It’s Dragon Quest! It’s Final Fantasy! No, it’s Dragon Fantasy!
I’m still coming down from the high of playing another fun indie gem. I’ll bet you thought my next post would be about The Last of Us. As hubby and I are playing the game through together (playing Naughty Dog’s games together has become one of our things) and we just finished a week of “camping,” we unfortunately haven’t had as much time to play as we’d like. I did sneak my PS Vita along for the vacation and was able to sink a few hours into Dragon Fantasy.
Dragon Fantasy was made for people like me. I love old school RPGs. The lengthy dungeons and difficulty have a certain nostalgic charm to them. I also love media that is not shy about poking fun at itself. And boy, does Dragon Fantasy poke fun at itself and the genre. I knew I would enjoy this game when I fought Mr. and Mrs. Rock Monster on the world map. I won’t spoil the narration, but suffice it to say the silly one-liners and dialogue will have you chuckling.
I played the Playstation 3/Vita version of this game. It includes features such as trophies, cross-saving, and enhanced graphics and music. This means you can swap between 8-bit NES or 16-bit SNES styles on the fly. I had a hard time deciding which I liked better. It really just depended on my mood. Although I think I like the battle theme in 8-bit style better.
Dragon Fantasy is also the only game I’ve ever earned 100% of the trophies for (I hope that gives you a general idea of how much I generally care about trophies). When I looked at the trophy list it wasn’t long or difficult, and I was also looking for a little more life out of this game since it is rather short, so I mopped up the leftover trophies after my first playthrough of all four chapters. I didn’t get a platinum trophy, but I wouldn’t really feel like I earned it because getting all the trophies in this game was really easy.
Dragon Fantasy is divided into four different chapters, so I’ll give a brief overview and opinion on each chapter.
Chapter 1: Dragon Fantasy- This is Ogden’s story. Being the longest of the four chapters, it is hard not to think of this as the main plot with the others offering supplemental information that fleshes out the story. Ogden is past his prime, having served the Queen of Westeria for many years. He is bald, thanks to losing his hair fighting a dragon when he was 16. No word on why his hair never grew back. Or how the dragon managed to miss his ginger beard. Anyway, instead of being smart and retiring, he lets “Woodsman” talk him into going on an adventure to gather legendary armor so he can battle the nefarious Dark Knight who completely embarrassed him in the scripted loss at the start of the game.
Not only is Ogden’s chapter the longest, but it is also the hardest. My advice is to enter this chapter with the following mindset: You NEED to grind and you NEED to heal. A lot. Like, between each encounter. I tried doing a “speed run” because I’m an idiot and saved over my Ogden game before I decided to go back and “read” all the books for the trophy. Doing a “speed run” without taking time to grind for a couple of good pieces of gear between dungeons wasn’t really happening. I ended up pausing to grind just like the first time I played this chapter. It is a fact of old school JRPGs anyway, only lightened by the fact that this is a short game so you won’t spend 30 hours of your life doing it.
Ogden is completely alone during his entire chapter. This means you have one character to rely on for healing and damage, thus the main reason his chapter is the hardest. My only issue with this was when I got screwed while fighting Obligatory Orcs. More than once the orc literally pummeled me to death while I was taking a nap. Then I got to trek all the way back to the volcano from the nearest town and do it all over again. In Dragon Fantasy, when you die you res at your last save (in a church) without losing any progress. The catch is you lose half of your money. Losing money was a big deal for me in about the first 3/4s of Ogden’s chapter. So, you end up debating whether you want to take the hit in your wallet or lose any levels you gained and/or treasure chests you already opened.
Chapter 2: The Heir Unapparent- This chapter follows Prince Anders. His brother, Prince Marlon, is kidnapped in the beginning of the game. Anders is lucky enough to get booted back into the castle and escape via a secret passageway with a soldier named Chest Manstrong. I know, he has the best name ever. As you can see, this chapter starts off with multiple party members! If you play your cards right, you can have a full party to adventure with. Beware, Casty the caster has a retardedly low MP pool when you first recruit her. Remember the Final Fantasy days when Ethers were stupidly expensive and only restored a trifle amount of MP? The creators of Dragon Fantasy remember too. Ethers are cleverly disguised as Potato Juice in this game. Because of how scant her MP pool and spell list are, I equipped Casty with a Hammer and demoted her to heal bitch when needed. Anders gets a ton of cool offensive spells anyway.
I liked this chapter due to the multiple party members addition and how open it was compared to Ogden’s story. I actually sidestepped Derwent and Lakehaven the first time I played and went straight for the Trials. Maybe not the smartest thing to do, but I did it and survived just fine. I am a fan of using magic, and thanks to Anders’ awesome magic spells and having more than one party member I was able to use magic for more than just healing. Trust me… Ogden’s MP pool will be conserved for healing.
Chapter 3: Operation Desert Plunder- Ah, Jerald. He is one of those “thieves with a good heart stealing for the right reasons” kinda characters. In Jerald’s case, you spend his chapter going on missions to earn enough money to purchase passports for himself and his niece, Ramona. She is also a playable party member. This chapter builds on the awesomeness of Chapter 2. Here, you have multiple party members. Except now you also fight more than one monster per encounter. And SKILLS! Like Steal! I am a loot whore and love stealing items from enemies. In fact, when I began Jerald’s chapter, I wandered around the world map without really knowing what I was doing. I entered a dungeon alone (bad idea in these types of games) and I was even able to sustain myself with the Herbs stolen from the monsters. Stealing has about as high a success rate as you would imagine, but I still somehow managed to never run out of herbs.
As with Anders’ chapter, this is pretty free roaming. Once you go to the thieves’ guild you can choose in which order you want to tackle your dungeon lootfests. Or you can do what I did and spend half an hour looting the innocent townsfolk of their money. Didn’t take me long to get that trophy. The other skills besides Steal were lackluster at best.
Intermission M: Minecraft homage/parody thing! This is a humorous side-story in which you get to recruit monsters and experience some Minecraft parodying. Unfortunately I can’t appreciate this as much as other people. I’ve never played Minecraft. I’ve only watched other people play and seen very creative bits on Youtube and such. I won’t say much about this except if you like Minecraft play it now!
A few general observations about the game. The miss rate is pretty obnoxious. From what I’ve read, it was even worse before it was patched. Missing an enemy with your weapon 2-3 times in a row is not unheard of. The monsters do have this same miss rate, but that doesn’t make it any less annoying. I played Dragon Fantasy on both the PS3 and Vita. Moreso on the Vita. There was one instance when my character wasn’t moving and I thought my game froze on me. After pressing a ton of buttons I didn’t lose my progress. I didn’t really like how the joystick on the Vita worked with the game. I found my character moving in directions that confused me. Otherwise, it is a relatively seamless experience.
I purchased Dragon Fantasy for $9.99 on the PSN. This includes both a PS3 and Vita version of the game. I checked the iOS store and saw it for $7.99 there. I’m on the fence about recommending this game for full price. If you’re not a retro RPG enthusiast, you’re probably better off waiting for this game to go on sale. I went trophy grinding and I’d still say I didn’t spend more than 12 hours playing this game. I enjoyed it more on the Vita because, let’s face it, grinding for money and experience is more tolerable when done in short bursts nowadays. But if you’re dying for a nostalgic NES or SNES RPG and can’t settle on a game you’ve already played, Dragon Fantasy should hold you over and give you some laughs to boot.