Long ago, a descendant of Erdrick the Great defeated the Dragonlord and recovered the mystical ball of light in Alefgard. Under the rule of his children and their descendants, there was prosperity throughout the land for generations.
One day, however, this peace was shattered by the wicked Sorcerer Hargon. Now it is time for you to claim your birthright as the Prince of Midenhall, for Erdrick's blood also flows through your veins. With the Prince of Cannock and the Princess of Moonbrooke by your side, you are about to embark on a most adventurous journey.
Enix made a very good RPG to continue the Dragon Warrior series, but in some places, it does seem to fall a little short of expectations. There are loads of new features, and the world is much bigger and complex, but there are some aspects that have the potential of irritating the bejesus out of you. Still, no RPG fan should pass this up.
The hero from Dragon Warrior sailed away from Alefgard with the princess and founded the massive kingdom of Torland. His descendants each control a portion of the land. One day, in castle of Moonbrooke, one of the hero's descendants is talking with his daughter when all of a sudden a swarm of monsters, controlled by Hargon, strike. The King of Moonbrooke is cut down and the princess captured. One lone soldier escapes and manages to live long enough to make it to castle Midenhall to tell another one of the hero's sons what has happened. He, being too old, sends out his own son to begin the task of defeating Hargon and his minions. He must also seek out one of his cousins and find the princess.
Not exactly going to win an Academy Award for best story, but it is certainly more detailed and engrossing than that of the original. You are more drawn into the plot, and the plight of the characters in Dragon Warrior II. This, in my opinion, is the beginning of the Story-Driven style of RPG that Final Fantasy (Released 11 months later) took to so well and made their own.
Game play has been improved upon as well. One of the first things to note is that you no longer fight a single monster in a battle. Many monsters can attack you, not to mention many groups of monsters. This makes battle strategy much more interesting and dynamic. Also there is a party of 3 eventually to help in the battles. You who are a fighter, your cousin who is mage and fighter, and a third cousin who is strictly magic. This adds a great balance to the game play, and allows for far better strategy and fighting.
And though it's nice to have more than one character, the fact that character classes are as they are leaves the game feeling quite limiting at times. If they gave the ability to select what each character's class would be, it would have greatly added to the replay value of Dragon Warrior II. The player could then experiment with different party combinations to either make a powerful custom party or make a party which it would be harder to beat the game with.
And challenge...Oh yeah there is. Some say this is the hardest Dragon Warrior of the 4 on the NES. The challenge comes from the fact that you only have one effective fighter. If you find monsters that are resistant to spells, you'll be in for a long hard fight. Another problem is when you finally do find your relatives, they begin at level 1. This despite being whatever level you are on. They won't become useful until you level them up, which, like Dragon Warrior, is quite cumbersome.
And another thing to note is the world is much bigger than before...four times bigger to be exact. You can even return to Alefgard, which is completely optional. It would have been nice if all the towns, caves and other areas were still intact. But you can only visit Tantagel and Charlock.
The graphics are nicely updated from the original. World maps, monsters, characters, etc are more detailed and beautiful. The over world map is much more colorful and detailed more than Dragon Warrior. There is only one issue with many...Dragon Warrior II reverted to the black battle background, rather than the field battle backgrounds of Dragon Warrior. For many, this is kind of a step backwards. Although, everyone must realize this is the first game to utilize this form of battle field, thus it really cannot be a step backwards. Jes Saying.
Detail inside castles, towers etc. is improved by leaps and bounds over DWI. Caves actually look like caves; they are not just a bunch of wall and floor tiles. Also, the caves actually scroll line by line! Drastically improved over the original.
Though the scoring and sound effects are based off of Dragon Warrior, they are more enhanced over it and sound much better. Things like spells being cast have been improved upon, making a far more enjoyable game. None of the scoring is bad at all, and a few of them are among the more memorable of the NES era. Some players though complain of one. When you get all of your party, the theme changes to something similar to what you would hear at the end of the game. I dunno. I think the more uplifting fan fare was a good score that kept the game upbeat and fun.
Bottom Line Dragon Warrior II a great RPG, but in some ways it could have been even better than it already is. Nonetheless, you'll undoubtedly have fun playing it. It is certainly a giant step forward from Dragon Warrior. It's a good sequel in the Erdrick story and it will keep you playing for a long time due to it's large world and large challenge. Get it, play it, love it.