This week, we’re talking about Dragon Quest 2! We had a listener poll, and this is the topic you chose. A HUGE thanks to everyone who voted. We’re going to be holding another poll soon, so make sure you keep an eye out for that. We’re going to be discussing the game in-depth (plus the game is, like, 30 years old), so there will be some SPOILERS ahead.
For those of you who haven’t played the game, Austin gives a brief synopsis at the beginning of the episode. He played the mobile version, and B.J. has played bits of both the GameBoy Color and mobile versions. After that, we run through the main characters and discuss the perks (and pitfalls) of having three people in your party. From the weird AI in the mobile version to the many deaths of the Prince of Cannock, we have a long discussion about all the great–and not so great–things DQ2 has to offer!
Then, it’s time to talk about all the times Austin almost quit playing the game–but how he’s glad he beat it. Sunken Treasure, the Cave of Rendarak, and the final battle with Malroth–we talk about it all! Then, listen to why Austin feels respect for the game now, and also thinks of the game as his…little brother?!? That doesn’t sound right. How can a video game be like a little brother? You’ll have to listen to find out!
Before we get into today’s episode, though, we wanted to take a moment and thank all of our new patrons on our podcast’s brand spanking new Patreon!
B.J. thanks Steve Wittcamp, Mike Sweet, and Justin Andrew Mason, Andy Hildebrant, and DJPimpDaddy!
Dragon Quest 2 is a direct sequel to the first Dragon Quest. Set about 100 years after the events in the first game, DQ2 focuses on three descendants of Erdrick who are trying to save the world from the evil sorcerer, Hargon. Basically, you get to run around an open-world and just kill stuff with your cousins! It’s a fun family affair!
I played the mobile version of the game on iOS, b.j. Played the GBC version and the mobile version, so the names were using today are from the mobile one. It’s also the names used in DQB2!
The cast this time around includes our Hero, the Prince of Midenhall, and his two cousins.
There’s the Prince of Cannock, a flaky dude who is hard to track down at the beginning of the game–and one who was personally a pain in my butt long after he joined the party (more on that later).
Then there’s the Princess of Moonbrooke, the survivor of Hargon’s initial attack, and a pretty awesome spell-caster. Oh, and she’s a dog when you first meet her.
Early in the game, I learned that the AI wasn’t the best. There were several times my Hero or the other prince, the Prince of Cannock, needed to be healed and the Princess used the last of her MP to cast Dazzle on the enemies instead. Infuriating? You bet. But I quickly set her Tactics to Follow Orders and loved her much more after that.
The Prince of Cannock dies A LOT! I spent most of the time playing with the Hero, the Princess, and a Coffin. In fact, during the final battle, once the Prince died in the third round I didn’t use him at all.
And he doesn’t just die in battle. Oh no! This guy, who is super flaky and whines a bunch, also gets a bad case of (INSERT YOUR OWN MADE-UP ILLNESS HERE) and refuses to get out of bed if you stay at the inn in Beran. So, you and the Princess have to journey across the world to pick up an Yggdrasil Leaf and revive him. It’s the only way to get him back. Why was this in the game? I have no clue. It still feels out of place and is mostly just annoying. Pro tip: Don’t stay at the inn in Beran and avoid this whole mess.
The game makes a lot of improvements from the first one, including a full party line-up, more weapons and equipment, more spells and abilities, plus some (basic) job roles. And there’s a ship! I think it’s the first video game to have a ship for world exploration. Need to fact check that!
This game is hard. Like, really hard. It’s the hardest DQ game, and one of the hardest RPGs I’ve ever played. But I feel like a better person (gamer) after having beaten it. Don’t get me wrong. I almost quit the game several times. But in today’s episode, I’d like to talk about why I’m glad I stuck with it, and why I think people find it frustrating. (or, at least, why I found it so frustrating).
Austin : Early on, I liked Dragon Quest 2 even better than the original. I liked that the characters had more personality, that there was something close to a job system, and that it had more spells and gear. The world was also bigger–or at least it had a lot more things to explore.
Sunken Treasure. It was a frustrating and arduous part of the game for me. I had talked to NPCs, I had gone out to the area where the treasure was supposedly sunken, and I couldn’t find anything. I ran around some more, thinking I just needed to advance the story a bit more, but after another three hours I still had nothing.
Now, Dragon Quest 2 is basically an open-world RPG. Once you get your ship, you can sail around to dozens of places. There are warp pools you can step in that send you to other parts of the world, and as long as you are strong enough to fight the enemies in certain locations, you’re essentially free to go wherever you want–with only a few exceptions. This means finding things like the Sunken Treasure can be a bit tricky, since sometimes you show up in an area you aren’t technically supposed to visit until much later.
Eventually, I gave in and started searching the internet for ways to find this treasure. There were a few obstacles:
(1) Most of the information online was from earlier versions. I was playing the iOS version, and pretty much everything is slightly different on there.
(2) The biggest obstacle is that names in the iOS version are different from some of the previous iterations. This meant cross-referencing the names in my game to those in the videos and FAQs I found online.
(3) The location of the treasure, according to people on Reddit, had changed slightly from the original to the iOS version. The animation was also different. So, maybe I was searching in the wrong spot from where the videos told me to look.
(4) Even after reading all these FAQs and watching all the videos, cross-referencing everything, and spending WAY too much time on Reddit, I still couldn’t find the Sunken Treasure.
So what did I do to find it?
I don’t know. Really. I have no idea. Eventually, the Sunken Treasure showed up. After countless times of talking to the same NPC over and over to try to make it appear, and after steering my ship over the same few spaces hundreds of times, the Sunken Treasure finally showed up!
To this day, I’m not sure if it was a gaming bug, if I was doing something wrong, or if I was overlooking something. I sent countless texts to B.J. during this time, proclaiming I might have to quit this game.
And you want to know what really gets me? Afterwards, I found out that even though it’s a good idea to get it, the Sunken Treasure part is OPTIONAL. That’s right, folks: optional. As in, I didn’t have to do it. As in, I totally could’ve spared myself the pain and agony. I wasted some serious hours in Dragon Quest 2 trying to find this treasure, and this bit of news was like salt in my open, angry wounds. Oh, well, maybe I’m a better person for having done it. (Narrator: he wasn’t)
Once I got past the Sunken Treasure, I started enjoying the game again. I wondered why I had ever been so close to quitting in the first place. Everything was blue skies and green pastures.
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Cave of Rendarak/Cave of Rhone (called different things depending on which version you play)
Probably my least favorite dungeon of any game I have ever played.
The Cave of Rendarak is notorious for its difficulty. I didn’t know that at the time, since I was trying to play through the game without spoilers. But, boy oh boy, let me tell you: it is super difficult.
First, there are infinite loops/endless staircases. So you can spend hours and days and weeks just getting lost in this cave. Sounds fun, huh? Thankfully, I had learned from my mistake in the original Dragon Quest and managed to avoid a lot of these by being sneaky and looking at a FAQ the entire time.
Secondly, there are pitfalls. There’s no way to know where they are without looking at a FAQ. You’re just strolling through the cave, and then–BLAMO!–the floor opens up and you fall into the basement, get attacked by really strong skeleton monsters, and maybe even die before you can find your way back to where you started.
To get past this, I made frequent use of the Quick Save function on the mobile port. It was pretty much cheating, yes, but it got me through the cave. I would make a quick save every ten steps or so, and if I fell into a hole, I’d reset the game and avoid the pitfall the next time. I’m sure that means I lose some sort of gaming cred, but I MADE IT THROUGH, DAGNABBIT!
Lastly, the enemies in the Cave of Rendarak are pretty tough. The difficulty curve in Dragon Quest 2 is insane. It starts off relatively easy, with some periodic grinding needed to advance the story. Then, it turns into this stupidly hard game where all the enemies are overpowered and get multiple turns and want nothing more than to send you to a GAME OVER screen before you can so much as yell, “Oopsie Daisy.”
When I finally saw sunlight again, I wanted to jump around and dance. If it was Enix’s intent to make it feel like you really earned something upon exiting the Cave of Rendarak, then they succeeded. I was super proud of myself. And now that I was nearing the final dungeon, nothing was going to stop me from beating this game once and for all!
Malroth is one heck of a final boss. I had grinded up a lot of levels before trying to tackle Hargon, so I assumed I was prepared. Well, I wasn’t.
The first time I took on Malroth, he wiped my party in about four turns. I went back to the castle and tried again. This time, I got pretty far, but his back-to-back fire breaths just obliterated my party if I wasn’t careful.
After four failed attempts, I grinded for several more hours until I had gone up another eight levels. I was confident I could take on Malroth this time. But then Malroth showed up and was like, “No way, buddy!” And with a snap of his fingers, I died over and over again. I don’t know if I was just terrible at this particular fight, or if I had some really bad luck. Either way, it took me FOURTEEN tries to take him down.
Make fun of me all you want, but I finally beat him. And you know what? I’m still convinced most of it was luck. So many of his attack patterns seem to be based on RNG that I’m almost positive I’m right. The Prince, who generally dies a lot in this game anyway, pretty much stayed dead the entire time. I had the Princess constantly heal herself and the Hero, and then used the Hero to chip away at Malroth a bit at a time. Once I wasn’t worried about keeping my whole party alive, the fight seemed much easier.
I found Dragon Quest 2 to be a fun but flawed, grind-heavy JRPG. And a fair word of warning: Malroth is one heck of a final boss. I have battled many final bosses before, and this is the one that had me swearing under my breath and promising all sorts of bad things I was going to do to this game once I beat it.
If you’ve played other early Dragon Quest games, and especially the other entries in the Erdrick Trilogy, then you might want to try this one out. Otherwise, I wouldn’t start with it.
Where To Find us
We are on Twitter as @_austin_king and @professorbeej individually, and the show’s account is full of DQ goo-dness at @DragonQuestFM. We are a proud part of the Geek to Geek Media Network. And if you want even more DQ awesomeness from Austin, you can read his weekly blog at DragonQuestAustin.com