Dragon Quest II: Luminaries of the Legendary Line

DragonQuestIITitleDespite the title, this is a game that is not on any console. Neither is it a traditional PC game. No, this version of Dragon Quest II is a pay download for your smartphone or tablet. This more recent kind of gaming has taken the world by storm, and judging from this version and Angry Birds, it’s easy to see why.

As for this game, I’ve never understood why some like the original but hate this sequel. In fact, while not perfect, I view Dragon Quest II as the better game, hands-down. Why? Because the original Dragon Quest consisted almost entirely of level grinding. There weren’t even many dungeons to go through. Some excuse that game because of how old it is, but that works only if your entire gaming universe is consoles. The Ultima series, started years before this one, had many dungeons for its very first game.

It’s true that this game has a fair amount more grinding, but there are far more dungeons and land to explore. And that doesn’t get into the ability to travel by sea. There are circumstances under which a lot of leveling up can be justified. The large amount of world to explore in this game qualifies.

Plot: 8 out of 10

This game is set long after the original and focuses on the descendants of the the hero and princess of said original. It seems that the hero and princess and their children founded no less than three kingdoms. A new villain named Hargon, seeking to destroy all threats to him, destroys one of these nations. This comes after Hargon evidently destroyed most of the countries from the original, tracking the heroes’ descendants down. Upon hearing of all this, the Prince of Midenhall (named by you) sets out to stop Hargon. He’s alone at first but finds two comrades: the Prince of Cannock and Princess of what was once Moonbrooke.

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One of a few small new twists that never would have gotten the Nintendo stamp of approval.

The fact that it means that only elites are among the heroes aside, I like this story. It shows us a family of heroes in convincing fashion. Also, Hargon looking around for these heroes shows that he’s not simply reactive like so many video game villains are.

Graphics: 7 out of 10

While not as good as phones and tablets are capable of (if NBA Jam could push the envelope, why couldn’t these Dragon Quest games), these graphics make for a respectable improvement on the NES version. In contrast to the flat, uninspired look (even for those times), this game has a well-done look that fits the series. Enemies are particularly drawn well.

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Yep, they changed the name from the nonsensical “babble” to “bubble slime.” Disappointing, I know.

Sound: 5 out of 10

Let’s face it. This series didn’t have very good musicians in its earliest days. The music that plays before you find both your allies is awful. But that doesn’t last too long and the rest of the soundtrack is mediocre to above average. Overall, I’d say that the sound is OK. It’s improved from the original, but it’s not quite there yet.

Gameplay: 8 out of 10

It’s odd playing this version of DQII at first. You use a touch screen to move around, not a controller. I know this kind of gaming has been around for a long time, but it was the first time I ever played this particular game with it. Not that it isn’t implemented well, it just takes some getting used to.

At first this game seems similar to the original but with more characters (once found) to use and enemies to fight. That is until you get a ship and the game becomes nonlinear. You are able to move around, exploring the world. This is a great thing that makes you feel more in control.

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I’d criticize except that the guilty/innocent ratio of inmates couldn’t have been that good back then.

Previous versions had a major fault in choosing targets in battle. Multiple monsters of the same kind would be punched together as one target. You couldn’t decide which of those you wanted each character to hit. This isn’t much of an issue this time, though, because your characters now seem to have a built-in A.I. that makes them wisely choose targets, not at random.

Challenge: 8 out of 10

One criticism of this series I can see is the hidden things that were all but impossible to find before you could look them up online. But hidden items now have an indicator, making them perfectly manageable.

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Hard to miss that yellow icon.

As for the level grinding, there are plenty of quests to do, so I find that it’s not hard to muster the patience to get through the whole game.

Overall: 8 out of 10

A good but not excellent game gets an upgrade into a great experience. While we could have done with new dungeons and stuff, I’m quite pleased with what we got. Just keep in mind that this isn’t an uber-simple kind of mobile game.

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