Posted on October 3, 2018
Dragon Quest I & II (Dragon Quest 2)/ドラゴンクエストI・II (ドラゴンクエスト２)
Dragon Quest 2 was released soon after the original Dragon Quest due to the unbelievable success of the first game within Japan. Released just 7 months after the first game, one might think that Dragon Quest 2 would have been just a slight upgrade from the original, but Dragon Quest 2 was definitely more than a slight upgrade!
Dragon Quest 2 applies the same mechanics as Dragon Quest 1, but expands on them quite a bit, as well as adding some brand new mechanics that eventually became a staple in the series.
Is Dragon Quest 2 a sequel worth playing, or was it rushed in order to cash in on the hype surrounding the original? Let’s find out!
Score – 30/40
Story – 8/10
Gameplay – 8/10
Graphics – 7/10
Music – 7/10
Style: Japanese Role-playing Game (Turn-based)
Platform: Super Famicom
Release Date: JP: December 18th, 1993
Length: 20～30 Hours
Table of Contents
Dragon Quest 2 SFC/SNES Review
Dragon Quest 2 takes everything that made Dragon Quest 1 what it was and then takes it even further. Dragon Quest 2 adds party members, a much bigger world map, multi-enemy combat, and even naval travel! Everything just feels bigger in Dragon Quest 2 – a bigger world, bigger towns, bigger dungeons, bigger battles, and especially a bigger adventure.
While everything is certainly bigger, the core gameplay is still the same as the first Dragon Quest – fight and level up outside of town until you’re strong enough to get to the next town, where you’ll buy new gear and level up outside to continue further. This type of gameplay is what the Dragon Quest series became known for, so while the first game set the absolute bare-minimum foundation, Dragon Quest 2 began sowing the seeds of what would come to be.
I personally think that anyone who was pleased with the original game will definitely enjoy the second installment! Let me break the game down bit by bit and show you why!
Check out my review for Dragon Quest 1 here too, while you’re at it!
The story is better this time around. Instead of just “Save the princess and kill the Dragon Lord” when you’ve never even seen either of them, you actually have a reason to go on your quest this time. While it still boils down to “Kill Hargon” right from the start, there’s a bit of backstory during the opening of the game that shows you what Hargon has done, which gives you (even if rather small) an actual reason to want to defeat him.
Chronologically, Dragon Quest 2 takes place around 100 years after Dragon Quest 1. Our original Hero in Dragon Quest 1 eventually had children who would go on to rule different kingdoms around the world. A few generations pass by and evil returns to the world again. This time, it will be the Hero’s descendants (maybe great-grandchildren?) who will go off on a quest to save the world once again!
The game starts as the Prince of Lorecia Castle (ローレシア城、Roureshia Shiro) is sent off to find the Prince of the nearby Samaltoria Castle (サマルトリア城、Samarutoria Shiro). Upon arriving at the castle, it seems as if the Prince of Samaltoria had just recently left the castle. After searching around in a nearby town, the Prince of Samaltoria is found waiting inside the Inn and decides to join up with the Prince of Lorecia.
The two adventure forward and eventually come across the ruins of Moonbrooke Castle (ムーンブルク城、Muunburuku Shiro), where they find the lingering spirit of the former king. The king tells them that his daughter had been cursed and turned into a dog. The two find the princess and undo the curse to return her to normal, after which she thanks them and joins the party.
After the party is assembled, they head out in search for a way to reach Hargon’s Castle. Along the way, they must help out the citizens of various towns in order to obtain the items required to reach the Castle and become strong enough to defeat Hargon.
Can the descendants of the original Hero follow in the footsteps of their ancestor and restore peace to the world once again, or will they fail to stop Hargon and his plan to take over the world?
I personally think the story is quite a step up from the original Dragon Quest. Not only is the scope of the adventure much bigger this time around, but story actually progresses along the way. The original game kind of just front-loaded the entire story within the first few sentences of dialog at the beginning of the game and the never mentioned anything ever again.
In Dragon Quest 2, however, the game sets up the main gist at the beginning, but keeps mentioning things pertaining to the story along the way so you never forget what your goal is. The constant story personally made the quest feel more like a “Quest”, instead of some lazy king’s errand like it kind of did in the first game.
Another cool thing that was added in Dragon Quest 2 is something that would go on to become a main-stay in the series – each town having its own problem that needs to be solved. In the first game, towns were basically just an equipment hub with an Inn to recover. While this of course is similar in Dragon Quest 2, towns now have a bit more importance to them.
If you want to be able to sail the world, you’ll have to save a young girl from a couple of Gremlins and escort her back to her grandfather safely, which will prompt her grandfather to allow you to pass into the docks he was guarding and hop on a boat.
If you want the best armor for the Princess that allows you to pass over certain tiles without taking damage, you’ll have to collect 2 different items from opposite ends of the world and bring them back to an inventor in one of the towns so he can craft it for you (requires some archaic method of passing time in game – physically turning off the game and reloading your save!!).
This overall feeling of actually helping the citizens of various towns across the world really makes you feel like a “Hero” and in my opinion really helps flesh out the story of the game!
The graphics in Dragon Quest 2 is essentially the same as Dragon Quest 1 that is included in this bundle. To compare them again, i’d say that they’re very similar to Dragon Quest 5. The only thing that has really changed in Dragon Quest 2 is the tileset variation.
While the overall graphic quality hasn’t changed from Dragon Quest 1, there are a lot more tiles in Dragon Quest 2 considering the much bigger overworld. Dragon Quest 2 has a lot more proper dungeons and castles to explore, along with towns is varying architecture, while Dragon Quest 1’s towns were pretty much all the same except for 1 particular town.
Battles look better than Dragon Quest 1 thanks to a much larger battle background and more varied background environments. There are a lot more enemy types in Dragon Quest 2, and while there are still some simple recolors of enemies, most enemies sort of “evolve” a bit instead.
For example, you’ll face some mages near the beginning of the game, but later on they’ll start wielding clubs, then morning stars, and then by the end of the game they’ll be dual-wielding morning stars. When games do something like this, all of my complaints of recycled enemies goes straight out the door.
Dragon Quest 2 includes a ton more spells than the original, which means that there are a lot more effects to see during battle. Damage spells look much better this time around, and that goes especially for the newly added AoE spells. Things like ベギラマ (Begirama), which is an AoE Fire spell, and イオナズン (Ionazun), an AoE Lightning spell look really cool! While Dragon Quest 1 looked like someone lit a match under the enemy, Dragon Quest 2 shows a whole inferno raging around the enemies!
Considering the world of Dragon Quest 2 is many times bigger than Dragon Quest 1, it’s kind of a given that Dragon Quest 2 would have much more variation in monsters and environments. Even with this in mind, it seems like there was much more care involved in the remastering of Dragon Quest 2 when compared to the first game.
Fundamentally the gameplay hasn’t changed since the first game. Battles are still done in first person, the grinding to progress, the menus, everything is still the same, but most things have been expanded upon.
The biggest change, which directly influences most of the other big changes is the implementation of a party system. While you could only play as a lone hero in Dragon Quest 1, Dragon Quest 2 will have you playing with a party of 3. Each of the three characters has their own specific role – A high melee damage character, a tank/support hybrid character, and a healer/damage spellcaster.
Each character learns different spells (except for the main character who can’t use any magic). The Prince of Samaltoria learns AoE damage magic, heals, debuffs, and party buffs, while the Princess of Moonbrooke focuses on healing spells, control spells (such as Sleep, which is very strong), and damage spells such as Ionazun mentioned above.
The variation in available magic increases the level of strategy involved in battles. Especially later on in the game, you’ll get absolutely destroyed by even just random encounters if you don’t try to put monsters to sleep or blind them. Dragon Quest 1 was a lot more relaxed and allowed for just auto attacking stuff all throughout the game, but Dragon Quest 2 is a much different story!
With a party of 3 comes 3 separate inventories to manage. While this isn’t really a bad thing (who wouldn’t want more space?), managing gear can become quite a hassle. Characters can only equip gear that is in their own inventory, and even though you can choose which inventory to place an item in directly if you buy it at a shop, items found in dungeons or after battles are allotted to the next empty space starting from the main hero’s inventory.
Since each of the 3 characters have their own role and play-style in battle, this means they also have gear restrictions. The main hero will have access to the heaviest armor and the strongest swords, meanwhile the Prince of Samaltoria will have a much more limited selection of weapons and armor and the Princess will have the least amount of gear available – staves and robes. These gear restrictions solidify each character’s role even further.
With more party members comes more monsters. While Dragon Quest 1 was always 1 on 1, now with 3 members available for battle, monsters also come in groups. Most fights will have a minimum of 3 monsters, and the most i’ve personally seen was 7 or 8. This makes battles much more hectic, and especially with how crazy some of the late game spells, it’s not uncommon to have 2-3 sleep attempts thrown at you per round, or even worse – 2-3 AoE magic spells than pretty much instantly kill your entire party.
Now you’d think with more monsters comes more exp and gold, and you’d be right. If you associated item costs and EXP requirements from Dragon Quest 1 to the amount you get in Dragon Quest 2, you’d think that you would hit level cap rather quickly. Well, the problem is that item costs in Dragon Quest 2 are way higher than in Dragon Quest 1, with the highest priced item in Dragon Quest 2 costing 64,000 gold, while I think the worst offender in Dragon Quest 1 was around…14,000?
Gold aside, the EXP required to level up in Dragon Quest 2 is immensely higher than in the original game. Plus, the level cap is no longer 30, but 50. Furthermore, all 3 characters have different EXP requirements, which means that they all level as a completely different speed, with the Princess being the slowest. I thought the grind in Dragon Quest 1 really sucked towards the end of the game, but the grind at the end of Dragon Quest 2 is many times worse.
Not only is the exp required to level up huge compared to the amount of EXP you get at the end of the game per fight, the difficulty of the monsters is brutal. It wasn’t uncommon for me to get wiped fairly regularly with the best possible gear and a party at around level 30-32 during the last stretch of the game, but in Dragon Quest 1 it was just cruise-control auto attacking without any worries during the final grind.
The SFC remake seems to have nerfed both games, but from what i’ve seen most DQ fans consider Dragon Quest 2 (the NES version especially) to be the hardest game in the entire series. From what i’ve seen even with the nerfs in the remake, Dragon Quest 2 was one hell of a hard game, especially with the gauntlet that you have to go through at the very end. This is an SFC RPG afterall, so sudden ridiculous difficulty spikes during the last hour or two are basically an unwritten rule, but Dragon Quest 2 was probably the most brutal of all the games i’ve reviewed on here thus far.
One last gameplay addition i’ll mention is the addition of a boat that can be used on the overworld. Naval travel is introduced around half-way through the game, and basically becomes the main method of travel for the rest of the game. Dragon Quest 2’s world is quite vast, so travelling around on boat can actually be pretty confusing. Many key areas that you need to go to are 1×1 square islands, or 5×5 islands out in the middle of nowhere without any surrounding landmarks.
To kick you while you’re already down, the encounter rate is pretty outrageous while sailing. Maybe I just had bad luck (I always do), but the encounter rate seemed to be almost double what it was on land. Since you’ll always be missing your destination because you’re 1 or 2 tiles too high when you were sailing by, the constant encounters make death at sea a very real concern.
Overall, the core gameplay hasn’t changed from the original game. Any fan of the first Dragon Quest should be a fan of Dragon Quest 2. The difficulty might become a wall for some players, so if overly difficult RPGs aren’t your thing you might have a bad time. If you love difficult RPGs on the other hand, here you go!
Here’s where Dragon Quest 2 made a huge leap in quality over the first game. Out the door goes the minimal OST of the original game and here comes an OST with some variation instead! No longer do we have 1 overworld song! Instead, we have various different songs depending on what continent you’re on! Even games today don’t usually give you different songs per continent (i’m looking at you, Dragon Quest XI. Look at the you from 30 years ago!!)!
I’ve got a couple of cool songs i’d like to share, so give em a listen if you would! First off is the town theme that you’ll hear throughout the game.
Next is one of the overworld songs that eventually went on to be used in a few other Dragon Quest games too!
One that Dragon Quest 2 did was actually surprise me with how many songs are on the OST. I actually though there was way more, so that goes to show just how well they switched things up throughout the game. I definitely had much more fun exploring and listening to the music this time around.
East vs. West
As stated in my review for the first game, this version of the game never made it to the west on the SNES. The only version we got was for the Gameboy Color, which was almost exactly the same.
I did own the Gameboy Color version when I was a kid, but I haven’t played it since then so my memory for the English version of Dragon Quest 2 is non-existent, therefore i’ll just list some of the bigger differences that I noticed while reading up on the game before playing it.
- The party member’s origins have different names in the Japanese and English versions.
- The main hero is from “Lorecia” in the Japanese version, but is from “Midenhall” in the English version.
- The Prince is from “Samaltoria” in the Japanese version, but is from “Cannock” in the English version. The Princess, strangely, is from “Moonbrooke” in both versions.
- Malroth’s name is “シドー” (Shidou) in the Japanese version.
- Of course as always, religious references are changed.
Should you play it?
If you’re a fan of the original, I definitely think Dragon Quest 2 is a must play. Dragon Quest 2 is the first game that really shows what the entire series will go on to be. It introduces a lot of elements that will eventually become mainstays in the series, and anyone who has played a more recent Dragon Quest entry will probably go able to go back and trace most gameplay elements to this game.
If you’re not a Dragon Quest fan, I think that Dragon Quest 2 might potentially be a rough starting point. The difficulty towards the end of the game is liable to make some players quit 90% of the way through the game. That, and the vast world with high encounter rates makes finding some of the more obscure towns an absolute nightmare without consulting a map. The general consensus seems to be that Dragon Quest 3 is actually one of the best entry points into the series, so i’ll see how that is whenever I get around to playing it myself!
Which version should you play?
I also said this in my review of the first game, but the SFC version didn’t make its way to the SNES for us westerners, so the only way to really play it with ease is to find a Gameboy Color copy, but even then it will still be a slightly different version of the game.
If at all possible, try to get your hands on the original SFC version and give the game a shot. The reduced (doesn’t feel like it, though) grind, the much better sound quality, the great looking battles, and the nerfed difficulty should be more than enough to sway your opinion!
If for some reason you’re not happy enough with the difficulty of Dragon Quest 2 for the SFC, you can always go back and try the original NES Dragon Warrior II. Just know that you’ll probably never actually make it to the shrine past the Cave of Rhone…
If you’re looking to grab a copy for yourself, you can find them from Amazon below! (i’ll earn a small commission if purchased through these links)
Dragon Quest I・II (Requires a Super Famicom or modded Super Nintendo!) – Get Dragon Quest I・II here! (affiliate link!)
Final Score – 30/40
Story – 8/10
Gameplay – 8/10
Graphics – 7/10
Music – 7/10
If you haven’t already, check out my review for Dragon Quest 1 here!