Game Over Online ~ Dragonfire

GameOver Game Reviews - Dragonfire (c) Redshift, Reviewed by - Pseudo Nim

Game & Publisher Dragonfire (c) Redshift
System Requirements Palm OS device with 2.1MB free
Overall Rating 88%
Date Published Wednesday, March 12th, 2003 at 04:20 AM

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RPGs are a weird breed. As far as I'm concerned, there can only be one Bejeweled, but there can be as many RPGs as possible - I'm always up for an engrossing storyline and something to keep me deeply addicted to something for immeasurable amounts of time.

So far in the Palm world, there has been somewhat of a lack of an RPG with reasonably good graphics and a Final Fantasy-quality story (I mean, I would like even more to have a Black Isle-quality story (like Planescape: Torment), but I'll even settle for an emotionally charged story like in Final Fantasy). Well... Dragonfire isn't that game, either. At least not in terms of story. But it is, in some other ways.

When I first installed Dragonfire, I was surprised to see that it was relatively large for a typical Palm game. I was also surprised by the fact that there was a high-resolution version available for Sony Clie units - it is extremely rare to see support for hi-res in games, even with Clies having been out for years, and having had themselves prove that they are, truly, the superior Palm platform. Anyway, I installed and ran the game. It completely shocked me. As I said, I'm not used to seeing hi-res in games on my Clie; the few experiences that I did have were pleasant, and well worth it. Dragonfire was something ELSE, though. The graphics are absolutely STUNNING. I had no idea the Clie was capable of such excellent graphics, and that, with a proper framerate to boot. The graphics are not hi-res-+ (meaning 320x480 screen size, for NR/NX/NZ series handhelds), but they are still absolutely amazing. Everything is very well-detailed, the colours are rich and varied, and everything has a really smooth feel. Absolutely fabulous work there.

However, as in any game, we must look past the graphics to the actual gameplay. Here, Dragonfire is a bit more limited, though not terribly so. The background story is relatively simple - you were brought into the world while walking by on the street, and made a superhero, and now you have to vanquish the evil wizard and win the whole thing. To do so, you have to kill lots of monsters who are segregated into areas - there is an area for dwarves, barbarians, knights, amazons, mages and so forth. As you go on, you will receive certain quests from people (though not too many to take away the hack-and-slash aspect), and gain experience points to advance levels. You will also pick up money, and with that money, be able to purchase weapons, armor, shields and spells. The spells in the game are fairly useless from my experience - all except Cure and Cure Serious, which do exactly what they say, and are extremely useful in fights with more difficult creatures. You also pick up health potions, which you can use to cure your HP and MP - so you can couple that with a Cure spell to get the most out of your travels.

One thing that disappointed me somewhat about Dragonfire was that there was no real persistent plot. I wiped out all the Knights, Amazons, Dwarves, Mages, Barbarians and lots of other races, all while thinking I would get some sort of a reward or explanation as to why I'm eradicating people by the race. But I didn't. The most I got was a chest with some gold and health potions at the center spot of the enemy base.

You start the game off in a city in a village that is being overrun by bugs (and that is your initial quest - defeat the bug queen). There are two other villages in the game, elsewhere on the map; there, you can purchase weapons, armor and so forth. What annoyed me a bit was a Church to refill your magic points in the first village, but there isn't one in any of the others, forcing you to use your health potions; and, frankly, when you start, you don't *really* need a church, because you don't use your magic points; but once you go further, you actually start needing them, and you have no (cheap) means of refilling them. The game also suffers a bit from the same problem that most RPGs do (and I can't figure out if I like that or not) - the beginning is HARD because your character is a loser, but as you go on, it gets easier, because you have better weapons, armor, power and so forth. I generally am biased against whichever way the game works, so I will admit bias there - over the many games I've played, I'm still not sure whether I prefer an elite superhero of level 100 that goes around sweeping everything out of his path with one move, or an elite superhero of level 100 who, instead of fighting pawns, is fighting other elite superheros, and it's just as hard as at the beginning. I suppose the ideal way is a balance somewhere in between. In Dragonfire, once you gain enough levels, regular enemies become a joke, but there are still some that will be hard, even with your upgraded weaponry - they are not many, but they are there. Hence, I said "a bit".

All in all, Dragonfire is more of an action RPG than a story-based RPG. With that expectation, it is a very impressive game with quality effort put into developing it. I wish it had a bit more story to give replay value to it, but even with the skeleton story that it does have, it is a game absolutely worth playing, and I cannot recommend it enough. Particularly for Sony Clie users who are deprived of games utilizing their hardware to the max, this game is truly well-suited to their needs. I suggest you check out the demo and see if you enjoy it or not; I did, and it makes an addition to a list of games that I have played and remember on my Clie (as opposed to countless ones that I played and don't remember the name).


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