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Dragon Fantasy Book II review: Retro JRPG meets western humor

14 September 2013

What happens when Doc Brown and Lucca decide to grant one aspiring, rock obsessed developer’s dream of creating an RPG homage to the SNES generation of games? We get Dragon Fantasy Book II, and without the potential radiation poisoning or screwing up the space-time continuum.

Book II is the sequel to Dragon Fantasy Book I which can be found on PSN, and pays homage to the NES era of RPGs. This is important to point out because the series is based around the different gaming eras, and thusly plays like an entirely different game. Whereas Book I played and felt like a NES Dragon Quest game, Book II plays and feels like the SNES classic Chrono Trigger, along with similar graphics, expressions and combat features.

Unlike in the past where there were technical and creative leaps expected in a series because of an eventual new, and more powerful system, this was a design choice from the start. The graphics are SNES era for a creative reason and not because of a lack of technical skill or budgeting. This kind of creativity is refreshing from the indie market and allows a gamer to step back and evaluate priorities: graphics, gameplay or story?

Being an RPG the story is at the forefront and while the game’s design tries to stay faithful to that retro approach, the story throws it out the window and sets it on fire. The game does not take itself seriously, or even attempts to. It takes all the drab, seriousness and makes it light-hearted, while poking fun at anything about the genre it can to make it an enjoyable, relaxing game. While the name of the series is a play-on words of Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy, it is in name only. The story reads more like Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis wrote the script, infusing a Ghostbusters-esque style of humor. There is even a long quote from the first movie for those crafty enough to find it in the game.

This will be the divisive part about the game and series. For those people who need a serious story and can’t break from that belief will find this a hard game to appreciate. Conversely, for gamers who just like anything from the genre or can accept something not trying to stick to the current mold will have a lot of fun. The storyline won’t win an award for changing someone’s moral, ethical or sociological viewpoint, but it is enjoyable nonetheless.

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