Title: Dragon Warrior II
Developer: Enix
Publisher: Enix
Date Published: January 26, 1987
Platforms: NES
ESRB Rating: n/a

The sequel to...

The most revolutionary console RPG of all time!

Only a sequel, though... That's about as far as Dragon Warrior II claim to fame goes. If it wasn't the successor to Dragon Warrior, which effectively kick started the RPG genre on home consoles, it would likely be forgotten in the pages of obscure Nintendo history. Not that it's even was even a bad game for its time, but many gamers see DW II as a weak follow up to the original despite the many great improvements in graphics and game play.

An epic tale of good and evil!

Employing a healthy amount of ye olde pseudo-Shakespearean dialect, Dragon Warrior II is the story of three heroes that save the world from a dastardly wizard, Hargon, who is trying to dominate the world through brute force and general evilness. After Hargon ransacks a kingdom by the name of Moonbrooke, a young prince directly descended from the legendary hero Erdrick, sets off in search of allies and weapons to battle this villain.

Yes, while I recognize this approaches the penultimate limit of fantasy cliches, the plot suits its purpose: to give the world of Alefgard a structure, superficial though it may be, to an NES game that relies more on the game play aspect than the story.

In a quick of summary, the game first starts with the Hero searching for his royal cousins. After the three join up, they find a ship to sail around with. Once they get the ship, they explore the world and collect five magical crests to enter the Cave to Rhone (which is one of the hardest levels in any video game anywhere I might add). Once they arrive in the icy, isolated land of Rhone, the heroes proceed to kick Hargon's ass only to discover *DA-DUN!* that Hargon is only a puppet for a demon named Malroth! The demon is disposed of and happiness is returned to the land.

The dynamic cast!
  • The Hero of Midenhall -

    The young prince and main character, the Hero hails from a peaceful kingdom called Midenhall. After receiving word that Hargon has sacked the kingdom of Moonbrooke, his father urges him to set off and save the world. Perpetually in two frames of motion, he's decked out in 8-bit blue armor with a wicked 8-bit sword and a nifty 8-bit helmet. A simple brute force character, he does the most damage attacking and has the most hit points, but doesn't learn any magic spells.

  • The Prince of Cannock -

    Cousin to the Hero and prince of the neighboring kingdom of Cannock, the Prince undertakes the journey to defeat Hargon simultaneously as the hero. They pass each other several times before joining up. And I'll tell you what! Back in the old days, when a character joined your party in an RPG, you were really damn happy! There was none of this post-Final Fantasy VII shit where you automatically start out with nine buffed up characters. You started out with JUST ONE and you LABORED until someone joined your party! Then everything got a hell of a lot easier. When the Prince joins up with the Hero, it is truly a cause of for celebration. Not only do battles go much faster with two characters, but the Prince knows magic spells including the infamous "Hoimi" or Heal spell. Carrying a sword and shield, the Prince is dressed in a red outfit lacking any major detail.

  • The Princess of Moonbrooke -

    Another of the Hero's cousins, she suffers the unfortunate fate of being captured by Hargon's minions during the introduction scene. In an act of perfect Bad Guy Logic, the cronies decided to transform her into a dog rather than kill or capture her. The Hero and Prince inevitably find a way to cure her and she fills in the remaining space for the party. The Princess has next to no attack power and very little hit points, but she learns all the game's great magic spells. She carries a cute little wand and wears a pixelated white dress with a matching tiara. Note that the characters do in fact have names in the game, but they are chosen and randomly generated. Thus the Hero, Prince and Princess are referred by Hero, Prince and Princess for a reason.

    Enhanced battles and graphics!

    Several of the major strong points of Dragon Warrior II were the improvements over the original. The graphics were MUCH better. For example, the tiny one-square black and white icons that represented castles were transformed into 2x2 squares with nicely drawn grey fortresses. The detail of the characters were ever so slightly improved as well.

    Concerning the battles, a huge changed took place. Instead of just the single character in DW I, three characters simultaneously fought in DW II. It's hard to emphasize what a dramatic change that was. Strategy in DW I amounted to ATTACK, ATTACK, ATTACK, HEAL, ATTACK, ATTACK, HEAL, ad infinitum... With the trio of heroes in DW II, the Prince or the Princess could be a dedicated healer while the other casts spells, defends or attacks in addition to the Hero's single dimension of attacking every turn.

    Strange and archaic video game design flaws!

    ARG! Not having a button to automatically talk to people is maddening. Every time you press the "A" button, a single white textual menu opens up that looks like this:

    _________COMMAND____________                                                            | 
    |  TALK            SPELL    |
    |                           |
    |  STATUS          ITEM     |
    |                           |
    |  SEARCH          EQUIP    |

    And no, you cannot do any of these things without first opening up the menu. Hence, having to go through this process effectively triples the amount of time it takes to talk to a person. Obnoxious.

    Another flaw comes to mind. There is a monster sitting in a castle that drops the Princess's best weapon. It isn't a random encounter; you must talk to him to begin the battle.This weapon he drops can be sold for an insane amount of G (the game's currency). You can kill him, get the weapon, sell it, reset the game, kill him again, and repeat the process to gain fast cash. Some would say this is cheating, but due to the ridiculously high priced items in this game, I have never felt any guilt for taking advantage of this trick.

    The glory of the Dragon Warrior series!

    The Dragon Warrior series has (as of this write up) extended to DW VII. The legacy that DW II imparted on the series is immediately recognizable in the battle system. It hasn't changed a damn bit through six reincarnations. Sure, there have been improvements like added spells and job classes but it essentially the same idea that originated in DW II: a first person view of stationary creatures that come in mix matched groups and are executed in a systematic turn based battle.

    Famous Dragon Warrior monsters like Slimes, Metal slimes, Drakkees and Babbles that originated in DW I were continued in DW II, beginning the currently continued tradition of carrying monsters over the sequels. These angry little creatures even spawned a side series, Dragon Quest Monsters for Game Boy, which is a "Gotta Catch 'em All" type RPG.

    Dragon Warrior/Dragon Quest - Dragon Warrior II - Dragon Warrior III - Dragon Warrior IV - Dragon Quest V Dragon Quest VI - Dragon Warrior VII

    Playing the game

    This write-up complies with the E2 FAQ: Video Games standards.