What I've always loved about indie games is that they never shy away from doing things differently. Whether it's recreating the absurdness of 90s gaming or breaking the fourth wall, they always stand out. However, Dragon Fantasy Book I stands out by not just mimicking old school RPGs, but also by improving the formula.
The story of Dragon Fantasy Book I is rather simple and silly. Divided into three chapters and an intermission, you experience the story from the perspective of three characters that are tied together in a journey to defeat evil. Chapter 1 has you play as Ogden, the bald hero of his home kingdom. After years of doing nothing but saving cats from trees, you must save the prince who has been kidnapped by the Dark Knight. In Chapter 2, you play as Prince Anders who works behind the scenes to help Ogden on his quest. Chapter 3 revolves around Jerald, a thief who hopes to send his niece out of the country to a safe land.
Intermission M throws everything in for a loop. The heroes of Chapter 1-3 find themselves in a Minecraft server. In order to escape, you must awaken Notch from his slumber by finding his magic Swedish hat. Why? Well, because "Swedish magic is the strongest of the magics" or something like that. Oh, and you get to "mine" minerals to make you items and equipment.
Just like other JRPGs, Dragon Fantasy Book I uses random encounters to fight enemies. You face your enemy as you would in Dragon Quest or the original Phantasy Star series. A screen pops up with only the enemies and a background on it while a menu appears below to control your characters' moves. Depending on your character, you select from Fight, Magic, Skill, Item, and Run. Once you defeat the enemy, you receive experience points and money. If you have more than one person in your team, the experience points are divided amongst the party. There are also dungeons to explore full of stronger monsters as well as treasure chests.
Items and equipment are not much different from other RPGs like Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest, but they do have some funny names. Instead of Ether, you will need Potato Juice to refill you magic. Each item has a description just like equipment, so you won't be confused about what each item does.
If you've struggled with RPGs in the past, don't worry. It is very easy to level up in this game. The enemies you encounter are not too challenging either. After a while, you may find that the spell "Silencio" will put an end to that pesky mage who keeps bullying you. If you die, you won't lose your experience points or items. Instead you will be sent to the nearest priest who will save your data. Sadly, you will lose half of your money as a result, so it isn't without consequence.
In many ways, it's refreshing to play an RPG that is more casual and easy going. That's not to say that there won't be challenges throughout Dragon Fantasy, but it's unlikely that you will rage quit this game.Now there is an unfortunate issue with the PS3 version of the game. Patch 1.01 causes a bug that will prevent you from beating Chapter 3 and Intermission M. To avoid this, just don't update the game once you've downloaded it. After contacting Muteki Corporation, they apologized and assured me that another patch will be released in a few days that will solve the bug as well as add some extras.
Because this is a remake of the iOS game, Dragon Fantasy Book 1 has SNES style graphics and remixed music. But if you prefer 8bit graphics like me, the graphics and music can be changed back to the original from the menu screen at almost any point in the game.
While the visual and musical update is nice, I can't help but prefer the blocky graphics and chip tune sound of the original. It does a better job of making the game feel old school. The only real issue with the music is that the over world track loops abruptly and that the victory theme ends too soon. It just feels like they are cut off before they should be.
In case you haven't found out by now, Dragon Fantasy Book I is chock full of humor. Some of the enemies are clever references to real people, such as Wolf Blitzer from CNN. The rock monsters you run into (think of slimes from Dragon Quest) are actually a family. So while Mr. Rock is trying to explain the lipstick on his collar, Mrs. Rock is angry about the dishes, and Son of Rock Monster is going to attack you while sporting his green Mohawk.
Some of the humor is in the description of items. For instance, when you find dragon scale armor, the description warns you to not tell PETA that it's made from a real dragon. Humor can also be found by reading the books in each town or simply speaking to the characters in the game. The pirates are particularly hilarious. Whether it's a woodsman telling to you not go out alone because it's dangerous, or a journal complaining about the pirate's code of ethics, Dragon Fantasy will put a smile on your face.
Even though this is an RPG, it's pretty short. Chapter 1 has a decent length, but the rest of the chapters are only a few hours long. In fact, Chapter 2 feels like it ends as soon as it begins. The game will take not more than 15 hours to complete. That's not a bad thing though as in some ways, it's a pleasant surprise to beat an RPG that quickly. Also, Dragon Fantasy ends at a good cliff hanger, making you anticipate Book II's later release this year.
While the bug-inducing patch is inconvenient, this has been one of the most enjoyable RPGs for a while. The humor is fresh and original, the game is easy to pick up and play, you get Cross Buy and Cross Save, and length of the game is just right. Dragon Fantasy Book I is a must play game for both veterans of the genre and those new to it.
|Easy to pick up|
|Silly humor and video game references|
|Can swap to the old version of the game|
|Chapter 2 is way too short.|
|Some music tracks either end or loop too abruptly|
|The first patch caused a rather bad bug|