Attack menus. Not as clumsy or random as a real-time combat engine. An elegant mechanic, for a more civlized age.

So, Dragon Sinker. Published by our good buddies at KEMCO, who provided us with this lovely review code I'm using, and developed by EXE-CREATE. To cut things very short, it's a vintage style JRPG with a classic aesthetic, gameplay loop, and storyline. The game doesn't quite look like it could've come out on the NES, but perhaps the Turbografx-16. Game's got some cool innovations and unique tricks, and while there's a microtransaction element, it seems light enough to have not warped the whole game around it.

But that's the very short version. Let's get into the real meat, shall we?

Dragon Sinker: Descendants of Legend is, very firmly, in the vein of a classic JRPG. The initial story reflects it, too. You start the game as Prince Abram of the human kingdoms, facing down the ferocious dragon that has dominated your people and demanded constant sacrifices for an entire century.

Start the game.

Against a dragon.

I hope you won't consider it a spoiler when I say that doesn't exactly go in your favor.

...So, new plan! Go get the three legendary weapons that the heroes of humanity, elves and dwarvenkind wielded to seal away the dragon long ago. And thus begins your grand quest through a JRPG-high-fantasy world. You've got your elves, your dwarves, slimes as your early enemies, all the classics!

It's not exactly a stunning new spin on the genre's storytelling, is what I'm getting at here. But that said, it's still a well-realized example of what it is. And considering the amount of times I've been handed some games that really didn't realize their archetypes all that well, I'm more than happy to take a game that knows what it wants to be and just tries to be that really well.

Mechanically, you've got a baseline grab-bag of all kinds of nifty tricks from classic games in the genre. You've got a job system, you've got main heroes with multi-faceted core skillsets...But in these, there's an interesting twist.

The game sets you up with a handful of major characters. I've already mentioned Prince Abram, but you've also got the fiercely willful Mia, and the cheerfully wisened Bowen. The thing is, these don't form an adventuring party.

They form three. Abram, Mia and Bowen each come with a companion, and then can rope in two more NPCs for four troops on each team. At any time outside of combat, and at the start of your turn in an actual battle, you can trade out your current party for one of the others. And with the game letting you relatively freely re-assign jobs to all the NPCs, you can really build purpose-built strike teams meant to crush individual types of enemies...Or shore up the gaps in each of your major character's more predetermined lineup, so you can have three balanced sets to ensure you always have some options.

While this isn't the first time something like this has been done, it makes for an interesting mix of mechanics within the retro stylings of the game. It does, however, show one of the key points where the microtransaction mechanic rears its head.

Buried in the game's menu system, is a Lottery Shop. Here, you can go for a round at the lottery, using either lottery tickets you acquire in the game, or the extra-special DRP currency. And one of the key prizes are animal companions, who come with unique jobs, unique sprites, and extra high stats.

You can, of course, get DRP slowly and gradually...But in the original, you could also buy it for real money.

The original, you say? Yes indeed. Let's talk the elephant in the room.

Dragon Sinker started life as a mobile game.

Now it needs to be noted, very little of that origin is still here. The DRP system's been reworked. The whole free-to-play ad-supported mode, obviously, isn't there. The controls are solid. This is a really good port of a solid JRPG that just happened to be a mobile game.

But there are some wobbly bits that make that origin more obvious. The remnants of the DRP system, and the Lottery are the most obvious, but are followed by the fact that you can spend real money in the eShop to, for instance, get double the EXP, or to be able to set your encounters to None or Every Step for maximum grind power, or even to get a full restore after battles.

And there are some points where the game's a little lacking. There could really be more enemy types and sprites, for instance. And, for all this game, at its best, feels like it could've come out right next to some of the classic 8 and 16 bit Final Fantasy titles, it gets really dang obvious that the boss encounters are basically just enemy sprites blown up to 2 or 3 times their normal size.

Or the fact that there's only a small handful of songs. A battle song, an overworld song, a town song, a dungeon song, and it. They're all perfectly functional little chiptunes, and I wasn't trying to claw out my eardrums or anything, but it does make the game's areas feel a little samey, despite doing some pretty cool things with the art to differentiate the various towns.

And I had a kind of really weird bug where the game's playtime counter kept counting even as my system was asleep. So now I have a file with 70-odd hours on it. It's like back when I was a kid and would just leave my consoles on overnight, so all my games had 99:59:59 playtime counters if they left the thing running during a pause menu. I mean, that's a small, kind of petty bug...But it's also kinda frustrating, you know?

Here's the thing, though. When you boil it down...This is a solid JRPG, for a modest price, that gives a pretty solid experience. It's a game that feels right at home on the Switch, and is well suited to ducking in and out, putting 20 minutes in to do a little grinding or wrap up a sidequest, or just get to the next point in the plot. Its writing is a bit archetypal but sells itself well, and the characters have just enough meat on the bones for me to really want to see them come together and win.

And all of that, is more than enough to earn a Recommended out of me.