Posts Tagged ‘RPG’

Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland Review

Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland  Featured

Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland Boxart

Developer: Gust
Publisher: NIS America
Platform: PlayStation 3

Things were going fairly well for a teenager nicknamed Rorona. Sure, she was basically forced to work as an alchemist’s apprentice to pay off a debt, and her boss was a supreme creep, but it’s wasn’t that terrible! That is until the King decreed that her very shop was to be closed down – no townsfolk even care. This set of horrible circumstances are what awaits players as they play the introduction of Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland.

As Rorona, it is the player’s task to do a series of assignments for the King to sway him into sparing the shop. These twelve tasks are assigned one at a time and each have a due date. The final one being after three in-game years. With this obvious goal in mind, Rorona must work hard to scavenge items, fight monsters, use alchemy recipes, and fulfill the many requests lobbed in her direction. You see, it’s not only the King that has tasks but also the townsfolk and even your friends. Yep, poor Rorona is in for a seriously busy three years.

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There is a very rigid overall structure to Atelier Rorona, which means players can only ever do so many things before time runs out. You can venture outside of town to collect items for recipes and fight enemies along the way. Or, you can scrounge up some money and buy them from shopkeepers. Of course, who you choose to help is also up in the air. If you want, it is possible to completely spurn the King’s requests and help townsfolk exclusively instead, or vice versa. Although it is worth trying to manage both, chances are you’ll still not get the “true” ending without consulting a guide (or being awesome at time management).

In some ways, the game is simplistic. Instead of having a variety of points to draw from in battle, there is only HP. Rorona’s health is utilized for everything. Whether you’re performing alchemy or using a special skill, HP is pulled from. Of course, being attacked also drains some. However, there is no way to die. At worst, losing a fight will send you back home to nurse your wounds for a few days until they heal. Of course, you don’t want this to happen because it wastes precious days. Aside from HP, time is your main currency and it’s always draining!

Using alchemy is a surprisingly simple task thanks to smart menu design. The menu will always pull you to a specific section of items when one is needed for a recipe. Various traits of each item are also displayed, although this can become complex as you learn harder recipes. Without the right traits, you may end up with a poorly alchemized product. Gathering items, however, is not as fantastic. You can only carry 60 at a time and transferring them between the storage box at home and back is a tedious exercise. There are no easy ways to grab a section of items which would have been incredibly useful.

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Visually, Atelier Rorona is still a beautiful game. If you can ignore the sometimes fanboy-focused attire the design is otherwise very pretty. The world is pastel colored and the cel-shading is still as lovely as ever. Some backgrounds look uninspired, but it’s easy to ignore them when being put at ease by the attractive animation paired with a great soundtrack. Then there are the still pieces of art which also look divine. They’re highly detailed, colorful, and far nicer than the standard anime fare. Unfortunately, some of the game’s crude humor makes it into these scenes which really detracts from the overall atmosphere.

Atelier Rorona is a game of surprises. It doesn’t seem like such a pretty game would require strategic play to complete with a good ending but it does. Sure, you can fritter away the years, but then be left with an unsatisfying conclusion. As good as it looks, there are still instances where the writing veers into trite innuendo which has already been provided in many other lesser JRPGs. Although it leaves me with mixed feelings, Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland still managed to sink its hooks in. I’ll become a master alchemist yet!


Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas


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Pokémon X Review

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Developer: Game Freak, Inc.
Publisher: Nintendo
Platform: 3DS

Oh, Pokémon. You have been with us throughout most of our lives, through thick and thin. And as I near 20 years of age, you show no signs of easing up on game releases. You would think that after all of that time and after so many generations of Pokémon, its quality would be slowly diminishing. After having played through Pokémon X, I can assure you that is quite the contrary.

As soon as you start your journey, Pokémon X and Y immediately try to impress upon you the 3DS’s prowess. A little cutscene with one of the new Pokémon, Fletchling, flying in to wake you up. Then you’re able to venture about, free to explore this intriguing new world. Everything is in 3D! Dramatic camera angles! Free movement (when you’re skating, biking, or swimming, anyway)! There are so many little things that Game Freak has thought of to make Pokémon X and feel interesting and new.

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One of the elements of Pokémon that has undergone a heavy visual change are the battles. No longer are our favorite pocket monsters in 2D. Instead, each Pokémon is now rendered in 3D (while still mimicking the old pixel art style). They also have unique idle animations and various animations for different moves. Add in some pretty environmental backgrounds and crazy camera action and each battle will feel different from the last. If only some battles, like double battles and horde encounters, weren’t marred by drops in framerate! Hopefully this is fixed with a patch or doesn’t happen in the first place with future Pokémon releases.

What I think is one of the best new features that Pokémon X and introduce is the customization of your character. Yes, you can finally play dress-up! There are quite a bit of clothing pieces and accessories to collect, so the combination possibilities are endless. You can even choose the skin color of your trainer, change your eye color with contacts, and get a new hairdo.

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There are also other new features such as Pokémon-Amie and the Player Search System. Pokémon-Amie allows you to interact with your Pokémon and form even closer, stronger bonds with them. You can pet them, feed them, and play games with them to your heart’s content! This isn’t just for fun, either. The higher your affection with your Pokémon, the “better” it performs in battle. This means boosted experience points, being able to dodge attacks, and so forth.

As for the Player Search System, that brings every multiplayer aspect of Pokémon X and Y into one easy-to-access place. Located on your bottom screen, this is where you initiate global or local battles, trades, and more. No more having to trek to a Pokémon Center! Also included in the PSS are new features called Wonder Trade and O-Powers. Wonder Trade is incredibly fun and allows you to trade one of your Pokémon for a random one. O-Powers, on the other hand, allow you to give buffs to your friends, acquaintances, or passers-by. Such power-ups can range from increasing a Pokémon’s attack in battle to granting a 50% discount in shops for three minutes. Engaging in multiplayer activities in a Pokémon game has never been better.

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I wish I could be as enthusiastic for Pokémon X and Y‘s plot as I am for the rest of it. As usual, you’re a young Pokémon trainer that has just begun his or her journey and the region’s professor wants you to fill out the Pokédex. But wait! Some evil mastermind with a team of goons wants to destroy the world with the power of a legendary Pokémon (the bad guys this time around, Team Flare, aren’t exactly imaginative either)! Thankfully, you’re able to stop them and be off on your merry way to kick some Elite Four butt. There’s also a metaplot going on throughout all this, but it feels like something that isn’t quite explained fully. Perhaps we’ll see more of that in a Pokémon X and sequel?

As for postgame content, there’s very little to do, unfortunately. There are new areas unlocked such as the Battle Maison and Friend Safari, but compared to previous Pokémon games, it’s not much. 

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Pokémon is a series that I hold very dear to me. As such, with all that Pokémon X and brings to the table, I am insanely pleased despite any problems I do have. Whether you play every Pokémon game you can get your hands on or if it’s been a while since your last one (or if you’ve never played one at all!), it’d be a shame to miss out on Pokémon X and if you’re a 3DS owner.


Pink Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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Rune Factory 4 Review

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Developer: Neverland Co.
Publisher: XSEED Games
Platform: 3DS

I remember when the very first Rune Factory game came out. It was touted as “A Fantasy Harvest Moon”, which immediately caught my interest. I bought it as soon as it released and played a bit of it, but found it a tad too difficult and went on to other games. Of course, I still found the concept extremely fascinating and continued to follow the series. After hearing that Rune Factory 3 improved upon the series’ formula, I decided to give it a try and absolutely loved it. So, it was only natural that I would be looking forward to Rune Factory 4.

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Like Harvest Moon games, you’re able to grow crops, raise livestock (which are monsters that you tame rather than actual farm animals), and woo potential lovers. Rune Factory focuses much more on plot and RPG aspects, though. And there’s a lot of that packed into Rune Factory 4. The two main story arcs take a good 40+ hours to play through. That’s not all, though! There’s also a bonus arc that has quite a lengthy and cumbersome dungeon. I have over 70 hours logged into Rune Factory 4 and I have yet to finish the last arc.

Tired of fighting and need to take a break from the main story? Then embrace your social life! There’s plenty of well-developed characters to talk to and lots of festivals to attend. And don’t forget about the six bachelors or bachelorettes that you can date. Although it’s a smaller selection versus those of other Rune Factory games, the dating/romancing aspects in Rune Factory 4 are much more expanded. The best part is that you can totally have a harem of lovers (which made choosing a husband in Rune Factory 4 the hardest decision of my life).

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There’s also a new feature to the series, which is performing orders with accrued Prince/Princess points. These orders vary from bettering the town with new shops and festivals, to expanding your farm. Heck, you can even change your character’s portrait to that of anyone in the game.

In terms of localization, the Rune Factory series’ new home at XSEED is definitely a good one. It’s as if they’ve been taking care of publishing Rune Factory games here the whole time! I loved every bit of writing in the game and the voice acting is perfect.

The only complaint I have about Rune Factory 4 is how evil the RNG can be. You see, there are “town events” that can happen often (these were really nice for building the characters of NPCs). Whichever one may pop up is totally random. Unfortunately, bachelor/bachelorette events, and even the one needed to start the plot’s bonus arc, are included in that very large pile of randomness. You might need a lot of patience to activate some of these events.

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I had so much fun with Rune Factory 4 and I can’t recommend it enough. If you’ve ever considered jumping into the series, now is definitely the time.


Pink Score: 5

5 out of 5 alpacas


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Telepath RPG: Servants of God Review

Telepath RPG: Servants of God

Telepath RPG: Servants of God Boxart

Developer: Sinister Design
Publisher: Sinister Design
Platform: PC (Desura, Direct, GamersGate)

This post is part of the Indie RPG Bundle review collection

It’s possible that if you’re reading this review that “Telepath RPG” might sound familiar to you. Having never heard of Telepath RPG: Servants of God before, it was quite the surprise that there were actually two previous games in the series. Both appeared as free titles on Newgrounds. Those Flash titles appear to have set the basics for what the series would become in its third iteration.

Telepath RPG: Servants of God sets the stage in a fantasy Middle East where people have come to impose their religion upon the local people of Ravinale. You and your parents are sternly opposed to these new rulers and vocal enough that your entire family is imprisoned! But there are many others looking to kick these theocrats out of the city. With these soldiers at your side, the player must serve as a tactician to lead them to victory. Unfortunately, the story is static in that you can’t change the main character’s gender or race despite it not affecting much (beyond the obvious usage of “he” in voiced lines).

The game is played from a top down perspective where you control each of the teammates. Actions are always governed by the player and include positioning, attacks, and healing. Each character has a max number of places they can move per turn and distances for their attacks. With each in your hands, it’s required to keep track of positioning so that one character doesn’t block another out of attacking or anything like that. Play is pretty simple and that’s a big part of what makes it so fun. It’s incredibly enjoyable to control the team and keep them smartly placed for the most effective victories.

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Beyond these main story battles there are also side quests to be completed. Regardless of what you’re doing, Servants of God is infused with tons of chatter. Characters all have personalities apparent through their words and the writing is a pretty good read. Many, but not all, characters also receive voice acting to speak their lines. It seems the voice actors might not be professionals, but they are (usually) not embarrassing to listen to.

One point that might bother some players are the visuals. The gameplay screens for battle and exploration depict characters as very cartoony. It definitely clashes with the otherwise high quality portraits. Some scenes have colored drawn backdrops that both look unpolished and like they were pulled from a fable. I’m not sure how that works out, I appreciated them nonetheless.

RPG players who are willing to spend some time with Telepath RPG: Servants of God just might find it to be surprisingly enjoyable. It’s not perfect, but offers easy to understand gameplay and a variety of difficulty levels so most everyone can play.


Score: 3.5

3 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


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Unemployment Quest Review

Unemployment Quest Featured

Unemployment Quest Boxart

Developer: Charles DeYoe
Publisher: Charles DeYoe
Platform: PC (Desura, Direct)

This post is part of the Indie RPG Bundle review collection

Chances are there’s probably been a time in your life when you’ve found yourself struggling for work. For me, the struggle is current and not something that should be desired by anyone. At the very least I’m lucky enough to have a place to call home until luck finally strikes. So maybe it’s because of my current state but I found Unemployment Quest to be quite a neat and unique title.

You start the game as a young guy who has apparently survived college but can’t find work anywhere around town or even at the mall. Some of his friends have found work and it seems only the main character is left out. Day after day, he must return home to his parent’s house to confront a supportive but disappointed mother and outright annoyed father.

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So how does this factor into a video game form? You see, the player must battle those he wishes to give a resume to, and battle for increasing confidence (and gaining money). The fights are much like a typical JRPG and the art style meshes with this. It looks much like a 16-Bit game even if it has some different thematic elements at play. Leveling up helps a lot with fights but still doesn’t seem to change the mood of prospective employers.

In a way, I appreciate the commitment to making job acquisition an impossibility for most of the game. However, because of that, it seems silly that money is so easy to come by in the game. For a while you’ll be stuck broke, but soon enough there are treasure chests that start popping up with gratuitous amounts of money. Real life doesn’t work that way although I sure wish it did! Of course, the money is needed for buying new items a la every other RPG out there.

Once you get past the few iffy points like that, Unemployment Quest is definitely worth checking out. It’s cool to see the various ways the typical JRPG world was tweaked to service a story about the incredibly relatable task of looking for a job.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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Northmark: Hour of the Wolf Review

Northmark: Hour of the Wolf Featured

Northmark: Hour of the Wolf Boxart

Developer: Rake in Grass
Publisher: Rake in Grass
Platform: Mobile – iOS PC – Big Fish GamesDirect, Steam

This post is part of the Indie RPG Bundle review collection

Strategy RPGs are pretty popular but card-based counterparts are a bit rarer to come across. Still, when there are already such excellent card games out there such as Magic the Gathering it can be really hard to create something different. Northmark: Hour of the Wolf accomplishes making a sound card-based title without hanging onto other card games’ coattails.

The game begins with an attempted assassination. The kingdom of Northmark is in a panic because of it and you’re the one selected to basically carry out all their duties. Travelling from town to town you will come across helpful people, shops, and tons of opponents standing in your way. The only way to get past them is via fighting, of course.

Fights are when the game shifts into its card form. Both players select their warriors (cards themselves) and can then apply upgrades to them, as well as how they should be armed for attacks. You can tweak the fighters via cards which upgrade their defense, attack, and a number of other things. Weapon cards are used to actually fight the opposing cards, and all relevant information is weighed in order to see what attacks are successful and how much damage they deal.

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It’s a surprisingly complex system and one that isn’t described very well by the in-game tutorial. Still, it’s not too hard to get a feel for it after a handful of battles. Between story mission, you can even jump into some prize fights to help level up your character and get more money. Said money can be used to pick up more cards for your deck.

Northmark: Hour of the Wolf also has some excellent presentation. The art looks great from the character models to world map view. Then there are the card designs themselves which look like they could be from a tangible product. Honestly, it’s surprising just how polished it is. The writing is a bit of a let down in comparison, although it has some nice snark about it.

Fans of card games will probably enjoy this interesting RPG-ized title. On the other side of things, those without a familiarity of card games in general should probably proceed with caution.


Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas


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Frayed Knights: The Skull of S’makh-Daon Review

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Frayed Knights Boxart

Developer: Rampant Games
Publisher: Rampant Games
Platform: PC

This post is part of the Indie RPG Bundle review collection

If you miss the feel of first person dungeon crawling then you might be initially swayed by Frayed Knights: The Skull of S’makh-Daon. It sets you off on a quest with four warriors as they trek around dungeons, collecting loot and facing monsters as they go. What makes this so different from other games of the genre? Well, for one, the crew are one odd bunch.

Perhaps the biggest way to differentiate this game from other RPGs is the effort done to give each character a distinct personality. Each of the teammates is unique and converse with each other regularly. Through these conversations players get to see how ineffective and ridiculous their team seems. Thankfully, they can perform their roles of attacking, using magic, or anything else effectively.

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That level of uniqueness is unable to penetrate the rest of the game beyond some enemy designs. If you look past these features, then you’ve got a mostly by the book dungeon-crawler. One neat bonus are so-called Drama Stars which can grant you aid when it’s most needed (ie: reviving a party member), but that’s not a major tweak. Battles can be breezed through if you hammer on keyboard shortcut keys. This is convenient but unfortunately other GUI elements are less user-friendly.

It’s easy to see what Rampant Games were going for when creating this title. Although there is a definite amount of effort evidenced by the title, it would have done better to be backed up by more entertaining gameplay as well. If you can handle the grind, then it might be worth adventuring with the crew of Frayed Knights.


Score: 1.5

1 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


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Empires & Dungeons 2: The Sultanate Review

Empires & Dungeons 2 Featured

Empires & Dungeons 2 Boxart

Developer: Niels Bauer Games
Publisher: Niels Bauer Games
Platform: PC

This post is part of the Indie RPG Bundle review collection

RPGs have come a long way over the years. Most coming from Western publishers now seem to favor wide open fantasies with less interest in strategical planning. Still, others, mostly in the indie scene, cling to the minute specifics that made the genre so endearing to begin with. Empires & Dungeons 2: The Sultanate takes an interesting stance between the two. It is both “old school” but simplified for the modern player.

Players will first be greeted with a map of the current stage. It always shows the location of your castle, the enemy castle, the enemy themselves, and objects of interest on the field. These include resources (iron, wood, etc) as well as dungeon entrances. In this top-down world view you primarily seek out resources or dungeons while also keeping an eye on enemy movements. Resources are used to further strengthen your home base and help generate more, stronger armies.

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Of course, if you want to get money and honor, you have to venture into dungeons alone. Dungeons are also shown from a top down view that is strangely confusing at first. Once you figure it out though, you can venture into different rooms within. Usually, there are enemies to fight although sometimes there are merchants and others willing to barter for items. Perhaps the best feature in this mode is that if you die there is little punishment. The gold won on that dungeon trip won’t be collected but that is the only result.

Perhaps Empires & Dungeons 2 could be considered too simplistic? Much of the play is simply devoted to clicking around the map for resources or spamming attacks in a dungeon. Although this is definitely a turn-based strategy RPG it is surprisingly light on strategy. The visuals are also like to be off-putting to many gamers. In fullscreen mode (the only option), the play screen takes up less than half of my 1920 x 1080 resolution screen. The frequent typos were also distracting. Still, there is some attractive gameplay worth looking past them for if you’d like to spend time with a less stressful RPG.


Score: 2.5

2 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


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Dungeon Fray Review

Dungeon Fray Featured

Dungeon Fray Boxart

Developer: Nitesh Gupta
Publisher: Nitesh Gupta
Platform: PC

This post is part of the Indie RPG Bundle review collection

 Do you like roguelikes? Well, you’d better if you choose to give Dungeon Fray a shot. That’s because this title follows the genre conventions pretty stringently. You begin the game as one of a handful of classes, then get to work clearing dungeons, collecting loot, and leveling up (or dying). So why is it that, as routine as the game is, that I can’t stop playing?!

With simple mechanics, Dungeon Fray is extremely easy to get into. There’s very little pretense here. You just select your hero and are plunged in the middle of a dark dungeon. Maneuvering around is simple, as is fighting enemies. All you’re required to do is bump into them to initiate an attack (Y’s anyone?) although you can also cast spells. Once they’re dead, you gain much-needed XP.

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With enough experience your character levels up and that grants a free, much-needed health boost. Of course, you’re also collecting money from treasure chests and the like. With this you can increase stats (health, strength, defense) or choose to buy potions and spells. It’s important to improve your character but also maintain a healthy amount of items otherwise you’ll find yourself dying quickly.

Visually, there’s very little impressive about the experience. It has much less finesse than its brethren Hack, Slash, Loot, but somehow that quickly becomes a non issue. I prefer this game by far because it’s tough, but fair. You can always keep a close enough level to enemies by clearing floors, and there are a great deal of objects in dungeons to aid you. With easy to understand gameplay/controls and fast action, Dungeon Fray is the kind of game that compels players to go “just one more dungeon” (before playing many more).


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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Dragon Fantasy Book II Review

Dragon Fantasy Book II Featured

Dragon Fantasy Book II Boxart

Developer: Muteki Corporation
Publisher: Muteki Corporation
Platform: PS3, Vita (Reviewed)
Review code provided

Many genres fall in and out of favor over the years but one that has stood proudly throughout time is the RPG. Popular in various flavors across the world, the genre has produced some of the best known series’ in all of gaming history. Every once in a while you have one which attempts to poke fun at itself, but they’re not as common as you might think. Dragon Fantasy Book II attempts to inject a RPG with some much-needed humor.

This is evidenced from the very start when you are introduced to the hero Ogden. Instead of being a spry young male, he is instead a bald, bearded man. Although I did not play the original game, it doesn’t seem you need to. Players are easily ushered into the world and get going on their quest. However, players do begin with characters already leveled up somewhat to compensate for the first chapter.

The first thing that players notice (and what may attract them to the game to begin with) is the graphics. Dragon Fantasy Book II is made to look like a 16-Bit RPG that would be right at home on Genesis or SNES. However, the enemies seem more like Earthbound creatures sometimes with a man in a shark suit and rocks with pirate hats in just the first area.

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One interesting feature of the game is that the battles are not random. Instead, enemies can be seen on the field at all times, meaning you can sometimes avoid them. This is mostly just a technical truth though because most of the time pathways are so small you won’t be able to avoid an enemy. Other times, they will jump out of the bushes and initiate a fight themselves. There’s a dash of Pokemon in the gameplay too as you can catch weakened enemies and add them to your party.

Unfortunately, there is one gameplay based problem that is continuous. After walking into a new screen (area, building, etc), if you continue to press in a certain direction that direction will not function upon entering the new area. If you let go and then press the direction again it will work, but there’s something odd going on to keep it from being mapped initially. The issue is not game breaking of course but is annoying when all you want to do is hammer up to hurriedly run through an area. In an area that is sure to annoy writers, a fair amount of the text also features typos.

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I played the game on Vita because that’s where it seems the best fit. It is suited easily toward quick bursts of play since you can just fight through a few crowds of enemies before pausing. The game also happens to be fully playable with both controller buttons and touch screen. Using the touch screen actually is my preferred way of navigating the big button menus. You can move Ogden around the screen with it too, but my thumbs aren’t keen on hovering over the screen continuously, considering the size and heft of the Vita.

Dragon Fantasy Book II is a cute little RPG that packs a lot of gameplay value into the experience. It isn’t a very in-depth game or up to par with the best SNES visuals, but it’s likely it still will exceed expectations. If you like classic RPGs then give it a look. Just be aware that it is rough around the edges. Still, it’s hard to go wrong with a game that oozes an obvious love for RPGs of yore.


Score: 3
3 out of 5 alpacas


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