Version Reviewed: 1.0.2
Device Reviewed On: iPad 1
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Dragon Fantasy is a game that both parodies and revels in the tropes of the RPG genre, especially ones from the days of 8-bit gaming. Players control Ogden, a worn out and balding hero who is tasked back into action when the Dark Lord kidnaps the heir to the kingdom's throne, and poisons the queen to boot. Not cool. So he goes after the Dark Lord, fighting enemies that pop up randomly on the overworld in a turn-based RPG that could have been unearthed straight from the 1980's.
What the game doesn't share with the 8-bit era is that the protagonist Ogden isn't just an emotionless mute; he actually has dialogue and a personality! The whole game has a sense of whimsy about it, as seemingly every item description, enemy attack, and every line of dialogue has a humorous bent to it, at least. This is not a game that takes itself very seriously. The experience is very streamlined, as it features only one-on-one battles, and even just tapping on the enemy on the screen will attack it. The game is universal, and its pixel art actually looks great on the iPad screen. There's a chiptune soundtrack as well, because anything else in a game like this would just be heresy.
The problem with games inspired by 8-bit RPGs is that 8-bit RPGs tend to have a lot of annoying elements to them. Dragon Fantasy lacks not for random battles, and grinding. There is a lot of grinding necessary in this game. Is this something that old-school fans of the genre will absolutely love? Oh yes. I come from the school of thinking inflating enemy levels farther than the player is just a sign of poor difficulty curvature and artificial game lengthening. It's something I'd rather see left in the 80's. Also, the forced save points? Another thing that should be left in the 80's, especially when playing on an iOS device. The controls could also use a "tap to move to this spot" mechanic rather than the sliding to move that is currently employed. It would just make more sense, especially on the iPad.
Dragon Fantasy's homage to old-school RPGs is both its greatest strength and weakness; it's at times a fun neo-classical romp, but then the worst classical elements rear their head and it's just a reminder that sometimes there's a reason why games evolve.