A NintendoFuse game review by Jeremy Hardin (JHardin1112).
Game – Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 2
Version – DS
Time Spent Playing – 18 hours
Obtained – Review Copy courtesy of Nintendo of America
Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 2 is the sequel to the role playing game Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker and is the 5th installment in the Dragon Quest Monsters series. While some may look at the monster battling mechanic and write the game off as a Pokemon clone, I assure you the similarities end there. Joker 2 offers something new and different that Pokemon and others don’t, Monster Sythensis. Not only do you scout monsters, but you create brand new monsters, and large ones at that! In addition, there is Wi-Fi battling with up to 8 players, direct battling with friends, Tag mode and leaderboards.
In Japan, Joker 2 has already sold more than 1.3 million units. I think it’s safe to say we have a fairly popular game on our hands here at NintendoFuse.
So, the question is this, with all that is available will Joker 2 be able to scout you?
The story is quite standard and it all starts with your character stowing away on an Airship piloted by Captain Rex Mayday enroute to the Monster Scout Challenge. Your dream, of course, is to become the worlds monster scout champion. Unfortunately for you, that plan comes to a screeching halt as the airship crashes onto a mysterious island filled with monsters, the likes of which no monster scout has seen before. Your goal is to rescue your missing shipmates and escape the island. Along the way you’ll uncover the mysteries of the island, scout and tame wild monsters, fight enormous enemies and synthesize some very interesting monsters.
Gameplay and Controls
As I already mentioned, you’re trying to fight your way off this island. In order to do that you’ll need monsters in your party. Luckily for you, your first monster is a freebie, randomly chosen for you. Upon exiting the ship you will have access to the immediate area surrounding the ship and also to the first location, Treepidation. Yes, each location has a clever name such as, Doubtback, Iceolation, Cragravation, etcetera. I think you get the point. The meat of the game is to scout and sythensize monsters. This is done in battle by choosing the Scout command. Basically, your monsters attack the intended target and try to intimidate said monster into joining the party. As each of your monsters executes their attack, a gauge in the upper right corner displays the percentage of your chance to successfully scout the target monster. If successful, the battle ends and you give the monster a name and choose whether you want your new addition in your main party, substitute list, or housed in the Monster Pen back on the airship. Initially, you will be able to bring three monsters with you. As you level up and synthesize your monsters they will grow in size and power from 1 slot to 2 slots and eventually to 3 slots, thus allowing you to bring only 1 or 2 monsters with you. There is level grinding in this game, be sure of that but don’t let it dissuade you because it’s a fun task to complete. As you level up, your monsters earn skill points which you can allocate to whatever new skills are available to them. In all there are more than 240 skill trees to work with. I’d say this will keep you plenty busy.
As you progress further into the story, you will encounter a friendly monster name Don Mole, yes he is large talking mole, quite large in fact. Don Mole and his minions run the famous Monster Scout Challenge. After your intial run in with Don Mole you will learn about Monster Synthesis from his fellow monster Dr. Lump, who accompanies you back to your ship. In order to progress through the game, you must complete the challenges. Each challenge features 3 rounds of fights in which you must defeat all the enemies, and you are not allowed to use any items to assist you. This means no healing or temporarily increasing your stats, unless of course your monsters have these skills already. Beginning with Rank F, the monsters are quite easy to defeat and making your way to Rank A the difficulty increases accordingly. After a battle, you will either receive an item from Don Mole or he will open access to a new area for you.
I won’t go into the minute details and all the combinations you can hope to achieve when synthesizing two monsters but I’ll cover the basics. In order to synthesize, both your monsters must be at least a level 10 or higher. Also, one must be positive while the other must be negative. Don’t worry, this information is displayed on screen for you so everything is fairly easy to understand. After you choose the two monsters you wish to synthesize, you will be shown which 3 monsters you can create. Once you create your new monster, you then can choose which 3 skills you want them to inherit. For instance, choose Hypnotist and you have access to sleep and confusion type spells and so on.
In a nutshell – or 3 paragraphs to be exact – this is the gameplay. Feel free to comment below for more specific information in case you’re wondering.
The controls are very simple and I played it both on a DS and the 3DS. The circle pad is a nice bonus when controlling your character. Obviously, movement is controlled by the d-pad (and circle pad on the 3DS). The shoulder buttons control your camera and pressing them simultaneously centers the camera behind you. If you press and hold B and press up or down on the d-pad you can change the viewing angle accordingly. The menu is accessed with ‘X’ and your action button is ‘A’. The touchscreen is only used when exploring the map or within the menu. When battling, synthesizing, upgrading, or naming a monster the touchscreen is not used.
Visuals and Sound
I wasn’t blown away by the visuals, don’t get me wrong, they weren’t bad by any means. Really what I want to focus on are the environments. While overall there were several unique locations to visit, the layout of each was fairly generic and bland. It would have been great if the levels weren’t always so flat or plain. Plus, sometimes I would be running along and an enemy would pop up in the same space as my character causing a battle to initiate. This didn’t happen too often, but enough for me to take notice. I was really impressed by the sheer size of the bosses in this game, taking up the whole top screen and also, the design of the monsters. Having more than 300 monsters does offer a bit of variety.
I really like the music and sounds, everything was catchy and never too repetitive. Most memorable is the battle music, which you can here in the Japanese trailer below. Also, if you watch the entire trailer you will see towards the last half a large blue serpent/dragon. I have that monster in my party currently. Yeah he’s cool. Komodo, my pet serpent/dragon monster. I want a serpent/dragon in real life! Anyways, moving on.
Concluding Overall Impressions
After having put in just shy of 18 hours into Joker 2, I believe I have a fairly accurate understanding of all the game has to offer. Trust me when I say that Joker 2 is entertaining, challenging, and fun to boot! I honestly was pretty skeptical playing the game at first because I’d never played any of the Dragon Quest games. Truth be told, it didn’t matter. Joker 2 has introduced me to the series in a delightful way and I’m more open to exploring the rest of the series over time. In addition, the three extra modes offer plenty to keep you busy well after the single player story is complete. For $29.99, Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 2 is a great deal!
Final Score: 5 out of 5