PSN/PS Vita Review: Dragon Fantasy: Book II

Off the record, the bitey box still fools me.

Off the record, the bitey box still fools me.

By: Mike Chen

Dragon Fantasy‘s first episode (deemed Book I) was a fun retro romp that hearkened back to 8-bit Dragon Warrior and Final Fantasy games. Ogden is back and Book II is now available, and we’ve leaped forward on console generations. No, not PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, but to the land of 16-bit — more specifically, Dragon Fantasy Book II was modeled on SNES games (sorry, old school Phantasy Star and Shining Force fans).

CONTROLS (3.5/5)

Dragon Fantasy Book II takes its control scheme from old-school RPGs, which means that it’s menus, menus and more menus. This gets the job done, though, and a lot of it is streamlined in a way that’s particularly effective at keeping pace and organization. In particular, each town provides plenty of side-quest opportunities, and this is made much easier with a modern quest tracker in the primary menu. This makes it simple to keep track of things, and it’s something I wish developers employed during the true 16-bit era.

GRAPHICS & SOUND (4/5)

Everything’s 16-bit with Dragon Fantasy Book II, but it’s probably the prettiest and best-sounding 16-bit game ever made. The sprites pop but remain comfortably familiar. The ship sailing around the world takes place in familiar Mode 7-style scaling and rotation. Enemies are colorful and animated, so while everything is decidedly retro, it feels fitting and advanced at the same time.

The semi-symphonic score actually sounds a little too advanced. The SNES audio chipset was far ahead of the original 8-bit NES, yet this game’s soundtrack feels more fitting for PlayStation or Dreamcast-era titles. It’s not that the music is bad, it just breaks the overall retro vibe of the game.

GAMEPLAY (4/5)

RPGs are often defined by two things: their combat system and their story. Book I’s combat system was a system of first-person, menu-driven combat, mirroring the original Dragon Warrior. Book II does away with random encounters and instead has enemies in proximity fighting in turn-based battles on the map (mirroring Chrono Trigger).

Range is now a factor, as enemies can move around the frozen map, and nearby enemies are also a threat. However, Ogden and his party now have more mobile attacks, such as a spinning sword slash similar to A Link To The Past-era Link. The targeting system shows the coverage of these special attacks, though enemies will have their turn before you attack.

One big difference from Book I is the fact that Ogden can fight with a party of up to four characters, and not just standard party fare, but a new monster-capture mechanic using nets. These monsters can stay in your party indefinitely, even getting names and leveling up with the rest of your group.

As for the story? It’s both sprawling and funny (and at times confusing), and I think that’s part of the issue. It’s got a traditional epic fantasy tale involving magic stones and the fate of the land, but the moment-to-moment interactions are almost purely comedic. Cities and characters are filled with pop culture/video game inside jokes. They’re good for a laugh, but it winds up pulling you out of the moment. It also creates a bit of a disparate feel, and sometimes it seems like Dragon Fantasy can’t decide what type of tone it wants to set.

OVERALL (4/5)

Dragon Fantasy Book II makes notable design improvements over its predecessor, probably by design since its aping a more advanced game. Old-school RPGs aren’t for everyone, but for those that look back fondly it’s a fun playthrough with solid mechanics — as long as the mix of epic fantasy and Monkey Island-style humor doesn’t take you out of the moment.

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About Herija Green

Avid gamer, adventurous lover and all-around damned handsome man...
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55 Responses to PSN/PS Vita Review: Dragon Fantasy: Book II

  1. Chris says:

    The bitey box will be the one who knocks
    @ChrisHolland70

  2. Ron Valencia says:

    The bitey box will tickle your funny bone.
    @ronmanx8

  3. Paul says:

    The Bitey Box will now take your calls.
    SEQUEL ONLY
    @pabba

  4. jerk_alert says:

    The bitey box will fantasize about dragons.
    @jerk_alert

  5. The bitey box will turn this car right around!
    @skarpeal
    SEQUEL ONLY

  6. Antonio says:

    The bitey box will visit the dentist.
    SEQUEL ONLY @WynterSoldier

  7. xxxmcbeexxx says:

    BITE! I mean hate or is it game, I suck at fill in the blanks can I answer all of the above, yes all of the above

  8. Don says:

    The Bitey Box will awake your mother with the scent of French toast.
    @RoboticBiscuit

  9. Dave says:

    The Bitey Box will choke your soul.
    @Ganth0101

  10. Leon says:

    The Bitey Box will bite you on the behind.
    @lmd1974

  11. The Bitey Box will bite the hand that feeds it,
    @DevinTHudson

  12. Dusk says:

    The Bitey Box will pity the fool and fool you no more!
    @Dark_Dusk

  13. The Bitey Box will play dragon book fantasy I now!
    @AbripperX
    Thanks.

  14. Greg says:

    The Bitey Box will now administer that beating
    Sequel Only
    @GregSal1

  15. The Bitey Box will want a last guardian announcement
    @aznxchunky

  16. LeahS says:

    The Bitey Box will bite your box!

  17. Fabien says:

    The Bitey Box will now bite a box…
    @VofEscaflowne

  18. david says:

    The Bitey Box will break down

    @dlosnkl

  19. buster42 says:

    The Bitey Box will never give you up
    @busterkuri

  20. The Bitey Box will give you lip
    @punchspinkick

  21. The Bitey Box will always win

    @randyliu96

  22. The Bitey Box will bite you
    SEQUEL ONLY
    @christoppa08

  23. smacd says:

    The Bitey Box will consume your world
    SEQUEL ONLY
    @smacdougal

  24. Eyothrie says:

    The Bitey Box will bite you on the ass
    @Eyothrie

  25. The Bitey Box will sneak up on you
    @Tidus_Blitz

  26. The Bitey Box will take your mind

  27. The Bitey Box will take control of the world.

    @IMissBionix

  28. ilRadd says:

    The Bitey Box will bite your finger off if you keep pointing at it!
    @ilRadd

  29. Wolf Zombie says:

    The Bitey Box will one day return to bite again!
    @wolfzomb

  30. Martin Arellano says:

    The Bitey Box will go to the movies.
    @CaptainRDash

  31. Jaxson says:

    The Bitey Box will Heisenberg you!
    @kerouackid

  32. kikyouwuv says:

    The Bitey Box will will get inside a bigger box to create boxception. @kikyouwuv
    Thanks for the giveaway guys, nice to see a lot of PS3 ones I can enter.

  33. The Bitey Box will propose me for happy marriage, and we will have boxlings 🙂

    @Pixolator

  34. ZeroP1 says:

    The Bitey Box will adopt a cat and name it Kitey.
    @zerop1

  35. Jesus Trujillo says:

    The bitey box will now slap you in the behind.
    SEQUEL ONLY
    @gam3r4u

  36. Sindroam says:

    The Bitey Box will Box With A Bear Burrowing Berries
    @Sindroam

  37. The Bitey Box will double slash you to kingdom come!
    SEQUEL ONLY
    @Chronorayven

  38. o kiraan (@okiraan) says:

    The Bitey Box will make you feel what it’s like to fall in love for the first time all over again.
    @okiraan.

  39. Mike says:

    The Bitey Box will eat you alive then sh!t you back out
    @Miketheking75

  40. Mike says:

    The Bitey Box will probably hurt.
    @MichaelCarra

  41. danielrl says:

    The Bitey Box will give you the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything.
    @cdanielrl

  42. mackslappy says:

    The Bitey Box will Bite!

  43. Michael de Silva says:

    The Bitey Box is the best machine to play Dragon Fantasy on.
    @mdesilva_

  44. Dave G says:

    The bitey box will box bites.
    @beerrun77

  45. sergiosuperche says:

    The Bitey Box will bite everything.
    @sergioduperche

  46. The Bitey Box will leave bite marks on you
    @PowerlessTurtle

  47. The Bitey Box will chomp on you!
    @LauraLoL58

  48. Limesta says:

    The Bitey Box will contemplate its loathsome existence as an oddly named mimic chest.
    @Limesta_

  49. The Bitey Box will burn them for the glory of Satan !
    @Tanelorn82

  50. Adam S. says:

    The Bitey Box will box you in, be careful!
    SEQUEL ONLY
    @RPGHope18

  51. J.L. says:

    The Bitey Box will ends us all.
    @GreyCrow02

  52. KEVIN L. says:

    The Bitey Box will save us.
    @HAYABUSAAE86

  53. The Bitey Box will chomp on you!
    @long2905

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