Also On: PS3
Publisher: Muteki Corporation
Developer: Muteki Corporation
There’s not a lot new going in Dragon Fantasy Book 1. And I don’t just mean that in a broad, “This game borrows heavily from every 8 and 16 bit RPG of the last 25 years” sense, either. I’m talking literally: Dragon Fantasy Book 1 is a port of the iOS game of the same name.
Of course, it’s the “borrows heavily from the past 25 years” aspect that will define the game for most people. After all, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that if you played games like Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest or The Adventure of Link — or if you even play a lot of those games’ more modern descendants — then there’s a lot here that’ll seem familiar, from the top-down gameplay and turn-based combat (complete with the fight/magic/item/run options), to the retro graphics and chiptunes music. It should almost go without saying (but I’ll say it anyways) that your enjoyment of those games will largely dictate how much you enjoy Dragon Fantasy Book 1.
It’s not the only factor, though. Personally, I never liked any of those games, I didn’t have the patience for them first time around, and nostalgia goggles haven’t made me appreciate them any more — but I found Dragon Fantasy to be a relatively fun experience.
A lot of this comes down to writing. No matter how rote Dragon Fantasy may seem with its quests and its monsters and whatnot, it doesn’t take long for the game to reveal that it’s got a surprisingly funny soul. I mean, the hero, Ogden, is chubby and balding. Your first weapon is a “pokin’ stick”. The first two monsters you take on are Mr. Rock Monster, who complains about his marital troubles, followed by Mrs. Rock Monster, who is worried she looks fat. Subsequent monsters are named things like Lt. Slicey and Lt. Dicey, Obligatory Ork and Mister Lizard. In a genre prone to seriousness, Dragon Fantasy’s willingness to poke fun at cliches is most welcome.
(And I’ll be honest: even if I proclaimed myself immune to nostalgia goggles just a few paragraphs ago, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to being a little charmed by the way you could switch the game’s graphics between 8 and 16 bits, to say nothing of the literally note-perfect chip-tune soundtrack.)
Having said all that…you’ll probably only truly enjoy Dragon Fantasy Book 1 if you’re a fan of those old RPGs. If you love grinding through monster after monster in the quest for more XP (and better all the skills and weapons better XP will bring you). If you don’t mind reading the same lines over and over again (believe me: what’s funny the first time you read it is a lot less so the twentieth). If you have the patience to buy fifty healing herbs one by one by one. If your heart goes pitter-patter upon hearing 8-bit music with the slightest bit of airy static in the background. If that describes you, then you need to get on this game immediately — and if it doesn’t, then you’ll probably be better off looking elsewhere.