Thanks to Choice Provisions for the review code
Title: Dragon Fantasy II: The Black Tome of Ice
System: 3DS/Wii U (eShop)
Release date: 05/16/2016
The main game/story
Taking place shortly after the events of the first Dragon Fantasy, Ogden and crew are back again, this time going on an adventure of a bigger scale, with a slightly different battle system, but the same general concepts.
Compared to the upgraded 16-bit visual mode from the first title, there’s a slight improvement, with more fluid animations, bigger scenery and areas and a lot more expression on the characters compared to the last game. However, there is no longer an optional 8-Bit mode for the visuals, considering how the original Dragon Fantasy II was 16-bit to begin with, but the upgraded visuals should still be good enough even for folks who preferred to play the first game in 8-Bit.
Music and Sound
Also like with the visuals, there’s only a 16-bit soundtrack this time around, so no chiptunes for you. Thankfully, the soundfont for the 16-bit tunes is much better than the one from Dragon Fantasy I, with more majestic themes and a battle theme that’s nowhere near as repetitive as the one from the first Dragon Fantasy. With a lot of higher quality songs, the soundtrack in The Black Tome of Ice is a huge step up from the one in the first game.
Unlike the previous game, which divided the game into chapters that could be chosen in any order, you have one continuous story focusing on both old characters from the first game and a few new ones introduced in this sequel. Despite the heavier focus on a story with other characters present in the party, you can still capture enemies with either a special spell or capture net for the times you’ll be short of party members, which is a nice feature to see return. When it comes to the changes in the gameplay, the battle system has been completely redone, going for a Chrono Trigger battle system compared to the Dragon Quest battle system from the first game, meaning that casting spells and attacking now requires you to be aware of the distance between you and the enemies, encouraging you to use spells that would successfully hit more enemies at once. Despite the change in the battle system, Dragon Fantasy II is still a really balanced game, with very little grinding requested from the game during my time with it.
In conclusion, Dragon Fantasy II ends up being a RPG that’s just as fun as the original, however even with a focus on the newer coat of paint with the visuals and battle system, the game is still rather short, even if it does end up being a tad longer than the first entry. While sadly the 3DS/Wii U crossbuy that the first title had won’t apply to the sequel, the game is more than worth the $10 price, thanks to a moderately engaging story with the same great humor from the first title, along with the great pacing and balance. If you haven’t picked up the first title yet, then its important to note you will miss out on a few minor events that happened in the first game, but the game doesn’t shove these events in your face, meaning that if you simply prefer the battle system from this game, there’s nothing wrong with jumping in with this game first. Whichever one you choose to start off with, both Dragon Fantasy titles are equally as enjoyable, and I still had a lot of fun with The Black Tome of Ice even with the change in direction. I give Dragon Fantasy II: The Black Tome of Ice an 8 out of 10.
Check out the Seafoam Gaming interview with the creator of the game, here.