Dragon Quest 2 Android Review

MOBILE VERSION

After enjoying the Android version of Dragon Quest, I thought it was time to play through the sequel. Dragon Quest 2 is a remake of Dragon Warrior 2 on the NES. If you played the previous game on Android, Dragon Quest 2 uses the same engine that’s well suited for Android. The first four entries in the Dragon Warrior and Dragon Quest series never changed their engines or art style, so this is to be expected.

It’s a great remake for any Android device with customizable control layouts and a simple control scheme that has a directional pad on screen for movement with a lot of touch screen menus. It’s portrait only if that matters to you and there’s a brief manual or helpful guide to get you started. I feel like these old school role-playing games are well suited for mobile devices with one touch input.

You don’t even need to face a character to talk. Standing next to them will show an exclamation point that you can interact with them. Standing over hidden items will also reveal the exclamation point since there’s no longer a search in the menu. These are both ease of life upgrades from the other versions of the game.

Having the hand drawn art on publicity photos felt a bit misleading as there is nothing to match that quality in game. Dragon Quest 2 relies on SNES style graphics, even if the art was remade from the game rather than taking those from the original remake.

Another perk to having a mobile version is the auto save, just in case you have to close the game. It’s easy enough to just use your device as normal without closing the game. It’s an enjoyable port for anyone interested in Dragon Quest 2 or any old school role-playing games.

STORY & SETTING

For anyone that missed the previous Dragon Quest, there’s no need to play the original and the stories are similar. You are the descendant of the famed warrior Erdrick and you begin the game alone in a castle standing before a king that will send you on your mission. Only this time, it’s a hundred years after the story of the first game. The game opens with a cut scene to better detail the story. The evil priest Hargon’s minions have laid waste to a castle, killing its guards, king and princess. You are sent to find out what happened and vanquish Hargon.

A PARTY OF THREE

The game takes intense strides from the previous game and brings the Dragon Quest franchise up to speed with its contemporaries. As you quest, you’ll be joined by two allies and take on multiple foes at once. This added a new dynamic to the series that was one-on-one in the previous game. The protagonist is the greatest warrior in the land, hence why he alone was sent on this mission. Your two allies are also descendants of Erdrick. You’ll find that Kain is more adept at weapon combat than Elaine who can use more damaging magic in the later half of the game. These two allies feel interchangeable, not only with their rhyming names that can be changed, but a lot of their spells overlap when they don’t have the same spells such as midheal, kazing to revive and evac to exit a dungeon.

Rather than starting out with these allies, you’ll meet them early in the game. Kain feels like a game of geographical whack-a-mole as you need to first find him. Well you just missed him, he traveled over there. Try to reach him again, no, now he’s over there. This felt like a bit of a waste of time and may have been done to ensure you’re at a proper level to get through a tunnel to the next region of the world. Elaine, is more of a mystery to find her hiding in plain sight a bit later on. You’ll meet her at the same region that you discover the remains of the wrecked castle that begins the game.

GAMEPLAY

The game is your typical top down role-playing game. If you’re out of a civilized area, unseen enemies will attack you on the over world, dungeons, caves and towers. Treading through forests can get you attacked more frequently. Once in battle, the combat is turn based. Both sides of the battle select what they want to do and your agility and healing spells dictate who does it first.

With more allies and more foes in battle, combat feels far deeper than the original game, but anyone used to role-playing games will be just fine. Each member of your party can take a turn to attack, defend, use a spell or an item. Battles against multiple enemies are broken into groups. These groups are for spells like sizzle and woosh that will damage the entire group, thus making spells worth the use of magic. The spells have been renamed for Android and don’t feel as aptly named as the original names like hurt and revive. The developers never renamed heal to something like bling as they did for others.

Winning battles yields you gold and experience. Experience will increase your level and statistics, while gold lets you buy things like equipment and visits to the inn that replenish your health and magic. I only bring up gold, because it feels useless during the later half of the game. Perhaps this is to relieve the grind of having to battle countless foes to get the gold for equipment.

Having to grind to be at an appropriate level felt rare. I never really fought enemies just to level up. I was always on the move, gathering items and exploring when my party would perish. Over time you will learn evac to exit dungeons and zoom to get to a town of your choosing. So the game is forgiving if you just want to bail out of a danger zone to replenish your health and magic. There are even items and magic to revive fallen allies.

Having a party wiped out felt rare. If your entire party is wiped out, you start at the last save point with half your gold. This is a welcome feature rather than losing all the experience and having to start from your last save. You still can, but why would you? This keeps the game moving smooth.

If death is still an issue, the Android version has several towns that contain banks to hold your gold and inventory items. Depositing and withdrawing gold is free of charge. Storing items can be done, but felt unnecessary. Sure each character has a limited amount of inventory space, but since the original game never had banks, you won’t truly need to store your items. Plus so many of these items you acquire will be needed to complete the game. To prove gold is so useless, by the end of the game I had the maximum amount of 99,000 gold stored at the bank.

SLOT MACHINES?

Within various towns are shopkeepers to gamble with. It feels so out of place seeing a slot machine within these dialog boxes. You can find tickets out in the wild or obtain them from random item shop purchases. These slot machines feel tacked on and feel more like a chore. Sure you can win prizes with them, but most of the time getting two of a kind will give you another ticket to try again. Before you know it, you’re just stuck in a cycle of almost winning.

TOWERS & DUNGEONS

New to Dragon Quest are towers, rather than caves. Towers here are interesting, because you can leap off them as a quick exit, while caves you would need to use a spell or walk back the way you came. They also add some much needed diversity beyond simple caves. The dungeons in this game are expanded more than the previous game and there’s a good amount of exploration in each one.

OPEN WORLD

Dragon Quest 2 feels as open world as the previous game. You start in a wide open space with plenty of towns, castles, caves and shrines to visit. The only restriction is surviving the foes that surround and inhabit each area. There’s rarely a sense of being forced to one area, the realm is yours to explore.

The world becomes so vast, that you’ll get a ship from saving an old man’s grand daughter. With the ship, the world opens up exponentially to reveal a version of the previous game’s world of Alefgard. It is shrank down from its original size and no longer has several of its towns and caves. Perhaps they were utterly destroyed within the past hundred years, or maybe the game didn’t want you to get lost searching through half a dozen locales when your equipment already surpassed everything in Alefgard.

With this world being bigger than ever, it was nice of the Android version to throw in an over world map. The map shows you every location as a blinking light. It would have been better to force players to uncover bits of the map as they find things, but this worked well and sped up the process of exploring. Plus, there’s no physical instruction manual like in the NES days.

The map was especially handy for finding a town tucked away in a cove that required you to find the cove and float down a river within. I can imagine this was quite painful to find in the NES days.

PORTALS, KEYS, THE FINAL SPELL

This game now has portals that will beam you all over the world. The real restriction is a lot of those portals have locked doors on the other side. It’s always a hint of things to come. There are three keys in the game and they are permanent, unlike the previous game. Elaine’s final spell seems like a giant waste when it’s only an unlocking spell. This is perhaps to help anyone unwilling to take a risk to purchase a mystery item that turns out to be one of the keys. If you need gold or the inventory space, the final key can always be sold.

The jailer keys will let you go into cells or free prisoners. These are perhaps the most interesting quirks of the game. Most prisoners have mere information to give you, but other times, these are demons ready to fight. It’s always something interesting.

SHIP TO COLLECT 5 SIGILS

To keep with the open world theory, once you get a ship, you’re mission will then lead you to collect five sigils. These can be obtained in any order. The only real issue is finding them. You’re told of a sunken ship, which could be anywhere really. Finding the shipwreck and returning its treasure will reward you with an echo flute. Using this flute will create an echo if there is a sigil in the location. The problem is with so much open world, I found the five sigils long before the shipwreck. There are plenty of clues from townsfolk to give you hints to the location of each sigil.

Since you can find any sigil at any time, this leads to a plateau of enemy levels. A lot of places had under powered enemies since I was already well beyond their might. Luckily, the game grants you spells and items to avoid battles with lesser foes. Remembering to use it was another issue.

You’ll learn spells and buy items that will let you zoom to any previously discovered inhabited location. So towns, castles and even a specific shrine can be visited again. Using this spell allows for a bit of an exploit, because your ship will always be nearby.

MYSTERIES TWISTS AND FUN

Beyond the first half of the game, there was a lot done to make locations feel memorable rather than just another town. There’s a shrine with an entire town tucked away beneath it. When visiting an island village, one of your crew will be condemned with paralysis and you’ll have to leave him behind to find the cure. One castle that you visit forces you down a hallway into a combat pit where you fight a best for the king’s amusement.

You’ll find that every new locale needs an item to access it and just about each one will contain something worth your time. Whether its a sigil, or an item that you’ll need later. There’s all sorts of mysteries to solve and plenty of townspeople or prisoners that will always know something. You can always use the method of getting every item and trying every item. Some things are rather cryptic, especially toward the end.

BRUTAL FINAL TUNNEL

While the games sense of progression went smooth throughout most of the game, with the only grinds being around the area where you meet Elaine, the dungeon before the final area is quite brutal. It’s a complex tunnel that is far deeper and more complex than the final area. In this dungeon, there are collapsing floors that reveal holes when you step on them. Luckily these holes stay where they form rather than sealing back up. This can lead to a whole lot of trail and error. Deeper into the tunnel, there’s a maze that with one wrong turn, you’ll start back at the beginning of the maze. There’s even a maze of two hallways with a series of similar rooms.

Oh but the tricks don’t stop with the mere map itself. There are plenty of foes to face that will whittle down your magic over time. These enemies will drop equipment on occasion, but it’s all cursed. Everything might seem like an upgrade to your stats, but anything forged by a demon or something that sounds horrific should never adorn your body. There are more cursed items here than in the previous game as a whole. Most of the time, these cursed items will make your characters useless when you need them most. The only way to remove a cursed item is to visit the local priest. Since this is the tunnel to get to the final dungeon, there is nothing to remove these items without returning to the outside world once again.

FINAL REGION

The final region is quarantined off from the rest of the world, so there are no hints of what’s to come or anything inside. Visiting this last land was a bit awe inspiring, even in its SNES style glory. It made the trek through the tunnel worth it to see it to completion. Getting here will require every item in the game as first your loyalty is tested. Then you’re met with several illusions and mysteries that will require you to know what item to use without exactly being told. The only thing missing in this final region is using different music from the typical cheery over world music.

HARGON

Reaching Hargon pits you against a few bosses that only appear once. They’re a good array of foes to test your combat before the final battle. There aren’t really any boss fights in the game with exclusive enemies previous to this. The other foes that crescendo dungeons feel more like battles against lesser foes that you haven’t seen yet.

To setup the final battle with Hargon himself, the developers went all out for this final battle and included great map effects for the time. The screen shakes, pits form, fire rises up. It’s on par with the opening sequence, but between these two scenes, there’s nothing at all like this.

BOTTOM LINE

I’ve gone through this game on three different platforms and the Android version felt like the best. The only problem is that it’s stuck in portrait mode, rather than my television. This was a fun play through, even if Dragon Quest 2 is my least favorite of the original Erdrick trilogy. It awkwardly transitions from the charming and simple original to the grand adventure of the third game in the series. With everything over and done with, the Android version was well worth the asking price for the time I invested and felt far more enjoyable than the NES and GBC versions.

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