Classic RPG Love: Dragon Fantasy Book II Comes to PS3, PS Vita Next Year

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Classic RPG Love: Dragon Fantasy Book II Comes to PS3, PS Vita Next Year

Building the first Dragon Fantasy was an amazing experience. And after pouring your heart and soul into a project like that, you can only think “Where do I go from here?”. After we’d really pushed the limits of 8-bit gameplay and graphics with the first game, we knew it was time to bump the game a “generation”. This meant being a lot more ambitious with what we wanted to do, and bigger ambitions require bigger support. So with the support of SCEA’s Pub Fund, we’re thrilled to announce Dragon Fantasy Book II is headed for PS3 and PS Vita next year on PSN!

Originally, we had planned to follow the original three chapters of 8-bit style with another three chapters in a more 16-bit style. We planned to do a slow and steady progression, chapter by chapter adding more and more features. But as soon as we started work on the new chapters we quickly found ourselves aiming squarely at the end of that generation immediately. We didn’t want to start out simple again as we had already done that. We wanted to make the best RPG possible. So, we decided instead that we’d combine the three stories into one massive sequel, and add a few scenes here and there to glue things together. It made the story flow more naturally, sure, but more importantly to the player, it let us load this sucker up with hot 16-bit-era eye candy from the get-go!

Dragon Fantasy Book II for PS3 and PS Vita

The first “next-gen” (for the early 90s) feature we threw in was a throwback to what was then known as “Mode7”. For the blast-processing set out there, Mode 7 was a special video mode that let the very 2D hardware make (for the time) eye-popping “3D” effects. We’ve always had an affinity for that look, so it had to be part of Book II. We’re using it for all the traveling scenes in the game,and we’ll be using it for some pretty intense battle scenes later in the game.
After thoroughly stepping up the visuals, it was time to give the audio some love. The 16-bit era of video games are known for some truly amazing music, and we wanted to express that in our sequel as well. And so, our audio director, Morgan Tucker (a.k.a. Crashfaster, and the head of 8-bit SF and Monobomb Records got some very his samples assembled and leaped at the task.

In the original DF game, we used a very static, very traditional battle system that took was very reminiscent of the best 8-bit era RPG battle systems. I thought it turned out very nicely, and it certainly did the trick for the theme we were going for. We even showed an early version of Book II at PAX East. But with all the other new features in the game, the old school battle system just felt out of place. So we built an all-new system from the ground up. Battles now take place in the same world that the player walks around in, and monsters can be seen lurking around every corner. When battles begin, it’s just a matter of a status screen and a menu bar sliding onto screen. The game retains the quirky text descriptions that the first game was known for, but now they’re accompanied by fully animated attacks and highly effect-driven magic spells.

Finally, we added multiplayer support. Up to four players can play together, each acting as one of the four party members in the first player’s party. Each player is free to explore the surrounding areas on their own, and can even engage in separate battles on their own as well. And of course, if they choose to help each other out, any player can just walk right up to another battle in progress and join in on the next round! This works not only in the regular game mode, but we’re planning a coliseum mode where players can form a mixed party of their own party members and those of their friends to fight battles for glorious prizes and honor.

Dragon Fantasy Book II for PS3 and PS Vita

Oh, yeah, we should probably mention the story, eh? I mean, that’s generally the big thing when discussing RPGs, right? As the story begins, the Imperial Armada is closing in on our heroes. It’s not quite clear to them yet why the empire is pursuing them, but they’ll learn soon enough. As they head further and further into the southlands, our heroes will be split up into three teams (representing the original three chapters we’d planned to do episodically), with each discovering important secrets about the war between the Kingdom of Tundaria and the Empire of Sandheim. We’ll see what’s happened in Westeria in our heroes absence! And finally, we’ll learn a little bit about where the Dark Lord came from, how the Woodsman got to be so knowledgeable about things, and just what that purple talisman is all about.

Dragon Fantasy 2 is such a huge, huge departure from the first game stylistically that it’s easy to think that the two games aren’t actually related. But if you spend a little time with both, a lot of the throwaway gags in the first game will turn out to be very serious omens of the things to come in the second. A lot of that is because when Bryan and I first started on this series, we had intended all of this to be one, gigantic game. But we started on the game when we were both 14 years old. And it turns out that making a huge, huge RPG to rival the best contemporary RPGs of the time was a wee bit much for a couple teenagers! After 17 years, we’ve learned to tackle things one step at a time, and Dragon Fantasy Book II is our latest and greatest step towards the completion of our epic story!

Got questions about Dragon Fantasy 2 (or Dragon Fantasy 1?) Want to know what the ultimate fate of Jerald is? Wondering how the biological functions of the Rock Monsters work? Curious where to order Rock Monster plushies? Let us know in the comments!

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16 Author Replies

  • @Bryan Sawler, did you say we could choose a non-NES looking version? Then I am interested. Could you post that video? I mean, I love the Zelda series, but no way would I play the original N64 version no matter how many people say it’s the greatest game ever made (because that honor belongs to Zelda Ocarina on the GC)

    <sorry all, for a non-Playstation digression. But if you're talking really retro,…)

  • I would also like to see what the other visuals would look like, would it be possible to make a vid and post a link?

    • The game will be demoed at PAX with both the “classic” and updated visuals shown – we’ll be posting videos accordingly in the near future!

  • OMFG! I don’t see the combat menu in this video, but I found videos of the first game and it looks turn-based menu driven! IS THIS ONE THE SAME?!!! If so, how much and where do I pay?!!

    If you are bringing the 1st one to PS3 and/or VITA, will it have trophies? Or will it be a MINI?

    • The combat has evolved quite a bit from the first game, but it is still ultimately turn-based and menu-driven, yes.

      As as for the original game, while we definitely want to bring it over, we don’t have any specifics yet.

  • @53 I repeat his question concerning trophies. And if it does have trophies, does it perchance have a platinum?

    Anyway, personally I like the old style graphics. I’ve wanted someone to make a PS3 downloadable old school JRPG for so long, and now I’m getting one. Yay!

    • We don’t yet have an official plan for what trophies will be awarded in the game beyond “yes we will have them” – as for platinum…that’s something I unfortunately can’t really answer yet.

  • Cross Buy? SOLD!

    Just don’t screw it by not making it a good game or overpricing it.

    Release all PS3 and PSN games on PS3 and PSVita with Cross Buy and everyone will buy both PS3 and PSVita including me and it will be undisputed domination.

    As well as, lower game prices

    a digital copy of our movies for our PSVita’s

    robust multitasking like on tablets

    dedicated app store, make the PSVita a handheld game console and tablet hybrid

    screen shots on everything

    portrait mode for everything

    sounds for alerts

    cheaper memory cards

    built in storage

    background downloads while in standby

    The icon arrangement non sense when switching memory cards

    voice and text communicate with PS3 users

    EVERYONE will own both PS3, PSVita and buy so many more games.


  • Ok, i must have missed the statement about hi-res graphic choice in the game. In comparison how would the high res look compared to rainbow moon?

  • Doesn’t Sony decide how many trophies a game gets, and how much their worth? Not very many download-only games have Platinum trophies.

  • Everyone’s missing the point. I could have sworn I read the word PLUSHIES. Please, for the love of gaming, tell me that was not just a tease.

    • We’ll be selling our first batch of Rock Monster plushies at PAX Prime this weekend, with more to come after that if all goes well!

  • Rainbow Moon got a plat, this jawn should get one too plz!

  • Looks cool though it will come out in a loong time…

  • Such a long wait makes me sad, but I love me some 8 and 16-bit rpg goodness. That was pretty much a most of my gaming childhood right there. Need more games like this imo.

  • As someone who got his first system way before 1985 (My first system was a Colecovision), I love the thought of retro-type games and I look forward to this. i do hope there is some way of us getting the first game and that, if it’s as long and epic of an RPG as you say it is, that is gets a platinum trophy.

  • Ignoring the derps.

    This looks awesome, and more RPGs on PSN are desperately needed. This looks great. I love Mode 7, FFVI (my favorite game) was the first use I played. Loved how amazing it looked back then. The Chrono Trigger style battle system sounds great too.

    2D has a simple charm, there is a reason why 8bit and 16bit RPGs remain charming, while early 3D RPGs look… eek. :P

  • Oh and I fully support the first game coming to PSN too. I hate playing a sequel without playing the first and I prefer to play them on the same platforms. I’ll still pick this up regardless though.

  • Good comments then eye-roll comments, & now we’re back to a mature conversation.

    There’s a crowd for every gamer & for those that dislike a genre w/ out insulting it- makes me think we’ve been ‘leveling up’ over the years. No point in bashing another dev’s project or another fellow gamer’s interests. If the content is fun, has a decent amount of production value, & is priced accordingly, it’s worth a look.

    I don’t know anything about the DF series but I hope not playing DF1 won’t leave me confused about the origins of the st

  • I dont care what the graphics is but I need more gameplay,or else…

  • Can you please tell me whether this is going to be digital only or whether it will have a physical release.

    Some of us don’t buy digital and don’t want to be cut out.

    • As was mentioned elsewhere, as this is part of SCEA’s PubFund program, the game will be a digital-only release.
      Sadly the costs for an independent developer/publisher going to retail are just far too high – in the case of a game like this, it would very likely cost as much if not more to get the game manufactured and shipped to stores than the rest of the development costs combined!

  • @Einhander138: Well if the type of game didn’t make it obvious that it’s only digital, then the fact that it’s Sony Pub Funded should. Games like this just don’t get physical releases. It is not worth it to the developers to do so.

  • Anyone who doesn’t like the graphics can just ignore the game. Really.

    “deliberately bad graphics”

    Simplistic =/= bad.

    Many 16-bit era games were praised for their impressive visuals, interestingly enough. Just because graphics has evolved quite a bit since that time, it doesn’t mean that these classic games have suddenly become “bad”. And yes, the old point about graphics not being everything is absolutely valid, because while it’s nice to have something pretty to look at while you’re gaming, the core of the experience will ALWAYS be judged by the gameplay, and of course, responsive user-friendly control is always tightly intertwined with it. How immersive the story that centers around the activities that you control on the screen is a close second in the importance department. An emotional and inspiring soundtrack closely follows behind that, as this obviously enhances the immersion factor, with graphics being the least important factor in the whole GAMING package. If you want something pretty to look at, watch a Pixar film, go to an art gallery, or simply just go outside and observe nature. Games have never been about “looks”.

  • As an old skool rpg fan (Chrono Trigger!), I’m VERY excited for this game. So happy that its coming to the PS3. Usually something like this would only be a portable. Very cool to see it coming to both.

    Really like the visuals and the gameplay looks fun.

    I’ll have to keep an eye out for this one! :)

  • Whether you newbs like it or not, the majority of gamers are dudes like me in their 30s who grew up playing these games. There will always be a market for these games, because we’re the ones with the money now and we enjoy experiences such as these. Nostalgia may play a role, sure, but it’s also because we know that when games played like this, is when gaming was at it’s best.

    Naturally, developers are going to target demographics where profits are likely. Since many fans of these games are still actively playing, it’s a safe bet to develop in this direction. That’s the business side of it. I’m not saying that’s the case with this particular game, as it feels more like a tribute to the past, but it’s why you see “retro style” games still being made. And these kinds of games absolutely paved the way (as far as keeping the industry alive) for all the soulless tech demos and mindless shooters that you kids enjoy so much these days.

  • The 8 and 16-bit eras are referred to as “The Golden Age Of Gaming” for good reason. Us old timers (ha) have seen the changes, and while many of them have opened doors through innovation, many have also been a big step in the wrong direction. So, graphics snobs, you’re just going to have to accept that these “ugly” games will be around for a long time, and in my opinion, that’s a very good thing. I’d hate to see the industry lose touch with it’s roots…

  • > It is not worth it to the developers to do so.

    @68 Only because brainwashed dolts continue to buy everything digital, willingly giving up their consumer rights.

    If you had half a brain, you would demand a physical release or no sale.

    Just as I am doing.

  • I am very interested in this game but I cant buy it without part 1. I cant see this selling well at all because of that.

  • I do have to say one thing about this game and here it is… Welcome to the next level of Retro-RPG adventure! Just a little 16-bit humor there. Dragon Fantasy 2 looks like a fascinating adventure. I’m sure it will be a great hit once it’s out.

  • @74 Mass Effect 2 sold well, despite the first game being unavailable on ps3.

  • @Einhander138: Don’t be a scumbag little brat. I answered your question and you raged like a little baby. Just go away. Now that I think about it, you raged like a little baby over digital gaming before didn’t you? Yeah that was you lol.

    Ya know what? Don’t buy the damn game then. Anyone with half a brain would know that it’s not worth a physical release because games like this are PUB FUNDED BY SONY FOR PSN. THAT’S WHAT THE PUB FUND DOES. Sony helps pay for the game so indie developers can afford to make and put their game on PSN. But an idiot like you wouldn’t know that because you are too busy irrationaly crying over it’s digital release.

  • My post was clearly not directed at ppl who want to buy the game. I thought that was obvious??? Unless you are drawn to conflict.@ twindad: picking on criticism based on ideas and opinions, simply because they are different from your opinions is far closer to trolling than said criticism is :)

    and good lord.. art gallery… sigh* i spoke about programming man hours strictly on the technical side of things, not artistic direction, not good looks in general, oh i know i’ll go watch a freaking antique motorcycle show cause my game doesn’t look good, ffs! Irrelevance ftw!

  • Will you publish the game in Europe?

  • @ StarFoxMania

    Well, you’re a Grade-A goofball if I’ve ever seen one…

    You want to talk about “irrelevance”? How about the importance you place on “man hours”? Really?!?! It doesn’t matter if it takes 1 minute to develop or 1 full decade. The bottom line is a high-quality end result. If that’s what we have here, that’s all that matters.

    The entire point (that you missed) is that graphics themselves are IRRELEVANT in a GAMING experience.

    The box art on board games is IRRELEVANT because it’s about how fun the game inside the box is. Right?

    That’s also why box art on video games is IRRELEVANT too! The look of the actual game is IRRELEVANT too as long as the game is FUN TO PLAY!

    Hell, your entire argument IRRELEVANT!

  • Freakin’ aye. I’m there dude. Vita owner here and I love these kind of indie throwback rpg’s. Just looking at it takes me back to being 11, and playing Mystic Quest (may not sound like a compliment, but it is from me).

    Day 1!

  • @73: That is just foolish.

    And I value physical releases. I won’t buy a game if it was released physically elsewhere, and is only digital here. *looks at Xseed* -.-

    However, not every game is worth a physical release. I understand that, so am fine with digital games as long as they’re designed for PSN and not just SCEA (or a 3rd party publisher) being cheap in our region and going digital only with a physical game’s localization.

    And let’s just say digital goes away. That doesn’t mean developers who are making digital games on the PS3, will make physical games. They’ll probably be forced to move to other platforms because of the cost and risk involved with retail. Digital allows more games to get to gamers, and allows for more risky and experimental games without the risk of closure.

  • Will for sure try this out! i love all these games that are coming on PSN like rainbow moon etc keep them coming!

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