Dragon Warrior 2 - Retroview

Baby Steps, Baby Steps

By: Robust Stu

Review Breakdown
   Battle System 5
   Interface 5
   Music/Sound 5
   Originality 1
   Plot 2
   Localization 6
   Replay Value 2
   Visuals 3
   Difficulty Moderate to Hard
   Time to Complete

25-35 hours


Dragon Warrior 2

   Dragon Warrior II was one of the most anticipated games of the early 1990s for me personally. At the time, I thought Dragon Warrior (my first RPG) was a good game, and was expecting not only the same, but a lot more from the sequel, which had me drooling since I saw the preview in Nintendo Power. However, when I finally got my hands on it, I was more than slightly disappointed. It had made some improvements, but the series still had a lot of work to do.

   The story was one of the things that didn't improve greatly over the original, and was in fact kind of uninspired. Basically, the hero from the first game married Princess Gwaelin, and explored the world, leaving his descendants to rule all the new lands he discovered. Centuries later in a time of peace when the Dragonlord is but a distant memory, the EVIL wizard Hargon one day sends his minions to destroy the castle of Moonbrooke as step one of his plan to take over the world. However, unbeknownst to the invaders, a Guard escapes and makes his way to the land of Midenhall, where he tells the king about Moonbrooke's fate. The king himself is too old to do anything himself, so he pawns the job off on you. As the son of the king of Midenhall, it is your duty to gather your cousins from the other lands together to find and destroy Hargon once and for all. Unfortunately, the opening was the most interesting part of the story, which was sorely lacking from that point out.

   The battle system is pretty much the same engine as the first game, except you can have up to three party members against a group of enemies. The same commands as the first game make their second appearance: Fight, Run, Magic, Item, plus the new (and utterly useless) Parry. One innovation is that now, with the addition of groups of enemies and heroes instead of a single one, newer, more powerful spells have been added that can affect a whole group of enemies (or heroes, depending on the spell). Once again, you are revived if you are defeated in battle, but with half the gold you had prior to your defeat.

Ahhh, home sweet home
Ahhh, home sweet home  

   The music was an improvement over the first game, but not enough to warrant a much better score. On the one hand, there were more tunes than the first game, but on the other hand, they weren't much better, at this point where they should have been. Everything music related was very lackluster, and in fact the battle music somehow was able to instantly bore me to the point of wanting to turn the game off. The sound effects were more or less exactly the same as in the original game when again, they should have improved by this point, so I'm going to have to dock a point or two for that, also.

   By this point, any innovation the first game created was dead, the market was being injected with RPGs. Being that this was essentially the same game with a new story, extra party members, and absolutely nothing else means that this game gets a deservedly low score for originality, which is not something the Dragon Warrior series is really known for, anyway.

   The localization was about on par with the first game. That is, the dialogue was clear, you didn't have to think about what was trying to be said too much. I can't complain too too much about that, but unfortunately, the boring story made the translation hard to enjoy. However, the tradition of quality Enix translations continues with this game, so if you absolutely can't play an RPG with a subpar translation, you have nothing to fear from this game.

   There wasn't much in the way of replay value for Dragon Warrior 2. I personally found this game long and boring (for more reasons than just the story), and a couple of the dungeons (especially the path to Rhone) were very difficult and confusing. While it wasn't quite as bad as Breath of Fire 3, it was mind numbing enough to give it a year or two before giving this one another play through. Best to move on to something else once you're done with this.

There are many types of terrain in <i>Dragon Warrior 2</i>
There are many types of terrain in Dragon Warrior 2  

   The graphics were a slight improvement over the original. The backgrounds were about equally detailed, but the detail on the monsters was definitely a step up. They now look like a seven year old drew them instead of a five year old. But again, this is yet another part of the game that should have improved since the original title, so more points come off for this. Starting to see a pattern here?

Dragon Warrior 2 was a lot bigger than the original, plus you were forced into a decent amount of leveling up and fundraising, so this game is probably about 25 hours for the average gamer. If you want to REALLY beef up your warriors and get them great equipment for the final battle (which I was in no mood to do after getting through the mandatory parts of the game), you're probably looking at about 30 to 35 hours. Similar to the first game, it's going to seem a lot longer than it is BECAUSE of all the leveling up and gold raising.

This game was a bit of an improvement over the original, but still wasn't enough to really wow me. There was way too much that should have been improved upon since the original, but for whatever reason was not. Still though, there is a better story, more places to explore, and (slightly) better graphics and sound, so if it comes down to a choice between 1 and 2, go with this one.

Very mildly recommended.

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