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   Dragon Force II - Reader Retroview  

Dragon Force: Second Helping
by JuMeSyn

BATTLE SYSTEM
INTERACTION
ORIGINALITY
STORY
MUSIC & SOUND
VISUALS
CHALLENGE
Varied
COMPLETION TIME
35-45 hours per ruler
OVERALL

4.5/5

Rating definitions 

   In the twilight days of the Sega Saturn, an unfortunate number of quality titles were never translated for the English-speaking world’s benefit. The near-universal adulation surrounding Dragon Force would have seemed to guarantee its follow-up being translated, but by this time Working Designs and Sega of America had become estranged. Without Working Designs, Sega of America would have needed to translate Dragon Force 2 – and did not. Thus was another quality piece of Saturn RPG software forever stranded away from the English-speaking world.

   Sequels in the world of video gaming are quite common, yet rare is the sequel that so obviously reiterates the best elements of its predecessor. Dragon Force 2’s battle system is the same as 1’s, which means a Tactical RPG unlike any other is what awaits the player. The basics are the same: a general under the player’s command squares off against a computer-controlled general using the up-to 100 troops at the command of each until one general either falls or retreats. The generals still do not move except to cast spells influencing the battle or to engage in a duel.

30 against 100 when your troops aren't any better than the enemy is  NOT the  best strategy. 30 against 100 when your troops aren't any better than the enemy is NOT the best strategy.

   So the differences between Dragon Force 1 and 2 must be remarked upon, since they aren’t numerous. The maximum spell limit has been raised from 3 to 5 per general, though few generals outside of the rulers actually reach 5 spells. A major difference is the ability to have two troop types active simultaneously, which significantly alters strategies in battle. There are seven new troop types also, along with two further troop types that are enemy-only. A draw in battle no longer removes both parties from further combat.

   Graphically Dragon Force 2 is at the pinnacle of 2D sprites on the Saturn. The only unfortunate event is the presence of slowdown when two large armies clash; this is fleeting and can be eliminated by simply shifting the camera away from this part of the field however. The frequent use of the same facial portrait to delineate a different general in 1 has been removed, though many generals still share the same battlefield sprites. Spell effects are varied and interesting, with enough new spells to keep the player busy looking at their pretty aesthetic impact for awhile.

   Aurally Dragon Force 2 improves upon some aspects of its predecessor. One very annoying facet of Dragon Force 1 has to be its use of the same battle themes for every character and the same music for battle review (the portion of the game taking place for item management, general recruitment, and other tasks that cannot be performed in battle). This has been amended with a separate battle review theme for every possible ruler and separate battle music for each. Individual composition quality is varied but mostly good, and the variety helps to ensure boredom does not become a great issue.

Wings.  Why did she have to have wings? Wings. Why did she have to have wings?

   Apart from music, Dragon Force 2 introduces massive amounts of voice acting which assuredly was not present in its predecessor. The voice acting is professionally delivered but carries a major caveat; it is all in Japanese. This of course is because Dragon Force 2 was never translated into English, meaning that localization is not a factor in one’s enjoyment of the game except insofar as it does not exist. Menus mostly follow the conventions of Dragon Force 1 however, meaning experience with the first helps greatly in familiarization. Katakana knowledge helps greatly in deciphering the names of spells, characters, and locations however.

   As Dragon Force 2 has no English translation evaluating the story is difficult. I am still uncertain as to whether Madruk of Dragon Force 1 has been reincarnated as something different or not. The basics of the story are the same as Dragon Force 1 however; 8 rulers of Legendra must unite to defeat the great threat facing the continent. As before the 8 rulers each have a unique twist to their stories, warranting massive replay to see everything. Even without a translation there are many art stills to be found throughout each play through, and these are saved should the player wish to look at them later and reminisce.

   Challenge varies somewhat from ruler to ruler, but never becomes anything close to insurmountable. Rushing through is not recommended with certain rulers however, given that the endgame this time around can be rather difficult without a sufficient number of generals able to take on the enemy-only goblin and demon troops. If one was able to deal with Dragon Force 1’s challenge, 2 is roughly at the same level. Also as in 1, no individual ruler requires a great investment of time to complete the game with but completing it with all 8 demands a substantial time investment. Acquiring Dragon Force 2 guarantees one will need no new titles for many days.

   Dragon Force 2’s appeal is precisely the reason is cannot attain the highest grade: it blatantly follows in Dragon Force 1’s footsteps. Newcomers are not recommended to start here thanks to the lack of an English translation. One who was not truly enamored with Dragon Force 1 is also not the ideal player of 2, again thanks to the language barrier. To one who only wants more of the same high-quality Tactical RPG, however, Dragon Force 2 will deliver extravagantly.

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