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PlayStation Vita  header logo

Dragon Fantasy Book II

For: PS Vita

Just short of being dragon fantastic

Product: Dragon Fantasy Book II | Developer: The Muteki Corporation | Format: PS Vita | Genre: RPG | Players: 1 | Version: US
Dragon Fantasy Book II PS Vita, thumbnail 1
It's incredibly easy for developers to make games that look like 16-bit JRPG. But it takes a rare talent to create a game that actually captures the feel of those mid-'90s games.

The Muteki Corporation has that skill, and Dragon Fantasy Book II pays satirical homage to some of the greatest moments of 16-bit roleplaying. Plus, there are plenty of geek culture references sprinkled in to keep more casual fans invested.

It's not a perfect game, however, and a few serious design flaws make it a bit of a chore to slog through at times, but overall it's one that you owe it to yourself to play if you're looking to take a lighthearted look back on the days of Final Fantasy VI and Chrono Trigger.

High Fantasy

Dragon Fantasy Book II
picks up, fittingly, where the original Dragon Fantasy Book I left off and follows the adventures of the aging knight, Ogden.

Those who haven't played the original Dragon Fantasy might have a bit of trouble picking up the story at the the outset of Book II, but they'll be brought up to speed with a few quick expository cutscenes and dream sequences.

Happily, Dragon Fantasy Book II carries on the tongue-in-cheek approach of its predecessor and there are a few moments in the truly great writing that will elicit a genuine laugh from the most grizzled of RPG veterans.

The plot itself is gripping while remaining light, and there are few moments of surprisingly poignant, touching character development that really shine when juxtaposed to the oddball comedy that runs through the rest of the script.

Supporting Book II's script is a great soundtrack that feels perfectly at home in the 16-bit world of Ogden's adventures, with the battle theme standing out as a particularly excellent track.

On the topic of battles, many will be happy to know that there are no jarring random encounters in Dragon Fantasy Book II. Instead, all enemies are politely visible on dungeon maps and can usually be avoided if you, like Ogden, find it too taxing draw your sword.

Fantasy peril

With all this working for Dragon Fantasy Book II, it's unfortunate that its clunky handling of menus and inventory hold it back from being an easy and emphatic recommendation.

Your entire inventory - consumables, rare items, and equipment - are jammed into one screen with equipment falling below consumable items like herbs and antidotes. In order to equip a new piece of gear, you'll need to scroll through all of your consumables and then all of your rare items to get to the equipment

Amazingly, there's no way to speed up the menu navigation or customize your inventory layout. Your only options are to click through each item individually by pressing down on the analog stick or swiping on the touchscreen with your fingers.

In theory, the swiping should be better, but you'll often wind up clicking on an item when you're trying to swipe past it which only adds to the frustration.

Selling old gear to shops - a time honoured way to raise funds in JRPGs - becomes so arduous that it's not even worth doing and, similarly, I found myself more annoyed than enthused whenever I found a new piece of gear lying about as this meant I had to suffer through the menus in order to equip it.

Best of the quest

Still, despite these frustrations, Dragon Fantasy Book II is a solid and entertaining game that will resonate with fans of classic 16-bit RPGs.

When it hits its stride, Dragon Fantasy Book II draws on the moments of unintended comedy from these great, iconic games and delivers a train-sized suplex to the crowded genre of retro RPGs to establish itself as a game well worth your time.

Even if it makes you pray for a post-launch patch to fix its clunky inventory system.
Dragon Fantasy Book II
Reviewer photo
Matthew Diener | 17 September 2013
Warts and all, it's impossible to not like Dragon Fantasy Book II if you can recall a time when Square and Enix were two separate companies
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