Dragon Fantasy Book II review: Retro JRPG meets western humor
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A throwback to the SNES era of RPGs. It is funny, refreshing and proves small budgets can succeed in a genre where big budgets reign supreme. It is a little short on depth but for the price of a movie ticket it can't be beat.
- Creative homage to SNES era RPGs
- Epic boss music
- Interesting, atypical cast of characters
- Lack of depth and replayability
- Capturing monsters quickly becomes useless
- Too short of an experience even for a SNES era RPG
The music is a mixed bag which is a shame since the first game’s musical score was not as good as well. The boss battles had excellent music, and part of me wanted the fights to last longer so I could hear the tune keep on playing forever. Outside of boss battles the music was not remarkable or memorable though. It wasn’t bad music but in a week it is not something that will be remembered like a Streets of Rage soundtrack for example. However, it is obvious they put in a lot of effort to have some of the soundtrack sound like famous SNES games like Final Fantasy VI. In one area the music sounds like you’re in Zozo from FFVI, which was creative and stuck with their overall retro theme.
Combat is a nice splice between Chrono Trigger with a little bit of Earthbound mixed in. From the ninja quick jump attacks, to the casual walking up and swinging, it instantly looks and feels like Chrono Trigger. When using skills the area of effect from the game is also used allowing you to attack single targets, a wide circular field or a straight line. One of the biggest problems with RPGs is the annoying weakling fights. Earthbound was one of the only games to solve that problem by just letting the player auto-win the fight instantly when the enemies’ levels were too weak. Book II adds in that nice touch with its own “Hulk” flavor.
All the monsters in the game are stock but with a new-age retro twist. This is part of the charm of the series. Every RPG gamer knows the loveable looking slime monsters that greet you in battle in Dragon Quest. How about changing that slime into a rock? How about Mrs. Rock or Rock Man or a rock with a football helmet? Book II takes that retro convention of using the same enemy model and switching out colours and names but makes it sillier. A rock with a Mega Man helmet? Sounds good to me. Some people might not appreciate that old school style of enemy creation but it fits perfectly with the creator’s overarching creative vision.
Sadly the major fault with Book 2 is there is very little depth to the game. It is a once you see it, now it is over type of game. There are some side quests and locations to find but for a non-linear game it doesn’t have much to do. Capturing monsters is fun but they are not as good as the main characters, and quickly become archaic once their new, better versions show up later in the game.
Overall Dragon Fantasy Book II is a fun game. It is short, funny, and helps infuse some fresh blood into the retro style game market. It proves SNES era games can still be successful and fun in a market of multi-million dollar budgets and movie quality CGI. For the price of a movie ticket gamers won’t be sorry and will have a wacky time.
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