Dragon Fantasy: Book II Review
Review by Shawn Denney
Dragon Fantasy: Book II is a turn based RPG for the Playstation 3 and PS Vita. It is a sequel to the aptly named Dragon Fantasy: Book I. In some ways the wequel has evolved while in others ways it has remained constant as well as taking some steps backwards in other areas. Let’s look at exactly where and why.
First off, the game has shifted from an 8-bit style in Dragon Fantasy: Book I (itself an homage to the original Dragon Quest) to a 16-bit style whose most notable visual influence being Chrono Trigger. Character sprites are far more detailed with more realistic proportions and more versatile movement. Each character moves independently when exploring rather than in a complete line. They still follow your directional inputs but in makes for a more organic exploration environment. The downside is it doesn’t always work. Frequently party members will just stop walking. This left me wondering if they would be their when the next fight took place or if the game had glitched and they were stuck there forever.
All battles can be seen from screen (i.e. no random encounters) but the encounters themselves are handled somewhat awkwardly. You can only innitiate a battle when the enemy has an exclamation point over their head. So if for example you are running into an enemy’s face and the exclamation point doesn’t show up you will continue to just run square into the monsters face without it “noticing” your there.
Once in battle, things follow a loose adaption of Chrono Trigger’s battle system where placement and radius of attacks are important but you can’t directly control movement. Then if enemies wander in while a battle is taking place they will join in the fight (assuming they recognize a fight is happening and don’t just walk through the middle of the battle). Different enemies have different weak points but they aren’t abundantly clear. A snowman is weak to fire which makes sense, but what is a goblin weak to? Who knows. It doesn’t matter to much anyway, heal and melee attacks will get the job done from start to finish anyway.
Then their is equipment. Each character has four slots for equipment. Easy enough and the equip screen has an optimize equipment button which is very useful. However every item is stored in one long list with no discernible wait to sort. So if for example you have a fire bow and an electric bow with the same strength the optimize will choose one of them (unknown how it chooses) and then you have to manually swap if you want the other one but it will be forever down a list of items.
The story is broken up into roughly 5 chapters. One set-up that follws the ending to book I, then you choose between three different storylines that eventually come together to culminate in a final chapter. A similar narrative structure was used for the first Dragon Fantasy. Each character has slightly different moves (well, most of them) and the versatility in its structure is reminiscent of the party split up bits in Final Fantasy VI.
The writing in the game is its strongest point. Their are lots of in jokes and witty comments throughout and the dialogue oozes personality. For example, every pirate in the game is named “Pirate *insert normal name here*”. Pirate Bill is a lazy fella who is more interested in having picnics than pirating. And it goes on and on with the personality, like Ogden making remarks about how he is bald and fat now and hates it. Its amusing but the strong writing isn’t enough to save this game.
Dragon Fantasy: Book II is a broken game. It does have a patch available which helps tremendously with the game but still has way to many glitches to even be remotely acceptable. Countless times my game froze after or during a battle. When bringing up the menu the visual for the menu wouldn’t load but it would act like I was in the menu (took me quite a while to figure that one out….) and at other time the game would just choose not to let me go all four directions. What I mean by that is I could move say up or down but left or right just wouldn’t work. This game should never have been released in the state it is in. It is far more frustrating than it is fun and until a patch comes out truly fixes these problems I cannot recommend this game.