NES Review – Dragon Warrior 2

DQ2

Dragon Quest is one of my favourite RGP series.  I recently completed Dragon Quest 11 for PS4. The series has obviously evolved since the first entry, but what’s so lovely about the series is that each Dragon Quest game feels like traditional Dragon Quest game – whether it’s the iconic music, turn-based RPG mechanics, or fairytale like adventures. Each entry into the series has also offered new additions not only to the series, but also to the genre as a whole. Today I thought I would review the second game in the series – simply because I haven’t reviewed it yet!

In terms of story, this game is part of the Erdrick trilogy and takes place 100’s of years after the Dragon Quest 1. You star as the prince of Mindenhall – one of the descendants of Erdrick.  Through your journey, you meet other descendants of Erdrick and battle to get revenge on Hargon – a wizard who destroyed Moonbrooke kingdom!

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Similar to all other games in the series – this is the definition of a Japanese RPG. You go on a quest and wander the world, level up by battling bad guys, collect gold, find and buy new armor, and in the end save the world! Compared to the original game, this game is much longer than the original (and has a much larger map) and actually has more focus on stories, with many of the kingdoms having their own small story acts. While the game felt fairly open world with many opportunities for exploration (which I enjoyed), there are chokepoints where you must complete a task before moving forward. Sometimes I found it difficult to determine what exactly I needed to do, which was frustrating. At one point, I actually needed to consult a FAQ to determine what I needed to do next.

While in the original, your main character played all the roles including warrior, mage, and healer – this game introduced multiple party members for the first time in the series that has each of them taking on different battle roles! You find two magical-using companions along the journey which complement your warrior nicely!

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The battles are just about all random encounters, and play out in traditional turn-based JRPG fashion. You select your attacks, and then based on speed, players attack each other. I found this system much improved compared to the original because it increased significantly more magic abilities. Having said that, sometimes if you explore a little further than you should, you can quickly get annihilated by random enemies – so be careful! My other concerns with the battle system is just how frequent the battles are – they are excessive, which reduced my enjoyment over time.

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In terms of graphics, the game has not aged well. While the sprites in battles look improved compared to the original – and their are a larger variety of enemies, I miss the more colourful backgrounds found in the original. The world map, caves, and towns all looks very bland and uninteresting. The music on the other hand is still quite nostalgic and catchy (especially the intro theme). Many of the sound effects have carried over through all the entries in the series – so despite being 8-bit sounds, still somehow sound contemporary and good.

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In summary, Dragon Quest II is a good entry into the series that feels like a relic of the NES era.  While the graphics and gameplay can feel archaic, the game is certainly playable and at times fun! The excessive random battles and poor guidance of objectives was a but frustrating, but overall is worth a visit if you are a fan of the series. I give this game a final score of 7/10.

Final Score: 7/10

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