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Dragon Warrior II

ドラゴンクエストII 悪霊の神々

Developer: Chunsoft Publisher: Enix
26 January 1987
Dragon Warrior II [ドラゴンクエストII 悪霊の神々] - cover art
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2.69 / 5.0
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125 Ratings / 2 Reviews
#3,477 All-time
#30 for 1987
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(Specifically played the SNES version)

Dragon Quest II is a game I went into with middling to low expectations for, having heard that it had the worst difficulty curve and general sense of total obscurity that made it basically impossible to beat without a step by step guide. In the end however, I was pleasantly surprised by this in certain regards, but also have extremely mixed feelings about the experience as a whole. I really appreciate the steps forward that this game took, particularly in terms of having the player control a party of 3 and fight groups of monsters instead of one at a time, not to mention the ambition present here, with the world feeling 5 times as gigantic as before, adding so much more life and complexity to the world. On the other hand however, I also can't deny that this game feels very heavily flawed in other regards that made parts of this feel outright miserable to play through. It feels extremely clear that this was a transitional game for the series, laying the groundwork for future instalments to be taking things way further, but not really being able to stand on its own two feet.

The storytelling in Dragon Quest II is nothing too special but feels a bit more interesting than in the first game at least, with the death and destruction caused by the main antagonist feeling even more prominent and feeling like so much more is riding on your success. I especially loved the way you can see these different towns and the way each of them were affected, you can see towns that have been forced to relocate underground, ones that have been completely ravaged by the onslaught of monsters, and even some on the outskirts of the world that Hargon's evil hasn't reached yet, instead keeping them in constant fear. In this respect I think that the narrative absolutely shines, so much feels naturally woven in, not only just mentioning in passing all of the horrors that have befallen the land, but contextualising it by seeing so much of the world be plunged into a state of fear and total ruin along with representing how so many citizens are overcome with the fear that any day could be their last, it really gives a strong sense of drive that far surpasses the original game's. When playing this I felt there was quite a clear 3 act structure that this took, the starting area where you're given your quest and have to set out to assemble your party and get a boat, the 2nd act dedicated to locating a vast array of relics in preparation for the battle against the evil Hargon, and then the final act, where you're on the path leading to taking him down once and for all. What really struck me about this structure is the way that each section almost felt like a totally different game in how it played, along with the fact that my opinions on each varied massively. I think that one section is genuinely great and outclasses anything that DQ1 brought to the table, I think one section is genuinely horrible and painfully boring, and I have some pretty mixed feelings about the other.

I feel like tackling each act individually is the best way to approach a review of this game. The first section where the game gets established gave me incredibly high hopes, everything just falls into place and gives an experience that feels like it took a lot of elements from the first game and refined them to the point where they felt more conventionally fun and playable. The hints given about your next location and requirements to get there were the perfect mix of cryptic and clear, you knew the general process on how to get somewhere or how to do something, but you still needed to experiment to actually get it done. Exploration felt constantly interesting and more approachable than the first game, while still keeping that core atmosphere of being thrown into a truly inhospitable land. The encounter design in a couple of areas felt particularly inspired in how it cleverly pushed the player towards other objectives.

The most clear example of this was with a lake cave that a couple of characters tell you that you shouldn't enter alone, but what stands out to me about how it was handled was that it wasn't just a difficulty jump that further reinforced that having another party member would help the player greatly. Instead, the defining trait is that there are enemies within the cave that could summon more of themselves into the battle, the enemies themselves weren't very strong, but the lack of crowd control that could come from a single character ends up making it a near-insurmountable challenge. Intelligent design like this feels peppered all throughout this section, effectively foreshadowing and telegraphing elements that come into play or are more overtly hinted at, making it that much easier to figure out what to do, while yet again not sacrificing the core feeling of open exploration that defined the first game. I'll admit that the quest for the Prince of Cannock was a bit silly, mostly having the player travelling between a couple of areas and then being told "oh, he went over here, you just missed him", but even so I still felt this clear sense of progress. It also helped out with the difficulty curve funnily enough, as other than about 10 - 15 minutes at the very start to get strong enough to be able to stray far from the castle, there was no point where grinding was necessary at all, sure it was a bit challenging and required careful resource management, but I was surprised about the fact that the only major obstacle stopping me from achieving my goals was simply trying to figure out what I needed to do, which was a constantly satisfying process that culminated in something sufficiently massive, with the acquisition of a boat being a powerful, transformative reward for the journey up to that point.

Getting access to the boat starts the 2nd and by far the biggest act of the game and also where it completely falls off a cliff. It all starts off nicely enough, with the continent directly next to you that you'll likely immediately travel to, especially given how insurmountable the water enemies seem at that point, it only makes sense. Landing on this continent is one of the coolest moments of the game once you realise the fact that you've just ended up in the region that the first game was set in, so you immediately go to the 2 major landmarks, made all the easier by the fact that you can travel by sea this time if you're willing to brave the dangers out there. Unfortunately, after this initial hit where the callback itself is downright awesome, you hit the main issue with this all, you're essentially going on a giant fetch quest for the next massive portion of the game. During this you need to get 5 separate sigils, a special statue, an amulet with those 5 sigils, a couple of keys, and a special shard used to access a couple of these other places. The issue with this is that it feels entirely aimless, the player essentially is given free reign to tackle a lot of this in more or less whatever order they please, being guided from place to place by vague hints. Actually getting most of these feels like it takes forever, thanks to how much time is spent just getting from one place to the next, especially with the frustrating frequency of the random encounters.

To add to this is that the game loses all semblance of pacing, you discover new areas and find these key items sporadically, and it never registers as anything more than just thinking "cool, that's one tiny piece closer to the end" rather than feeling as if it's contributing to a more small scale goal in the process, leaving a giant dead zone where you're being led from place to place but it almost feels like you'd get just as much done if you decided to randomly wander the open seas and land at wherever you found. The difficulty curve also feels like it's thrown out the window, most areas having a fairly similar level of difficulty to deal with, bar a few dungeons, which further contributes to this feeling of aimlessness that ends up revealing that it's ultimately missing a bunch of concepts to be able to support such a huge world. As mentioned, I don't even think it's that difficult, I only ended up looking up what I had to do about 3 times in this section and all but one of those times, I entirely understood that I just had to think in a more creative and clever way to have gotten to the solution, it's just that it didn't mesh together well in a way that actually contributed to a proper sense of progression or adventure. The lack of any boss fights also contributed to this, as I never felt like there were minor buildups on my way to the final boss, with any scripted fights in this section just being a group of regular enemies that were always easier than the amount of stuff you needed to overcome to get there to begin with. This is an especially strange omission considering even the first game had a couple of bosses that felt genuinely imposing that better allowed for some more climactic moments in amongst the open adventure that the player set out on. This whole section just frankly sucks, and even though this is where the neat worldbuilding takes place, it's not enough to save it from being a total slog at the best of times. It also doesn't help that the inventory feels so limited that picking up any key item feels like a double edged sword that forces you to effectively have one less spot, since the game doesn't really tell you when a key item will no longer be important.

Fortunately, I think that the game somewhat picks up again once you enter the final stretch, from the cave of Rhone to the end. The cave to Rhone itself is infamous for a reason, it's by far one of the most gruelling tasks I've undertaken in a game of this nature, and yet, I honestly loved it for the most part, and it also brought attention to the fact that the SNES version of this game has a pretty good level curve. I got to this point and definitely felt that the game had just jumped significantly in difficulty, but rather than making me feel like I had to grind, it was more akin to the game forcing me to actually make full use of my moveset and strategise properly for the first time in ages. The dungeon itself was seriously brutal, but it ended up further reinforcing the whole idea that Hargon had truly only shown off a fraction of his power up to that point, and strengthened the narrative reason for why there had not been a hero who had yet overcome this challenge. You've got some insanely powerful enemies, you've got an insanely long tunnel with pitfalls and winding paths every which way, you've even got some disorienting labyrinth sections that force you to memorise a very specific pattern to get through, and while none of this ends up feeling like conventionally perfect level design, I think it works to its advantage to effectively make for something truly oppressive in its atmosphere. I also appreciate the way that exploring this cave nets the player a lot of the best equipment that they can find as a reward for those brave enough to explore these hellish depths.

Every step through this cave feels nasty, as if nature itself has been warped by the dark magic plaguing the land and is doing everything in its power to beat you down, increasing in its intensity as it starts feeling almost desperate to keep you in this endless cycle of death, and it makes the eventual shining light against the snow covered lands above feel that much more satisfying. What makes it even better though is the fact that it's not even the end, as the enemies continue intensifying as you're making it to the castle itself, it's a wonderful little gotcha moment to ensure that the player always feels on the backfoot as they're frantically trying to find a place to rest. While I can admit that this whole section could have been handled a tad more elegantly, this still felt like a very atmospheric and compelling part of the journey that made me feel as if I overcame an overwhelmingly large milestone by the end while reinforcing the narrative core of the experience. Unfortunately I feel like the whole journey to the castle once you leave the cave is a bit too much of a difficulty spike and was the only other place in the game where I had to stop and grind for a bit. The exp curve still wasn't outright horrible at this point but it wasn't great either, and the difficulty of most of these enemies just felt a bit much, largely with the way that most of them resisted spells, which essentially meant that I only had one character that could do anything too meaningful, considering the others rely so heavily on their magic effects. This entire section ended up ruining things a bit by providing such a huge feeling gap before you actually reached the castle and began the final rush to the top. With that said, the whole castle section itself, the final dungeon of the game managed to once again utilise its unrelenting difficulty nicely and almost gave off a nice sense of spectacle alongside it, making for a pretty cool conclusion to the experience even with those annoying flaws that made it a far less satisfying experience than it could've been.

One aspect of the game that I didn't really like at first but grew to appreciate were the enemy designs featured here. There's a bit more detail to a lot of these, along with generally being far more visually grotesque and imposing and while at first I wasn't a fan, finding each individual monster to feel as if they had far less personality to them, I grew to appreciate them overtime, as they still had that awesome, distinctive artstyle to them and reflected the game's more serious tone. The party composition was also pretty cool in the way that each member felt like they had their own distinct and highly significant role that added more depth to the combat than I expected it to have, even if it still feels relatively simplistic and honestly a bit archaic, not to mention that it helped carve out a sense of individuality amongst each party member, even if they practically never spoke once they joined you. Overall, there's a lot that I appreciate about Dragon Quest 2 and I believe that the first and last quarters of the adventure are a far more powerful and interesting artistic experience that immerses the player in an evocative adventure of grand proportions, but the entire fetch quest middle section that takes up at least half the game is so unforgivably terrible to me that on the whole I prefer Dragon Quest 1 and completely understand why some people consider this to be a bad or at least comparatively weak game. Thank god I decided to not play the NES version of this though, that seems genuinely agonising.
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Kempokid 2021-10-24T13:10:29Z
2021-10-24T13:10:29Z
2.5
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Challenging as far as JRPGs go. While it lacks an in-game map, there was a physical one that came with the game. I marked locations on it (digitally) which I found to be engaging, relying on landmarks to navigate. The game feels like an adventure thanks to the globetrotting nature of the quest progression, sailing back & forth across the world to the next objective. This is a big change from the first DQ, which essentially implements linear stages you progress through via bridges.

Some of the dungeons are large, and will require multiple trips to learn the quickest way through to minimize encounters and survive. The wide variation in encounter difficulty within a given area requires you to keep your party healthy, and the lack of auto-targeting adds depth to the battles. I didn't have to grind much prior to the very end because I would wander around the overworld a while before finding where to go next, & I didn't run from encounters. There's a massive stat spike for the final boss, mandating a grind. The final area is complete with a free fully replenishing save-point which isn't found elsewhere in the game to accommodate the poor design.

New spells are acquired often & character progression is satisfying. The combat role of the 2nd party member you recruit, Prince of Cannock, feels a bit off. He can equip decent weaponry & cast spells, but his limited MP and low strength make him feel like an inferior version of the other 2 members more than a flexible utility character. I think the game would've been better with a warrior/white mage/black mage party instead of the warrior/red mage/mage party it does have.

Inventory management is a pain, with each member only being able to carry a handful of items. Past the early game I didn't buy any healing or utility items, so as to leave room for my equipment, key items, and the loot I would acquire from enemies to sell later. The lottery minigame is gimmicky & promotes boring save-scumming to obtain the better rewards, namely Wizard's Rings, the only MP replenishing item.

The plot is negligible. Toriyama's enemy designs are cool, his style charming as ever. The music is passable, with the Castle & Cannock Overworld themes being standouts. Being the first multi party member JRPG I think it's quite good, worth playing if you enjoy early turn-based RPGs.
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My extremely short review of Dragon Quest 2, is that it's the first game but longer and with more stuff. I mean there are some areas I can get more nuanced on but it's essentially the same basic experience but with more things in it. The same combat, the same story, the same art style, the same everything, down to you going back to Alefgard the"country" from first game at one point. I could just copy and paste my review of the first game but change some slight things here and there and I doubt anyone would be the wiser. The similarities between the games only become even more apparent when you play the best versions of both games the Super Famicom editions. As they smooth over a lot of peoples main complaints with this title.

Like the first game it's traditional JRPG turn based combat and the enemies show up in a little cut away scene where you don't see your own characters. Unlike the first game though, you do get two additional party members. These party members have set designated abilities, unlike the final fantasy games which had a job system in the first game and other early games in the series. The two party members mostly serve to make this game easier than the first. Which if you played the first it's a godsend. At least this is the case initially, it's almost like Enix realized this and decided to crank the difficulty up another 32 notches in some of the later areas. Even with a lot of preemptive leveling, I found that I had to make several runs at the cave before the final boss. I think a difference between this game and the first and third that I noticed is that those games have a gradual difficulty curve where this one has mostly the same curve but also has a few massive spikes here and there. You'll think you're pretty prepared for something only to find you're about five levels too low for the next area. I think a lot of people's frustration with this particular title comes from that. It's disheartening to think you're good to go only to realize you have another five hours of something.

The graphics like the first game capture a lot of the charm and flair of Akira Toriyama's designs. Like with everything else in this game, there is just more of it and it's hard not to be happy with more Toriyama art in anything. I mean I even watched DB:GT on the strengths of his art alone and that was a terrible experience. Building's still look extremely minimalistic even in the remake. As I'll state later in more detail some of the landscapes get monotonous, overdone and hard to distinguish. The music is about as good as the first, I like the overall triumphant feel of DQ's soundtracks. Not quite as much as I like the mysterious, atmospheric tones of Early Nobuo Uematsu stuff in Final Fantasy, but I think these soundtrack's work really well for the games as is.

The story is again basically the first games but longer and with more stuff. The story start's out in medias res, as you watch a town called Moonbrook get destroyed by the power of the games main villain. This opening is really strong, it immediately catches your attention and manages to do a lot of things at once. One it establishes the power of the main villain and the scale of their threat to the world. They also managed to fit in the start here, the small origin story to one of your party characters. I wish I could say the rest of the story was as good as this opening, but this is sadly the height of this games story.
The two party members and your main are royalty that is descended from the hero of the previous game. In the first game your character says he is leaving at the end to start a new kingdom, well I guess he had a lot of time on his hands and a sperm count above Geghis Kahn's line of descent because him and his ancestors "seeded" civilization all over the place. The main antagonist is basically a new version of the Dragonlord, but he is a priest called Hargon. About half of the second portion of the game is just learning how to get to his castle and the loose story reasons that it's in what appears to be a large crater surrounded by mountains. Those reasons are mostly akin to one's I had when playing with action figures with my friends as a kid "Mine are stronger than yours and I have a force field to protect them anyway!" You do a lot of little things throughout the game up to that point that aren't very memorable, they don't even reach the level of the first games one truly standout moment where you carry the princess for eons. When you finally reach Hargon, you learn that he is actually in service to a larger power named Malroth. He sacrifices himself to bring this guy into the game. As simple as this story is I kind of hate the fact that Malroth has little to no precedent before the fight. Most of the game builds Hargon up to be a big baddie only for him to play second fiddle to someone we ain't know shit about. Doing this is almost universally a bad idea from a story standpoint, because it takes all that buildup you gave the character at the forefront and throws it in the garbage. You do hear about Malroth occasionally in game, but the points of entry for this character are so few and far between that it is easy to see how some people can forget about his existence.
Everyone's favorite character the Puff Puff girl makes her glorious return. A descendent of the previous Dragonlord is also living in the final castle from DQ1. He can give you advice against Hargon or you can refuse his advice and he insults you and tells you to leave his castle. One little thing I did like was the quest to get the princess party member, not especially great or anything, but a nice little bit of story.

One thing that really pissed me off about this game, more than peoples hatred of grinding was the lack of a real map. In the first game I didn't mind the lack of this that much because Alefgard is a relatively small place to explore. If you played minecraft in beta the difference in world size is like going from beta's small to early retail game standard. I could quickly memorize most of the first game locales so I never even really felt the need for a map. Two has some other problems in this regard in that a lot of the areas of the game look the same. The same geographical features, the same layout the same everything over, and over and over. The fucking worst thing about this though, is they expect you to find islands and dots in the ocean at one point with pinpoint accuracy. It took me one whole hour just trying to maneuver my boat towards a small island chain because there weren't any obvious points of departure towards them that wouldn't take it out of my line of sight. A lot of battles in these games is something I expect and even enjoy to a certain extent, but this is the type of shit that makes me hate a game. Luckily this is the one real big negative I have to say about it.

On a whole despite having more content I would say Dragon Quest 2 is worse than the first game, because it manages to lose a lot of the charm and simplicity from that title in a lot of ways. First it's story is basically the same as the first but it's made much more needlessly complicated and longer. Without there being anything very interesting or memorable about it. It's notoriously much more grindy than the first but this honestly didn't bother me that much, for one I have a ton of time on my hands as I'm a loser with nothing else to do, which might be indicated by the length of some of my other reviews, but also because I again played SNES version which aren't nearly as bad as the NES versions were in this regard. You know I managed to only play two Enix games as a kid, one was the first Dragon Quest, the other was The 7th Saga [エルナード]... Now The 7th Saga [エルナード] is a game that probably deserves it's own review from me, but let me just say that it is the hardest RPG I've ever played period and not hard like Dark Souls or Diablo 1, but frustratingly hard on every level. So I guess I got the worst brunt of everything bad with Enix games early on so I never quite feel the same level of boredom and frustration people have with their more "forgiving" titles by comparison. Despite having additional party members who are from distinct part's of the setting, we never really learn anything about the party or the people in it. That might be asking a lot of a game like this at the time it came out but Final Fantasy 1 didn't have set characters, but what it did have in their place was a party with extreme amounts of customizability and experimentation in the job system. Phantasy Star 1 had a party with 4 people who had very distinct personalities, close to 80's anime quality visuals and an anime quality story to it's characters and setting. Those games didn't come out that much later than this game and they were probably in a development cycle around the same time. Luckily for Enix the third and next game was not only an improvement to this game, but I would say to it's credit it incorporated a lot of what was good about the two previous titles mentioned while also improving on their concepts. I think it's without a doubt the greatest 8bit RPG ever made or a leading contender for that, but that tale comes next.
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The first half of Dragon Quest II is great. You're just three inexperienced warriors exploring a vast map and trying to put the pieces together in order to access the final area. I enjoyed how free-form the game was; you get a ship very early and can travel to most of the towns available, finding keys and such. It reminded me of the (good parts of the) original Legend of Zelda. Where Dragon Quest II becomes the awful game I have always been told of is the final two dungeons, which are a huge kick in the crotch. There is no gradual increase in difficulty; the monsters simply become capable of wiping out your entire party with no effort. I muscled through all that and made it to the final boss, only to find myself completely walled. Even with savestate abuse, I simply lacked the stats to fight it, even with all the best gear and a proper strategy. People complain about Dragon Quest games being grindy a lot, and they are wrong about every game except this and the original. You can finish Dragon Quest III and all its sequels without fighting a single unnecessary battle as long as you don't run from every encounter like a coward. In the first two, though? Brute force is the only way forward, and brute force is the most boring method of doing anything in a game.
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jsh357 2016-04-06T15:39:17Z
2016-04-06T15:39:17Z
2.5
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When you mention an album, artist, film, game, label, etc - it's recommended to link to the item the first time you mention it. Doing so will make it easier to search for your post and give it more visibility. To link an item, use the search box above, or find the shortcut that appears on the page that you want to link. You can customize the link name of shortcuts by using the format [Artist12345,Custom Name].
Paste the address (or embed code) below and click "embed".
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Catalog

iq070 ドラゴンクエストII 悪霊の神々 2022-11-29T02:34:02Z
2022-11-29T02:34:02Z
3.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
IsaakUE ドラゴンクエストII 悪霊の神々 2022-11-28T04:11:12Z
2022-11-28T04:11:12Z
1.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
CrankyKong98 Dragon Quest II: Luminaries of the Legendary Line 2022-11-06T03:27:36Z
Switch
2022-11-06T03:27:36Z
7.0 /10
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
navzerinoo ドラゴンクエストII 悪霊の神々 2022-10-30T18:09:08Z
2022-10-30T18:09:08Z
pain
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
LaserPH ドラゴンクエストII 悪霊の神々 2022-10-21T09:17:21Z
2022-10-21T09:17:21Z
2.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
lvbldevil ドラゴンクエストII 悪霊の神々 2022-10-03T11:03:36Z
2022-10-03T11:03:36Z
2.0
1
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
smitwil1 ドラゴンクエストII 悪霊の神々 2022-09-22T21:35:25Z
2022-09-22T21:35:25Z
2.0
1
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
secondskin ドラゴンクエストII 悪霊の神々 2022-09-19T18:35:31Z
2022-09-19T18:35:31Z
3.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
dragoonWho ドラゴンクエストII 悪霊の神々 2022-09-08T13:58:01Z
2022-09-08T13:58:01Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
pazuzu616 Dragon Quest II: Luminaries of the Legendary Line 2022-09-01T19:32:29Z
Switch
2022-09-01T19:32:29Z
1
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
DaBlackGoku ドラゴンクエストII 悪霊の神々 2022-08-26T05:33:36Z
2022-08-26T05:33:36Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Neidhardt ドラゴンクエストII 悪霊の神々 2022-08-24T10:44:12Z
NES • JP
2022-08-24T10:44:12Z
3.0
1
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Player modes
Single-player
Media
1x Cartridge
Franchises
Also known as
  • Dragon Warrior II
  • Dragon Quest II: Luminaries of the Legendary Line
  • Dragon Quest II
  • View all [3] Hide

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