I've always perferred the Dragon Warrior games to the Final Fantasy ones. The games were a little more deeper, more fun to play and a familiar feel to them all that made them classics not to mention that of all the ones I played, you knew your were playing in a time of swords and sorecery, full of legends and castles not on the verge of industrial breaktrhous with lost technology and the other tangents that Final Fantasy went down.
In Dragon Warrior II, many years have passed since the events of Dragon Warrior and all of a sudden the Kingdom of Moonbroke is attacked by the forces of Hargon, a cult leader and powerful wizard. The Kingdom is destroyed and a guard escapes to nearby Kingdom of Midenhall to deliver the terrible news that evil has awakened and that Hargon and his army of evil Gods will destroy the world. The King assigns the Prince of Midenhall on the quest of destroying Hargon who lives high atop the world on the plateau of Rhone. He is to find new weapons and armor along the way and enlist the help of neighboring kingdoms relative Prince and Princess of Canock and Moonbroke respectively.
As I said in my Dragon Warrior III review, they never did anything drastic with the games, just made the game a little different each time adding a new element, feature or gameplay addition that would make the game better. This being the sequel to the original Dragon Warrior game, there was a LOT changed to the gameplay and while it would take a sequel or two to iron out some of these new features it was definetly the stuff good sequels are made of, taking what worked in the first one and expanding upon it.
This meets with some mixed results. First, instead of one character, you quickly find a second and then a third in your travels. Next there are MUCH MORE weapons and armor to find and certain characters can only be equipped with some pieces. There were also many more monsters in the game, you can run across monster parties or 2 and as many as 8 or 9 monsters to fight in your quest. Battling monsters still leads to gold for buying new weapons and armor with as well as experience for level building and sometimes monsters would leave treasure behind, sometimes worthless and othertimes exclusive and rare finds. you also got a boat to travel the world in. You weren't just limited to Alefgard anymore where you played the first game in, but since the population has expanded in this game, there are many more kingdoms, towns and caves to explore in, even towers where you can leap off the sides. This made the game a lot bigger then before and with a lot more to do.
This is where some problems can come from in the game and as much as I love the Dragon Warrior series and that includes this game, this entry to the cannon has more issues then the rest that I can think of. First your main character, the Prince of Midenhall who you start your adventures with is strong and can fell many early enemies even at a low level with a single attack and his power grows exponentially as you progress, he can use all weapons and armor but knows NO magic. An absolute powerhouse yes but limited. You later meet the Prince of Cannock, your first companion who could be seen as a weaker version of Dragon Warrior III's Pilgrim character in that he knows a couple of attack spells but mostly knows healing and defense magic, UNLIKE the pilgrim though he can mainly use low level weapons and armor with a few exceptions. He is a fragile character who toughens up little by little, but it doesn't feel like it's enough sometimes. The Princess of Moonbrooke is much like Dragon Warrior III's Wizard character, a powerful spell caster for attack and knows a couple of healing spells but can be equipped with even LESS then Prince of Cannock (by the way you can't name these characters, just a minor quibble but ending up with silly names can be annoying since you are going to be calling them by name as you play) So, to whit we have an absolute bruiser for a lead, a fragile magic user and an even more fragile magic master. It doesn't sound uneven but trust me, it is. Thats just one issue and you find it even more frustrating towards the end when Prince of Cannock's attack power WILL NOT COPE against some monsters and Princess of Moonbroke's magic isn't enough or keeps running out. Getting to the end of the game is a matter of luck as it is skill you'll find.
Another issue is travel, yes you do have the Return spell to take you back to a town where you saved BUT you can't use it as a teleporter to go from town to town, if you want to get anywhere-it's by foot or boat mostly. With enough time playing, you'll learn where everything is. The Return spell issue is something that would be fixed in later games. I know it's like I'm looking BACK at the game but I'm also looking at what was changed from the first game that was positive too.
Graphics, are sort of a STEP forward and more like a skip backward comparing it to the first Dragon Warrior. The sprites are all identifiable for sure but the are less detailed other regards. Monsters look as colorful as ever (and thankfully didn't get too cartoony just yet) but the landscape in some parts of the game is an ugly bric a brac of random landscape tiles scattered about and with the graphics not being top notch, it's easy to lose yourself as you navigate. Some areas have a stretch of desert for no reason at all on top of grass and streams. A popular example for me is visiting the Town of Tuhn the first time, and seeing, hills, mountains, then more hillls, forest hills and trying to get my brain to register where I was going. The sounds are the same as ever with some nice music in some parts of the game and others, some not.
The one biggest annoyance of the game is that in battle, you have a chance to fight or run, sometimes you get a turn to strike first against the monsters and other times, they strike first against you without any action. If the enemy strikes first, OR if you try to run and were blocked-and thus will lose a turn to attack the monsters, ALL of them will attack you and sometimes gang up on a lone character and usually kill them. Later games would have the enemy party a little more gracious and only have a couple attack but not this game. This only STRESSES the importance of level building and YOU WILL be level building in this game, more then perhaps any other Dragon Warrior game other then the first cause those monsters are hungry for your blood and you need to be able to dish it out and take it in this game. This is severly stressed when going through the penultimate section of this game, the cave to Rhone which is FULL of powerful monsters that can wipe out your party in a sole turn if your not ready for them or strong enough. Thankfully if you can make it out of the cave end enter the Rhone Plateau, the monsters you fight THERE are very generous with the experience points and it makes level grinding less of a chore then it already was.
It might sound like I came down on this game but I do like it very much. It's Dragon Warrior and it is fun but damn, you will be level grinding a lot just to get anywhere and it makes the game feel harder and longer then it really is. I guess thats better then a bad game that goes on to long and isn't any fun at all.
Born in Wausau Wisconsin. Move at an early age to Ventura California and lived for 8 years. Growing up in a big city landscape didn't prepare me for my next move: Archbold Ohio with a population of … more
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