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Review of Dragon Warrior 2 for NES

A retro review

Dragon Warrior 2 is also known as Dragon Quest 2 in Japan, and this is another JRPG, and the second game in the Dragon Quest franchise.

The first thing to be said about Dragon Warrior 2 is that Square Enix, or I think it was just Enix at the time of its release, must have employed some actual writers rather than just having the coders write the story—a problem most prevalent in modern, mainstream gaming.

The setting begins when the evil Hargon, a wizard, shows up with his group of baddies. The little monsters assault the kingdom of Moonbrooke, kill the king, and seemingly kill the princess. The stock dialogue is pretty bad, but hey, at least it’s more than: You’re the heir of a hero, so go be a hero, too!

Then, the game opens with the King of Midenhall telling you, the prince, that since you’re descended from the noble line of Erdrick, the Great, it’s up to you to go grab your cousins, and then go defeat Hargon.

Oh, scratch what I wrote a moment ago….

Simple enough, though, right? Imagine you’re 8, 9, 10 years old, you’d be stoked to play Dragon Warrior 2, and that brings me right into some of the improvements over Dragon Warrior—you get a total of 3 party members, but you also have to fight more than one enemy at a time; overall, this reduces grinding for levels and money…kind of….

Equipment is cheap, but it takes a lot experience to level later in the game.

The Good

The world is much more vast, and at one point, you even get a boat, and get to sail to Alefgard; that’s the island from the first game. There are more events that take place, and more requirements to delve deeper into the game. In the previous title, you just had to rescue the princess, and then kill the Dragon Lord. In DW2, you gotta’ find magic cloaks, rare ingredients, scavenge for some crests; it’s an actual adventure!

The music is a bit better and more varied as is the terrain, which has no real effect, except for the poison swamps. The dungeons are no longer blacked out, requiring you to carry a torch. 

There are more enemies to fight, a greater variety of equipment, which still doesn’t seem to have as much of an effect on your crew as gaining levels, and there’s a wide variety of spells.

Apart from a larger party, and getting to fight more enemies at once, perhaps the greatest improvement over Dragon Warrior is the ability to save in most castles and towns. Yes, in Dragon Warrior 2, you no longer have to travel all the way back to the freaking beginning just to save your progress. There are also some warp points throughout.

The Bad

This game is somewhat confusing at times, and it’s critical to your progress that you speak to the townsfolk. I recall when I first started playing; I traveled from Midenhall to Leftwyne, the nearest town, and then up to Cannock to grab prince Esgar, who is not there at the moment. I then traveled to the cave to grab him, but he had left, and I then learned he was in Midenhall—all this by speaking to townsfolk, you know, like games are supposed to work.

When I got to Midenhall, he wasn’t there, which was fine; I assumed I’d play cat and mouse for a while, but the king there said he had traveled to Midenhall. I was in Midenhall, and so I just resigned myself to travel from town to town until I found him, and he turned out to be in Leftwyne.

I’m sure it was an accidental mistranslation or something, and it wasn’t an ordeal, but later on, after gaining Princess Gwen’s assistance, I needed a cloak to travel from one tower to another; at least, I think I needed the cloak, but anyway, I got lucky and managed to find the cloak while exploring. To my knowledge no town person said: Go to the southeast tower, and search for the cloak if you want to cross the Dragon’s Horn.

One other thing that bothers the piss out of me is the frequency of random encounters. 

Okay, like, all JRPGs have random encounters, or I should say most of them do, but sometimes DW2 brutalizes you with baddies every step you take, and then you forget where you were going, or what you were about to do; it’s all part of the game, I know, but it’s a hassle.

Another notable problem is the item menu. In DW1, you can carry up to 6 of any item; it just shows the number of that item next to the item, but in DW2, each item takes its own slot, and with cloaks, and equipment, and keys, you can't carry it all!

My last peeve might be kind of silly, but it bothered me. When I first began the game, the overworld map has a specific melody that plays, and it’s really cool. Once I got Prince Esgar and Princess Gwen, the music changed to some flowery nonsense you might hear on Barney and Friends. I really like the original overworld music, and not having access to it without killing off a character is bothersome.

Overall, Dragon Warrior 2 gets an A-. I really enjoyed it, but it wasn’t perfect. I don’t think it’s a classic the way Dragon Warrior is--everyone should play Dragon Warrior--but it’s a great addition to the series, and a better game in general.

Thanks for reading. Stay tuned for more retro reviews. Share with your gamer friends!

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