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Dragon Quest II - Akuryou no Kamigami [Model EFC-D2]

Nintendo Famicom cart. published 36 years ago by Enix, Ltd.

Listed in MAME

Dragon Quest II - Akuryou no Kamigami [Model EFC-D2] screenshot

ドラゴンクエストII 悪霊の神々 © 1987 Enix, Limited.
(Dragon Quest II - Akuryou no Kamigami)

Dragon Quest II is a role-playing video game. It allows the player to control more than one character, each of whom has their own characteristics, and it is the first game in the Dragon Quest series to do so. The game introduced a party system where, instead of beginning the game with an entire party as was common in previous computer RPGs, the player begins the game with only one character and gradually recruits more party members during the course of the game. The player controls his or her characters as they move in the game world. They can search treasure chests, talk and trade with villagers, equip themselves with weapons and armor, and cast spells.

While wandering fields, towers, caves, seas, and dungeons, the player randomly encounters monsters, after which the game shifts to battle mode. The game's battle mode introduces groups of monsters, which is an upgrade from the one-on-one battles of Dragon Quest. In the battle mode, the player gives orders to the characters on how to fight the monsters. Once the player defeats all of the monsters, the characters gain experience points and gold. The experience points raise the characters' experience levels. This improves the characters' attributes, and they may also learn new spells.

Dragon Quest II is set one hundred years after the events of the first game. The game's story centers on the prince of Midenhall, who is ordered to stop an evil wizard named Hargon after Hargon destroys Moonbrooke Castle. On his adventure, he is accompanied by his two cousins, the prince of Cannock and the princess of Moonbrooke. Dragon Quest II expands on the first game by having a larger party, more areas to explore, multiple heroes and enemies in a battle, and a sailing ship. The game's successor, Dragon Quest III, follows the ancestor of the main characters, the legendary hero Erdrick; and the three games are collectively called "Erdrick Saga Trilogy".

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TECHNICAL

Game ID: EFC-D2

TRIVIA

Released on January 26, 1987 in Japan.

Planning for Dragon Quest II began in April 1986, a month before the release of the original Dragon Quest. With the system and memory map decided, they started development in early July. At the beginning of development, producer Yukinobu Chida asked director and programmer Koichi Nakamura for a definite release date, and he offhandedly set one. Then the development team was divided into two groups, with one designing the story, as well as the monsters, and one doing the programming. The initial deadline was set for early November, but the game ultimately suffered a small delay. The development team had finished programming almost everything by the time of the initial release and believed the game could be released by the end of that year. However, the developers found that the game was too difficult, so it was delayed for a month to adjust the balance. They had to finish the final version in mid-December, which they did, and then rushed to deliver to Nintendo to make the physical game cartridges.

The developers believed that Dragon Quest's one-vs-one combat system was tedious and too simple, and that the leveling system was "boring", so they decided to have Dragon Quest II use a party system with players controlling multiple characters. In another game from the time entitled Wizardry, players can control a party of up to six characters directly; Nakamura saw this, liked the idea, and wanted to do something similar. Due to technical restrictions, they decided to use only three characters; the Famicom video game system supports the display of up to eight sprites side by side, and one game character used two units in a direction, so it was possible for up to three characters to talk with a non-playable character (NPC). Yuji Horii believed many players would play Dragon Quest II without first playing Dragon Quest, and thus had players search for the other party members. During development, the staff discussed the idea of deprecating the Stair command of the predecessor several times. Nakamura has stated that the Cave of Rhone found in the game is inspired by a classic trick to exit mazes, that of always moving forward while sticking to the right-hand side wall to avoid traps.

In the story group, monsters were the first thing designed. The monsters' names, skills, and personalities were decided first, after which they were drawn by artist Akira Toriyama. Yuji Horii allowed Toriyama to paint full drawings rather than directly create the pixel art that would be shown in the game. The artwork was then converted into computer graphics; as Toriyama was unfamiliar with computer graphics technology, other staff took charge of this. Many new monsters needed to be designed to make the game feel real, and the process was laborious for Toriyama. But he has also said that, compared to the manga comics he was used to, he enjoyed painting more, so on balance the experience was positive. Yuji Horii stated that for his process, like other manga and film creators, he quickly outlines the story's plot in his mind. With regard to map design, a blank map was used to create the physical shape of the place, like a castle, cave, or tower, and then the key elements and story were created together afterwards. The scenarios were mainly written by his friend Hiroshi Miyaoka. Compared with write lines in writing paper and design map in graph paper, staff wrote both two in 5 mm graph papers of A4, as they felt that was easy for organizing; their manuscript thickness is 15 cm.

Compared with its predecessor, the game was more advanced in nearly all technological aspects. Koichi Nakamura programmed with several students, but since it was his first time working with a team, he did not know how to delegate work or communicate his goals. Since the students were unfamiliar with the coding process, they did not know how to debug or to keep track of whose code it came from, so Nakamura had to do it himself, which caused delays. In programming, they did the maps first. Then they worked on characters, including numbered characters in maps for assigned lines, and designed the NPC's moving route. The next step was programming the items, while the final step was setting the monsters data and converting Toriyama's artwork. This work was completed by the end of October.

Due to the aforementioned balance issues, the game was initially very difficult, especially in the later stages. Nakamura had written a program that simulated every single combat that he used to adjust the game's setting for character leveling and the strength of enemies players would encounter. This program failed to account for larger monster groups, however, which fell outside the model and caused the game to be very difficult. Furthermore, enemies leveling and weapons power were designed by area, but Koichi Nakamura did not think over the boat, so if players get the boat to some land might be quickly defeated. The developers realized there was a balance problem and did some modifications, such as limiting the number of enemies in Midenhall to groups of three, and moving the Cannock Castle closer to Midenhall Castle.

Due to a lack of cartridge space, many ideas were abandoned during development, such as an alternate ending that the Lorasia Prince is assassinated by the Prince of Cannock's sister if he dies in the final battle. Some elements were later used in remakes or sequels: a subplot about the Prince of Cannock being cursed was added to the Super Famicom remake and later remakes. Also, the Promontory of Olivia in Dragon Quest III was initially an idea for Dragon Quest II. he game cartridge's ROM capacity is 1 Mbit, but only about 10 bytes of free space remains in final products.

Reviews:
[JP] Famitsu: 38/40

Export releases:
[US] "Dragon Warrior II [Model NES-D2-USA]"

Goodies for Dragon Quest II - Akuryou no Kamigami [Model EFC-D2]
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SERIES
STAFF

Original staff:
Scenario Writer: Yuji Horii
Monster Designer: Akira Toriyama
Music Composer: Koichi Sugiyama
Scenario Assistant: Hiroshi Miyaoka
Chief Programmer: Koichi Nakamura
Programmers: Yutaka Gyotoku, Togo Narita, Kiyotaka Kono, Masaaki Okano, Koji Yoshida
Sound Programmer: Takenori Yamamori
CG Designer: Takashi Yasuno
Assistants: Rika Suzuki, Hidehiro Yoshida
Director: Koichi Nakamura
Producer: Yukinobu Chida

Famicom staff:
Programmers: Manabu Yamana, Kenichi Masuta
CG Designer: Satoshi Fudaba
Executive Producer: Hiroyuki Takahashi

SOURCES

Game's ROM.