It’s pretty easy for somebody in my age group to get excited about a game influenced by the creator of Dragon Ball Z; which is why the mobile release of Dragon Quest II originally brought a smile to my face. After a few hours though, it’s apparent that Dragon Quest II: Luminaries of the Legendary Line is like hopping in a time capsule to 1987, even with the mobile face lift. But it’s not a pleasant trip down memory lane; DQII’s old style dialog, antiquated combat system, and standard-issue plot make the game feel tedious instead of classic. Purists may have a good time with the title, but there are many better mobile RPGs to be had than Dragon Quest II.
Dragon Quest II’s premise is fairly simple: you are a descendant of the legendary warrior Erdrick, and as such it’s your responsibility to defend the land from the great evil that threatens to overtake the world. After grabbing two other party members, a prince and a princess respectively, you venture forth to rid the world of evil. Though the premise of DQII is fairly standard, its execution is a bit eccentric; all the characters speak in Olde English, complete with “thee,” “thine,” and all sorts of other peculiar wordings meant to ground you in the ancient era. It makes the game feel different on the surface, but doesn’t actually much value to the experience. Perhaps the intent was to add character to the game, but more often than not I just felt annoyed stumbling through the peculiar wordings. I didn’t feel wrapped up in the characters or storyline, so usually reading dialog felt more like a chore than a gift.
Though I wanted to care about the plights of my character and his compatriots, nothing in the game’s story really made me want to continue to play the game. That’s not to say the story is “bad,” per se…it just doesn’t feel compelling.
The same goes for DQII’s gameplay, which again feels like it aged without grace. Your party members don’t level together when acquired, which leads to pretty large disparities between individual capabilities. Per Dragon Quest style, there’s plenty of grinding to accomplish, but there’s no real satisfaction when you finally clear a boss. It’s also missing modern RPG combat conventions like auto-battling and individual enemy targeting, which may be a franchise staple, but also grounds the game firmly in the past. It’s even worse when forced to buy items from the shop one at a time, adding them individually to each party member’s pocket instead of just mass buying them. Again, these don’t break the game experience, they just make it feel more tedious than exciting. Combined with fairly generic music, enemies, and spells with titles like “Woosh” and “Zoom,” it simply feels out of place compared to other options for mobile RPG gaming.
Those who want to know the history of the Dragon Quest series or who are looking for a truly authentic retro experience will probably find a good time with this mobilized Dragon Quest II: Luminaries of the Legendary Line. Still, as someone who isn’t particularly attached to the Dragon Quest series, I’d recommend jumping in later in the franchise with a game that feels a little more acclimated to the current era, especially at the game’s full price.