By: Matthew Striplen
What would you do if Mr. Rock Monster rolled up to take out his marital problems on you? Take six damage, of course! How about if Mrs. Rock Monster asked if she looks fat? That is truly a question for the ages. In Dragon Fantasy, gamers will be challenged with these literally hard hitting questions, and much more!
Dragon Fantasy began its life as a mobile game and has slowly been ported to a variety of handhelds and consoles. Although the game appears to be a super traditional JRPG on the surface, there’s a lot more going on than that. Players can expect to see classic hallmarks of the genre, like leveling, miscellaneous items, and even some magic, but Dragon Fantasy‘s real draw is its writing.
Dragon Fantasy places tremendous care into aspects of the RPG genre that are generally ignored: battle descriptions. Both the names and actions of all enemies are so cleverly done that I rarely fast-forwarded through battles. Although many enemies are just palette swaps of weaker versions, each iteration comes with a unique name and attacks. These names range from the silly to the absurd, as seen in the screenshot, and I loved every minute of it.
The game is split into three primary chapters with a fourth side quest. Each primary chapter features a different protagonist with unique abilities, but the essence of the game remains consistent. While the first three chapters stay in the same continuity, the fourth takes the previously introduced heroes on a quest in the world of Minecraft. This dramatic change in locale shows itself in the noticeably blockier landscape, as well as the multitude of real and Minecraftworld references.
Quirkiness becomes a theme throughout the entire experience, encapsulating everything from the aforementioned writing, all the way to graphical presentation. Dragon Fantasy “boasts” of its capability to switch between original 8-bit graphics and sound to the “enhanced” 16-bit version. Cutting edge, to say the least.
The soundtrack continues down the same weird path, with disjointed melodies and sudden endings to songs. The victory fanfare stands out as one of the strangest tracks, ending abruptly after only a few seconds. Unlike most games, Dragon Fantasy‘s fanfare doesn’t loop, instead opting for silence after it finishes. The 8-bit version sounds a little less strange than the 16-bit, but it’s still weird nonetheless.
Dragon Fantasy: Volumes of Westeria embodies the phrase “looks can be deceiving.” Despite the old school appearance and gameplay style, it constantly offers up surprises in the form of clever writing. Although the game could weird out many players, the consistent humor never failed to hold my attention.
Despite the four chapters, Dragon Fantasy remains a relatively brief game. Since the comedy acts as the centerpiece, replay value is fairly low. All that said, Dragon Fantasy: Volumes of Westeria is a wonderful little title for seasoned and new RPG players alike.