Dragon Quest is a franchise that I’m sure many would be familiar with. With every good series, spinoffs are sure to happen. Dragon Quest Monsters would focus more on the many iconic monsters of the Dragon Quest series. Dragon Quest Monsters fans would argue that this is a huge step above Pokémon and shouldn’t be quickly be bat down as a clone. Dragon Quest Monsters eventually grew off a few games in its subseries until we finally hit up Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 2. The second in the Nintendo DS series, does this game really give you what you’re looking for beyond what it already established or even established by Nintendo’s Pokémon series?
DQMJ2 starts you off as a young boy who wishes to be a monster scout and ends up hitching a ride on a flying ship. Once discovered, the ship crash lands into a mysterious island filled with mystical monsters. You wander around, scouting and recruiting over 300 different monsters to your team and, as far as you’re concerned, you want to raise them, breed them and pull out the best monster team that you can possibly get.
Sounds a bit like Pokémon? Hold on one second.
Unlike Pokémon, you control a team of 3 active monsters and will do battle with other monsters. Through battling, you will gain experience points for your monsters which will then level them up and allow you to distribute skill points to them to learn different abilities. Like I said, the game is ultimately about raising the strongest monsters as possible and it isn’t all just for bragging rights just to say that you did. All of this culminates into battling your friends or random people online and trying to be best out of all of them.
With that said, grinding is going to be needed and there are plentiful ways to grind as you battle stuff offline. This is also not to say that there’s no content offline, just don’t expect a deep story that would be outside of where your usual Dragon Quest story will take you. Instead, there are these huge monsters that you can battle once your team is strong enough. However, just because there’s added content offline, doesn’t mean it doesn’t feel a bit empty and shallow. It’s much like going straight into Pokémon (yeah I said it again) but straight into the stat grinding without the actual badges or extra city stuff that you would find in the game. You’re stuck on an island and all it feels like you’re doing is simply that: Grinding.
That being said, the game does allow you to create brand new monsters by way of synthesizing. Further into the game, you will be able to synthesize a pair of monsters together to form a brand new one and it will allow you to transfer certain traits and overall will end up with a much superior monster. There are some limitations in regards to attraction in that each monster has a positive and a negative polarity which dictates if they will actually be able to blend or not. Thankfully, the game will give you a chance to pick from three different monsters that could potentially come out of the whole ordeal.
The highlight of this game is actually not within the offline single player (though you will be spending the majority of your time playing it) but the online features. The World Monster Championships is actually an online ranking mode feature where you upload your team and download five other teams and battle with them to determine your ranking which then gets tallied up with everyone else. Doing so will net you some pretty rough fights but also some nice prizes that will transfer to your actual game. Evidently, these leaderboards will appear on Nintendo’s DQMJ2 site and might even lead to some real life events. Pretty cool and a fun feature if you really want to put your name on the board. Note that you’re being paired up with everyone in the world so far, that includes the Japanese players that have been playing for awhile. The game also offers private battles with friends or random battles with random strangers. These are live battles as well so be prepared to bring your A game right then and there.
Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 2 features a lot of things that sets it off from that Pokémon game. However, it also doesn’t feature that much that we haven’t seen already in Joker, other than just a new venue and more monsters (about twice as many or so). With that said, the game is a grindfest that indeed will please the hardcore Dragon Quest fans but it might not be anything special to anyone else. It’s a good game with a good backend but you can only really color the monster raising grind in different coats of paint. Unfortunately, this is also not the most recent version of DQMJ2 as it seems that the North American version is not based off of the Japanese “Professional” version. Regardless, it isn’t just a Pokémon clone but it isn’t anything brand new either. However, this is a good starting point and may be the start of your Dragon Quest addiction.
This review on Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 2 is based on a North American review copy provided by Nintendo. The game was played on the Nintendo 3DS with a fancy slide pad that made moving around easier. It really does, I actually recommend it! Oh and I gave all of my monsters fancy names like “Poring” and “Groper”. Let’s see if you can guess what monsters they are.