The open honest truth is I never really played much of the old Dragon Quest games. Or even the early Final Fantasies, for that matter. Well, not until pretty recently. It does not–and did not–stem from genre disinterest, but rather wrong place and time; as a young gamer-boy living in the historic towne of Smithville, New Jersey, I was not bathing in countless games as I am now as an adult in this seemingly supersaturated industry. Please note that I’m not actually bathing at this very moment–I’m typing a blog post.
Anyways, this meant that when I got my single and sole cartridge for The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, I played it for hours on end, over and over, and I missed out on Final Fantasy VI and Chrono Trigger and so on. There was only so much I could digest, and there are actually days where I yearn for being in that kind of protective, limiting bubble. But that doesn’t mean I’m completely knowledge-less about the JRPGs of yesteryear and can’t appreciate them for what they did then and there. I mean, c’mon. Have some faith. I write on a blog called Grinding Down for goodness sake.
Dragon Fantasy (Book 1) is a new JRPG designed by The Muteki Corporation in the style of those old RPGs for the NES, like Dragon Quest. It has simple graphics, random encounters, turn-based battles, and a straightforward plot involving a Dark Knight, castles, and a general evilness about. It’s split into three chapters and an intermission thingy, but so far, I’m still on chapter one, which focuses on Ogden, a washed-up former hero getting back into the business of saving the world. Pretty typical stuff, but that’s the point here. Heck, you can even forgo slightly enhanced graphics and music for an 8-bit wash, which I checked out, but I actually prefer the former even if it doesn’t up the scales all that much.
I’m quite enjoying Dragon Fantasy (Book 1) so far, only a couple of hours into the first chapter. It’s got charm out the wazoo and some pretty amusing writing, coupled with a Wedge/Biggs reference from the word go. Heck, even grinding isn’t so bad, and yes, you’ll have to grind to progress, mostly because Ogden is alone for the battles in his chapter, needing to play both roles of fighter and healer. Basically, the pattern so far has been like this: grind a level or two, buy all the available weapons and armor, move on to the next town/cave area, and repeat. I do wish you could see how much XP you needed to earn for the next level increase, but alas, no. You can enhance the game’s movement speed up by like four or six times (I’m no mathematician) by pushing the Select button, which helps with the button-mashing grinding aspect, but is a bit too zippy when in a town or dungeon. However, I urge everyone to slow down when it comes to fighting a new monster type, as the writing for each monster is different and gleefully written, like in Dragon Quest IX and EarthBound. Not many puns so far, but I definitely chuckled at all of Mrs. Rock Monster’s descriptions.
Oh, and looks like Dragon Fantasy (Book 2) comes out…tomorrow! What timing. We’ll see how long it takes me to get through the first game though. These types of JRPG can go on for a bit, and no matter how endearing and fast-paced the battles are, one can only grind for so long before it begins to feel unrewarding, especially if there isn’t anything to spend that gold on after robbing every store clean for its goods.