Back in the early 90s, there was a little console that went by the name of the Super Nintendo. It was wildly successful and ended up selling millions of units before its lifetime was over. The SNES had a lot of games now considered classics on it, but it has mostly become known for its RPGs. Final Fantasy, Earthbound, and Chrono Trigger were all released during this golden age of RPGs. The latest game by Muteki Corporation entitled Dragon Fantasy Book II could be mistaken for one of these games.
I’m not going to sugarcoat this. Aside from the (somewhat confusing) story, this game is pretty much identical to Chrono Trigger. You walk around various lands as Ogden, a former hero trying to regain his glory, and travel across the land to do so. He travels by pirate ship to get where he needs to go and fights a huge multitude of enemies along the way. There’s plenty of sidequests in every town and even some newer systems to spice things up.
One of those systems is the ability to capture monsters that you’re fighting. It’s a bit like Pokémon, where you have to find the monsters you want and get lucky capturing them. But in Dragon Fantasy, all your captured monsters join your party and fight as a group. Some of them even have special abilities you can use in combat, and they level up and get stronger just like other members of your party. All the members of your party have different equipment they can wear and some have magic they can cast. It’s a pretty standard RPG affair, but Muteki did a great job with simplifying all the preparation for a battle. The status menu is quite possibly the simplest menu ever developed for a role-playing game.
The storyline definitely gets a bit convoluted. You get on the ground running, jumping into Ogden’s life when he’s fully grown (and, more importantly, not a level 1 fighter). You’ll get a better grasp of what’s going on once you complete the first town, but I wouldn’t be surprised to find most players a little confused for the first hour or so of the game. The quirky humor will help guide you a bit, and the beautiful graphics will distract you. Seriously, I’ve never seen a 16-bit game look so damn good.
I don’t really have much to say about the combat. Everything in that regard is identical to games of the emulated era, all the way down to the jump back that Ogden does when coming in contact with an enemy. A lot of the special moves that characters can do are a bit unoriginal, like the double slice. I was happy to see the inclusion of AoE attacks, and of course, healing spells. The healing spells can be cast out of battle (thank God). The combat works, and it’s fun and great and challenging and all that, but it’s not innovative, and I was a bit disappointed by that.
The whole game comes together as a solid package with a few nuts and bolts missing. You should not get the impression that Dragon Fantasy Book II isn’t worth your time, because if you’ve played any of the classic RPGs that all your friends are telling you to play, you know it’s worth a shot. It’s a solid, well done game with plenty of content to keep you happy, but it really doesn’t bring anything new to the table. Not all games these days have to do that. Some developers find joy in fixing experiences that aren’t broken, and in some cases, the experience comes out a little more interesting than it used to be.