Dragon Warrior Monsters 2 - Reader Retroview  

The Island Navel Monologues
by Jeremy Michael Gallen

25+ Hours
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   Two siblings, Cobi and Tara, travel to an island that's in danger of sinking. Beneath the surface of the island lies a pair of doors that, with the help of Magic Keys, leads to other worlds, which either sibling searches for want of a plug that can prevent the island, GreatLog, from sinking. Enix's Dragon Warrior Monsters 2 comes in two flavors that focus on either sibling albeit with the same general storyline, with the first sequel being largely solid despite its flaws.

   Players encounter sets of up to three monsters in each Magic Key world, with the player having a party of up to three monsters that can battle enemy sets. The player can attempt to input individual commands for each of his or her monsters, although if a monster's "wild" stat is greater than zero, it might not follow the designated command. There are, however, three A.I. options for each monster, with Charge allowing for offensive commands, Mixed allowing for supportive commands, and Defense allowing for defensive commands.

Er, in Soviet GreatLog... In Soviet Russia, the animals hunt *you*!

   Capturing new monsters requires the player to feed them meat and gain their respect, after which the player must kill that monster last in the battle, in which case it might offer to join the player's party. Each monster has a maximum experience level of growth, with the player needing to breed male and female monsters (which disappear after breeding) to create more powerful monsters that can grow to higher levels and inherit their parents' skills (with each monster able to hold eight at a time). Each monster, furthermore, can equip one stat-affecting accessory.

   Battles are generally fast, and breeding monsters is fun, with only a few minor flaws such as unpredictable party and enemy monster turn order in combat, and by extent the somewhat awkward monster-breeding interface. Some might complain about the fact that all bred monsters start at level one, but that they tend to grow in level more quickly and have better stats at low levels compensates for this. Otherwise, combat is easily one of the game's high points.

   The interface is alright, with generally linear gameplay with a hub town and a portal to other worlds requiring Magic Keys, although there are some irritating hiccups such as the tedium at times of deciding which monsters to breed and limited inventory space, with item depository space limited as well. Still, interaction is by no means bad, although it could've been better too.

Door to nowhere The Winchester Mystery House makes a cameo

   Dragon Warrior Monsters 2 retains plenty of features from its predecessor such as monster capturing and breeding to make it feel like a logical continuation of the franchise, although it does have some new features such as the general structure of gameplay, involving Magic Keys, to help it feel fresh in its own right.

   The story is the game's weak point, with the simple goal of finding a plug to prevent GreatLog from sinking serving as the title's only real focal point, with no further development aside from that, or any other sense of mystery and excitement. Of course, most games of this type are hardly about their plots, so this shortcoming is, in a sense, forgivable.

   Series composer Koichi Sugiyama returns with another decent soundtrack, with the quality of his themes very much compensating for their quantity; sound effects, however, leave much to desire. The visuals outside of battle are alright, as well, though combat visuals too leave something to desire, given the lack of scenery and enemy animations. Overall, the first Dragon Warrior Monsters sequel looks okay yet sounds better.

   Finally, one can possibly complete the game in as little as twenty-five hours, although one can also play the game infinitely afterward, given the degree of extra and post-game content. In the end, Dragon Warrior Monsters 2 is a solid sequel that builds upon its predecessor, though there are admittedly certain aspects, such as its story, that leave room for improvement. Still, those who especially enjoy monster-capturing titles will certainly find something to celebrate.

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