A lot of people are nostalgic the olden days of video games. Dragon Fantasy Book is here to feed on that nostalgia.
I originally played Dragon Fantasy Book with the PSN version, and even did a speedrun one of the stories. When I saw that it was soon to be released on to Steam I wanted to play it again… and so here we are with Dragon Fantasy Book: The Volumes of Westeria.
For those who did play the PSN version, this will feel very familiar to you. For the most part, the game is the same as it was on PSN. There have been a couple key changes however. Some feel pretty well implemented, some don’t.
Dragon Fantasy Book follows the stories of three people. You have Ogden the hero, Anders the prince, and Jerald the thief. The Dark Lord has risen once more and has kidnapped the prince Marlon who was about to be crowned. Ogden gets teleported away to a place where he meets the Woodsman. This sets him off on the journey to find the Hero’s armor so that he can take down the Dark Lord. Anders gets trapped in the castle during that attack and makes his escape and then goes to investigate what the Dark Lord is doing. Jerald is just wanting to get his niece out of where they are so that she can go see her mother again. Oh, and then there’s the crazy Intermission M story that has you controlling the Woodsman and has you retrieving Notch’s hat.
The game can be absolutely brutal in difficulty so prepare for a grind. It’s meant to be like the old school Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy games. In fact, the battle setup is pretty much how the old Dragon Quest games were! Enemies on the world map are completely random encounters. However, depending on your settings, enemies within dungeon can either be random or not. That’s change one from the PSN version, though this was first added in the iOS version.
Should you have Visible Enemies set to on (the default), you will be able to see where enemies are in dungeons. They move when you move, and if you walk into them (or even touch them, well most of the time) you will enter a battle with them. This puts a “fixed” amount of enemies on any given floor, though if you leave and re-enter they respawn. You don’t always go into an encounter just from touching them though – I had many instances where I was able to walk on the tile next to them without issue. Perhaps it’s because they didn’t try to walk into me, but anyways.
One of the biggest changes from the PSN version is the ability to change between 8-bit and 16-bit graphics (PSN just had 16-bit). You can also change between music versions for the two. The 8-bit side definitely works well I feel. Should you wish, you can also mix-and-match the two so you can have 16-bit music with 8-bit graphics or viceversa.
Another one of the big changes for the main three stories is that you can now catch monsters in them. This was a feature previously only available in Intermission M (in which it works pretty well). One thing about this feature however… It doesn’t feel well implemented at all. The nets you get to capture with are extremely rare, which means you have to limit what all you catch. Meaning if you get a bad monster… you’re probably stuck with it.
In Ogden’s story, you can find your first net in the second city… along with an NPC selling them. Of course, the price increases for every one you buy. Granted, those ones are better quality but with money already typically being limited until the very end… Once you do get a good monster, it will likely help carry you through the story. I don’t know if it’s because this was my second time playing through or what, but I didn’t really struggle at all with really only killing stuff along the way. Ander’s story really only has one net you can find, though I imagine you might be able to go back to the town where Ogden could buy them to get some as well. Jerald’s story… actually only has one net, unless I just missed the rest. And since I had caught a bad enemy… Yeah it didn’t do much for me.
One other side effect of this being a feature added in “after the fact” is that to change your members, you need to talk to certain NPCs. In Dragon Fantasy Book II, these NPCs are in more cities. In this release of the first game… They are in one city. Oh and be careful not to capture more than your party can hold too. Even though there’s a “bank” where you can store them, and presumably where your extra catches go, they don’t go there. I lost a monster I’d caught with one of the paid nets this way…
Something I was sorely missing at times from the PS3 version was the ability to speed up the game. It seems this was something just in the PS3 version though, as apparently the Vita version didn’t have it either. On the PS3 version, if you hit Select the game went into super speed and sped up the entire game. Perhaps it’s something that can be added back in eventually, but who knows.
Excluding the seemingly poorly implemented creature system (outside of them being able to carry you through in some cases), Dragon Fantasy Book: The Volumes of Westeria is an excellent re-release. Whether you’ve played it before or not, it’s definitely worth checking out on Steam.
Now here’s to hoping that when Dragon Fantasy Book II gets re-released on Steam it isn’t nearly as buggy as it was on PSN…
Dragon Fantasy Book: The Volumes of Westeria Review Score
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with a copy of the game for review.
Dragon Fantasy Book: The Volumes of Westeria is available now on Steam. Additionally, the original release is available on PSN for PS3 and Vita.