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Friday, October 30, 2015

Dragon Quest II (ドラゴンクエストII 悪霊の神々)

My first thought when I started Dragon Quest 2 immediately after DQ1 was that I didn't like it. I don't want to sound like an old fogey that hates change but man, I really don't like the changes they made from DQ1.

Yes, this is totally going to be recurring theme here.
I don't want to say something as cliched and hackneyed as "with great power comes great responsibility" but dammit, you can't just tack more shit onto a finely tuned game and expect it to come out decent.

Sure, if you start a series with only one party member, the next natural progression is to add some more party members. I didn't even notice but DQ1 only had exactly one enemy each battle. Oh boy have I noticed it now!! Consider the average length of a one-on-one battle in DQ1. Yes, the whole thing is kinda slow but given that the only turn is either you or the enemy, everything ends pretty quickly. Now take that same slow battle and triple the size of the party (hence button presses) and increase the enemy count up to 7 enemies.
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You still here? Cause I think I just went into a temporary coma. Maybe the slowness wouldn't even be that bad because of course I'm multitasking this game if not for that AWFUL battle music. OH MY GOD. I thought something was up with the emulator on my PSP but NO, it's totally craptastically accurate.


Seriously, not only did I multitask this game hardcore, I did it with the sound OFF. Even though there's actually some halfway decent songs in the game, I don't even care because this is the song you will hear for like 80% of the time. I dunno, maybe it's just me? SquareEnix must have thought this diarrhea is hot shit (LOL get it??) because they included it in Theatrhythm Dragon Quest out of the total TWO DQ2 songs in the game.

Yet another example of more isn't always better is the world map, which must be about 4X+ times larger than DQ1. You can even travel to the original town from DQ1 and though most of places in DQ1 are gone and it's scaled down, you can still get a sense of how small the original map was as it's just a small part of the world in DQ2.

Everything is all hunky-dory until you get the boat, then it becomes an open world of getting lost and trying to find shit on random floor tiles based on cryptic clues from random strangers. This game is worse than even Mother in terms of aimlessly wandering around with no clue of where to go or what to do. Now, you can find a very basic world map that barely does the job but I didn't know that until after navigating vast expanses of ocean to find tiny islands in the middle of nowhere.

Even the awesomeness of the PSP wasn't enough to make this game palatable
For kids bored out of their minds with the ONE game their parents got, I get how wandering endlessly around a vast expanse of nothing but ocean would be a good way to waste time (FUN!!). But as an old fogey with 8 more DQ games on deck, the last thing I want to do is wander for hours looking for a TINY TINY island town in the middle of nowhere to find the goddamn gold key. (Yeah yeah, I talked to the random guy that said the gold key was to the South and his vague "directions" were TOTALLY over-simplified.) So once again, time to load up gamefaq and a world map on the good ol' internets.

Once you load up a walkthrough, you'll need to find item after item scattered around on the world map and also completely invisible. At least DQ1 told you how many steps an invisible item was but DQ2 has you scouring around the floor like some kind of crazy lunatic assuming you even found the clue (aka gamefaq).

Despite the dead simple story, the first game had a kind of charm as it made fun of the standard RPG tropes complete with the ohime-sama dakko. However, it feels like DQ2 actually takes itself seriously and thinks it's all that because it's selling like hotcakes. The endless fetch quest after fetch quest obviously designed to be as obscure as possible combined with the endless stream of painfully slow, random encounters flavored with the wonderful burps of the battle "music"(?) really made me glad to finally put this game down for good. I feel sorry for the poor kids in that last cave with the pitfalls, endless loops, and resetting paths back in the day without a gamefaq and the miracle of saves states.


Yeah, ok, they made some cheap and easy improvements sure. Like how you don't have to keep buying keys as using it once won't break it (that totally made no sense btw). And sure, you can save and whatnot in other towns besides the very first castle but it really doesn't make up for all the crap they added that makes the game slow as molasses. And no, throwing in a halfhearted, token pafu-pafu ain't gonna cut it either.

Score: 1 random stranger told me to crawl around the floor aimlessly searching for some "dew yarn" and now I'm in an insane asylum points out of 5.

PS. Buying the DQ collection on the Wii was NOT cheap and while DQ1 was good, I'm hoping DQ3 at least makes up for the scalper price.

Scale
0 - Awful
1 - Bad and not worth your time
2 - Has some flaws but still enjoyable
3 - An average enjoyable experience
4 - A great game
5 - Masterpiece of a caliber only found very rarely

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