Review by Psycho Penguin
"Could they have made this game any LESS fun?"
It's really amazing how Enix's first two role playing games turned out. The first one, Dragon Warrior, was full of holes and flaws and yet still turned out to be one of the more enjoyable games ever released for the NES. The sequel brought along new ideas and fixed up some of the many flaws found in the original. You would think that this would mean that Dragon Warrior 2 is a better game than its predecessor, but then, what would be so amazing about that?
Dragon Warrior 2 is simply a piss poor excuse for a video game. Enix really fumbled the ball with this one. None of the ideas they decided to implement into the game worked out, and they also decided to make the game as annoying as humanly possible by leaving you in the middle of nowhere without any clues. If it wasn't for the riduclous ''You better have the instruction manual or the internet or you won't beat this game'' crap found in Star Tropics, Dragon Warrior 2 would win the ''award'' for worst gameplay sequence found in a NES game, period.
At least there's no more of the unoriginal ''Save the princess from The Evil Bad Guy™'' storyline that was found in the original Dragon Warrior. Also, as the game progresses, the story line progresses, too. The basic story line focuses around you needing to beat an evil wizard names Hargon. Guess what he's trying to do. Hint: He's not trying to rob a bank. He's trying to use his powers to destroy a planet. It may also be the planet you're on. Wow, that's even less original than Save the Princess. Oh well, at least it develops somewhat. The only problem is the final boss pops out of nowhere, but that happens so much in RPG's that it just seems common place now.
Enix really did try their best, though, and I am pretty confident about this. Despite the complete lack of any fun factor, they really tried to shore up some of the major flaws found in Dragon Warrior. For one, you now have mutliple character battles and parties, now you can have 3 members in your party and you can face multiple enemies at one time. You can fight up to six at one time, but sometimes that annoying 3 on 1 battle scenario happens, and you end up with less experience points and gold then you would have liked.
However, the proverbial ''yes, it's good, but it's bad, too'' problem shows up in the multiple character party. The problem being that all 3 characters are only strong in one area. You know how the main character in Dragon Warrior was good at everything? Now, you have a guy who's good at attacking, a woman who's good with magic, and a guy who's average at everything. I know this is how a lot of RPG's work, but considering they wanted this game to be innovative, they could have improved on this some.
An area that needed improving that wasn't improved on was the menu system. You still have to push Talk to talk to people, Stairs to go up and down stairs, Door to open a Door, etc. Why Enix felt this was still needed after the original Dragon Warrior was beyond me. Also, you have a big problem when it comes to buying items and weapons. The game won't actually tell you if the item you want to buy will help you or not, so you would have to buy it and check on the status screen yourself, therefore wasting your money.
Sadly, I haven't even gone into some of the game's biggest problems yet. For one, the game switches from linear to non linear quite quickly, therefore making for some confusing times. How anyone will be able to complete this game without a strategy guide is beyond me. Yes, the game gives you hints in some towns, but they're so vague and ultimately useless that you will have no clue what's a hint and what's not. They could have provided more hints for us dumb game players, or at least made the entire game non linear.
Also, the battles are pretty cut and dry. Like I mentioned above briefly, each of your characters are skilled in certain areas, and therefore two of your three characters will be useless the entire game. If the enemy is weak against magic, the Princess will be useful, and the other 2 won't be. Enix could have made the characters a little more balanced, but it's not a terribly large problem so I won't gripe about it too much.
The only gameplay area that beats Dragon Warrior is the sheer size of the map. Now, you can go to far more places, and leveling up takes a back seat to exploration. This is a good thing, since now you won't feel like you're doing the same thing over and over again. Torches are no longer needed in caves and dungeons, as they are now lit up without the need of any additional light. Finally, the bosses are a little bit more numerous this time, and you'll actually have a reason to fight them now.
The music has also been expanded upon now, as the game features a variety of great music. Of course, it also features its share of disappointing music, but every game does. The battle theme sounds good, and the updated overworld theme is awesome. I didn't like some of the music in the game, but fortunately I didn't have to listen to the subpar music for too long. I was really impressed by the music, surprisingly, and the sound effects were pretty decent, as well.
I really liked the graphics, as well. The most amazing thing is how similar the game looks to the original, but how different it looks, as well. The enemy designs are improved, they have the same basic looks, but now they're more detailed and designed. The battle screen is disappointing, however, as it's just a black background. The overworld map looks like an updated version of the world map in the original, which is fine. I loved the cave and town designs, as they actually look more like caves and towns this time around.
I never ever want to play this game again. It's simply a waste of my time, and I barely was able to gather enough energy to complete it the one time I did. For one, there's not really that many secrets to find. The only thing that could have been a side quest turned out to be something you needed to do to complete the game. Also, it's incredibly unfun, more so than any other role playing game on NES not named Ultima: Exodus.
The game is actually a decent challenge until you get the boat, when it turns into this incredibly non linear game. I would be perfectly fine if the game provided the hints easier, instead they make the hints seem like normal lines of dialouge, adding to the frustration. I am all for non linear games that make you explore a lot of territory, but not at the sacrifice at leaving you helpless.
If games were judged solely on their cosmetic value instead of intellectual value, Dragon Warrior 2 would easily get a 8 or 9. Unfortunately for this game, it has to be judged as a collective game, and it just doesn't match up to what was expected. It has some good points, as Enix obviously tried to improve certain areas of the game, and did so convincingly. However, they ruined everything else in the process. Regardless, the rest of the games are so awesome, that this one slip up is acceptable. Just avoid playing this game.
Reviewer's Score: 2/10 | Originally Posted: 06/30/02, Updated 06/30/02
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