Dragon Fantasy Book II Original Soundtrack


Review by · January 22, 2014

Just as its name might lead you to believe, Dragon Fantasy is a retro-inspired indie RPG series that borrows generously from titles released during the genre’s golden years. I admit I wasn’t a fan of the first game, which I felt had hit-or-miss humor and hyper-simplified mechanics, so I did not particularly anticipate Dragon Fantasy Book II. I realize now that I may have meted out judgment a bit too early, especially now that I’ve heard the game’s charming soundtrack. (What can I say? I’m easily swayed by good music.) It’s not an incredibly original effort, but it’s functional music that does exactly what it sets out to do: emulate classic JRPG soundtracks.

The first few tracks sound exactly like the introductory sequence of nearly any SNES classic. “Opening Theme” is a sweeping title screen accompaniment, “Onward to Adventure” is extremely similar to Dragon Quest’s “Intermezzo” file select theme, and “Scars of the Past” evokes sepia-toned flashback sequences with its harp melody and gentle string harmony. I was reminded of Chrono Trigger’s “Undersea Palace” when I heard “Between Worlds” because of its similar instrumentation and rhythm, and “Hypothecary” is a lovely, high-flying piece with brass and snare drums. Other tracks well-suited for world map travel include the obvious “To Lands Beyond” and darker “Unborn Destiny.”

DF Book II’s battle themes are the most exciting tracks on the album. “Gutsy Tactics” has a strong, fast-paced brass melody overlaid with piano and played against drums, while “Valorous Struggle” is more percussion-heavy, but still features piano prominently. “Anesidora’s Lament,” which I imagine is the final battle theme, is more electronic and minimalist, though brass returns in the main melody. All three are upbeat, catchy tunes that I wouldn’t mind fighting any number of random encounters to.

A recurring motif appears across the game’s various pirate-themed tracks, and while I typically enjoy thoughtful reuse of memorable melodies, it’s overdone here and makes the music blur together. “Pirate Bill’s Boisterous Booty,” “Coconuts and Pirate Huts,” “Port Awesomegrogg,” and “Ships and Stones” share the same core sound and pacing. In fact, nearly half of the soundtrack alludes to pirates, sailing, and other nautical themes, which I think works to the detriment of the album as a whole; it’s too homogeneous and verges on being bland. Too much is predictable, but it’s the fault of the game’s setting, if anything.

The Dragon Fantasy Book II OST plays it safe, sticking to a small variety of instruments and melodies throughout, but it’s a pleasant album despite its lack of ambition. I don’t mean to undermine the effort made here; it feels like Dale North was somewhat restricted in terms of musical direction, but his work is technically sound. I’d love to hear more from him in the future — especially if it involves his velvety vocals.

For information on our scoring systems, see our scoring systems overview. Learn more about our general policies on our ethics & policies page.
Derek Heemsbergen

Derek Heemsbergen

For over nine years (2010-2019), Derek was a major part of RPGFan. While he was foremost one of our star reviewers, he went on to take part in features, co-host – and then host – many episodes of Random Encounter, and grew to be one of the most respected and beloved RPGFan team members. He has since moved on to professional localization work. Ganbatte, Derek!