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Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 2

 

Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 2

Platform: Nintendo DS , DSI
Category: RPG
 
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8.5
 
Author:

Developer – Square Enix
Publisher - Nintendo

Features

Wireless DS Multi-Card : 2-8 Players
Nintendo WFC

Having played quite a few Dragon Quest games over my gaming career, along with reviewing a couple over the past few years, I have come to appreciate the story, the art, and the loveable, although often hated, monsters that you battle throughout the games. In the Dragon Quest Monsters series you take control of these Monsters and set out to do battle from their perspective, and with a second title, Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 2 (DQM2 for short) being released, I eagerly waited to see what my monsters could do.

Graphics

Akira Toriyama’s art style is prominent throughout the game. Fans of Dragon Quest will know that Toriyama has worked on the Dragon Quest series since the beginning while other people may know him more for the popular Dragon Ball Japanese anime that he has created in the past. With such an acclaimed artist working with Dragon Quest over the years, the artistic inspiration and animations are quite a pleasure to view.

The monsters are quite diverse throughout DQM2. You’ll find classic, but simple slime monsters, a platypunk (a playtypus with a spiky hair cut), or even a killerpillar (deadly caterpillar) to name a few, and these along with other monsters based on the various environments that they call home will populate the screen. As you can tell, some of the creatures have a crafty naming convention, often taking real words and throwing in a spin with something related to the monster itself, which often leads to how the monster looks.

Something I found new in the Dragon Quest series is the ability to take two monsters and use the Monster Synthesis to create a brand new monster that will take on characteristics of the “parent” monsters. The end result is something entirely new and much more powerful. Taking some of the tried and true monsters throughout the series and bringing forth some new baddies using the Monster Synthesis is a great touch and adds more depth to the monsters available, visually speaking.

Rounding out the graphical display is the island where the game takes place. You’ll find your atypical environments, such as forest, desert, caves, swamps and your broken down air ship, make up the setting for DQM2. Walking around the island you come across some nice scenery such as mountains, trees, water basins, rivers and oceans that have all been used to create a wonderful world with rich detail. Within this word, which is ruled by monsters, you will also come across some interesting areas, unique monsters, and even a village or two that might surprise you a bit (editor’s note: no spoilers here).

Sound

The sound of DQM2 is split into sound effects and music; unfortunately there is no voice acting present in this game, which I felt could have been a new element to the series. The sound effects create a diverse and rich experience, which includes the many attack sounds from weapons like swords, staves, or magical attacks. You’ll also hear the distinct sound such as when you receive a hit or when a monster is defeated. Each moment receives its own unique sound effect that adds to the rich sound effects throughout the game.

The music is typical with this genre of game. It is instrumental and differs depending on which type of area you are exploring. When entering a village you are usually greeted with a cheery, fast paced melody that welcomes you. In contrast, dark, dank caves provide you the opposite feeling with slower more monotone music that gives the impression of possible death. During battles the music switches it up to a fast paced type of harmony. And as one would expect, the tempo really picks up when you face boss creatures throughout the game, which helps to communicate that desperate and on the edge of your seat feel. Overall, the great variety of music matched up with the right situation creates a great musical experience.

Gameplay

Dragon Quest Monsters 2 plays like a traditional turn based RPG where you control the actions your monsters perform, with the enemies returning the same deadly attacks and spells back at you. Turn based combat keeps on bringing fans back time and time again and I am definitely one of those fans that enjoy the adventure of taking my heroes, or in this case my monsters, into battle and fulfilling the story set before me.

DQM2 follows the story of a young man who sneaks onto an Airship Albatross so he can enter into a monster trainer contest. En route to the contest he gets discovered and forced into employment on the ship as punishment for stowing away. As it turns out the ship hits some trouble in the skies and crashes onto an uncharted island chock full of different monsters. With the crew and other passengers scattered throughout the island it becomes your job to explore the island, rescue the crew & passengers while strengthening your monsters. Overall, the story is a classic RPG that leads you from area to area, and dungeon to dungeon, in an epic quest to save everyone.

The gameplay is not that complicated and is very easy to pick up and play, especially if you are a veteran of the RPG genre. Typically, you’ll explore the areas and by communicating with the citizens (in this case, monsters) you’ll find out who needs help, and of course as a hero, you’ll rush off to the rescue. Along the way you will encounter monsters that you can train and bring into your party; however, you can also just battle them, or if they are just too much for you you can high tail it out of there as fast you can.

Leveling your monsters increases their overall stats, but you also level up their skills, which varies from monster to monster. The skills each monster has can range from magic (healing, offensive, defensive) attacks and stat increases to health, defense, attacks, etc. These skills also come in handy after you synthesize a new monster.

The new Monster Synthesis feature has you simply taking two level 10 or higher monsters, one with a positive charge and one with negative charge, combining them and viola, you create a new monster. This new monster will inherit skills from the two original monsters you combined, so you will want to keep this in mind when you are allocating skills as you level up. Monster Synthesis does add more depth to the monsters available in the game, but with the combinations pre-determined there isn’t much to the creation process. Adding in the ability to design your own monsters would have been nice touch to customize the creation process even more.

DQM2 does feature some multi-card wireless functionality where you can battle and trade your monsters via the DS’s wireless communications. The battle portion is straightforward where you put your monsters head to head, or through a tournament where 2-8 players can battle it out to see who comes out on top. Monster Exchange is simple as well, granting the ability for players to trade monsters to expand their monster library or beef up their team for future battles.

There is also some Nintendo Wi-Fi gameplay where you can play in a World Monster Championship (WMC). The WMC matches you up against five teams that are around your level, and you battle against them. Your team will essentially compete against other players throughout the world. The great thing about the WMC is that you don’t have to connect at the same time to compete in your battles as they are downloaded/uploaded to the WMC and the results are compiled at the end of the day and the rankings updated accordingly. This adds a huge value to the game for those you like to find out how they rank up against the world in their gaming abilities.


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