*Editor’s Note: You can get this off of Steam or the PlayStation Network.
By: Matt Alexander
You might be saying, “Damn, that’s an awesome name” or , “who would name their game something like that?” or maybe even, “why the tome gotta be black?”. Fear not, gamers, this title will cover less than none of your concerns. It will, however and more importantly, bring back the funk and the retro gaming that none of us can live without.
“Dragon Fantasy: The Black Tome of Ice” is Chrono Trigger on chronic. In fact, many parallels are either seamlessly integrated or blatantly ripped from early Squaresoft titles. The result is a mash-up of all the greatness of RPG history in a somewhat epic tale with its own unique story. To make a moderately-sized story short, you need to save the Westerian Empire and/or all of reality and put the demon(s) back into the voidstone(s). Naturally there are more nations and political intrigues and backstories and quasi-amnesia and every other one of the RPG tropes to keep you button-mashing with glee. The story is layered better than a wedding cake for this genre-match made in gaming-heaven.
Snappy dialogue with loads of subtle pop culture references keep things interesting. These tidbits will make you crack a smile when you’re not cursing the dangerous battles or frowning at the plentiful glitches. This one is a mature entry — your characters start out around level 25! — in a rich tradition of RPGs. The story starts out character-driven, but slowly reveals the metaphysical and scientific background to a fairly epic tale. The game is a full length RPG that has a lot more depth than the current slew of neo-retro games, but just as much snark.
You start out as Ogden, a balding ex-hero and generally righteous dude. You know pirates and royalty, and apparently you are quite handy, as every NPC has a side quest for you — ain’t nobody got time for that, especially not with the meager rewards. You pick up homies along the way, which is necessary for the amount of fighting you’ll be participating in. The battle system is turn-based and starts off by collision encounters (you can juke the enemies to avoid battles). Don’t think it will be easy, though: annoyances such as running into one enemy and having 10 others (not an exaggeration) jump in are common. You’d think with 16-but graphics that the glitches would be worked out by now, but that might take away from the retro experience.
Even though your enemies roll deep, there are plenty of campsites where you can heal up and save. The plenitude of bosses are not all weak sauce; some are jelly, and some are even slime. But, yeah, they’re pretty easy. In other difficulty-scaling matters, you will instantly Hulk-smash any group of enemies that are well beneath your level, a la “Earthbound” (respek to the SNES RPGs). Sometimes the camera stays on one not-so-relevant spot during a battle, making area effect spells a gamble, but the fights are mostly straightforward. There are occasional mini-games or tasks that change up the pace as well. There are no random battles, so you can scout the flattened-out overworld map in peace as you jam out to the groovin’ electronic tunes.
This game (“Dragon Fantasy: The Black Tome of Ice”, in case you forgot) is a little glitch-y and a lot of fun. Now you are going out there right now, misters and mistresses, and you’re going to buy this game. You’re going to buy it, you’re going to play it, and you’re going to like it!
7/10 BroFists (6 + 16-bits + dragons)