Anybody who grew up in the era when Nintendo dominated the console market will have at least seen a few of the classic RPGs. Dragon Fantasy looks like a game from yesteryear, but adds modern functionality and a good helping of humor. Scattered throughout the game are many references to pop culture and downright awful (but funny) puns. Muteki Corporation know their target audience and have done everything in their power to make this game appeal to them.
The game is divided up into four chapters. Although the first is the main quest, a player has the option of starting on any chapter they choose. The third chapter leads into the next game, while the other two are fun side quests that add to the overall story of the game. The fourth chapter is inspired by Minecraft and has unique features not found in the other three chapters. As the name implies, this is the first game in a series and the sequel is already in the works.
The story begins with a mag named Ogden. Thirty years ago he rescued Princess Becca from a dragon, and in doing so lost all his hair. Today he is her personal bodyguard, but does little more than rescue cats from trees. On the day that Becca, now a Queen, prepares to crown her son on his twenty-fifth birthday, a group of monsters show up to halt proceedings. Prince Marlon is abducted by a Dark Knight who flees through a portal, closely followed by Ogden. Appearing in the middle of nowhere with no trace of the Prince or the Dark Knight to be found, Ogden begins his quest to rescue the Prince.
The gameplay is what could be expected of an old-school RPG. Towns, dungeons and the overworld are all viewed from a top down perspective. Exploration outside of town leads to random encounters with enemies. The encounter rate is quite high, and healing is required after each fight but the game feels challenging rather than frustrating. Thankfully Ogden comes with plenty of healing magic to cure his wounds. There are no maps to guide players through dungeons, though each is short enough that this does not cause problems. The only real downside is a lack of a dash button to move quicker. Equipping new items is quite simple, with each piece showing the difference in attack and defense. When purchasing new items, the option is given to automatically equip the item. This is refreshing for an old-school game.
The enemy design in the game really shines through. While there are the usual palette swaps found later on, each enemy has unique combat text that will set the aside from similar sprites. This is a game that features an Obligatory Ork who is obliged to attack Ogden. Only by defeating the enemy can his compulsion be ended. Commands in battle are what would be expected of any RPG and little strategy is involved. The games does require some grinding at points which can get a little repetitive at times. Thankfully the game was patched not long after launch to increase the hit rate of attacks, as before a few rounds could go by without a player or an enemy being able to land a blow.
As Dragon Fantasy is an enhanced version of an iOS title, it also comes with enhanced graphics and sound. The iOS version was limited to 8-bit only, whereas the PlayStation 3/Vita copy also has a 16-bit mode. While both the 8-bit and 16-bit tunes fit the title well, the bleeps and bloops that accompany them can get irritating after a while. The graphical style can be switched any time the game menu can be accessed, though unless a player has greater connection with the NES era, it would be better just to leave the 16-bit mode on.
Dragon Fantasy is a game that will appeal to old-school gamers, though it may have some trouble capturing the imagination of a younger generation who might not get the majority of the references found throughout the game. The game has a cross save option, so Vita owners will be pleased that they can play the game on the go without buying it a second time. The game takes roughly twenty hours to complete, but anybody used to playing classic RPGs will be able complete it sooner.