For all you JRPG lovers I’ve got a treat for you! We recently got a chance to talk with Muteki Corp‘s Creative Director Adam Rippon about the sequel to their loving homage to JRPGs of the 8 bit era, Dragon Fantasy Book I. With Dragon Fantasy Book II releasing on Playstation 3 and PS Vita on September 10th, fans of JRPGs will get a chance to dive into the genre once again with an updated homage to 16 bit JRPGs such as Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy VI. Here’s what Adam Rippon had to say about the sequel.
First off, for our readers who are unfamiliar with the Dragon Fantasy Series, tell us a little bit about what players can expect from the series as a whole.
“The Dragon Fantasy series is a character-driven story about a group of unlikely heroes. There’s Ogden, a former hero who let himself go, and is forced to get back into the hero-ing business to defeat the evil Dark Lord. Along his journey he meets the Woodsman, a crazy old man who has lived in the woods for so long that he can’t remember his own name, and Prince Anders, a promiscuous lout who didn’t want to rule and so goes on ill-advised adventures with a band of filthy pirates. Ogden’s quest to save his homeland of Westeria from the Dark Lord is ultimately successful, but then thanks to Prince Ander’s meddling, all three of them have to set sail for the Southlands to find the Voidstone of Westeria, a gemstone that contains the soul of the Dark Lord, which was stolen by a pair of thieves.”
Can you tease a little about what fans of the first game have to look forward to in Book II?
“Book II picks up immediately after Book I ends, with our three heroes on a boat to the Southlands of Tundaria, with one stowaway on board. They’ll eventually join up with Ramona, who, unbeknownst to them, is in fact one of the two thieves they’re after. As it turns out, Tundaria has been having plenty of troubles lately, with a lady called the Black Queen of Ice who could turn the whole continent to a solid sheet of ice if she’s left unchecked.”
Is there anything in particular you are excited for people to see in Dragon Fantasy Book II?
“I’m excited for people to see a lot of things, our battle system allows for huge numbers of enemies at once, and of course because the monsters are visible in the game there are no random encounters. We’ve got ship-to-ship combat sequences, where you have to defeat enemies and lob them at the other ship with a cannon. And some of our bosses are pretty dang ginormous!”
Will players of the first game be able to import their save files when starting Book II?
“Sadly, no. We didn’t have time to implement that feature. Maybe someday in the future when all three games in the series are done I’ll be able to make that work. That being said, Ogden, Ramona and Anders’ levels reflect more or less where they would be if a player finished Book I.”
Turn Based RPGs such as the 16 and 32 bit era which were incredibly popular are very hard to come by now, which I think is somewhat sad. What made you decide to attempt to revive a genre that has all but disappeared from the market?
“When I started working on Dragon Fantasy Book I, I thought I was making something unique to this era, but I’ve since discovered that there are actually a lot of really great indie RPG developers out there, making really great stuff. Zeboyd Games led the charge, and then there’s teams like Bread Brothers working on Sully: A Very Serious RPG, and Eden Industries with Citizens of Earth. Having had many opportunities to get to know these guys, I feel certain that we all share a deep love of the genre, and basically it’s just not an option for us not to do it. I personally have a story that I want to tell, and I’m gonna do it, regardless of whether or not it’s smart business!”
Was the creation of the Dragon Fantasy series out of love for the genre? Or was there some other reasoning behind it?
“Dragon Fantasy is also a tribute to my late father, Tom Rippon, who passed away in 2010. The character Ogden looks quite a lot like him, and a lot of his heroism stems from my childhood perception of my Dad’s stubborn buffness. Dad loved video games, and so I wanted to send him on another adventure.”
Gaming has changed quite a lot since the era in which Dragon Fantasy Book II’s core mechanics were originally used, did that change the way Dragon Fantasy Book II was developed?
“Absolutely. For starters, as much as I loved it when I was a kid, I ditched the concept of active time battles. When I go back and play the classics, I almost always end up holding down the fast forward button on an emulator, and a big part of that is because I just got sick of waiting for those little action bars to fill up. I wanted DF2 to play as quickly or as slowly as the player wanted it to go. That, and we’re able to have way, way more enemies on screen, and so we take advantage of that quite frequently.”
Were there things that you wanted to add to Book II that games back in the era of Lufia and Chrono Trigger lacked?
“I fondly remember playing Secret of Mana with my friends, and always wished that other RPGs did that. Of course, even as a kid I had my doubts about how well that would work. But when Dragon Quest IX came out on the Nintendo DS I saw how it could be done and done really well. We spent a lot of time building a fun and easy to use online multiplayer system for Book II. Unfortunately, we had a few minor bugs in it that could have jeopardized our launch date, so we had to cut it from the 1.0 release. But we’re cleaning them up for a 1.1 release that will come a little later this year. I’m really excited to get that out, because that is basically everything I wanted from an RPG when I was 15.”
What would you say is the biggest inspiration that led both to the creation of the Dragon Fantasy series, as well as Book II’s development?
“I started designing Dragon Fantasy when I was 14. I’d been involved in fan translations of Japanese-only JRPGs, and while I didn’t work on it directly, the translation of Seiken Densetsu 3 was a huge inspiration to me. Also known as Secret of Mana 2, it basically embodied everything I’d ever wanted in a game at that time. So I teamed up with my friend Bryan to try to make a game like that. That…didn’t turn out so well at the time, but I kept the idea in my head for the better part of two decades. Then when my Dad passed away, I looked at all the things he’d personally accomplished and decided I needed to do something for myself again.”
Is there anything you want both gamers who enjoyed Book I, and gamers who are new to the series to know before book II releases?
“Book I was a very personal project for me, a lot of that game was made specifically to entertain myself during a very depressing time in my life after the death of my father. The result was a brutally hard, unabashedly retro NES RPG, complete with all the weaknesses you’d expect from a game from 1985 and that was all I wanted to play at the time, because it made me feel like maybe I was in my basement playing video games and Dad was just upstairs. A lot of people loved the old, old, incredibly old school style, but I’ll be the first to admit that it wasn’t a game for everyone. With Book II, it wasn’t just a personal project anymore, and my team and I worked hard to build a much more complete game. It’s a faster paced game, with more detailed graphics, and a much deeper, involved story. Instead of a being presented as three semi-connected chapters, now there’s one big game with dynamic battles, huge bosses, crafting, monster capturing, and even multiplayer coming in the 1.1 patch. In short, it’s not a game built for me, it’s a game built for everyone!”
So there you have it! All the teasers and dirt for fans of Dragon Fantasy, as well as JRPG’s alike to look forward to when Dragon Fantasy Book II releases on September 10th, Muteki will be at PAX Prime in booth #782 at the Indie MEGABOOTH, or you can visit their Facebook or Twitter for more information. All in all, as a fan of Muteki’s work, I am incredibly excited to get my hands on Book II, and see where Ogden’s adventures lead.