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I Can Count to Nine: A Journey through Dragon Quest - Part 2

I choose to take a lack of people yelling at me to stop as encouragement! Here is my writeup of Dragon Quest II.


Dragon Quest II (SFC)

What, you want party members? What kind of luxury RPG series do you think this is? Well... okay, but you get no magic, the monsters get to gang up on you, the girl's as fragile as a kitten and nobody but you can equip basically anything. Enjoy!

Yeah, I know, what? The thing is, neither of us is that big of a fan of II. We'd both put it squarely at the bottom of the series, which certainly isn't to say it's bad - it holds up better than some RPGs of its time - but in a series this awesome, something has to be the worst, and this was kind of a halting step forward for the series overshadowed by Final Fantasy I. I didn't get around to playing II until after VIII had come out, and I wasn't enamored of the obnoxiously punishing difficulty or basically-impossible-without-a-guide crest hunt. We picked a remake for a change of pace and a somewhat easier time. We're using the translation patch of Dragon Quest I + II by RPGONE, which has two versions - one with DQ names, and one with DW names. We picked the latter for consistency's sake.

I was going to keep giving out numeral names, but my friend suggested we be a little fancier. So this chapter follows the adventures of Prince Double, or Dub to his homies. This time, we roll three Royals deep. Characters!

Double, the Fresh Prince of Midenhall: While a bit sensitive about his magical handicap and rumors about his heritage, P-Dub does not let that stop him from kicking ass, saving the world, and doing it in style. Check those goggles - so fresh!

Rolando, Prince of Cannock: This Canuck (what?) has a bit of a mean streak that causes him to buck his nationality's stereotype of politeness, but he's really a good guy, and despite some ribbing between the two, he's glad to join up with Double. His style is unique and doesn't at all look like he doesn't know how to wear a hat. His big sister used to enjoy playing "Broom" with him when he was younger.

Linda, Princess of Moonbrooke: No helpless princess here - this feisty young maiden is resolute in the face of her father's tragic death. Spends some time as a dog, but what people call her as a result isn't that different from usual, if you know what I mean. The world should thank its lucky stars she's around to keep the princes in line, because while brave and determined, they aren't that bright.

For anyone unfamiliar with the story of II, it's like this: Hargon's army of monsters lay waste to Moonbrooke, one of the three kingdoms founded by the hero of I, and you, the Prince of Midenhall, must gather the other descendants of Erdrick to save the day.

*Met up with Prince Rolando and got the Silver Key.

*Got a mirror to turn a dog back into Princess Linda. Mirror to show true form count: 1.

*After taking Linda to Moonbroke to say goodbye, got a cape, climbed a tower and took a flying leap.

*Got a boat and wasted a lot of time sailing around looking for treasure, which we eventually found. Visited Alefgard and poked around without achieving much. Visited some other towns. Next time we are using a guide for sure.

Status: Levels are 17, 16, 11. Beyond getting the party together and getting the ship's treasure, we've haven't really achieved anything, but that's still a good start. Even in a remake, this game does NOT screw around.

Highlights from the Imperial Scrolls of Honor:
*We've come to the conclusion that One is responsible for this mess. Remember that old guy who wants the Silver Harp? He just takes it and disappears. You give an old wizard-dude a harp that summons monsters, and a scant hundred years later the world is threatened by a wizard who controls monsters. Put two and two together, people.

*All joking aside, the King of Moonbrooke's heroic last stand and his daughter's confident assurance that she and her cousins will save the world, allowing his spirit to rest in peace... it's pretty touching stuff.

*You might think the King this time around is a bit more generous than the first, actually giving you a copper sword to start out with instead of nothing. However, that's not taking into account that you're THE FRIGGIN' PRINCE.

"Now go, Prince Double!"

"Uh, Dad, since I have to go save the world, isn't there anything else useful in the Castle I could.."

"No. Now go!"

"But daaaad..."

"You're adopted."

Double: ;_;

*First direction: Go to leftwynne. So, go left to win. Got it.

*When the Prince tried to start a bank account, they informed him the minimum balance was 1000 coins. He had... 46.

"But I'm the Prince of Midenhall!"

"Oh, the adopted boy?"

"Dammit, I'm not adopted, my dad is just a jerk."

*We couldn't figure out what the purpose of the Traveler's gate in Midenhall was, so noting the lack of other facilities, we assumed it was used as a toilet. Guaranteed to prevent you from peeing on your foot like one guy we met in Leftwynne.

*I am not comfortable with the shady-looking guy who hangs out in an alley and asks you to let him "show you his wares". We looked at his junk anyway, but only out of necessity.

*Once we found Rolando, he joined something called our... "Par-ty." That's like an inventory for people, right?

*Rolando: Nice to meet you, Prince Double. I'm inexperienced and can't lift heavy weapons, but I already know the spell of Heal. You look way more experienced. What spells do you have?

Dub: Uh... I pretty much either hit things or run away from them.

Rolando: No spells? Kind of weird for a descendant of Erdrick, eh? Are you adopted?

Dub: I'm just a late bloomer! I'm gonna have all kinds of spells! Any level up now!

*Guy in Jail:"Stealing's wrong."

Dub: So what are you in for?

Guy: Murder.

Rolando: Well, at least he's not a hypocrite.

*Rolando's sister wants to follow him around, but he slaps down that idea with a terse "You're useless." If One had only known getting chicks to not follow you around was that simple!

*Linda: Thanks for breaking that curse. Those freaking demons not only killed my dad, they turned me into a dog just because they thought it was funny.

Dub: Woah, I had no clue the princess was going to be this hot!

Rolando: Dude, ew. She's your cousin.

Dub: ...Damn it, I'm adopted, right? Tell me I'm adopted.

Rolando: I dunno. Why should we let this girl join us? How do we know she's for real?

Linda: But thou must, you jerk.

Rolando: She's one of us, all right.

*Linda: Okay, how do we get across this river?

Dub: Well, we've got this cape, and there's a tall tower there and I thought we'd sort of... jump.

Linda: ...are you SURE we're saving the world?

*Alefgard sure has changed. It's kind of depressing what's become of the place. Not much left anymore... We found the Erdrick Helm, and a crazy old hermit won't accept our word that we're of Erdrick's line and wants proof - "proof" that presumably anybody could find and dupe him. On second thought, Alefgard hasn't changed that much.

Week Four

Holy crap. Where to start? Well, we got most of the way through II this week...

*Got all the Erdrick Gear. Hung out with the Dragonlord's great grandson, he's a pretty cool guy. He called Double stupid, but hey, that just means he's perceptive.

*Got the ingredients and made the Water Flying Cloth for Linda.

*Got all 5 crests. What a nightmare.

*Barely scraped by in making it through the Cave to Rhone.

Double, Rolando and Linda (levels 27, 25 and 21, respectively) were last seen huddling together for safety just steps away from the Rhone shrine, mumbling nonsensically about "Bullwongs". Send help.

Seriously, we're not big fans of II. My friend remarked at one point that he'd gladly remove the number two from mathematics if it meant we could play III instead. After the really well-done first part - that is, after you get the boat - the game becomes a long and frustrating slog with little of interest to do and no actual bosses - an embarrassment next to its contemporary, FF 1. The dungeons are hellish - who puts several flights of stairs leading up to an empty room with no exits in a LIGHTHOUSE?

The game is full of insane crap you're supposed to guess at. I lost count of the times the only hint to something absolutely vital was a vague statement by ONE NPC on the other side of the world map in a totally unrelated location. You're told the sun crest is in the "Fire monolith". Sure sounds like a dungeon, but it's just a warp gate with some torches. Also there's no chest; you have to search a bush. WHY? This game is a never-ending series of fuck yous. To get the Dew Yarn to make the Water Flying Cloth, the princess's best armor, you have to search the third floor of the north dragon's horn tower, and you'd better believe the game is going to make you search every last tile. The last dungeons are full of enemies that can take out your whole party in a hurry and have the most unforgiving layouts I've ever seen, with random pits and the game's best weapon
hidden in a place I refuse to believe anyone would ever find.

Once you have staggered through the Cave to Rhone, you think you've done so well as you breathe a sigh of relief at reaching the shrine where free healing and saving waits. Wrong again - this game isn't done kicking you when you're down. Rhone is like the first part of Dragon Warrior I where you can't do anything but move right around the castle for fear of dying, writ large. We crept along 1 tile away from the shrine like the worms we were, getting wiped out as often as not by the
ludicrously strong enemies which use Defeat, Explodet and Sacrifice. It got easier once we started making heavy use of stopspell and once the Princess learned Explodet. I'm not gonna say this is fun, but I will say we'll have one hell of a sense of accomplishment when we finally beat this game. We were wrong to think the remake was going to take it easy on us, incidentally - it's VERY faithful. Whatever advantage we gained from its addition of stat seeds was surely nullified by a major bug in the patch that causes an unending text loop when you revive the sick Prince Rolando, rendering the most important inn in the game completely unusable since he becomes sick the first time you use it. On the plus side, the glitch also renamed Double "Doublolande." Which is awesome. Unfortunately it also turned Linda into "Prince Linda".

Highlights from the Imperial Scrolls of Honor:

*I owe Princess Linda an apology; Rolando is easily the least rugged and manly of the party. In order to keep him alive, he spends a lot of the time cowering behind his shield of strength while Dub and Linda do the dirty work.

*Old man: Use the echoing flute... castle... monolith... jail... lighthouse... cave...

Us: By your powers combined, I'm an annoying subquest!

*Double has taken to following every dog he sees around with a mirror, calling "Here princess..."

*The Prince falls ill:

Rolando: Ugh... you'll have to go on without me... I'll be dead soon...

Linda: Hmm, I guess you're right. Well, see ya.

Dub: Yeah, bye.

Rolando: No, you jerks! Come back and save me! I was just trying to sound noble! Waiiiit!

*Apparently, "Basilisk" means "Gay Cobra".

*The party finds Midenhall's treasure room:

*Dub: Wow, it's like Christmas! Except that I actually get presents!

Linda: Praise God, it's the Erdrick's token! There's some great stuff in here.

Dub: Hey, why does this last chest just have an Herb in it?

Rolando: Wait, I think it has something written on it. "Dear Double, you're adopted. Love Kingy."

Dub: Y'know, I don't think I'm coming back here anymore after we save the world.
*Getting the Erdrick's Shield:

Rolando: Dad! Useless! I'm home! Don't mind us, we've just come to open the inexplicably golden-locked door!

Old man: I've been waiting long for this moment.

Linda: Because we're the descendants of Erdrick, come at last to claim our birthright?

Old man: No, because the King locked me in here when I suggested we should just give you the shield instead of locking it up! You see this two-foot beard? I was clean shaven when he put me in here!

*The Erdrick's Helm has its own shrine... what's the Grand Order of the Hat going to worship now that we've taken it?

*The Princess loses it:

King of Osterfair: So ya want the crest, do ya? Well, fight for my amusement! Dance, monkeys, dance!

Dub: Oh, come the hell on-!

Linda: Patience, sweet Double! Surely God would not have put us, the chosen ones, on this path without everything having a purpose.

(Later, after going through five whole floors in the lighthouse just to reach an empty room with no purpose)

Rolando: Oh, for the love of-!

Linda: Fret not, dear Rolando! We must pray for the forbearance to pass these trials, and everything will make sense in the end.

(Later, the party comes up to the entrance of the Cave to Rhone)

Linda: We've finally made it. You see, I told you we would perservere!

Dub: Okay, here goes... *holds up... the moon fragment, not the Eye of Malroth*

Rolando: Uh... nothing's happening.

Linda: ....we missed another vaguely-hinted-at step, didn't we?

Dub: Yyyyup.

Linda: ...We're going to have to trek through another stupid cave to get yet another trinket, aren't we?

Rolando: Mmmmhmmm.


Linda: AAAAAA-


Hargon: Okay, hit me.

Malroth: What... 21 again? You try my patience, insolent... wait, do you hear that noise?

Hargon: I think that's the sound the very concept of sanity makes when it breaks.

(Back to the party)


And so, the party put aside their difference and were united in their hatred of everyone and everything else in their stupid, stupid world.

*Just when we thought we were doing well, we got slapped in the face by a giant Bullwong. Though we wrestled with it for a long time, at long last we were able to tame the mighty Bullwong. ...Bullwong.

Week Five

*Ground until Double was level 30 and tackled Hargon's castle.

*Defeated Hargon and Malroth on the first try! Final levels were 30, 28, 23.

This game never stops punishing you. The monsters in the final dungeon can take even a party at levels appropriate to fight the last boss and wipe it out if you're unlucky. The "illusory" Midenhall Castle when you get to Hargon's beachfront retreat is a clever touch, but when you dispell the illusion, you have to stand in a big cross and use the Eye of Malroth again. I have no clue how you're supposed to know this - it's never remotely hinted at. I guessed I ought to use something in that spot and got lucky.

This remake DOES make one major concession, it turns out - the Princess as well as the Prince learns revive. It's pretty much impossible to overstate how much this helps make the game beatable. It sure saved our asses in the final fight. Although we beat Malroth on the first try, it was NOT easy. Our resources were stretched as far as they could go - we were using Wizard's rings to restore MP, shields of strength to restore MP, and that leaf of the world tree got used at a key juncture. If we hadn't gotten lucky on a turn or two, we would've been wiped out for sure.

Time has been unkind to Dragon Quest II, but I'm glad we beat it. Now we can move on at last...

Highlights from the Imperial Scrolls of Honor:

*Today on Lifestyles of the rich and evil, Hargon's luxurious beachfront lair!

*The bugs in this patch came really fast and furious in the fake Midenhall. I think Hargon's illusion-producing abilities are buggy.

*Dub: Wow, this version of home is so beautiful... I even get my own bunny girl-in-waiting.

Fake King (with two bunny girls in front of him): Two girls, one king, baby!

Linda: Snap out of it, Double! Remember what Rubiss said; it's all an illusion.

Dub: But nobody here is calling me adopted...

Rolando: Yeah, it's DEFINITELY an illusion.

*Hargon: It is I, Hargon!

Linda: No, it's "It is me."

Rolando: Yeah, seriously. All this time to sit here planning what you're going to say to us and you didn't check your grammar?

Hargon: ...Rhone has really low standardized test scores. The only section we excel at is "Explodetology."

*Prayers said on prayer rings:

Linda: I pray that I'll get a chance to see Useless play broom with Rolando. That sounds really funny.

Rolando: I pray that someday Linda will stop being such a bitch.

Dub: They're wizard's rings, man, not miracle rings.

*There were some amusing scenes in the credits. In one, the party takes Rolando's coffin to Useless so she can gloat over it.

*In another, the party runs around in circles, I guess because Linda hasn't quite gotten over the desire to chase her tail.

Linda: Hey, I resent tha- SQUIRREL!

The three heroes ruled the land as their reward, and set to making some immediate changes.

Hear ye, Hear ye. By decree of the triumvirate of Dub, Rolando and Linda, by their authority of we're-all-over-level-20-and-what-the-hell-are-YOU-going-to-do-about-it:

*Lighthouses with floorplans more complex than "entryway, stairs, light room" are outlawed, and their architects thrown in the dungeon.

*Monsters are no longer allowed to carry Clothes, thus cluttering the inventory of unsuspecting royalty.

*Bullwongs are against Our Law, in addition to several laws of nature, sanity and reason. One exception shall be made:

*For the entertainment of the populace, the former King of Osterfair will wrestle the aforementioned excepted Bullwong, daily.

*Any Citizen caught giving unnecessarily vague advice will be stranded in the Desert with a piece of paper reading "It is said that water lies under a tile in the southwest quadrant."

And peace and happiness reigned in the world for all time thereafter.

(screenshots from SNES Central)
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About tim333one of us since 5:53 PM on 12.11.2007

Regarding my 1001games project: There's only one deadline. I haven't hit it yet!

I'm a 90s gamer and Sega kid for life. I like platformers, adventure games and JRPGs. I'm not that into first-person shooters or sports games.

I spend more of my time playing older games than new ones. I do have a PS3 now, though, and I like buying games on PSN. I like the Wii and have a ton of games for it. I'm encouraged by some of the stuff out on Wiiware - to me, games like Bit.Trip Beat are more appealing than the "triple-A" titles coming out on the HD consoles.

Some of my all-time favorite games are Sonic 3 & Knuckles, Dragon Quest III, Heroes of Might and Magic III, The Curse of Monkey Island, and Dance Dance Revolution.