What is Dragon Quest Heroes II?
Dragon Quest Heroes II is a role-playing adventure set in the light-hearted Dragon Quest universe. Brightly coloured and easy to pick up and play, players set out on a quest to travel the length and breadth of the seven kingdoms as they try and prevent an all-out war, and stop a prophecy from coming true. Unlike the main series Dragon Quest games, Heroes II is a much more fast-paced and frantic battle-heavy adventure, with a focus on flashy combat action sequences, all wrapped up in an epic story, peppered with plenty of puntastic names and jokes, as well as references to past Dragon Quest games. However, despite the series' long history, and the II in the title, you don't need to have played any other Dragon Quest game - Dragon Quest Heroes II is an entirely standalone adventure.
How do you play Dragon Quest Heroes II?
There are two main parts to Dragon Quest Heroes II - the more traditional adventuring, as you explore towns and dungeons, chat to characters, and beat up bad guys; and Heroes' more objective based large-scale battle missions. In the case of the former, you'll spend most of your time trotting around the game's world, going from forest to desert, and village to town, engaging the large packs of baddies that try and get in your way. In the quieter towns, you'll get chance to chat with specific characters to further the story, buy new gear and take on extra-curricular side quests.
While combat in the field happens on a bit of an ad hoc basis, at certain points in the story, you'll head to a battlefield for a more structured scuffle. Depending on the mission in question, you may find yourself protecting a king in battle, taking out a big boss, or exploring your way around a trap-and-monster-filled dungeon - although all are pretty combat heavy regardless. Combat itself is fairly straightforward, with different combinations of the two main attack buttons (one for regular sword slashes, the other for more specialised magical-type moves), resulting in different attack sequences and combos, while specific spells can be accessed via a quick menu shortcut.
How easy is Dragon Quest Heroes II to pick up and play?
In general, Dragon Quest Heroes II is pretty easy to pick up and play, with several features that should ensure everyone can find their footing. Figuring out where to head next and what to do is made easy thanks to the big, friendly map markers, while combat itself comes in two flavours, depending on your style. The easy 'Quick Controls' let you simply mash buttons, with the game creating different combos for you depending on context, while the more advanced 'Slick Controls', ask you to manually input specific button combinations for a particular attack.
Mid-battle, your healing and reviving abilities are somewhat limited, as you only have a set number of healing crystals and reviving Yggdrassil leaves at your disposal in each battle - although they are replenished automatically whenever you return to your home base of Accordia. Should you fall in battle, you'll either find yourself whisked back to town and revived automatically, or given the option to restart the mission from the beginning - and as a bonus, you won't lose any accumulated experience points or gold by dying, so even when you mess up, your characters will be getting stronger each time, hopefully making it easier to win on each subsequent attempt.
For the youngest of players, while the main story scenes are fully voiced, much of Dragon Quest Heroes II still relies on text only, with some key scenes, as well as various side quests, missions and prompts being relayed entirely through text. As such, a solid reading ability is pretty much essential here, especially as many a character talk with unusual accents, or their speech is littered with puns.
- "Eeeeeep! What's the Dunisian army doing here with a splattalion of elite monsters!? I'm scared, Lazarel!"
- "Right, time to set off for Accordia. To get there, we'll need to cross Greena Pastures, which lies to the north of Harba."
- "Ye, umm… Ye wouldn't mind an auld peddler such as meself taggin' along now, would ye?"
On the whole, Dragon Quest Heroes II contains little mature content - there's a single usage of bad language (the game features a sword called the Bastard Sword), but no guts, gore or sex and nudity to speak of. Players battle with various fantastical beasts (smiley slimes, zombies and skeletons) in frantic combat, accompanied by impact sounds, bright flashes of light and brief squeaks as enemies get flung across the battlefield. About the only remotely 'gory' aspect is one particular enemy known as a 'Bloody Hand', a hand that's covered in a red blood-like slime. Some female characters wear somewhat low cut tops, and during one cutscene, the camera lingers on one's bikini-clad chest, as she complains of being cold.