My Fever Dream With Dragon Fantasy Book II

Dragon Fantasy Book II Masthead

My entire body was throbbing. The room was like a subwoofer, pumping out some sweet, sweet bass. Staring at nothing, but unable to move, I was a crust. I dozed in thirty-second increments, dreaming about black holes and blacksmithing. Burning the 35 calories my body had left, I worked up the strength to move, and as I stepped into the shower, I found myself ankle-deep in dirty, slippery, soapy water. After, as I threw my pulsing, potato-sack body onto the couch, a PlayStation controller descended into my hands. And I was suddenly playing a brand-new, 16-bit RPG on the PS3.

Was it a fever dream? I don’t know, but here’s what I remember about Dragon Fantasy Book II.

This looks like a game straight out of the SNES era.

This looks like a game straight out of the SNES era.

IT’S OLD SCHOOL

Dragon Fantasy Book II feels and plays a lot like Chrono Trigger. Attacks have the same area-of-effect style, characters run around the map in the same way…and uh…wait…is this game Chrono Trigger?

No…no. Definitely Dragon Fantasy Book II. Just checked.

Look familiar?

Look familiar?

I found a lot of the typical fantasy/JRPG clichés…stereotypical spells, attacks, skills, and character attributes. Other various nostalgia included an overworld map is reminiscent of 8 and 16-bit Final Fantasies, towns and cities straight from the SNES days, and homages to the games of yore galore. Probably won’t ever get to write that again.

A very forgiving talking tree.

A very forgiving talking tree.

IT’S FUNNY

Dragon Fantasy Book II is goofy. The story is goofy. The dialogue is goofy. The art is constantly calling attention to the fact that it’s 16-bit as hell. There’s much charm to be had, and even early on, I found myself chuckling and chortling at all the silliness. The writing will sometimes feel a bit forced, but thus far, it’s been easy to look past.

It's super-effective!

It’s super-effective!

IT’S GOTTA CATCH ‘EM ALL

Monsters can be captured and used as party members. And one of them is a rock with a blue helmet and his name is RockMan because video games. Enough said.

IT’S DEFINITELY INDIE

The culmination of the writing, art, and hodgepodge of homages make this feel like a decidedly indie game, for better or worse. Parts shine, such as the music, but others, including menu navigation and overall gameplay smoothness, falter significantly. I know it’s supposed to feel hardcore and old school, but I feel like an extra layer of polish and focus testing could have fixed little issues throughout. When a ton of sprites are on screen, there’s noticeable slowdown. Menus look like they’re from the ‘90s, but what’s worse is they feel like they’re from the ‘90s. Something as simple as healing your characters with items outside of battle can take a few minutes, as items are applied one at a time, one character at a time. Usability and smoothness issues have no place in games these days, and it’s sad to see them cropping up in Dragon Fantasy Book II.

Battles move fast, but selecting targets can be cumbersome.

Battles move fast, but selecting targets can be cumbersome.

As I’ve come out of my fever-induced haze, Dragon Fantasy Book II is growing on me more and more. It’s not nearly as good as any of the games it’s inspired by, but it’s got charm. It’s got old school sensibilities with modern twists. It’s got plenty of flaws, and though mildly frustrating, they’re not getting in the way of the fun. Oh, and it’s got a platinum, and has been generous with trophies thus far. Is that a selling point? Regardless, Dragon Fantasy Book II is definitely a game for fans of the JRPG of yesteryear and shouldn’t be missed by aforementioned yesteryear JRPG fans. Maybe I’m not completely out of the fever zone yet?

Oh, and I bought a laptop. Or was that a fever dream too?

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