Review by Tom Bombadil
"The epitome of monster-catching RPGs? Quite possibly."
Dragon Warrior Monsters 2 is an excellent game, especially for those who liked Pokemon but thought it ''kiddie'' or simple. I view it as the best of its sub-genre, narrowly beating out Pokemon Ruby/Sapphire. It has tons of monsters from the Dragon Warrior series, a theoretically infinite number of levels, and a killer breeding system. Let's take a closer look.
My review process
My scores for games are complicated. First, I grade the game as a whole. I give this game a 10. Next, I rate the game in six categories: Graphics, sound, play control, replayability, story, and the X-factor. X-factor is the way I represent the vague quality that makes an actually lame game really awesome. Anyway, I combine these six scores and weigh them so that X-factor comprises 25%, and the others get 15% each. Finally, I average that result with the score I gave beforehand, and that gives the final result! Now that that's out of the way, let's get to the review!
Not the greatest ever, but you must remember that this game had a lot of sprites for a GBC game. There are 312 monsters, each with its own battle picture and walkabout animations (unlike the comparable Pokemon Gold/Silver, with 251 battle pictures and shared walkabout sprites.) Some of the graphics are kinda simple or poor, but all in all, this isn't that bad considering the genre and system.
Again, nothing about which to write home. Reasonably catchy tunes, but Pokemon has the edge here.
Innovative. The menus and stuff are navigable, but the true spiffiness is in the battle system. Monsters battle 3-on-3, and you don't neccessarily control them directly as in Pokemon. Beforehand, you have set orders for each monster. Charge tells it to attack recklessly with physical attacks or spells. Mixed makes the mon use support spells, and defense tells it to heal, use defense spells, or guard. You *can* take direct control, but doing so is bad for your monsters' motivation, which affects their ability to fight. So, the best idea is to generally let the monsters decide, but be prepared to see them make some bonehead moves. Each turn, you can either change the monsters' orders, use an item, or flee. One interesting note is that there are items that let your human attack the enemy with magic. All in all, I find this system much more satisfying than the relatively simple scheme of Pokemon.
The real strength of this game is its depth, and the depth centers around the truly praiseworthy breeding system. In Pokemon, the baby Pokemon is the earliest evolutionary form of its mother, and it might gain some extra moves or boosted stats. The DWM2 fan scoffs at this simplicity. There are specific combinations of monsters required for each result, and the parents disappear after breeding. Let's look at an example of the complexity of the system, by looking at the rarest of the rare, DarkDrium. To breed this juggernaut, simply breed Deathmore 3 with AsuraZoma, GranSlime, or Watabou. For Deathmore 3, the easiest combo is probably Zoma and Azurile. Zoma can be bred from DracoLord and Sidoh, who needs Jamirus and Rosevine. Meanwhile, DracoLord is bred from Servant and Andreal. The tree goes on and on before reaching monsters that are anywhere close to common. I have tried to make a family tree of the easiest path to DarkDrium, but my brain fried after about five levels of rares. This is one of those games you can't really enjoy *without* a guide.
Also, I haven't even mentioned Magic Keys. These little guys, new to the second edition, take you to randomly generated worlds. There are hundreds of possible Magic Keys, each with differents types and rarities of monsters, leading to theoretically infinite worlds!
Not bad; again, the genre does tend towards repetitiveness. There are many sidequests to break the semi-monotony of your quest. DWM1 vets might be interested to note that the heroes hail from GreatLog and must save it from destruction.
Maybe it's because I like mind-boggling depth, but I love this game. You *can* just charge through, ignoring the elegant subtleties, but true mastery requires intense study of the game. That kinda game is right up my alley.
The Final Score
(.15)6+ (.15)7+ (.15)10+ (.15)10+ (.15)8+ (.25)10= a categorical score of 8.55. Averaged with my pre-score of 10, that yields the final score of 9.275.
Rent or Buy?
If you liked Pokemon, or if you thought it lacked depth or maturity, buy it. If you have $15 to burn, buy it. If you want a quirky, off-brandish kind of gaming experience, buy it. If not....rent it anyway.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 05/26/03, Updated 05/26/03
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