You know…when I said I wanted to start Dragon Quest from the beginning, a friend warned me that the second game was exceedingly rough and needlessly difficult and my first thought was “EHHHH I’LL BE OKAY! I CAN ADAPT TO AGE, IT CAN’T BE THAT BAD!”.
Let it be known that I have never called myself intelligent or reasonable.
Dragon Quest II in many ways is a massive improvement to the first. The world map is larger, the battles are faster, the story is grander, there are more party members so you can have access to both offensive and defensive strategies, there are equipable items that are exclusive to each character. By all accounts this is the better game…but it sure as SHIT isn’t the more enjoyable one. I Nearly Lost My Damn Mind Playing This Godforsaken, EVIL Game.
Dragon Quest II takes place long after the events of the first game and the world achieving peace but much like the last game, it doesn’t last long. An evil wizard by the name of Hargon starts ravaging the land and even destroys the kingdom of Moonbrooke. After receiving the new from a lone surviving knight, the Prince of Middenhall sets out to recruit his two other cousins to defeat the wizard and bring peace back to the land once more. While story kind of hits a few of the same beats of the plot of the first game, it does add a few of its own twists to make it much more interesting and memorable. For one, your party members actually talk to you before you recruit them and it gives them a small bit of personality where it’s needed. You also meet a much wider variety of NPC’s this time around that give MUCH more memorable quests and provide uniquely entertaining encounters. One of my favorite parts of the story was battling a tiger in front of the king of Dirkandor to earn one of the crests. Going off of that battle as well, the combat in this game is infinitely faster.
One of the things I didn’t enjoy about the original Dragon Quest is how slow the battles could feel at times. There wasn’t much strategy or depth to it but thankfully, Dragon Quest II fixes that issue. The flow of battle moves at a much faster pace and there a large variety of moves that keeps things interesting and fun…at least for 1987 standards. There’s also a much wider variety of enemies and enemy types so it never feels like you’re fighting the same exact monster over and over again, at least moveset wise. Leveling up is also LIGHTNING fast in this game so you’re never grinding too much..but that’s because of the games insane encounter rate. You’re constantly fighting monsters and while that doesn’t sound too bad, when you’re just trying to get from point A to point B it can make the game seem tedious and even then the world traversal is extremely frustrating and…hoo man.
Yeah, we’re….we’re going to talk about my problems now because Dragon Quest II, for all the good and new things it introduced to gaming, is such a wildly unpleasant experience that I had to take massive breaks playing it.
My first main issue with Dragon Quest II has to do with its exploration which is like I said above, frustrating. There are certain towns that are extremely cumbersome to enter (The Kingdom of Slewse being the worst offender) and the game doesn’t give you much information on how to reach these places outside of “Yeah man just go East, you’ll get there”. Many of the quest items that you need also don’t get referred to that often and require you to remember specific locations after you received a certain key item and while I get the intention and how some people prefer the open-ended nature and sense of discovery in these kinds of games I just found it frustrating here. One particular quest that frustrated me was finding a sunken trailer with absolutely no hint on where it is outside of “It’s North.”. This difficulty in exploration also translates to battles and Jesus CHRIST DOES THIS GAME GET HARD TOWARDS THE END.
They really want you to be on your toes for the finale because the final area/dungeon is filled to the brim with annoying enemy after annoying enemy that can deal a stupid amount of damage to you even if you have the best armor equipped. Really a lot of fights can get annoying and unfair since enemies can do so many crazy status effects now that you can get steamrolled out of nowhere Some of them can even attack twice out of random so your character can go from full health to dead in an instant! Now…let me just say that the battles in this game wouldn’t be nearly as frustrating or as taxing if it wasn’t for one thing….
The Prince of Cannock
This little moron makes them game almost unbearably difficult. Not only is he weaker physically to the other Prince but his magic isn’t as strong as the Princess of Moonbrooke. He’s supposed to be a balanced character but the problem is that, despite having a higher defense stat, can’t take a hit as well as the Princess. I was essentially carrying around a coffin throughout the majority of my playthrough. It ALSO doesn’t help that he screeches the story to a halt because he has the GALL the get cursed right before the end of the game and you have to find a stupid leaf to make him better. That doesn’t sound that bad, right? Well considering that it’s on the complete opposite side of the world map and he’s the ONLY ONE THAT KNOWS ZOOM, you have to painfully sail all the way over to the island where the leaf is back and all the way back to where he is to heal him, a thing I already have to do SO MUCH while playing.
I almost let him die. I really did. I hate this little moron.
IN CONCLUSION. Dragon Quest II is a landmark JRPG, establishing so many staples and features that would become mainstays of the genre for years to come. But playing it now? GOD would I not recommend this game. For all the improvements it makes it’s somehow a more frustrating experience that the first Dragon Quest. I guess I wouldn’t say I regret playing it but I can’t honestly say that I enjoyed this adventure as much as the first.
From what I’ve been told the series does get better from here so I at least have that to look forward to. I may have seen the worse the series has to offer but it’s good to know that I have yet to see its best, and that’s a good motivator to keep me going.
2 down. 9 to go.