Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Game 20: Dragon Warrior II (NES) - To Defeat Hargon's Forces

Have you noticed you're in a monster infested tower?
It's strange to think of the world teeming with monsters, and yet I control the only group capable of overcoming these odds. Where are the legions of guards? Why did no one see this coming? Who was keeping watch?
What's that; follow you through this monster infested tower? Sure thing!
I made my way slowly through the Stars Tower (still don't know the right name, but we'll go with this). At the top I met a guard, who said he was guarding the land of Hargon; however, I think it's a mistranslation. He is a human sprite first of all, and second, he pointed out where Hargon dwells, in Rhone. I think watchman would have been better, but he seems equally effective in that regard.
What! The random old man in a monster infested tower tricked me?
In another section of the tower was an old sage who I found in a room alone after seeing a monster run into it. Obviously he could be trusted. "Follow me," he said. "I know what you seek," he said. Well, that makes one of us. I mean I know there's a crest here (from the melodious echoes), and I guess it doesn't matter which one, but I still feel lost in this big wide world.
I faced off against two of these guys to get the ship... finally remembered to get a screenshot of them
Combat has changed quite a bit since the first Dragon Warrior. In addition to managing the actions of a party of three, the number of monsters in each fight can range from 1 to 8. Larger sprites like the Gremlins take up two spaces on the field, while something small like a slime takes up one. The lead character lacks any sort of magic, but is able to equip all equipment (including the Erdrick artifacts, making him the true heir). The prince and princess are capable of magic, but at the cost of being squishy.
What exactly are these crests?
Gold and experience (and sometimes random item drops) are gained from combat, and up until gaining the ship the increase for vanquishing tougher enemies was noticeable. After this tower the gains from tougher fights, which now have the potential to kill the party on turn one, are marginally better.
I spent so much time in that tower I was able to afford the most expensive shield
Magic is balancing act of damage, utility, and healing. Unlike most games I've played, it isn't completely skewed towards saving everything for healing while waling on the enemies (like the first game). Group damaging spells like Inferno and the utility item Staff of Thunder are still handy for groups, even if their damage potential has only seen a marginal increase. I may just be imagining that last part.
Have you noticed you're in a monster infested cavern?
That leaves us with utility spells, which have been more useful than in other games; however, when fights only last a couple of turns, I start to wonder what the point of raising my defense or lowering theirs (especially since it only dampens damage by a point or two). Sleep and Stopspell are the most useful, and I've fallen back on them quite a few times. Damage spells aren't always the most reliable either; with a chance to miss I'm often better relying on physical attacks when it's a single enemy.
Uhhh... we're both in an island cave, and we are surrounded by LAVA
After the Stars Tower, I set off for the next tower: the Moon Tower. I forgot to take any screenshots, but it was rather short. The enemies were just a hair tougher, but with the new shield I was able to get through in a couple attempts. Inside was the Moon Fragment, which held the power to shift tidal forces. Well, really only the shallow waters surrounding a specific island cave.
I thought this was a house of healing
The cave was a large step up in difficulty. There was one point where Lars was wiped out. He is the only one who has spells to transport the party outside dungeons and return everyone safely to town. Somehow I dragged my party out in more or less one piece. I'm not sure I mentioned this, but the Leaf of the World Tree is the only revival item so far. You can only have one at a time. Once used, another will appear on the same island.
These two clowns were guarding the Eye of Malroth... I think they had some funny dialog, but this is all I captured
At the bottom of the cave I found the Eye of Malroth. It was a maze of stairs, and I had not bothered mapping. Somehow I made it through to the end, and left quickly once I had my prize. I'm not sure there was anything more to get, but I'm far past that now.
Once again I had enough to afford the most expensive sword, but its power is worse than the Iron Spear
In preparation for the road to Rhone, I bought Lars a new sword. I was torn between the Light Sword and the Falcon sword. I figured the Falcon was more expensive, so more powerful right? Nope. The reason it's so expensive, yet has a worse attack power, is it attacks twice. Still, the two attacks are of about equal power to the one attack of another weapon. Two attacks means double the chance to crit, and a single miss is only half damage. Maybe it's worth it, but I haven't done the math.
This is the last place to search, and nothing to be found (sorry, lack of screenshots again)
I took stock of what I needed: the water crest and the life crest. Well, the life is on the road to Rhone (I learned from an NPC), but going over my notes revealed no mention of the water crest anywhere. I picked up the life crest and then wandered the world whistling my flute.
I remember this being important, but where did I take this screenshot?
After about an hour of searching, I finally remembered where I had seen that jail (it was in Hamlin, and it was more or less the last place I considered before it struck me). Behind the bars were two Gremlins, but they had changed color and named themselves something else. Killing them allowed me to search the ground, and find the crest.
With our powers combined!
Returning to the monolith in the sea gained me the Charm of Rubiss. I need this to dispel Hargon's spell that he's placed on the town near his castle. Now only one more step: getting to his castle.
How hard could that be? (*last words*)
The road to Rhone has by far the worst enemies with the least payout. The Flames can call for help, have high HP, and hurt everyone for 15 - 30 damage; there are attack robots (very strange to see high tech in Dragon Warrior) that have very high defense; and the different colored gremlins capable of casting sleep, and using fire breath doing 10 - 20 damage to everyone. Unless it's a single enemy (and sometimes even if it is) I'm running from every fight.
The end of one fight starting at max HP
I've had one small victory though; I beat my first metal babble. I don't even remember killing a metal creature in the first game, but I do remember the experience being mighty. That one fight was worth 5 - 10 times any other battle in the same dungeon. Strangely, subsequent babbles have been about half that amount. I must have killed a super special one.
What the heck is the Dragon's Potion?
Unfy, a regular follow for the past few games has noted on a few occasions that I seem to incur obscene luck while playing. Apparently the above item is a 1 in 128 or 1 in 256 chance, and only drops from metal babbles. If that's so, then I can hardly argue with his assessment. As I continued through the dungeon, running away from nearly every encounter the first try, he got fed up and left (expecting me to die horribly I assume, or real life tore him away). Not a minute later I get into a fight and am unable to run away. I think Unfy is more a lucky charm than any inherent luck I may have. Still, I don't know how this luck helps if it's only going to net me an item that allows me to save anywhere. Seeing as how death and saving/loading get me back to the same place (the last safe town), and gold soon to become useless I couldn't really care less about this feature.
What's in this room?
I continued through the dungeon, and left off mentally mapping a room with dropout floors. I have a method, so I hope it holds up; otherwise, I've wasted about an hour of play time dropping through the floor with little benefit. At a guess, I only have the rest of this cave, the trek to the nearest town, and then an assault on Hargon's fortress. Wish me luck.

Elapsed Time: 5h53m (Total Time: 17h49m)


  1. I think falcon swords were useful for metal monster hunting - twice as many chances to do 1 damage (or crit) and maybe kill the monster.

    On the GBC version, a number of different spells are invaluable for certain situations - including a couple spells that I'd normally never use in other RPGs. The entire game was definitely a major leap forward from the oversimplified drudgery that was DW1.

  2. I'm pretty sure I slaved away and got the Princess to Level 30 before I attempted the castle. I anticipated a much harder battle than I found. I read that some people get everyone to the maximum level (I think it is 50) just for fun before beating the game, but my God, what a grind that would be.

    1. Wow. The princess is barely going to cross 20 soon. I can't imagine grinding that much, but maybe I won't have to since I'll probably be doing so shortly.

  3. For PoC, the falcon sword is your best bet. You're putting out more damage than with the spear (your strength makes up more attack power than weapon for the PoC, so attacking twice is great). The GBC version allows PoC to also equip the light sword (not so in NES). I normally don't offer hints, but if you feel like you're gonna grind in Rhone for a long time, pick up a second falcon sword for the PoM (but keep a more powerful sword when ya go boss hunting).

    As far as grinding, I'm 200k short of 1M exp on everyone, forgot my levels. But even at max levels your party can be wiped on the way to Hargon. The game is just hateful in that way.

    1. Yeah, I have Falcon on him, and Dragon Killer on PoM. I'm not sure if I should bother grinding enough for the Light Sword (not even sure it's better at this point). That's really the only piece of equipment I'm considering since Shield of Strength is worse than Erdrick's, and Mink Coat is so expensive that it's laughable.