In August, we announced on PlayStation.Blog that we would be releasing Dragon Fantasy Book II for PS Vita and PS3 early next year.
With the awesome response and large demand for the first game on those systems, we knew we had to make it happen. We didn’t want to just push a port of what we already had, though – this was our chance to really make this game shine.
Plus, we get to take part in Sony’s awesome Spring Fever promotion! Not only are we releasing the game to JRPG-loving fans out there, Sony is helping to ensure people actually find out about it! What does that mean to you? If you’re a PlayStation Plus member, it means you get 20% off the game during launch week!
Don’t know much about Dragon Fantasy Book I? Start by watching our brief trailer.
So where to begin… Oh, I don’t know, how about redrawing almost every single piece of art in the game! Crazy? Yes. Worth it? Absolutely!
We decided to approach this in the style of a SNES special edition of a previously released NES game. We wanted to take the art we had, and just bring it forward a generation – after reaching what we feel was the best of what “8-bit” could be, we decided to bring this to what we’re calling “8-bit as we remember it” instead of “8-bit as it was” – read on for some side-by-sides of the before and after.
First, we updated the overworld map. The map (and all of the maps) are unchanged –
just better defined, cleaner tiles everywhere.
The interface’s look has been upgraded as well, with clean gradients, while the monsters have more shading and detail.
We added shadowing and detail throughout the maps (see the ambient shading on the floors where they meet the walls) – who says AAA FPS games are the only ones that should feature ambient occlusion!
Finally, so many poor vendors were stuck in their little shops with tiny walls and no roofs, beaten down upon by the hot sun! Well after negotiations with the NPC Vendors’ Union we’ve given them some much-needed shade. Just walk into the shops as always and the walls or roofs fade away.
Once happier with the visuals (in terms of an 8-bit style RPG at least), it was time to revisit other parts of the game and see where else we could make improvements. What was — in our opinion — the most frustrating part of the first game? The inventory UI. No longer do you have to scroll through a page of herbs to find that one lone antidote to cure your poisoned allies. We took the whole main interface we had been working on for Book II and brought it home to the original!
First, let’s look at what we had:
The main interface filled the entire screen, keeping you from seeing much of anything. Four massive buttons filled the view keeping any useful information at least a page away. And you had to move to a separate page of four massive buttons to see the rest of the options.
Items were even worse. Each item in your inventory took up a separate line, and there was no support for stacking items to save space. Trying to find a single item buried in between pages of herbs and antidotes was a pain!
So what do all of these look like now?
Your party is visible at a glance immediately when pulling the screen up. The navigation is now handled with the tabs across the top instead of four huge buttons filling the screen.
The inventory now supports stacking, making it a lot easier to find the item you’re looking for.
Let’s not forget trophies! First, the basics: yes, we’ll have trophies; no, there won’t be a Platinum. What will we have? About a dozen Trophies covering a range of feats, from completing each of the game’s chapters, to finding that one hidden scene in Chapter 2 that we’re pretty sure no one outside our office has ever seen. Ever. Seriously.
We really hope these will give people a reason to enjoy another trip through the game’s chapters, and hint at things people might not have been aware of. More than anything though, we’re listening for what people want most and trying to make this the best version of Dragon Fantasy it can be.
Improving what we have is important, but so is giving players something new! Chapter 2 has always been the chapter we’ve felt needed the most help. To help smooth out the leveling and better guide players, we’ve added a new dungeon to Chapter 2: The Tower of Trials. Inside this five-story tower is a wealth of treasure and gear for Anders and his recruitable allies Punchibald “Punchy” Hammerstone and Casterella “Casty” Von Magicpants.
So this pretty well covers Dragon Fantasy Book I, coming to PlayStation 3 and PS Vita tomorrow. We have an almost completely re-done 8-bit RPG, with all new recordings. We have new content and trophies. And most importantly, we support Cross-Buy (so you buy it once, and get it for both systems) and Cross-Save (so you can share a save game between to two).
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