Originally posted July 25th 2015 on the Seafoam Gaming Forums
Title: Dragon Fantasy: The Volumes of Westeria
System: 3DS/Wii U (eShop)
Release date: 7/23/2015
The main game/story
Taking place over the course of three main chapters, you control four main characters in all, each one having their own reasons for setting out on their journey. For example, Ogden needs to save the Prince from the Black Knight, Anders needs to go on a quick trip to investigate the mysterious causes, while Jerald and Ramona set out to escape a corrupt country they live in. While no story gets as deep as the stories from the RPGs this game is inspired by, (Instead having its own sense of humor by parodying numerous cliches from those games, which gives the game its own unique charm) the gameplay for all three chapters (Plus the bonus story which I’ll briefly mention later) is mostly the same, where you go wandering around on an overworld map, fighting enemies in first person random encounters while gaining gold and experience to increase your stats along the way.
You can choose between two art styles in this game in the options menu, an 8-bit style and a 16-bit style, both of which look very nice in their own ways, with the overworld map looking incredible on the 16-bit art style, while the 8-bit style makes the characters and enemies look much better and more fitting for this game. Both options are great, and my personal recommendation is to set one style for the 3DS version and use the other on the Wii U version, since it’s cross buy compatible and that way both versions can feel a bit different whenever you play it on the other system.
Music and Sound:
Like with the retro art styles, you can also change the music to use 8-bit or 16-bit instruments, even if the art style isn’t the same one you picked earlier. Unfortunately in this regard the 16-bit instruments don’t sound nearly as fitting as the 8-bit ones do, due to the repetitive melodies not benefiting from the instrumentation as much as the 8-bit style does, where it’s more natural, so it’s 8-bit all the way for music!
Each chapter has its own unique “bonus” of sorts to change things up a bit, so that not every chapter feels the same. Ogden can buy capture nets to catch monsters he encounters, for example, which can help add replay value as every monster you can capture performs in an entirely different way! Anders can call upon two human allies to support him in his (very) short quest, in a way similar to a Final Fantasy title, while finally Jerald and Ramona’s tale has a heavy focus on treasure hunting, similar to Rouge and in some ways, Pokemon Mystery Dungeon. (Which gets this reviewer’s full approval!)
Despite the differences to keep things fresh, the main goal of each chapter is to complete the main objective, which you do by entering dungeons, defeating enemies and gathering key items. Random encounters are what you’ll be facing most of the time in the overworld map, similar to a lot of classic RPG games in that regard, though in dungeons you actually can see the enemies before choosing to engage in a battle, similar to how Lufia II and III did. (If you’d prefer random encounters in dungeons, however you can still do that by turning them off in the options.)
With basic gameplay mechanics out of the way, let’s talk about the pacing of each of the chapters, along with the “bonus” chapter I’ve ignored this entire time. Ogden’s story is a pretty fair RPG adventure, which took me about three hours to complete 100% without much issues. In other words, no sudden difficulty spikes where monsters you can’t even damage appear out of nowhere for wandering a bit too far, making his chapter a lot of fun and very fair to play. Anders’s story on the other hand suffers from a huge issue, which is how pitifully short it is. In less than an hour I blazed through his story and completed everything, with it suddenly ending before it even went anywhere. Luckily Jerald and Ramona’s chapter is a bit longer, with it taking me about an hour and a half for me to complete it 100%.
…Then we get to Intermission M: The Minecraft Adventure. Its pretty much a non-canon parody chapter of sorts, where immediately after chapter 3 the main heroes end up in Mine Town, with no idea where they are or how they even got there, and how they need to go on a quest to get Notch’s lost hat back from a dragon, which is as hilarious and ridiculous as it sounds. It plays almost exactly like Ogden’s chapter, except without the need for nets since the Woodsman (playable only in this intermission) has an ability to capture weakened monsters using MP. So yes, this means you can capture Creepers to use in your party. The main feature of this chapter, however is the ability to craft items using materials, which can get you better equipment and items, a very nice nod to the source material. Overall, this chapter took me about an hour to complete 100%, and it was a very fun side story, although rather strange.
If you kept track of my total time for 100%ing this entire game, it would mean it took me 6 hours in total. Considering how I’m used to RPGs by now, that’s not a bad length for a game like this, and considering the different ways you could play Ogden’s story and the intermission, it has a fair share of replay value. Plus you get the opposite version for no extra cost, meaning you can play it on your other system! With a great sense of humor, a great gameplay balance and a nice adventure from beginning to end, Dragon Fantasy fits right at home on Nintendo systems, making the wait for Book II even harder.
I give Dragon Fantasy: The Volumes of Westeria a 9 out of 10
Check out the bonus feature here.