Dragon Warrior Monsters 2: Cobi's Journey Dragon Warrior Monsters 2: Tara's Adventure


    The first Dragon Warrior Monsters came as a pleasant surprise. Released in the US while Pokemania was in full swing, Enix's monster-breeding foray into the world of Dragon Warrior managed to transcend its lack of originality with a smart use of the license and some surprisingly addictive gameplay. Now the inevitable sequel has arrived, and it repeats the modest success of its forbearer while fixing more than a few of its flaws. And though the result may be small in scope and ambition, Dragon Warrior Monsters 2 is a charming and unpretentious RPG that manages to rise above the scores of Pokémon copycats.

    The game takes place on the isle of GreatLog, formed around the base of a giant floating tree. The story begins as a small family of monster farmers moves to the isle with their children Cobi and Tara. While chasing the island's mischievous prince Kameha around the island, the two children accidentally break the magic plug, which keeps GreatLog afloat. A new one can't be found on the island itself, so it's up to one of the siblings to seek a replacement in the lands connected to GreatLog through a magic door. Like Pokémon, the game comes in two versions: depending on which one you play, you'll control Cobi or Tara as he or she seeks out magic keys to open the worlds connected to GeatLog in an attempt to find a serviceable plug. Along the way the children will need to become expert Monster Masters and recruit, breed, and train a small army of beasts.

Don't ask me how he's breathing down there.
Under the sea

    Though the small plots you encounter in the five main story worlds play out like a litany of RPG clichés - the evil force corrupting the local rulers to cause war, the monster in the waterway, the pirate ghost ship - it's a major step up from the random dungeons of the previous game. Each world has it's own unique look and individually designed towns and dungeons. The story isn't epic stuff, but it's a welcome break from the usual "conquer the tournament" plots in most monster-collecting games.

    Unfortunately, the story worlds are far too brief a part of the overall game. All of them feel almost like side-quests, and most players will easily blow through the first three, only to find their monsters underpowered for the final stretch. To combat this, DWM2 offers up almost limitless random worlds. In addition to the five story keys, you'll find many, many more that lead to random worlds, complete with their own world map, dungeons, and, yes, random towns. While there are a variety of graphic sets for these realms and each offers access to one or two specific families of monsters, they don't have quite the depth of the first game's random dungeons and quickly become stale when compared to the much more interesting story worlds. The random areas only really enter the game as a place to recruit new monsters or level up your charges, but as the game progresses, these aspects come more to the forefront.

[ed.'s note: I am not a Mad Gopher]
MadGopher seeks good home.

   Like the previous installment, recruiting, raising, and breeding your monsters is the heart of the gameplay. Akira Toriyama's cartoonish monster designs are a perfect fit for a more lighthearted game like DWM2, and the game offers over 300 varieties of them. Your character starts out with a lowly slime as a companion, but as you venture out, you'll need to recruit more. Wild creatures are tamed by offering them meat and, if they take a liking to you, they offer to join your party.

   The more time you spend with your pets, the more tame they become, and the more likely they are to follow the strategies and commands you issue in battle. The AI for the monsters eventually becomes almost too good, in fact. Once you've successfully tamed your creatures and set their battle plans, most combat becomes a matter of simply selecting fight over and over again. The boss fights present ample opportunity to try out custom strategies, but your pets are more than capable of determining the proper mix of attack and defense to take on most random encounters. The battle system itself is largely the same as the first game. Your three monsters do all of the fighting using a modified version of the standard Dragon Warrior combat system, which offers scores of abilities and spells taken from the series. DWM2 also adds in new equipment and monster accessories, which can give creature ability bonuses or increase its growth in a certain stat.

   But, the process behind getting your monsters to ready for combat is perhaps more engaging than the battles themselves and this is where the bulk of the strategy in DWM 2 lies. Recruiting wild monsters isn't the only way to add to your team. Male and female monsters can be bred together to produce stronger offspring, which inherit the skills and abilities of both their parents. Using selective breeding, players can customize their monsters to emphasize attack, defense, magic, or whatever suits their fancy. Some creatures are only available through long breeding chains, and mulling over the possibilities as you design the perfect team of three is often compelling than the main quest itself.

Esoteric junk
Just like the GIA!

   Beyond the fairly short main storyline, the game also offers a great deal of replayability. New areas and options open up as you complete each of the story worlds and, after replacing the plug, you're free to keep playing, visiting the magical worlds, and raising new monsters. In fact, certain parts of the game, such a few new story-based worlds and a mode that lets you breed your monsters with the first game's, only open up after the magic plug quest is completed. The game also features the required monster tournament (though it's mostly optional) and a well thought out two-player mode that lets you set house rules for one-on-one battles, take on the computer in cooperative matches, trade magical keys, or exchange and breed your monsters. Some keys and monsters are only available in either Cobi's or Tara's game. The differences between the two versions aren't so great that it's really worth buying both, but Enix has ensured that there are plenty of rewards for finding someone with the other game.

    With all the polish and care taken in Dragon Warrior, it's hard to fault it too much for being somewhat derivative. If the main quest had been a little more substantial and the random worlds a less necessary part of the gameplay, it could have perhaps been among the best RPGs available for the Game Boy Color. As it stands, DWM2 still has plenty to offer both fans of the series and those who still have room in their hearts for yet another couple hundred collectable monsters.

Review by Zak McClendon, GIA.
Dragon Warrior Monsters 2
Developer Enix
Publisher Enix
Genre Traditional RPG
Medium Catridge(32 MB)
Platform Game Boy Color
Release Date  03.09.01
E3: Dragon Warrior Monsters II impressions
73 screenshots
Cobi, Tara, and Warubou
North American box art
Story and Game Design Yuji Horii
Character / Monster Design Akira Toriyama
Music Koichi Sugiyama