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The Godfather's Bastard Son
Shortly after the highly successful release of Dragon Quest in Japan, Enix decided to release a sequel. It didn’t come to these shores (as Dragon Warrior II) until a few years later, but quite frankly this is one of those RPG’s that could have stayed in Japan. Not only is it one of the worst sequels ever, it is also one of the worst RPG’s of all time.
Why is this game so bad? It was supposed to be so good! When reading the instruction manual for my Dragon Warrior I & 2 compilation GBC cartridge, this game sounded so good compared to the original. That’s why I resisted the urge to play this game first as opposed to the original, so I could save the better for later. As it turns out, I was wrong. The original bests its SEQUEL in almost every way possible! Also, take note that I am reviewing the GBC version of this game, because if I was reviewing the original NES version I would have to subvert all RPGamer standards and issue this game a 0. ‘Nuff said.
The only good thing I have to say about this game is that the music is decent. It’s not better than the first game’s music mind you, but I won’t say it’s worse. Which means there is plenty else out there that is just as good, if not better. Now for the ‘good’ stuff…
The interface of this game is horrid. Although the remixed version does not utilize the infamous ‘Dragon Warrior action menu’, and the menus are actually somewhat streamlined, that is not where the problems lie. It’s in the battles. Since now there are three characters, there are much more enemies to fight in a battle. Many times you will find yourself fighting over 6 enemies at a time; thus, battles do not flow as quickly as they did in the original game. Compounding the slow pace is the fact that your lesser characters seem to die much more times than you like, especially the princess. On top of this, even WHEN the princess is still alive she is so reliant on MP (as her attack SUCKS) that you find yourself leaving dungeons prematurely just to rest at an inn.
This however is trifle when compared to the story, which involves three descendents of the original game’s hero taking down a cult leader named Hargon 100 years later…even though you never see any of these ‘cult members’ or Hargon himself until the end. In fact, Hargon only does ONE thing (that I can recollect) remotely harmful throughout the course of the game. The story of this game is so bland and intangible it almost seems non-existent when playing the game. Although Dragon Warrior games as opposed to most RPG’s are in fact not driven by their stories, Dragon Warrior II’s story is so weak that at times you will be wondering as to what exactly are you playing this game for. The story leaves the plot almost nothing to work with, as there seems to be no common thread throughout the game that weaves everything together. And when you receive the ship, the plot takes on such a meandering and non-linear nature that you NEVER know where you are supposed to go next. At this point the best therapeutic advice to take is to stop playing this game for a year or two (at least I did), because this game is VERY hard and frustrating.
Since Dragon Warrior II basically rehashed concepts from Dragon Warrior, it is original only in the sense that it set a new low for the genre. Even the graphics are reminiscent of the original, featuring the same smallish character sprites and penchant for bright colors. The reason for this similarity on the GBC though is that Enix probably tried to make both of the games look the same anyway (a la Final Fantasy Origins), so that’s not really a knock against the game itself. Besides you definitely would not be playing ANY of these games for their graphics!
It is safe to say the Dragon Warrior II is the worst entry in this illustrious series. Strangely, when you look at great RPG series, more often than not the second installment seems to be the ‘black sheep’; though I disagree with this notion in regards to Final Fantasy II. Dragon Warrior II is completely overshadowed by its prequel in every single category besides scope.
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