RPG Review #79: Dragon Quest II

Oh my god, already? Yep. Also looks like there's been a lot of really hard RPGs I've been slugging through for the past few months. Really goes to show just how hard some of these retro games are. Basically #76 to #78 were really different games in one way or another. Now add #79 to the list. Dragon Warrior II, or Dragon Quest II: Luminaries of the Legendary Line, or whatever you want to call it. I get tired of the weird names and translations. And again, I shall play this in the NES version. So with all that happens here, I am asking the question, is it harder than the original?

Gameplay: Oh yes, I was surprised to see it get harder. But maybe that doesn't make it worse. Of course, Dragon Warrior I was hard to a fault, so there's not a whole lot of improvement. But there is some. Gaining levels is a little more lax. That's not entirely that important though, because now you get more than one party member for a battle! Then again, that means more enemies, but then again, that means more experience. Most equipment is also not very expensive, although with a limited inventory, even having eight characters means you cannot hoard items for too long. This is apparently also the first game where you get a boat, and that's rather cool, opening up more exploration methods.

So let's look at how this game managed to somehow get harder. Yeah, it did. Not in a prettier fashion either. It's hard enough having to deal with enemies who are adept at dodging, as well as those casting annoying spells like Stopspell to prevent your own ones from working. It gets even worse when character and enemy speed values aren't really a thing, and then all of a sudden your party goes LAST even when fighting enemies who clearly shouldn't be as fast as you. Add to that new status ailments which cannot be fully prevented (there's an equip that does, but not 100% effective) and the fact that magic has a chance at failing to affect enemies and then it's like every single battle is frustrating. While the grinding is more rewarding, the idea of SURVIVING is probably going to be a bigger priority.

Yes, despite the improvements that made the first game boring, the second game in the Dragon Quest series is still a slog, probably even worse than its predecessor. But I do note its improvements to gameplay. Grade: C-

Characters: Three noble warrior are the main companions in this game. The funny thing is that they are ALL COUSINS.
Prince of Midenhall: The main character, the one you name and control on the field. Unlike other main characters, he is purely a fighter without any magical ability.
Prince of Cannock: The first party member, he is closer in stats to the main character of the first Dragon Warrior. Not a lot of physical abilities than the Prince of Midenhall, but he's got magic abilities.
Princess of Moonbrooke: A typical female mage-type character who is terrible physically. Her magic is more of support too. She and the Prince of Cannock apparently get randomly generated names depending on the Prince of Midenhall's name, with an interesting algorithm behind it.

Apart from those playables, there's a few other characters to note. Alefgard, the setting in the previous game, has a new king at Tantagel, while the Dragonlord's grandson is present as well. Neither are enemies. NPCs in the game talk of a well-known thief by the name of Roge Fastfinger. The main villain, as stated in the game's intro, is a wizard by the name of Hargon. Grade: C

Plot: As I said, the game opens with legions of Hargon apparently attacking Moonbrooke, killing its king. A surviving soldier reaches Midenhall, and the information reaches out. The king sends his son, a descendant of Erdrick from the previous game, off on the journey. Meanwhile, the Prince of Cannock also sets off, eventually the two meet. The Princess of Moonbrooke had apparently been turned into a dog, and after finding the cure, she joins the two. Eventually they reach Alefgard. What I find hilarious is given how big Alefgard was in the previous game (reminder that there was no boat in that game), now it is literally an eighth of its original size to accomodate the much bigger world in Dragon Warrior II, with only Tantagel and Charlock being the only two major locales. The Dragonlord's grandson is an ally, and informs the party to seek out five crests.

The good news about these crests is that not all of them involves beating up some bosses, in fact three of them are really easy finds. The Charm of Rubiss is created by a guy with the same name, after some crest finding of course (and quite a few sidequests). Now it is time to take on Hargon, in his secluded mountain-surrounded area of Rhone. BUT BEFORE THAT! Boss rush, I know how annoying these can be, but this one takes the cake as one of the more annoying ones due to the fact you cannot leave the area to heal up because these three will end up respawning. Then Hargon himself. One last trick, as they always end up using, and Hargon summons the demon Malroth, who is the game's final boss. A rather nasty one, but defeating him ends up getting rid of all the monsters in the overworld. To end the game, the Prince must simply go back home, and be named a new king. Alright ending, and quite a few mysteries in the plot. That's the kind of thing I want to see, where the plot unfolds as you go along. Although this certainly isn't the best representation of what I really like. Grade: B-

Music: Some more listenable tracks this time around, although again I get real tired of the battle music. I like how the overworld theme changes once you get the three party members. I also enjoy the call-back tune once you reach Alefgard. Yep, they play the old overworld theme when you reach the appropriate area. Grade: B-

Overall Grade: C

Alright so it fairs slightly better than its predecessor in terms of what it offers in comparison, but it's still a hard as nails game that frustrated me and gave me a lot of grief when grinding. I plan to do a brand new post expressing difficulties of RPGs soon, and it may actually impact the games I choose in the future.