation 3 and the PS Vita since it’s Cross-Buy and it also has Cross-Save between the two platforms! This game follows-up the events of Dragon Fantasy Book I, but is also a stand-alone title set in the same universe.
Dragon Fantasy Book II – Launch Trailer
Dragon Fantasy Book II follows the story of the retired hero Ogden and the friends he made in the previous adventure. The humor that made Book I famous is still present in this game, so be prepared for some silly conversations!
Much like a traditional 16-bits game, the gameplay is separated into two phases: travel and battle. The overworld, and ultimately the game structure, is close to Final Fantasy VI (my personal all-time best game… of all time): the overworld even has a Mode-7 effect, which gives a 16-bits depth aspect (see screenshot below)! Also, I don’t think I’m spoiling anything here, but a few hours into the game a scenario-type event (exactly like in FFVI) takes place, and I was pleasantly surprised to see it integrated into this game!
The combat system in Dragon Fantasy Book II is similar to the one in Chrono Trigger. The enemies are visible in the dungeon map (no more random encounters!), and they’ll notice you when you approach them. They’re usually present in small groups, and the battle starts when one of them is touched. The combat is fast-paced and can be fought with regular or special attacks -which can be either magic or Area-of-Effect (AoE) attacks. The AoE attacks are very well implemented in the battle design and are way more powerful than regular attacks because, depending of which type you chose (either a straight line or a circular aura around the targeted enemy) and on the disposition of the enemies on the field, you’ll be reaching more enemies at once than with a single attack.
A new feature of Book II over the previous adventure is that now, enemies can be captured in the battle to join your ranks (this feature is available early in the game, so this removes the need to backtrack in order to catch them all©)! This is made easier by the fact that one of the playable characters has a Capture skill which can be used to capture monsters in a flash. However, when he’s not in the active party, monsters have to be caught with an item that has a pretty low capture rate while ALSO having a pretty high break rate. I didn’t like having to resort to this item, because not only does it waste turns in combat when it fails (instead of attacking the monster), it also requires you to have a high stock of this item. A few trophies are related to capturing monsters, but there isn’t any encyclopedia to let you know which ones you got (you can see them in the tavern, but this information is not available in the dungeons), so you have to remember which ones you’ve already captured if you’re aiming for those trophies (or go REALLY old-school and make a list, map and chart of your captures!).
Also, if you encounter a fight with enemies that are a lot weaker than you, you’ll get an EarthBound-esque auto-battle “Smaaaash!!”, you’ll automatically get the experience, money and items you’d have gotten if you fought the battle. Finally, while in combat, you’ll notice that the world is still alive, and sometimes other monsters will join the battle when you’re already in a fight. How cool is that?
Aside from the main dungeons, there are a few side-quests available. There is also a coliseum in which you can test your strength against opponents, and even a bit of crafting, directly inspired by Minecraft! As for the rest of the side-quests involve either capturing or slaying a beast or getting an object back from a particular dungeon. Once a quest is accepted, they are tracked by a quest log found in the menu of the game, but once it is completed, you have to report back to the requester in order to get your reward. The quest log only states in which city the requester is, but not it’s exact location, so I often had to talk to each city member in order to find which one was the requester, and I think it would have been a lot clearer if quest givers and important people had an exclamation mark above their heads (or if they glowed, or if they were a bunny rabbit with a top-hat, or if they came to ME and gave me MY reward).
A very cool thing is that the developer is listening to the players. The game was released two weeks ago, and Muteki already released a patch fixing major issues, and confirmed that a new one is being worked on to fix two other major issues in the storyline. I would say that even with the patch, the game is still a bit glitchy. For instance, I once managed to have 5 playable party members at once, but only 4 were displayed in the screen. The last one was fully playable but not attackable by the monsters, so I ended up with an invincible party. There are also some issues with battles fought in dungeons with multiple levels since the enemies have some strange behavior in those cases.
“Ohh… My bad.”
Dragon Fantasy Book II is a great retro-JRPG for those that love 16-bit RPG. With its heavy references to games from the golden age of RPGS in the 16-bit era, its humor and even an accessible Platinum Trophy (which I achieved in 15h), this game is very enjoyable, and I suggest you try it out, even with the glitches I mentioned earlier. Purchasing the PSN version gives you both the PS3 and the Vita version, and cross-saving between the two games means that you can play this game everywhere you want to!
[review pros=”Cross-buy and Cross-save!
Battle system, monster capture and ‘Smaaaash!!’
Humor” cons=”A bit glitchy, even with version 1.01
PSN game size: 288Mb
You can purchase Dragon Fantasy Book II from the PSN.