Dragon Fantasy: Book II – Review (PS3)
Dragon Fantasy: Book II is an RPG for PS3/Vita (Cross-buy!). The game is developed by Muteki Corp who previously developed The Battle of Pirate Bay and Super Jetpack Dragon IV.
I’ll start by saying I have yet to play Dragon Fantasy: Book I. Dragon Fantasy: Book II is touted as being stand-alone and I can attest to that. At no point did I feel I was missing out on any previous story – though having experienced it, I’m sure Book II would be even more interesting.
Dragon Fantasy: Book II is a throwback to classic RPGs past taking influence from titles such as Lufia II, Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy VI. The influence shows in some aspects, such as the Chrono-Trigger-style combat system, but it never feels like it’s ripping anything off.
The story of Dragon Fantasy: Book II follows directly on from Book I, taking place over three routes with Ogden and his crew aiming to save the world by gathering Voidstones. The story is standard fare for any RPG veteran, but it’s executed well enough that it’s still a joy to play through. The game also has a sense of humour, not taking itself too seriously and making some nice references to other games – but it’d be more fun for you to find them yourself.
Combat in Dragon Fantasy: Book II is exactly what you’d expect from a Japanese-inspired RPG. The game does a lot to improve combat and remove grind from games of old. An example of this is when facing a group of weaker enemies – no matter how large the group – you will initiate a “SMAAAAAASH!” and defeat the whole encounter in one hit. This helps to eliminate what some consider to be the most tiresome aspect of the JRPG – the grind. While the grind has been removed, there is still an element of redundancy in the system. Healing often takes a while because you have to select to heal, then who to heal every time. Each character in combat can select between a few commands; Fight, Skill, Item, Defend and Run. Fight will perform a normal attack on the selected enemy. Skill will allow you to pick from a variety of skills which range from combat to buffs. Item allows the use of items. Defend will perform no action this turn, but lower damage done to that unit instead. Run with attempt to flee the battle. Standard turn-based RPG fare, really, but well-executed thanks to the simple, touch-screen-friendly UI.
In Dragon Fantasy: Book II you can capture monsters using capture nets or the capture skill which will add them to your party. Each monster has its own set of skills which can help diversify your party. Monsters and party members walk neatly in a line behind Ogden when in your party – a feature I love because it gives constant visual confirmation of your party set-up. If any of your party dies in combat, they will revive with one hit-point come the end of the combat. Upon completely wiping, you’ll just head back to the last rest point you used. Another feature that helps save a lot of time and grind – no need to stock up on expensive revive items unless you want to revive them in battle. Worried about what happens to the sweet monsters you’ve captured when your party is replaced during the story? Well don’t be. Party Members (and monsters) will await your return at the local pub. In the pub, party members can be switched out.
There is also a ship-to-ship battle mini-game in which you need to search your ship to find Rocks – the Dragon Fantasy equivelant to Slimes – to fire at the enemy ship. You are given a timer for each enemy shot and must defeat them before they defeat you. This mini-game is a nice change of pace, but it’s somewhat ruined by a problem I’ll cover in more detail later.
Dragon Fantasy: Book II’s art style is a throw-back to classic 16-bit JRPGs, but has its own style. It also features a fitting soundtrack with as much variance as the landscape in the game.
I had a mostly good experience playing Dragon Fantasy: Book II. The only problem I encountered – as mentioned when I spoke of the ship-to-ship combat – was loading lag. Every time you switch rooms, the game has to load them up and will begin to stutter for a few seconds. This isn’t a big problem most of the time, but during the ship-to-ship combat, you’re quickly travelling through multiple rooms in quick succession which makes for a whole lot of constant lag – at least in my experience. A somewhat minor nitpick is also that the text switched to a new line the second it finished displaying the last in combat. This made it easy to miss the end of some of the hilarious combat text. Buying, selling or using items can also take a long time, having to buy, sell or use them one at a time – though being able to equip them directly after buying them is a nice touch.
There were also plenty of good features like the “SMAAAAASH”, the simple, low-management UI and most of all, the game-length and quality you receive for the low price. There’s also the quick save (also known as save-and-quit) which is a feature every game should have. Not only is it useful for on-the-go gaming when using your Vita, but it allows you to get in short bursts on your PS3 whenever you have some spare time.
Some technical glitches dot the face of Dragon Fantasy: Book II, but the quality of the game allows some forgiveness. If you’re looking for a light JRPG or adventuring romp and have a PS3 or Vita, Dragon Fantasy: Book II fits the bill and has 15+ hours of content.