The good, the bad, and the grind of Dragon Fantasy (Book 1)

Dragon-Fantasy-8-bit-Screenshot

So, I beat Dragon Fantasy (Book 1) recently, as well as earned all of its Trophies, which makes it the first game on my long list of mostly untouched PlayStation 3 games to have a shiny 100% next to its name. No Platinum Trophy though, but that’s okay. Maybe I’ll get my first Platinum somewhere else, like say Ni no Kuni or Grand Theft Auto V. ::runs off laughing maniacally::

Anyways–it’s pretty good. As I mentioned before, Dragon Fantasy (Book 1) really is an old-school JRPG with a few modern conventions tossed in for good measure. Now, I would not say I have true professional gamer experience with the classic RPGs of yesteryear, though I’ve dabbled in the early Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy games enough to know what they are about and how they helped shape the roleplaying genre as a whole: straightforward plot, tough fights, and a whole lot of grinding. Muteki Corporation’s celebration of all this sticks to its guns….er, swords, and it’s kind of a mix of good and bad, though I was still able to find a lot of enjoyment in this 16-bit fantasy realm of nostalgia.

Dragon Fantasy (Book 1) is basically split up into three chapters (and an intermission), which can be played in any order, though I went with linear; any other way felt wrong.

Chapter 1 focuses on the character Ogden, who is a washed-up former hero trying to get back into the business of saving the world from great evil. You’ll travel solo across the map looking for magical pieces of armor. I found this chapter to be the longest and most dull in terms of gameplay, and since you only have one member in your party, fights are pretty tough and it takes a while before Ogden has the upper hand. Expect to use a lot of Herbs.

Chapter 2 is all about Prince Anders, brother of Prince Marlon, who one saw kidnapped at the beginning of Ogden’s adventure. Well, he wasn’t kidnapped exactly, and you’ll eventually see Anders discovering an important artifact. This chapter is extremely short compared to Ogden’s, probably made easier by the fact that you have a bigger party for those never-ending random battles. I actually missed two Trophies related to this chapter and had to pop back to it for twenty minutes or so.

Chapter 3 introduces two new characters to the journey: Jerald and Ramona, a thief and his niece. They are trying to escape the eastern desert empire of Sandheim, but first need to save up enough money for passports. After some grinding and stealing and plot twists, the two of them end up robbing a ship that the heroes from the first two chapters are using, thus bringing everybody together for, what I assume is, further adventures in Dragon Fantasy (Book 2).

Lastly, there’s a whole intermission chapter devoted to praising Minecraft and its creator Notch. It’s totally throwaway though the monster-recruiting ability is a nice change of pace, and I found it to be a bit overly gushing, and heck, I like Minecraft. You can skip it, unless you want all them Trophies, like I did.

My favorite thing about Dragon Fantasy (Book 1), besides its punny names and comedic writing, is how you can push a button to speed the game up. I’m no mathematician, but it felt like maybe three times as fast. It helps make the grind less of a, well, grind, but you still have to pay a little attention as you just can’t button-mash your way to higher levels here as your attacks miss often and one needs to constantly before of how much HP the characters have left. However, after a bit, even with the game on ultra-speed, the music and random battles, which happen just about every three to four steps, can become grating. Mostly because, with time sped up, you will hear the first few notes of the overworld map, then the first few notes of battle music, then the first few notes of battle victory music, and then back to the overworld, only to rinse, lather, repeat for all eternity. That said, I found myself playing the remainder of chapter 2 and chapter 3 (and that intermission) on mute, listening to a podcast or a playlist.

I’m not quite ready to move on directly to the SNES-inspired Dragon Fantasy (Book 2), but when I get that itch for some classic RPGing, warts and all, I know where to look.

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