Tag Archives: Notch

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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Can’t escape smiling at this Ludum Dare game called BATHOS

If it wasn’t for Notch, I would have never even known about this crazy thing that recently took charge, known to indie game developers worldwide as the Ludum Dare. Basically, participants develop games from scratch in a single weekend–that’s 48 hours, okay–based on a theme suggested by community. This time around the theme is escape. Browsing through the 500+ finished entries is a bit daunting; some of them really do look great, and others…well, not so much. Unfortunately, a good chunk of them blur together.

The first submission I clicked on to check out was BATHOS by Johan Peitz, mostly because it looked like a SCUMM title, and those experiences always pull at my heartstrings. Seriously, there’s a Maniac Mansion vibe here. I’m super pleased to announce that the very first Ludum Dare title I’ve tried…is a winner! Well, in my book. I’m sure Notch’s entry is stellar too, but I haven’t attempted it yet, considering I barely understand Minecraft still, and I’ve been playing that for several weeks now. Anyways…

In BATHOS, the player wakes up in a supervised prison cell, naturally wanting to escape. The door is locked, but he quickly discovers many keys in his tiny, depressing cell room. Surely one of them will work on the door. And that’s it. Find the right key and get out of there. It sounds simple, but it took me about fifteen minutes on my lunch break to figure out, and the solution is delightful, obvious, turning this little indie bit of Flash wizardry into something truly charming. The graphics are clean and unobtrusive, and the game controls smoothly. There’s only so much our pixelated hero can do, but it all works. Picking up keys that don’t work and flinging them under your bed never felt so good.

One of the definitions for bathos is “an anticlimax,” and yes, Johan Peitz’s take on solitude, yearning, and escape most certainly is that. However, it might be the first time something so ludicrous has made me smile.

You can play BATHOS in your web browser by clicking this very sentence. Or, if you’re looking to download it for Windows/OSX/Linux, go here…just don’t read any of the comments below otherwise you’ll spoil a perfectly genuine gaming experience. And remember, this was created in under 48 hours. To me, that’s mighty impressive–and gives me hope that maybe one day I could make a videogame, too.

Totally died five times while reviewing Minecraft’s first hour of gameplay

At long last, my dear readers…at long last! I’ve mentioned here at Grinding Down and more than occasionally tweeted about the Minecraft review I’ve been working on over the last few days. Well, it is now done and posted and ready for your consumption. Head on over to The First Hour to see how I spent sixty minutes in the blocky world of Minecraft!

That about does it for this post. Short and sweet.

NOTE: The images in the review are from my own gaming experience, and those are my drawings on top. I like how they came out. Hopefully you do too.