Dragon Warrior II
Review by Westen Shelton
"It has it's problems, but the improvements mostly overshadow them."
The original Dragon Warrior was about as downgraded as a RPG can get. There weren't a lot of spells, or equipment. The world map was pretty small, and not tons of direction was given. To top it off all the battles were one on one. Enix had a lot to improve upon for their sequel, Dragon Warrior 2. They succeeded in many ways, but a few more problems were also created, keeping it from it's potential.
One of the first things they fixed from Dragon Warrior was the story. There pretty much was no story in Dragon Warrior, but Dragon Warrior 2 starts with a brilliant cutscene type thing. The vicious forces of Hargon have attacked the peaceful kingdom of Moonbrooke. While the forces of the castle and the king fight valiantly, they all perish except for one. This one travels the long journey to Midenhall, where you reside. The fate of the world is then, of course, placed upon your shoulders. This really isn't too bad for a NES game, and it was actually pretty exciting to watch. It also sort of motivated me to get moving on this epic journey.
You aren't alone in your quest this time though. Along the way you'll find two other companions who will help you on your quest. This is a great improvement over Dragon Warrior as your only strategy isn't just attack, heal, attack, heal. Enix showed their inexperience with having multiple characters though, as there isn't tons of balance between some of the characters. Your main hero has no magic, but can use the best equipment, and is stronger than the others. The prince has some useful magic, and a decent attack. The princess though is another story. She's about as useful as a woman who doesn't rush up to serve me when I say ''MAKE ME A SANDWICH''. She starts at level 1, and you get her a decent amount into the game. You can see where I am going. You will become the inn's best customer when the princess comes to your party, because of how useless she is.
You'll need your new party members too, because the world map is much bigger than before, and your journey is just as tough as in Dragon Warrior. With this new, larger world map did not come more direction though. While at the start of the game you are restricted from new areas till you get a party member, once you get to the middle of the game you are on your own when you receive a boat. Neat right? WRONG. You will have no clue where you are going, and it get's frustrating to the point where you will be cursing like a sailor.
That is the main problem of Dragon Warrior II. You will be spending way too much time looking for the next place to go. In a NES RPG you are usually looking for a challenging experience of sorts to test your grit. You want to spend time training, not tons of time exploring, far from an inn.
Indeed, it is the challenge that carries Dragon Warrior II. If the game was as difficult as most of today's RPGs it wouldn't last more than 25 hours. The challenge also helps to make the otherwise dull battle system (in this day and age at least) seem much more bareable. You begin to feel fierce determination to train, and smack down the baboon that was pummeling you earlier. You feel the motivation to climb to the top of the tower, despite low magic points and HP. The challenge is what drives you to keep playing, and it is why this game is one of the most addictive RPGs around.
It's very lucky this game is addictive, as there are a lot more weapons, and armor to be bought than in Dragon Warrior. While they aren't as expensive as in the original, you have more party members to buy for which evens it out. The amount of equipment to buy is another reason that this game is so addictive.
Visually this game is slightly improved from Dragon Warrior. Characters look a little better, terrain looks a little better, and monsters still look just as detailed. My main problem with Dragon Warrior II is the black backgrounds for battles. In the original, there was one background for every battle. Now everything is black which really doesn't help the problem at all. You get used to it eventually, but it is still somewhat annoying.
Enix made a few mistakes with Dragon Warrior II. That is obvious, but the changes that were made in the positive direction help to overshadow this games downfalls. It is well worth a play, if anything for just a good, long, addictive experience.
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 03/11/04
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