Dragon Fantasy Book I on PS3 & PS Vita Tomorrow

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Dragon Fantasy Book I on PS3 & PS Vita Tomorrow

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.

Dragon Fantasy Book I on PSNDragon Fantasy Book I on PSN

The interface’s look has been upgraded as well, with clean gradients, while the monsters have more shading and detail.

Dragon Fantasy Book I on PSNDragon Fantasy Book I on PSN

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!

Dragon Fantasy Book I on PSNDragon Fantasy Book I on PSN

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.

Dragon Fantasy Book I on PSNDragon Fantasy Book I on PSN

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:

Dragon Fantasy Book I on PSN

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.

Dragon Fantasy Book I on PSN

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?

Dragon Fantasy Book I on PSN
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.

Dragon Fantasy Book I on PSN
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.

Dragon Fantasy Book I on PSN

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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22 Author Replies

  • I’m really looking forward to this tomorrow, I’m so glad you’re bringing the first DF out too. To clarify, can you switch between the 8 Bit and 16 Bit look, or is only the 16 Bit available? I’d love to play it in the 8 Bit look too if only for the added nostalgia.

    • You can at any time during gameplay go to the menu and swap between 8-bit and “special edition” mode. Both the graphics and audio swap out depending on how retro you want to be!

  • Livestreamed some of the first chapter yesterday and really enjoyed this one. Check out the replay here – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ApSHAGY9LE

  • I never played this series but it looks like you guys worked really hard on it. I might give it a try soon.

  • @1 Yes, they announced that you can switch between the 2 at will in the menu.

  • I’ll get it, grew up on 16-bit here and love what you guys are doing. Pricing is great too (7.99 for Plus,9.99 w/o for the uninformed)

  • This is a great price and really liking the feel, I know that me and two other of my psn buddies will be picking this up once its out on the store, also going to look into buying the pc version.

  • Old school RPG? Count me in!!! It looks like a fun adventure. I will give it a try…

  • Day 1 purchase for me without question. I wish more publishers played with “8/16bit” gaming engines a bit more as I think there is a lot that can still be done in today’s market. One of the great things about that era is that it used the most powerful gaming engine that could exist…our imagination. I love the modern games as well and the hyper realism, but I think that there is something about those 8/16 bit games that could make a game more personal to the player as their own imagination fleshed out what our eyes couldn’t see in the detail and ‘filled the gaps’ so to speak. How many times have we heard voice acting and cringed in thinking that’s not the way we think they should sound or felt the vibe was off in the graphics?

    Can’t wait to buy. Thanks for sharing!!!

  • Any news on an EU release for this one Bryan? I bought the iOS version when it first hit the App Store, but I do like to support my favourite indie outfits, and plan to do a little double-dipping. If of course, that’s *if* hits here in the UK.

    Apologies if you’ve already covered this topic somewhere else!


    • We’re talking with SCEE now about the EU release – unfortunately we couldn’t get them both out at the same time!

  • No PAL PSN release for a couple of months, I guess? God, I wish SCEJ, SCEA and SCEE would get over their childish differences and work together when it comes to certification. I’m sure it’s even more frustrating for developers than it is for consumers.

    But could you please tell me you’re releasing it in Aus/NZ? If it’s not coming out here, I’d at least like to know well beforehand that I shouldn’t even bother looking forward to it.

    • This actually wasn’t the fault of SCEI/SCEA/SCEE but really just caused by the speed with which SCEA moved to get us through so we could take part of the Spring Fever promotion.

  • Another game to play on my Vita? Awesome! Was already looking forward to the second one, but now we’re getting the first one makes it even much more sweeter.

  • This might just be enough to tide me over as I wait for terraria! I feel like it should have a discount for non-plusers and a steeper one for plus members if it really wanted to be a part of the spring fever sale. a 20% sale for plus members only feels like a launch sale, but alas I guess it technically IS a launch sale…

  • looks really fun. Between this game, Sacred Citadel, and Soul Sacrifice demo, this is the best week on psn store in months for me.

    Already can’t wait for Book 2. :)

  • btw will there be random encounters? I’m not a big fan of those, they were the worst part of those old rpgs. But i’ll be willing to put up with it if the encounter rate is at least reasonable.

    • We’re not huge fans of overabundant random encounters either, but they were a part of that generation of JRPGs so we felt we needed them to be true to that. We did tune them down to what we thought was pretty reasonable, and some of the larger areas of the game (such as a bandit rope-maze) have them disabled altogether.

      It’s also the reason why the sequel did away with them (as did a number of 16-bit JRPGs)

  • P.S. all the tweaking you guys did looks phenomenal, good job with the intuitive menu interface. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone back to the first installment of a series and thought “why can’t this one be as good as the sequels…” then again I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve said the exact opposite phrase either.

  • I was hesitant before this blog post, but now you sold me. I’ll be buying this tomorrow.

  • HERB! “A plant with medicinal properties.” (-_-) haha but PS Plus discount seals it for me. ill be picking this up. love to be able to switch back and forth between 8 & 16 bit too :)

    • In case the ESRB is reading this, this was in NO WAY any kind of unsavory comment. No, really, we swear it wasn’t!

  • Nice one ManPeach!

  • This game reminds me of NES’s Final Fantasy 3 (my favorite FF) with the battle scenes pulled from SNES’s Earthbound. Amazing stuff…..takes me back.

  • Im so excited for this. Vita has an extreme lack of non-PSP RPGs right now

  • Your blog post comes off as excited to be bringing this game and the next one to the PlayStation platforms. And that is a good thing. I was looking into this last night and can’t wait for the update tomorrow.

    I’m happy you support cross save, I love playing games on my Vita, but when I come home I just want to sit on my gaming chair and just continue playing on the big screen.

  • The price is right and after Guacamelee, it’s become really hard to turn down a cross-buy indie game with a reputation! Cross controller support could kick ass with vita’s touch interface in battles and traditional button interface for world exploration, but perhaps that could be something for a future project? (Nudge nudge, wink wink)
    I’ve got money in my PSN wallet and $8 of it is going here for sure.

  • I have this game on my Ipad and enjoyed it a lot and I was excited to hear that the sequel and the first game will be coming to PS3/Vita. But the fact that you took the time to redo the graphics on the first game is a real pleasant surprise to a game I thought was perfect as it was. I will be buying this day 1 without a doubt and look forward to the sequel!

  • Can’t wait~


  • I’ll be starting this once I finish Final Fantasy 4 on my Vita.

  • I’ll probably pick this up, but I’m really looking forward to the updated combat in book II :)

  • I am totally picking this up. The only question I have is about the trophy list. Is it a single shared list like Retro City Rampage and Guacamelee!, or are there separate lists for PS3/Vita? While I like separate lists cause it means more trophies, and I get to play through the game once on each platform, the shared list works better for Cross-Save, so players don’t end up with half the trophies on one system and half on the other. Obviously, everyone who’s buying this will find out tomorrow, but I’m just curious if we could get that info now. Thanks!

    • There is a single shared Trophy list. We felt it made the most sense with Cross-Save support and wanting to encourage people to play on whatever system makes the most sense at the time.

  • Store please update!!!! I want this through back to my youth! I didn’t even realize this was on ipad too… i have that and a ps3 and vita but the vita version is where I want to play this. Thanks for making cross buy! And thanks for bringing book 1 over to PSN! ….now the store needs to update already!

  • too many games!!! Still havent cracked open Disgea 3, but this game looks really cool.

  • Hey Bryan Sawler, I don’t know if you are still checking comments, But I just want to thank you for working with Sony to help bring this to the PS3 as a gamer who has know intention to play any games on the Iphones/Ipads.

    • We are still checking these comments yes :) And hey it was great working with Sony – they’ve gone from “a platform we want to support” to a preferred platform for us.

  • Bryan, ever since I read your guy’s article in Game Developer Magazine I wanted to get this! Huge fan of what the team is doing. GOOD LUCK!

  • Buying this first thing tomorrow. :)

  • tgpumpkin on April 15th, 2013 at 7:20 am said: “One of the great things about that era is that it used the most powerful gaming engine that could exist…our imagination. I love the modern games as well and the hyper realism, but I think that there is something about those 8/16 bit games that could make a game more personal to the player as their own imagination fleshed out what our eyes couldn’t see in the detail and ‘filled the gaps’ so to speak.”

    BINGO. EXACTLY. 100% RIGHT ON TARGET. I have used this argument myself in the past and it fell on deaf ears (unfortunately), so I just wanted you to know that at least someone out there agrees with you. This is EXACTLY why games were ultimately more satisfying back then. I agree as well that there are a lot of things about the current technology that are also quite enjoyable, and I wouldn’t give up my PS3 without a fight, but as us older gamers know, there’s just something special about those classic games… ;)

  • Retro City Rampage was cool on PS Vita, I find the platform suits these 8bit and 16bit attempts to re-kindle old school gaming I will definitely purchase this one this week.

    Keep up the good work Sony, games like this need a home, and you are becoming quickly the leaders in bringing developer’s crazy indie ideas to life along with triple A titles.

    Good Job and Thanks.

  • No Platinum? Bwarghh.

    Any insight you can offer into the really arbitrary platinum availability on PSN games?

    This sounds like exactly the sort of game that would be great for a platinum, but nothing.

    Anyway, I was on the fence about getting Book 2. Really glad you guys put Book 1 on here – it’ll be a day one buy for me, even without a platinum.

    • It really came down to the fact that Book I was never designed with trophies in mind originally, we came up with a few fun trophies (in addition to the standard completion of chapter trophies). Book II will definitely feature a platinum and is being built with trophies in mind :)

  • Well i think this is going to be a great game to buy with my $10 Cash reward ^_^

  • I love what you guys have been doing with FD:B1! Kind of wish it had a Plat. trophy but whatever, still a day 1 purchase. I hope that Book 2 will have a separate trophy list for PS3 and Vita.
    Does it support cross controller play? Like being able to use the Vita as a controller and using it to navigate the menus on the Vita or maps etc. while I play it on my PS3?

    • No cross-controller play. Didn’t make sense to us with the Vita being able to run the game itself

      Regarding shared vs. separate trophy lists. What do people generally prefer? To us a single shared trophy list made sense with cross-save, and the only reason we could think of having separate trophies for was for the trophy collectors out there, requiring them to play the game twice?

  • SCEE gonna SCEE. Will buy when it comes out :)

  • Will you guys be releasing avatars or dynamic/static themes as well? Always a bonus when we get those on the day of release (or shortly after).

  • This game looks awesome. I’m pretty excited to play it. So, since you guys decided to go ahead and release book 1, will we still see a book 2 release later on this year?

  • @ 34 I also agree with this philosophy.

    You have to also realize though, that this generation being raised on hyper realism is going to eventually get tired of it and we are going to see a greater push towards 8/16 bit(ish) games. Heck we are already seeing it.
    Then eventually the next generation will retaliate with another wave of realism, and this cycle will continue back and fourth.

    It is a pattern that exists in almost every aspect of human expression. Paintings, fashion, music, architecture, etc.

  • Glad to see that you have not only brought your game to PSN, but have also continue used to tweak and improve it in doing so. Just a few questions, though: is there any story continuity between book 1 and future books?; if so, will future episodes read save files from previous books and either import certain items or impart bonuses for doing so?

    I guess a good analogue for this would be the fantastic Mardek series, which also is a kind of love letter to classic rugs with its own brand of unique humor and charm. Each chapter can be played as a standalone episode, but longtime fans are able to import save data from previous chapters to carry over certain inventory items and the like.

    • While each game is self-contained in that it can be played and enjoyed separately from the others, the characters are the same across the games.

      We’ve been throwing out ideas for supporting importing a save game from Book I into Book II and what that might do, but we don’t have any specifics yet.

  • I love to see studios making 8-bit and 16-bit games… Thanks so much! Even in today’s day and age, I believe that games with old-style graphics can be just as enjoyable as those that are motion picture quality. (See: Minecraft, Retro City Rampage, Castlevania: Harmony of Despair…)

    Twiddling my thumbs here, waiting for Dragon Fantasy to appear in the PS Store. :) Can’t wait to try it — looks a little like Call of Cthulhu?

    And thanks for adding trophies, major added value for me.

  • ^ ^ Oops, I forgot to mention Terraria. ;)

  • Picking this up today!
    Thanks guys

  • “Bryan Sawler on April 16th, 2013 at 9:44 am said:
    Regarding shared vs. separate trophy lists. What do people generally prefer?”

    For me personally, it depends on the game. Something like Guacamelee!, I would have loved having separate trophy lists and playing through it a few more times while still earning trophies. As is, I’ll keep it around to play on lazy weekends, as I can probably speedrun it on normal in less than 5 hours.
    I think it depends on game length. Separate trophy lists, to a trophy hunter like myself, add a sense of “more value”, while the shared list is “more efficient” on cross-save games. But then there are “save file triggered trophies” like Sound Shapes (earn it on one system and it will auto-unlock on the other when you load your save), versus in-game triggered trophies (like Sly Cooper 4, where you have to physically do everything twice). There are quite a few options. I’m fine with any of them, I just like to know beforehand what to look forward to. And thanks for responding to my earlier question. :)
    Can’t wait for the Store update so I can get this bad boy on my Vita and have a nostalgia trip.

  • To chip in on the matter of pixelated aesthetics, I keep seeing the “player’s imagination fills in the gaps” argument, but it continues to not sit well with me. The ambiguity plays into it regardless, but I think the appeal is more in a lack of definition. With modern games, every little aspect of a scene is portrayed exactly as-is every time, and if any of those aspects don’t jive well with the player, that’s tough noogies. However, the lack of visual minutiae, the synthetic sounds, and especially the lack of voiceovers allows for more dynamic interpretations of scenes, adaptable to the player’s own frame of mind during that playthrough. Those games just don’t pigeonhole themselves as hard thanks to the not-so-high definition.

    Personally, I’m also more impressed by how expressive and dynamic those restricted aesthetics can get, unlike the sky’s-the-limit modern AAA. For instance, Galuf and Xezat’s stand during the attack on the latter’s fleet in FFV wowed me on GBA.

    As for trophies, one list is less worrisome. I’m still sour on Jetpack Joyride, especially considering the coin-dump and distance trophies.

  • PS Store >> “Currently undergoing maintenance…” >> Awesome, they must be getting the new games ready to sell! :D Woot.

  • Is it available yet? I can’t hit refresh any faster!

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