Dragon Warrior II

aDragon Warrior Part II USA 188x266 Dragon Warrior II NES Nintendo Review ScreenshotDeveloper: Chun Soft

 September 1990
US Cartridge ID: NES-D2-USA

Players:  1
Genre: RPG
Supported Peripherals: Controller

ROM Size: 2 megabit
Mapper: MMC1 (256k PRG)

Requires Flash10

Having overcome the Dragonlord, finding his true love, and saving the kingdom of Alefgard from certain doom, the hero from Dragon Warrior and his young wife, Princess Gwaelin, move to a distant land, establishing the kingdom of Torland. Settling into a peaceful existence, the couple have three children. These three children grow up to become the leaders of three major cities within Torland – the first-born prince is gifted the Midenhall territory, the second-born is granted Cannock and its surroudings, and the princess is given the land of Moonbrooke. One-hundred years pass peacefully, generations prosperingDragon Warrior Part II USA 001 256x224 Dragon Warrior II NES Nintendo Review Screenshot under the guidance of Erdrick’s descendants. An evil sorcerer, Hargon, suddenly rises to power with a desire to control the world, and invokes the power of the evil gods to take Moonbrooke Castle. The King falls, and a lone guard, narrowly avoiding capture, escapes, stumbling toward Middenhall.  Before collapsing from his injuries, the man warns the castle guards of the impending danger. The aging king calls on his son, a warrior in the line of the legendary Erdrick, and tells him of his destiny: he must take up sword, find his two cousins who share Erdrick’s bloodline, and ride against Hargon.

Dragon Warrior II plays similarly to Dragon Warrior, though some drastic changes have been made. The player takes on the role of the hero, exploring the world, visiting cities, exploring dungeons, slaying any agents of darkness he may happen upon. The world is significantly larger than the one featured in Dragon Warrior, so much so that a scaled-down version of Alefgard is fully represented in the sequel’s world (complete with a reprise of DW‘s overworld theme music). Accommodating the size of this larger world are new forms of transportation: rather than trekking everywhere, the party uses “teleportation Dragon Warrior Part II USA 061 256x224 Dragon Warrior II NES Nintendo Review Screenshotdoors,” which warps them instantly to another location, and a ship to traverse the seas, opening up the world and providing the player with an unprecedented amount of choice in play.

Once found, the Prince of Cannock and the Princess of Moonbrooke, band together with the hero, granting three player controlled characters in combat. Each fulfills a clichéd archetypal RPG role, including the warrior hero that can’t use magic, the balanced character who can use both arms and magic (but excels at neither), and the mage who wields power magic but is physically weak. The introduction of the party system massively expands on the viability of tactics in battle, and this is balanced with enemy parties that will decimate the band if the player fails to develop appropriate strategies for each encounter.

The graphics have been improved, though they display an unabashed faithfulness to the antiquated style established in the first game. Enemy sprites now show more detail and Dragon Warrior Part II USA 108 256x224 Dragon Warrior II NES Nintendo Review Screenshotare relatively large, though multiple foes onscreen come at a cost: battles are now fought against a flat black backdrop. The sound is improved from the first game, featuring rousing themes that are not quite as harsh and tinny sounding as those in Dragon Warrior. The control has improved, and the primary action menu has been streamlined, now featuring only six choices instead of eight.

Dragon Warrior II is certainly a difficult game, demanding a thoughtful approach to fighting and a level appropriate to the skill of the monsters you’re fighting. Because of the abrupt shifts in monster levels between areas, the player is often trapped in one area until they’ve strengthened themselves sufficiently to move on. Inventory slots are also extremely limited, meaning that you’ll often be hovering around towns with inns while fighting these battles, detracting from the open, exploratory nature the game tries to promote. Though the story is sufficiently well Dragon Warrior Part II USA 316 256x224 Dragon Warrior II NES Nintendo Review Screenshotdeveloped, it can also be difficult to figure out what you should do next to further the plot; though the game provides hints, they are often so vague and obtuse that most player’s will likely miss them the first time.

Dragon Warrior II improves on Dragon Warrior in just about every conceivable way, and though flawed, succeeds in providing a lengthy and engaging quest.

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