Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Dragon Warrior II (Game Boy Color, 2000) - A Side

Dragon Warrior 2, yet again. I missed out on playing this on the original NES until the advent of emulators in the late 90's. In a world without emulation, I likely would have been into this portable version of the game back in 2000. Let's see how it translated into a smaller-screen format. Many years before we had the fancy high-res phone version, we had this. Note: I'll be using Warrior and Quest interchangeably here when talking about the game, but I'm specifically referring to this as Warrior in the title because that's what it was called at the time. 

Cutscene. Always thought the Sword of Erdrick/Loto had a striking resemblance to the Master Sword. 

It's recapping the first game...and the third. The third must have had a lot of hype in its day. Sometimes prequels are just what a series needs.  

The hero of the first game founded several kingdoms with his bride, Conan-style. Each kingdom is home to his descendants, and we'll be playing as those three descendants in this game. You know the drill. 

Joke's on the people though, it turns out the Prince of Cannock is actually the spawn of Rudo and that one random woman from Tantegel.

It would be great if the entire game was just a peaceful chat between the King of Moonbrooke and his daughter. They could talk about whatever dads talk to daughters about. It wouldn't be much of a game though, so we join the story just in time for... 

...Hargon's minions! It makes sense that the king can fight, since he's also a descendant of Rudo. 

Moonbrooke Castle is set ablaze. 

Only one guy escaped the castle intact, and he shambles towards Midenhall. 

Midenhall, Moonbrooke, and Cannock are the kingdoms founded by Rudo. Unfortunately, the hundred years of peace have been shattered by the arrival of this Hargon dude.

Hargon aside, that's one way to have peace in the world: If the kingdoms are all led by people related to each other, maybe it'll keep them from ever going to war. 

Here's the Prince of Midenhall, who I named Mid for this go-around. Naming the others after their kingdoms too, if it lets me. Joke's on me right away, as I find out that in the GBC version this country is called Lorasia instead of Midenhall. Whatever, he's still Mid.

He's basically a weaker version of Rudo from the first game: He's got the fighting ability but not the spells. Meanwhile, the Prince of Cannock is also a weaker Rudo; he's got fighting AND spells but isn't good at either. The Princess of Moonbrooke is the only character who significantly gains ground on Rudo in terms of power. She can't really melee-fight but she has a ton of MP and a full spell repertoire well beyond what Rudo got. 

First objective: Find the other characters. Have to say, this game looks really good. The colors are bright and the pixel art is sharp. There were some pretty damn good-looking Game Boy Color games circa 2000/2001, like this and the Oracle duo from the Zelda series. 

Unfortunately Midenhall doesn't have much of a military budget, so this is all I get for now. The king gives no Fs if the world is in peril, the prince has to have bootstraps! 

Now for my favorite part of any early DQ series game: Building levels outside the first town. It's simple, it's plain, and it's anything but boring. There's something to be said for the early-game doldrums of lacking high stat numbers. Every small gain is a big deal. 

And level-grinding is what these early DQ's do better than anybody. Typically I'd wait to do any level-grinding in this game until I have all three characters (even going so far as to wait until I get the boat) to maximize the EXP intake. Not much sense in grinding before you have everyone. This time around, though... 

...I've got no problem powering up Mid as much as I can right off the bat. Got him the best equipment available from the first few towns. I want to get ahead of the power curve early and stay there, even if it means the other characters will have to play catch-up. It's a new way of playing Dragon Quest II for me.

 Next stop: Cannock. Even at this early stage we can see one of the more annoying things about Dragon Warrior 2: The overworld design. Whoever made this overworld decided it would add something if they put these little one-tile-wide mountain ranges everywhere that don't do anything except make it more tedious to go from Point A to Point B.

 Well, that's unfortunate, I still can't name the second and third characters. They've got auto-generated names. Though it's kinda cool that the Prince of Cannock has the same name as the thief from Dragon Quest XI.

 Caves in this game look basically the same as the other game (considering they're in the same cartridge, I'd expect everything to look the same). With one major improvement: You no longer have to use Torch or Radiant to see anything in these places. Then again, that added some ambience to the game.

 The wild goose chase in the beginning of this game is something that I'm hit-or-miss about. On one hand it's a memorable way to start the game. On the other hand it's a little obnoxious when you've done it a few times, and feels like they just needed to kill time.


 Enemies drop a lot of these, and with the limited inventory space and lack of many casinos in the game, they get in the way more than anything else.

 I take on the Silver Key cave, which can be a good thing to leave for after you get the Princess. It is NOT easy at this point. Even with my advanced level on Mid, I have issues here as Eric gets ganked quickly and I can't seem to keep the poison status off of Mid.

With the help of Antidotes I find in the cave (I ran out of the ones I brought because enemies will not stop poisoning) I get the Silver Key. It's the first of three keys. With no way to cast Outside, I had to hoof it back out while poisoned. I don't want to lose half of the 3500 G I've accumulated.


 Whew, just barely got to the outside so I could use a Warp Wing and get the heck out of there. What condition was I in after this 'Nam-like quagmire of a dungeon?

 ………..My God. It took all my herbs and antidotes just to get out of there in this shape. Didn't resort to save-scumming or anything like that, so this was intense.

 Moonbrooke Castle is surrounded by a bog of poison. This is, of course, the castle we saw getting destroyed in the intro.

 The soul of the king still wanders the halls, moaning and making spooky noises.

 This is the first place to encounter Metal Slimes, though they're rare. This is -huge- this early, though I really need to get the third character before I go gaining a bunch of levels.

 I'll always really like stat seeds in this series.

 Here's the Princess, and she's got a good name.

 The next level-up spree is just in time to get some extra money so Mid can buy up on Steel equipment. I generally ignore the helmet slot until I get Loto's Helm (the best one, I think) since it can be acquired a couple hours into the game. The few helms in shops tend to be pricey.

 Enemies in this game REALLY like to poison you. This is a holdover mechanic from the NES version. Whoever decided to make enemies poison-happy is probably the same dev that decided the world map needed walls everywhere.

 The Windbreaker! Remember to equip it.

 I made sure to go right back into the northern tower to get half of the Princess' best armor. No sparkle on the ground in this version. How the heck were players ever supposed to find this on their own? Nintendo Power and these game designers worked together like Lockheed-Martin and the Pentagon.

 While a lady gets attacked by imps outside, I take the time to shop and really peruse the goods on offer.

 I finally take on the imps, which leads to me getting the boat. Are these guys the first "boss fight" of the game? Not sure. I wouldn't go that far. DQ games tend to be a lot more vague about what constitutes a boss fight than most RPGs. They're more like the Ultima series where occasionally you'll just face tougher-than-normal foes to get an important item or whatnot. It isn't like Final Fantasy games where the boss fights bookend story chapters or have their own music. De-emphasized bosses are kinda interesting in their own way.

 Here's Tantegel and Charlock. It's funny that you go back to the land of the original game almost immediately after getting a boat. Too bad it's such a scaled-down version of the original game's overworld. These two places are really all there is to it, as the rest of OG Alefgard is pretty empty. You revisit this place again in Dragon Warrior 3.

One of Charlock's key items. This was MUCH needed at this point. I kept getting lost and confused on a regular basis, and the overworld being a bit of a maze doesn't help.

 Alas, this isn't the best overworld map in the world. It's difficult to make out any real detail. At least you can see where you are, which makes it easier to travel around the ocean.

 The other big prize from Charlock. I used to always equip this on Midenhall. However, this time I'm giving it to Cannock. It's a bigger upgrade for him and he's a lot less likely to find a replacement soon. It's the second-best weapon for him, I believe, and makes him more of a physical force as the game progresses.

 Dragonlord's grandson talks it up with Rudo's grandkids. Turns out he hates Hargon just as much as we do because Hargon pretty much took over the villain business.

 Metal Slime swarms start appearing around this point. It takes some luck to down more than zero of them in a fight, but when you do...

 ...MAD EXP. They do a lot of damage, though. I'd rather encounter singular Metal Babbles.

 At the top of a tower, we find the REAL first boss...

 ...four Gremlins. Notice how they aren't all in one group, so Gwen can't blast them with Infernos. That's diabolical.

 This hands me my first loss of the game, but I returned fully-healed right away this time, and won.

 The first of the five former Crests. I got the Sun and Water Crests shortly after this, but didn't get shots of those. I remembered the Crests being this epic odyssey to track down back in the day, yet in these recent playthroughs it only took a few minutes for each one.

 ::funky music plays as our heroes arrive in Zahan::

 The second of the keys is found by searching the ground next to this random dog. At least it sorta gives you a hint that there's something there.

 It's a magical moment, as Metal Babbles begin to appear.

 We get another sorta-boss in the basement of Midenhall Castle.

 This guy is a real bastard, and can cast Explodet. In the NES version you could fight him repeatedly to farm Staffs of Thunder and easily max out your GP. However, not the case in later versions, as once defeated he doesn't respawn. They even over-corrected in this version to where if you LOSE the fight he doesn't respawn either.

 After the arena fight (which is another sorta-boss) I get the 4th Crest. All that's left now is the one in Rhone Cave. First I've gotta go through the Sea Cave, though.

 Before I go take on the two toughest dungeons of the game, I get the Princess' best armor forged by the land's finest loom-smith. This is a real pain because you have to go save and reset the game at a castle before running all the way back to Tuhn to get it.

Here's Jena, currently considering moving to Zahan to be with all the chix.

Tune in next time for the rest of the game, as I take on Hargon and his minions in glorious Game Boy Color vision.

1 comment:

  1. I do enjoy the new cinematic intros of these games on the Game Boy.

    The other two characters spend the whole game playing catch-up anyway.

    Yeah, she looks like a Gwen.

    Damn, you can miss the Staff of Thunder entirely? That's rough.