Posted on June 19, 2012
I Wish I Had Made That! Dragon Fantasy From Muteki Corp
This is a new column named “I Wish I Had Made That!” where we explore games that are so close to our hearts, that we wish we had made them ourselves. In fact, most will be games that we started and never finished, and someone has beaten us to the punch. The first game in this series is Dragon Fantasy from Muteki Corp.
Dragon Fantasy is an iOS (plus Mac and PC) homage to classic JRPGs like Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest, games that were, in-turn, inspired by early American computer games like Phantasie and Ultima. Muteki is an American company, inspired by Japanese games, that were originally inspired by games from America, so it feels like this games has come full-circle and returned to its’ roots.
Dragon Fantasy has the nuances of the JRPG ironed out to an exacting degree.
Weird monsters? Check.
Extremely linear gameplay? Check.
Story elements woven into game at regular intervals? Check.
Grinding required? Check.
Random battles: Check.
Conservative Save Points: Check.
8-bit Graphic Splendor? Check.
A addictive quality that keep you coming back for more? Check Check Check.
The guys at Muteki have done their homework with this one. The game feels like a genuine JRPG in almost every way. It reminds me very much of Final Fantasy 1 (or just Final Fantasy), which is my all-time favorite game in this category.
On iOS, the game plays smoothly and is easy to control. Input is very simple: drag your finger to move Ogden (your avatar), and make selections from menus. However, simple is fine in this case and that simplicity masks a very sophisticated ramping structure that appears to perfectly emulate the games that inspired it. It’s also funny, or at least tries to be funny, which is 1/2 the battle.
Why Do I With I Had Made It?
So why do I wish I had made this? Well, because I’ve always wanted to create an RPG like this, and these guys beat me to it. In fact, we have been planning an RPG since about 1987 using overhead maps and turn-based combat. It was not based on a JRPG, but on the Phantasie series from SSI (designed by Winston Douglas Wood). Still, since Phantasie was one of the precursors to JRPGs (The Japanese were so keen on it that Phantasie IV was Japan only release), it still feels related.
Our game was going to be based on California History And Legends with a time travel element back to the old west. We were designing it on the Atari ST with STOS, but time got the best of us, and we never finished it after we moved onto DOS PCs in the early 90’s. However, Dragon Fantasy shows me that it can be done on new devices, if the proper care is taken to get the nuances right.
One thing that intrigued me about Dragon Fantasy is that the main character was inspired by the deceased father of one of the developers. In fact, this is why I plunked down my money in the first place, as I believe in supporting those kinds of efforts. I really like the idea of commemorating someone in game like this. It’s something I plan to do for my father some day soon. Since we traveled through California together on all sorts of adventures, making my dad the main character in an exhumed (no pun intended) California RPG might be a good choice. It also might get me to finally finish the game.
Dragon Fantasy is great game that has inspired me to play and be creative at the same time. What else can you ask from a piece of software? Get Dragon Fantasy now from iTunes for $2.99 (it’s well worth the price you spoiled cheapskates) or PC And Mac for a couple dollars more. If you are into classic JRPGs, don’t miss it. A plussed-up 16-bit era sequel is planned as well.