Thursday, March 20, 2014

Dragon Warrior II (NES, 1990)

 This time... there are more than one of them. This game should have been called Dragon Warriors. You know, like Aliens.

 The latest descendent of Erdrick? Captain Mal. Unfortunately, his bloodline also contains that of Princess Gwaelin.

Don't fight it. Don't fight it.

That young warrior... well, he was weak and had no friends, so it was a lucky break that the bad guys never attacked him more than one at a time.

The bad guys were good sports back then! The olde days where men were men, and Slimes were men too. Fair fights were had by all.

But then, one day... one man changed all of that.

His name was Hargon.

And he did the unthinkable. He sent his minions to attack a good guy... two on one.

Before long, Hargon and his minions overran the forces of good. While the benevolent knights of the kingdom refused to team up against their foes, Hargon's minions would attack them two, even three on one. It was a slaughter.

Damn it! Everything I worked for in Dragon Warrior, and this is the way the world ends? SOMEONE TELL ME WHY!

 NO! These fiends have NO RESPECT for the rules!

A new, dark era has dawned in the land of Alefgard. An era where the monsters attack in groups.

 Will any hero be able to overcome this seemingly insurmountable advantage possessed by the side of evil?

If only there were some way for the heroes to ALSO travel in groups. It is a power that has been lost to the passing of time and generations... but legend says that once, long ago, the great Erdrick achieved this feat. Wait, I thought Erdrick did everything himself? He's the only one the cutscenes ever refer to. He's like an NFL quarterback.

 New England Patriots! Featuring Tom Brady and Others!

 The last soldier of Moonbrooke limps to Midenhall to warn of Hargon's treachery. The clerics wanted to heal him, but By God it would be dishonorable! If we fight more than one at a time, then what separates us from the villains?

...come to think of it, the 99% of RPGs where you have a party of characters doing a Rodney King style beatdown on a solitary boss? If those games were real life, we really would be disgusted at the unfairness of the "heroes".

 The king, unfortunately, is old. So the task of fighting Hargon must fall to...

 ...Prince Mal, latest in the bloodline of Erdrick.

"My five attack power? ain't in my fists."

  In this game you get a Copper Sword and some gold right at the outset. While this game is much harder overall than the first game (or any other game in the series, really), it's cool that it gives you a boost like this from the get-go. The Copper Sword is very useful in this frightening new world; back when the Slimes formed a line and waited their turn to attack one at a time, weapons like Bamboo Sticks could suffice. Not anymore.

 Our hero is off and running.

"...The five attack power is in my penis."

Yes, thank you, we get it sir.

What kind of post-apocalyptic chaos is this? HOW CAN ANY HERO BEST TWO FOES AT ONCE?

 ...oh. Well, that settles it.

 Mal's one weakness is a lack of spells. He doesn't have ANY. On the flipside, he can equip all the best weapons and armor in the game, and is a tank in battles right from the get-go.

There are two other characters in this game, and I'll be getting to them shortly. Suffice to say, the second is DW1 Hero 2.0, combining physical prowess and spells (jack of all trades, master of none), while the third is a pure spellcaster.

 If Bush were the president of Moonbrooke, he'd attack completely-unrelated-to-Hargon Rimuldar in response. LEAVE THE AXE KNIGHT ALONE!

 The levels fly by. This game is much faster-paced than the first. These early Dragon Warrior games are all about level-grinding rather than story, and in that sense they're pretty relaxing.

 Mal hears of the second character. You know it's a bad sign when the first thing you hear about your future comrade is that he's...well...a little slow. Nice guy. Just... a little slow.

 In this game you can only name the hero, while the other two get randomly-generated-from-a-list names. In this one, the second character is named Bran. He's a real flake.

 THREE foes! Egad! Moments after this picture was taken, those way-too-friendly bats administered a brutal pummeling on Captain Mal.

 Now this is what I call a much-improved cave. The graphical difference from the first game is astounding.

 And the wild goose chase continues. Where is this mysterious second character? Will Mal have to go it alone?

 ARRGH. If only they had cell phones in Alefgard.

 Finally found him. "I'm Bran!" he says. "Some say I'm a bit of a flake."

 With that, we have not one but TWO heroes. Fighting fire with fire now.

Bran is... incredibly weak. Levels aren't the only problem either. He can't equip a lot of stuff. Even if you get him the best available equipment, enemies still thrash him about like a rottweiler playing with a chew toy.

 Christ, lady, sorry for talking to you for more than five seconds! I'M NOT TARRYING!

 Here's Moonbrooke. The once-proud castle has been sacked and destroyed by Hargon's forces. I turned right around and left, because it looks dangerous.

 In Dragon Warrior tradition, I rummage through a swamp to find an important item. This might be a good time to mention that the overworld in this game is a pain to navigate. There's a very high encounter rate (sometimes every other step puts you in a battle) and there are walls of mountains everywhere that you have to painstakingly walk around.

 The third character, the princess of Moonbrooke, is a dog., not figuratively. She's literally been turned into a dog. However, the mirror cures her of this ailment.

And her name is... Illy? I know it's short for Illyth, but it still makes me think of Illyria. After Connor and Mal, it's like the series became self-aware and picked up on my penchant for Whedon series names.

 The Princess of Moonbrooke, no longer a dog. No word on how she feels about doggy style.

::groaning is heard::

What? Yeah, I hate that phrase too. I much prefer "Game of Thrones style" or "Khal Drogo style". In the world of GoT, no one knows how to face each other during sex.

 She starts with... yes, STARTS with... Healmore. Now that's awesome. At level four she gets Infernos and suddenly becomes capable of offense. Overall, she might be the best of the three characters by a considerable margin. She, like Bran, can't take a lot of punishment... but she's far less useless than he is. She's basically a DW3 sage while Bran is the DW1 hero. Meanwhile, Mal is just straight melee tank. He's like Ragnar from DW4.

...yep, this game basically has a party of three characters from the other three NES Dragon Warrior games.

 Next stop: This stubby tower. Remember when I said the overworld was difficult to negotiate? It is. Just getting to places like this is a huge ordeal.

 The first appearance of a Metal Slime. These things give up a ton of exp, but they're hard to kill and they like to run away before you can finish them.

Also, this game has TONS of baboon-type enemies. Like fighting primates? Then this is the game for you.

 After a quest that involves rescuing a girl, our heroes acquire a boat. The game is suddenly non-linear, with many areas open to explore. Most interestingly, the player can now travel to the lands of the first game. A scaled-down version, but unmistakably the same place.

Shut up and give me my boat! I'm the hero, bitch!

As I sail the open sea, I think it's fair to say that this game is divided into three parts. The first third of the game consists of getting the other two characters and the boat. The second third, which we're entering here, consists of exploring the world to get crests and keys and equipment. The final third is powering up and taking on the brutal final dungeons.

 This item revives a character and restores them to full. You can only have one at a time, but every time you use the one you have you can come back here to get another one. An excellent item to be aware of, though trekking back to this island is enough of a pain that I generally avoid using the item unless I have to.

 Next stop... DW1's continent.

This guy is from the first game, which means he apparently hasn't moved at all in the past century. And is immortal. Is he Heimdall?

 There's Rimuldar, the ruined down from the first game. Now, it's been replaced by trees. Damn the environment! See how it destroys our way of life? Al Gore played us all the fool!


 Here's Tantegel and Charlock. While the hero of the original game had to go through hell and back to cross this narrow river, our more-evolved heroes simply row their way across in two seconds.

 The King of Tantegel is nowhere to be found, hiding in an undisclosed location. Everyone is terrified of this Hargon guy.

 More like Tante ::flaps arms:: BAWK BAWK BAWK. Stand up to tyranny, Tantegel! What happened to you?

That'll do it for today. This game really isn't bad at all. It also isn't particularly good. It's quite bland and mediocre. Hard to say if I like it more than the first or not. Regardless, I'll cover the remaining two thirds of the game in the near future, including more of the return to Alefgard. What is Charlock like now? Stay tuned.


  1. Very classy animated GIF.
    Your origin story (the one-on-one pact broken) is Gold.
    HAHAHA comparing Erdrick to Tom Brady made my day.
    Then your use of Mal lines is great too! This is one of your best works yet.
    Illy is a great name. And she seems niice.
    You sure get to talk to a lot of musician-like dudes in this game.
    This game world is SO much bigger than the first. Too bad about the encounter rate because otherwise it would seem to be a very relaxing time.

  2. The game was amazing for its time, but is pretty dated today. The SNES and GBC remakes smooth out the rough edges though, like letting the Prince of Cannock actually equip stuff that's worth a darn.

    Illy is Illin