Version Reviewed: 1.0
App Reviewed on: iPad 2
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Dragon Quest was, as most aficionados of RPGs might agree, a historically significant game. It served to either establish or solidify many of the tropes and gameplay conventions that would define role playing games for over three generations of consoles, and its recent re-release on iOS was a great opportunity for players to reconnect with it. Dragon Quest II was both then and now a worthy successor to the throne, retaining the core of Dragon Quest's gameplay while adding things like an expanded party and a ship for overworld travel (Hey, it was a big deal back then!).
Opening with the sacking of the city of Moonbrook by the villainous Hargon, Dragon Quest II follows the adventures of a group of young heroes descended from the legendary Erdrick, a recurring character in the series' mythology. It is as full of cheesy and wonderful faux-Shakespearian dialog as its predecessor was, with the classic RPG mentality that one should speak to every NPC in order to learn about the world and one's quest.
The visuals are bright, colorful pixel art that has been updated for modern devices while retaining that old-school flair. The music, on the other, hand is quite symphonic and adds a sweeping grandeur that enhances the atmospheric qualities. It's a great juxtaposition of old and new, and it really improves on the gameplay experience.
Any criticisms of this game's delivery must be targeted at its old school feel. Personally, I'm of a generation of gamers who won't be troubled by the somewhat directionless nature of the narrative - it is up to you to talk to everyone, figure out where the plot is, and go there (and likely having to grind random encounters for levels and gold before you can survive the trip). Enemy encounters can spike in difficulty with shocking consequences as you wander the map, and each death is a clear signal that you need to level-up and buy better gear for the area. However, these elements could certainly be a source of annoyance for some.
On the other hand, just like the Dragon Quest remake, Dragon Quest II has some anti-frustration features - in particular a generous auto-save function, which takes the classic sting out of this mobile presentation. Touch controls are functional and responsive, and you'll tap with ease through the menu-driven combat.
Dragon Quest II was a good game when it came out in 1990, and its modern presentation is still effective and enjoyable. If you're a classic RPG fan or just want to see what all the fuss we old-timers make is all about, this rendition of a classic is assuredly worth a look.