Let's play Dragon Warrior II: Warrior Hardier!

User avatar
François
Posts: 1280
Joined: Tue Jan 21, 2014 8:00 am

Re: Let's play Dragon Warrior II: Warrior Hardier!

Postby François » Thu Jun 21, 2018 2:46 am

The results of our final expedition into the volcano that once held the Eye of Malroth are...

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Image: Yeah, if you can call them wizards.
Image: Go then, for thou must defeat Hargon.
Image: In due time!

This guy is probably here to tell you there's nothing more of interest here once you've beaten the two Evil Clowns and earned the Eye.

If you tell him you haven't found it...

Image: Thou art close to the island cave wherein lies an object of great power and greater peril!
Image: You mean the Eye of Malroth, right?
Image: I don't know, it seems pretty harmless to me.
Image: It was sealed all the way down here for a reason, I'm sure. But we have precious little choice.

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I've only marked the way to the Eye, since there's nothing of else of interest in here. There's probably a more elegant way to assemble these pieces, but this place has already taken up enough of my time! The only new chest we found contained like fifty-odd gold anyway.

As we make our way to Beran, I see we're sitting on 17336 gold. We could get a Light Sword from Wellgarth for Zed, but it's not his best weapon, while the 25000 Falcon Sword is definitely Glynn's, so I want to save up the 8000 or so we still need. I hope I won't have to regret that decision, but we can just be extra careful, right?

If only there was some place of business where one could safely store money, away from kings and monsters, to be retrieved at a later date. Oh well.

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Image: So, we have everything we needed to travel to Rhone, right?
Image: It's... just the Eye, isn't it?
Image: Right. But our goal is to find the crest of Life in there, first and foremost. Or we may be tricked by Hargon's illusions.
Image: Well, we got four of these wing-wongs already, might as well complete the set.

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Image: Wait a minute.
Image: Hmm?
Image: Do you guys hear something?
Image: I... don't...
Image: The wind, maybe.
Image: No, there's something else...
Image: Yes, yes, I heard it too! It's coming from outside!
Image: Yeah, we're going outside anyway-
Image: No, not the stairs. There must be another way out of here.
Image: Well, if you say so.

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Image: ...well I'll be.

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Image: Now who could be...?

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Image: ...!
Image: Oh hell no, let's take this chump out.
Image: Right!

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Image: Huh. That's new.
Image: Why should we spare your miserable carcass?
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Image: What could possibly be worth leaving you alive?
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Image: We knew that! This is worthless to us!
Image: He had no way to know we already recovered it.
Image: Yeah, he's clearly being honest here.
Image: ...
Image: Let's go, Gwen. We already have our hands full with the devils that actually want to fight us.
Image: Right, come on.
Image: ...fine.

This is the only clue we could get regarding the Ozwargs imprisoned under Hamlin and the Crest they're holding; considering you'll only find it if you obsessively check every black tile you come across, it's probably harder to get to than the Crest was in the first place.

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Image: This... this should be the place right?
Image: Indeed. Glynn, will you do us the honor?
Image: Here goes nothing!



Image: It worked!
Image: Well that was terrifying.
Image: I cannot help but worry at the energies we are unleashing here.
Image: We unleash these energies or we go home, Glynn.
Image: I am well aware. But... Never mind. Let's go.

Welcome to the path to Rhone, everyone. If Dragon Warrior 2 wants to justify its reputation for cruelty, brutality and unfairness, time's running out!

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I think this is the only cave without a staircase entrance; we cracked the mountain open and walked right in.

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A single Mega Knight greets us inside. That's not a problem. Things are looking good so far!

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Three tunnels and three staircases (one of them half visible in the east). We're already drowning in choices! Let's clear as much of this ground floor as we can before going any lower.

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...oh crap. Pitfalls. I forgot about those. Welp.

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Four Horks await us below as soon as we land, but we prevail with ease.

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Image: Okay, this sucks.
Image: It does explain all the stairs above.
Image: Such is the price of knowledge, I suppose.

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As we try to walk around down here, we run into more groups of two to four Horks seemingly every other step. I don't know if this is pure RNG or if there are just hordes of the things down here, but I'm not inclined to explore the rest of the floor much further, and we go for the nearest stairs.

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Hmm, I wonder if these walls form upside-down crosses on purpose; that would be one piece of religious reference that slipped past the localization.

Anyway, let's try this one up staircase.

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Or, uh, the eastern up staircase.

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Oh this does not bode well. Let's go... north?

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Oof, Ozwargs again. They weren't too dangerous in Hamlin but these are not going to be fun random encounters.

Dark Eyes are unremarkably strong and have low defense, but relatively high HP. They can cast Surround, breathe sleeping gas, and dance that dang strange jig. They have immunity to Sleep and Stopspell, and fairly high resistance to nearly everything else. Among our options right now, damage spells seem most effective, and they have a resistance of 4 (out of the maximum of 7) to those.

It's a tough fight, but it earns us a bit over 300 gold, so that's Glynn's Falcon Sword that much nearer.

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Oh hey! Zed straight up does 28 damage to one of them. Wow!

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And we enter an identical room from the south.

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Or not so identical; this is a different stairway we saw on the ground floor. Maybe the down stairway in the northeast here leads to something interesting. In other news, yeah, there's no way these crosses are unintentional.

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Dang! It's good to know these are in here, though. Our entire party just attacks; only Zed does non-insignificant damage on a standard attack, but the others could possibly roll a crit.

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...of course.

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Okay, what about this one then?

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Ah, this is new.

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We've seen Gargoyles alone at sea before, only their Stopspell is any danger to us. Orc Kings are so far second in Strength only to the monstrous Ghouls of the Moon Fragment tower, with fairly high defense and very high HP. They also know Healmore for some reason. And they've got some magic resistance across the board, 2 for nearly everything, 3 for Stopspell. Aaaand they drop Lottery Tickets. Welp.

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Ehhh... I guess there might be a pitfall to someplace interesting in here?

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There is not.

I guess we can check out the repeating crossroads again.

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...ugh.

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Okay.

Okay.

I'm going to have to change the way I draw maps for this, because pitfalls clearly don't take an entire 4x4 block of tiles. Eh, it's no biggie I suppose.

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Berserkers are as strong as Ghouls were, and about as durable. They only have a standard attack to their name, though. They're moderately resistant to sleep, and slightly resistant to Defence and Surround, but damage spells always work. Probably their biggest claim to fame is that they can drop a Giant Hammer, which sells for a sweet 3000 clams.

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Aw heck. Goodbye MP.

...

Yup, Glynn comes out of this with just enough MP to cast Return, so we have Gwen cast Outside and we get outta there. Oooh boy. The fight does make him gain a level though, for 2 Strength, 4 Agility, 4 HP, and 1 MP.

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The pitfalls we know of are marked in brown.

That wasn't the most fruitful first foray, but at least it won't take very long to go back to where we left off.

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Alright, second take. Let's try these repeating crossroads again.

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...ughhhhhhh.

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Oh hey, there's a chest down here. Who wants to bet it's a trap?

There is definitely something unusual going on with the encounter rate on this floor, and all we're encountering are Horks. Man that's spooky, just this hole in the ground packed with infinite numbers of shambling undead monstrosities. Good grief.

Zed does reach level 24 here though, for 3 Strength, 4 Agility, and 6 MP. And in the same fight, Gwen attains level 18, for 1 Strength, 4 Agility, 8 HP and 9 MP. Nice!

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Image: ...what?
Image: It was in this pit of all places?!
Image: This is abominable! A symbol of life, buried among throngs of vile undead...
Image: If this was Hargon's only crime, he would still merit the most severe punishment!
Image: At least we don't have to look for it anymore, right?
Image: Let's find Rubiss the next time we have to leave.
Image: Of course. I can't wait to meet a wizard so mighty that even the Dragonlord holds him in esteem.
Image: I like how it's a given that we won't be making it all the way through this time either.

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Whew, nice. But we're hardly done here.

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Hmm! Maybe these corridors don't repeat as much as I feared. Maybe I'm just remembering the Lost Woods.

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Dang, of course these dirtbags are here too.

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...or maybe they do repeat. Gah! Let's try west this time.

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Oh what joy.

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This is what my map looks like right now. (The floors towards the top of the image are higher in altitude than the ones below here; that makes things easier to keep track of on my end.) There's no way this is not in fact repeating nonsense, is there?

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Further west... then... I dunno, south?

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Image: Holy crap! Stairs up! Guys!
Image: I was beginning to think we would never see the like.
Image: ...this better not be another dumb dead end filled to the rafters with Berserkers and Dark Eyes.

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I don't know if there's a trick or a pattern to this but I'm not super inclined to explore it further.

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Image: This looks new, but...
Image: It could be three dead ends.
Image: That's a lot of digging just to flip us the bird.
Image: When one commands an army of undead and demons, digging is no troublesome matter.
Image: ...not helping, Glynn.

Let's try... the southeast first.

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Okay, this looks a lot like the caves we're used to. Man that's a relief.

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Yup, just a standard dead end. I'm almost happy to see it.

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Is that... an exit? It sort of looks like the entrance.

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Nope, just walls. Or maybe...

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Image: Ooooh, I think that's... a secret... passage. Huh.
Image: It was worth a try, I suppose.

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Welp. I make sure we're all healed up first, just in case.

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Image: That's worse than a trap!
Image: Easy to say, you're not the one getting your hands sliced up.

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Image: Ah, this is promising again!
Image: ...now I wonder what's at the west end of this floor.
Image: Well we're not turning back!
Image: I know, I know. It's just... this place was designed to bug me, I guess.

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Image: If this is another Lottery Ticket, Fates help me, I will do something horrible.

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...really?

That's just a kick in the pants. We can't take out the Babbles in one hit without a crit, and the Healers negate any damage we do manage to inflict. By the time we eliminate the latter, the former are long gone.

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Image: ...!

Okay, Dragon Warrior 2, never mind, all is forgiven.

Image: This is... This is Erdrick's armor! Incredible!
Image: What is it even doing here?
Image: It was... it must have been in Moonbrooke. Hargon took it from Moonbrooke, Gwen.
Image: ...
Image: Gwen?
Image: It's back where it belongs now, isn't it?
Image: Yeah. Glynn, do you think...?
Image: Not a chance, Zed. It's all yours.
Image: Wear it with pride.
Image: I will.

The Armor of Erdrick is only 5 points stronger than the Armor of Gaia, but it reduces both breath and magic damage by 25%, and it still protects its wearer from all floor damage. Its enchantment must have faded through the ages, as it used to give a 1/3 reduction, and it no longer regenerates HP. But even now it is extremely welcome. Of course, only the Prince of Midenhall can wear it, and it is in fact his best armor. (It's not strictly his "strongest" armor, but we'll get into that later.)

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Image: You're getting your wish, Zed. We have to go all the way back west.
Image: I'll take whatever pleasure I can get in here.
Image: You know, we'll still need whatever help Rubiss can grant us, so it's not like we need to reach the other side of this tunnel right away.
Image: It's still good to map it though, right?
Image: Ah, true enough.

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Image: What fabulous relic could possibly be in this one?

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Image: Ehhh...
Image: Can't have too much money, I suppose.
Image: That's debatable.

We're sitting on 22343 gold right now. If we can get out of here with our stash, we'll grind up the rest of the Falcon Sword somewhere safe.

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Man, what a rush! Beating one makes worth it to see fifty run away.

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This hallway looks longer than the others here. Hmm. Let's go back east and try the other side first.

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Oh! Now I'm curious about the west side... but I'm not gonna drive myself crazy turning around again, let's see where this staircase leads.

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Whoa, okay.

Flames are as strong as Orc Kings, but a lot less durable; they can call for help, and have a improved fire breath attack that does up to about 30 points of damage. They're completely immune to damage spells (of course) and highly resistant to Surround, but only have a resistance of 2 to other magic. Most interestingly, they can drop Magic Armor!

Hargon's Knights are a bit stronger than Ghouls, and even a fair bit more durable. They can attack twice and roll crits, as well as cast Healmore and Defence. They're immune to sleep, as undead usually are, but have low resistance to Stopspell and Surround, and are weak to Defence and spell damage. And they have a chance to drop a Thunder Sword, which is for all intents and purposes the Prince of Midenhall's strongest weapon.

These are getting to be really dangerous enemies, doing enough damage to kill Glynn and Gwen in maybe three hits, and put enough of a dent in Zed that he needs healing regularly.

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Oof, I suspect there will be pitfalls on this floor. Just a hunch, I suppose. Let's try for this up staircase here.

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Effing called it.

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Man this is a huge room!

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Image: At least there's a way up. I wonder if Hargon ever fell down here by accident.
Image: Hmm... What if there's another chest somewhere in this hole?
Image: I'm not sure I want to find out.
Image: But we will, won't we?
Image: ...right.
Image: Lllllllater.

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Attackbots are nearly as strong as Ghouls, and have nearly as much defense power as Metal Babbles, with a huge 120 HP to chew through! They can attack twice, and roll crits on top of that. I suspect they could one-shot Zed with a lucky hit. If that wasn't enough, they're immune to most magic, with the exception that Defence always hits, and they only have a resistance of 2 to Surround. On the plus side, they drop a hefty 723 experience.

Image: Zed... I am exhausted.
Image: Can't you really hold on for-
Image: My reserves are also nearly depleted. It's time to leave.
Image: ...yeah, okay, fine. Take us away while you still can, Glynn.

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Image: It is good to see the sky again, for sure.

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It's worth noting that progress in this cave has been largely upwards. Wherever we're going must be far above sea level.

We return to Beran, lose on our Lottery Ticket, rest up, and save.

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Image: So, shall we try our luck with Rubiss again?
Image: Yup. But let's make a detour in Osterfair first.
Image: Ah, I know where you're going with this.

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Image: Hey man.
Image: ...what is it?
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Image: Here. Thanks.
Image: Huh! You're... welcome?
Image: All's well that ends well, I suppose.
Image: Do you want your sword back?
Image: ...nah. Keep it. For the trouble.
Image: Well I wasn't going to give it back anyway!
Image: Whatever, dude. No time to argue with some merchant, I need to take down an evil wizard. It's very busy work!

The Armor of Gaia is worth 38 gold to sell, so we might as well return it where we found it.

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Image: This had better work this time.
Image: The Sun, the Moon, the Stars, Water, and Life.
Image: Our ancestors used the powers of the sun and rain to fight evil, in ages past. It's unsettling to contemplate how much more help we need to call on this time.
Image: It sure beats using the power of whatever this Malroth creature is, let me tell you.
Image: The world is on our side. The magic Hargon makes use of is an abomination, a force from another place that heaven and earth are rejecting in unison. I'd bet even the Dragonlord is more natural an entity than he is.
Image: We cannot afford to fail.
Image: Let's hope this Rubiss sees things the same way.

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User avatar
François
Posts: 1280
Joined: Tue Jan 21, 2014 8:00 am

Re: Let's play Dragon Warrior II: Warrior Hardier!

Postby François » Fri Jun 22, 2018 8:28 am

Image: All of this for that, eh?
Image: It's clearly a powerful magical artifact. I can't find it in myself to be disappointed.
Image: Besides, we need it to do our job, right?
Image: Eh, sure.
Image: So, back to Beran, then?
Image: Ah, not right away! We need to go to Tuhn one last time.
Image: Do you mean...?
Image: I just might!
Image: Well, I'll be at the wheel then, cautiously giddy.
Image: ...is that possible?
Image: If anyone can, he can.

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Image: It's... so impossibly light!
Image: You think you can make it dance?
Image: Oh, I'll make it sing.

Glynn goes from 67 attack power to 52, but he now attacks twice per turn. On paper, this makes him less effective against high-defense monsters, but he was already pretty crummy against those and at worst he'll go from doing 1 damage once to doing 1 damage twice. And he's now much more effective at fighting the low-to-mid-defense foes he was already decent against. I mean, he wasn't one-shotting Hargon's Knights or anything, but he's been pulling his weight.

There's a point that could be made for giving the Falcon Sword to Zed instead, since his Strength is much higher. However, we need him to be able to chunk down high-defense high-HP monsters with single heavy hits. His +50 Dragon Killer gives him an attack power of 144, while the +5 Falcon Sword would give him two 99 power attacks instead. Considering, for example, that Attackbots have a defense of 230 and Saber Lions have a defense of 76, that is very much a huge loss in damage per turn. What's more, the 16000 gold Light Sword from Wellgarth has an attack bonus of 65, which will weigh on the "single heavy hit" side of the scale even further.

There may come a point where Zed's base Strength is high enough to make the Falcon Sword a better choice than anything else he could wield, but hopefully we won't have to grind that much.

On our way out, we sell for 578 gold Glynn's Iron Spear, that we first bought for Zed back in Hamlin. Man but does that thing deserve its retirement or what?

If we can't get Zed's hands around the hilt of a Thunder Sword before we accumulate enough cash for a Light Sword, the latter will be our next purchase. Other than that, I think we could conceivably give Zed and Gwen a Shield of Strength each; they wouldn't equip them, but they could still use its Healmore effect. That's a long way off, though..

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The game doesn't save that the path here is open, so we have to use the Eye of Malroth again. No biggie, that's the easy part.

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One more time, then.

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Of course there are more pitfalls we hadn't found. I don't know why I imagined there might not be.

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Aw dang. We mop up these twits, return to Beran, and try again.

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Okay, we make it back to the entrance of that one western tunnel we didn't fully explore last time. Or, well, the time before last time. I'm no in hurry to revisit Pitfall City to the east right away, so let's see it through to the end for now.

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Image: Holy crap, there are finally real dragons in this adventure about Dragon Warriors. Is it about time or what?

Green Dragons have a Strength of 130, which I think makes them the second strongest standard enemies in the game. They also have fairly high HP, and though their defense is lower than some of the other creatures here, it is high enough that Glynn has trouble piercing their scales. They have a normal attack and an improved fire breath, making them pretty faithful to their original incarnation. Their resistances are different, though, as they are immune to Sleep this time, with a resistance of 3 to spell damage, Defence and Surround.

Green Dragons rarely drop the Sword of Destruction, which is by far the strongest weapon in the game, with a ludicrous +93 attack power. On top of that, it increases its wielder's critical hit chance from 1 in 64 to 1 in 8. As one might expect, it is also extremely cursed, with a 25% chance of causing you to freeze in place and skip your turn in battle. It's typically best to sell it for a cool 11250, but it sure is a neat toy to try out for a little while.

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Gah, it's Gwen's turn to bite it. She definitely can't take all four of these juggernauts wailing on her at once. We run away, bail out, and start over again from the beginning. Defeating Green Dragons isn't beyond our ability right now, but it's all in how many of them we have to face at once.

A Gargoyle drops an Iron Helmet as we climb back up again. It'll sell for over 2000 gold, so it'll definitely bring us closer to that Light Sword.

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Ah, music to my ears!

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Boo!

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Huh. We'll have to go through Pitfall City for sure, but at least we have these two glorious rewards to enjoy until then, right?

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Image: Eh, better than a kick in the pants.

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Image: I'll... I'll take the kick in the pants, please.
Image: No time to indulge in your unusual fantasies, Zed! There are Dragons about!
Image: I... Uh... Yes, I noticed, thank you.

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We take three fire breaths to the face in the first turn. They hit Glynn for up to 30, since his armor only resists spells. Good grief, we might have to delay our dragon-defeatin' again.

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At least we escape with our lives.

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This ought to be more our speed.

...nope, the Attackbot crits Gwen for 111 damage. We finish the fight this time, but Glynn kicks the bucket as well, so we gotta feed him a Leaf to bail out. On the way to go pick another one, Zed reaches level 25 for 5 Strength and 9 HP, and Glynn levels up to 23, for 1 Strength, 2 Agility, 8 HP, 6 MP, and his next spell.

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Defeat is a group-targeting instant death effect. It works like other spells, rolling against each enemy's Defeat resistance, always hitting a resistance of 0 and never hitting a resistance of 7. It only costs 4 MP too, so if you know what enemies are vulnerable, it can definitely save you a lot of grief. Among the creatures of concern to us at the moment, Flames, Dark Eyes and Saber Lions are only slightly resistant to it (a resistance of 2), and Attackbots and Green Dragons are definitely not worth the attempt (7 and 6 respectively). With everything else, it mostly depends on how big a group you're looking at; for example, Ozwargs have a Defeat resistance of 4, but if you're up against three of them, it's worth using even if it only works once.

Alright, back at-

...Glynn gets taken out by an Ozwarg ambush on the first floor.

I'm beginning to suspect asking Yuji Horii to hurt me more was a mistake.

We bail and come back again. As if to make amends, the game gives us two encounters with 8 Metal Slimes each on the way, netting us 5 kills and about 1500 experience. Nice!

Aaaaand we make it back to Pitfall City in good shape. Whew!

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Eh, of course. Maybe we'll see where the exit to this pit leads to this time.

A victory against a lone Attackbot earns Gwen level 19, for 2 Strength, 2 Agility, 8 HP (these large HP increases are extremely welcome), 9 MP, and her next spell!

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Explodet is the ultimate attack spell, dealing around 50-70 explosion damage to all enemies regardless of grouping (but still subject to spell damage resistance), for 8 MP. Gwen has 128 max MP by now, so it's not too expensive to use on the regular.

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Magic Vampirii are a hint stronger than Saber Lions, but a fair bit less durable than most other creatures in here. They can breathe fire, as well as cast Defence and Sleep, making me extremely glad everyone's got Dragon's Bane on. They're outright immune to Stopspell, and moderately resistant to Defeat and Sleep, but only have a resistance of 2 to everything else.

Most interestingly, they can drop a Mysterious Hat, which is the only piece of headgear the Prince of Cannock and Princess of Moonbrooke can equip. It adds 8 defense power, and though I've seen it claimed that it reduces the MP cost of spells, I'm not entirely sure this applies to the original NES version here.

In a subsequent battle against four Vampirii, Glynn manages to Defeat three on the first turn, making it well worth the 4 MP. No hat, though.

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Ah, this could be another portion of the pitfall room. At least we know where this leads now.

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Not unexpected, of course. On our way back up, we run into three Flames, and Glynn takes out two of them. Dude's a death machine and I love it. Later on, a fight against three Hargon's Knights ends in one turn, thanks to Firebane and Explodet. Man, these level-ups have increased our offensive potential by an order of magnitude!

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Silver Batboons aren't quite as strong as Green Dragons, but they're still pretty buff, and fairly durable besides. They can breathe sleeping gas, and cast Healall and Firebane. They're immune to Sleep and Stopspell, highly resistant to Defeat and Surround, but fairly weak to Defence and damage spells. If you have the good fortune to see one drop something, it's gonna be a Dragon Killer.

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I wonder if this is the type of game to put progress behind a pitfall in a nondescript dead end. Let's see...

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Not this one I suppose.

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Yup, this is definitely not progress either. But at least I'm making sure we won't fall in the same hole twice.

On the plus side, from this point, if we come out of this place under our own power, we'll have enough money to trade in Zed's Dragon Killer for a Light Sword!

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Aaaand again.

At least the encounters around here usually earn us a bit over a thousand experience each. Considering it takes 20000 experience for Zed to go from level 25 to 26, it's a decent amount. We'll have to leave before long because of the MP expense of Defeat, Firebane and Explodet, but at least everyone stays in one piece.

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Image: Alright Zed, time to call it.
Image: Gah, this is taking forever!
Image: At least the pits don't move around on us.
Image: Wow, okay, I'll call that a blessing.
Image: Shall I take us out, then?
Image: Sure. We could use a shopping trip too, if you know what I mean.
Image: We have to chip away at this monstrous cavern, but every foray sees us stronger and stronger. Hargon doesn't stand a chance.
Image: ...right.
Image: Yeah.

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We're definitely starting to cover more ground, too. I suspect the two sections of the top floor map have some overlap, but I don't want to put them together until I know for sure.

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Image: Awwwwww sweet!

Just like that, Zed's attack power goes from 149 to 164. Strangely enough, this sword'll be a lot better at killing dragons than the Dragon Killer ever was. We're pretty much done with needing money at this point, other than maybe the pie-in-the-sky Shields of Strength. Even the Mink Coat wouldn't be an upgrade anymore.

On that note, we Return to Beran, take our rest, and head into the darkness once again.

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The double Stepguard tax for using this gate is starting to get a little old by now, those 8 MP are precious.

Heh, we get another Iron Helmet drop on the way back up. That's not the hat we want!

Zed dealing a critical to a Metal Babble earns Glynn level 24, for 2 Strength, 3 Agility, 7 HP, and 4 MP. It's not a great level, but at least his Strength increases count double now.

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Alright, up here again.

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Gah, of course.

As we climb back up, Zed starts one-shotting Berserkers. Dang but that sword is earning its pay.

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Aw cripes. So much for being confident. We leave and return again.

On the way, two Metal Babble kills earn Zed level 26, for 4 Strength, 3 Agility, and 8 HP. He can two-shot them with regular attacks now, which is great news.

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Image: HARGOOOOOOOON!

Outside, Return, House of Healing, Inn, you know the drill by now.

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Ah, whew. I kinda wonder what might be in the southwestern corner of this room now but I'm not gonna complain about finally making it down here.

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...I don't like the looks of this. Let's go, I don't know, south?

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I don't even want to risk taking the two steps to see the next room. We Leaf Glynn, and, well, you know the rest. If this was a video LP, this'd be a death montage for sure.

Next time, I somehow manage to get lost in the second floor again, but the extra battles we get into while finding our way earn Gwen level 20, for 9 Agility, 7 HP, and 7 MP. Nice!

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Welp, south it is.

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Image: At least it's not another bunch of repeating hallways.

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Image: Wait... what?
Image: Wasn't this part a dead end?
Image: Hmm. Let's go back north.

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Image: Gah!
Image: Well, there's no use throwing a fit. Let's try a different path.

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This'll be trial and error, I suppose.

(The purple line on the lower floor is the safe path from stair to stair.)

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Le sigh. Finishing off the Attackbot at least gets Glynn to level 25, for 1 Strength, 7 HP, 4 MP, and...

Image: Ugh, here we go again, another trip. I'll count us lucky we-
Image: Wait. Zed, wait.
Image: I am not going ahead without Gwen and that's final.
Image: I think... I think we might not have to. Give me a moment.
Image: ...eh?
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Image: Eh wot?
Image: Holy shit, Glynn!
Image: When I left for the Spring of Bravery, I didn't think for even a moment that I'd master the powers of life and death. This is an art even greater than the healer's touch!

Casting Revive costs 15 MP, and it only returns your ally with 1 HP so you need to tack on healing expenses on top of it, but it is extremely welcome nonetheless.

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Image: Aw crud.

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We run into more than a few of these fights, to no avail. Still, I'd rather have to chew through a pack of Healers than to blow an Explodet's worth of MP on a bunch of Green Dragons and Berserkers.

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Of course.

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Okay, so the entire west branch is a bust. Now we know!

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Aaaaand Glyn carks it again. He sure can't revive himself, and we're low on MP besides. That's another trip called.

Selling a Dragon Killer we got from a drop gives us enough money to buy a Shield of Strength, so we get one for Gwen. That ought to stretch her MP a little. Back in we go!

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Did I mention the cave to Rhone is a dick of a dungeon? If I haven't, I should have.

At least we only lost about 800 gold. Not that it matters, really. Now that I think about it, I can't imagine a situation where I'd want Zed to blow a turn healing himself instead of attacking.

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Yeah, I was pretty sure this one'd be wrong, but it doesn't hurt to make sure. And it got Zed to level 27, for 4 Strength, 6 Agility, and a very acceptable 11 HP.

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That one also takes us back to the stairs. Only one path left.

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...me and my big mouth. Let's try... north?

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Whew.

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Man this is just naked sadism at this point. Wwwwwwest?

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Gah! North?

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Holy crap. Are all these potential bad choices leading back to the staircase, or are some leading to chests and we're just missing them? I'm going to have to check again later. Let's go east this time.

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All least this path doesn't fork immediately.

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(The brown hallways take you back to the stairs.)

Image: It's about time! I don't know how much more of this dumb floor I could have taken.
Image: I know exactly how much more of this dumb floor you could have taken, Zed. You could have taken as much of it as was required.
Image: So could we. We have to.
Image: ...yeah. Yeah, you're right. It doesn't make this place suck less, but it's true. All in favor of saying this place sucks?
Image: Oh it sucks enormously!
Image: It sucks beyond mortal comprehension!
Image: Aw yeah. You hear that, Hargon? Your home sucks! And we're gonna find you and then we're gonna kill you! And if I don't see daylight at the end of this staircase, I'm gonna kill you extra hard!

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Music: Travelling with friends

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Image: ...huh. I didn't expect that to work.
Image: So... are you going to go easy on Hargon, now?
Image: Nnnnnnnnno.

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Friday
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Re: Let's play Dragon Warrior II: Warrior Hardier!

Postby Friday » Fri Jun 22, 2018 11:04 am

Hargon, watching all this through his magic crystal ball, cackles evilly.

"How long till the Dragons that give zero exp are ready?" he asks.

"Uh, sir," replies his Fiend-In-Charge of Monsters, "Exp is an abstract concept. They monsters don't "have" exp, it's just something that heroes gain as they fight. It's supposed to represent --"

"Yes, yes, I'm sure that's all true," Hargon replies. "But I don't pay you for the truth. I pay you for lots of dead ends and zero exp dragons."

"Sir," sighs the Fiend, "you could at least stop giving your monsters gold for the heroes to find on their corpses."

Hargon squints. "But then how would they buy lunch?"
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TA
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Re: Let's play Dragon Warrior II: Warrior Hardier!

Postby TA » Fri Jun 22, 2018 12:12 pm

Ah, but you missed the Thunder Sword! You gotta go back in!

It's probably for the best, get some more levels before the random encounters start to get mean.
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Metal Slime
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Re: Let's play Dragon Warrior II: Warrior Hardier!

Postby Metal Slime » Fri Jun 22, 2018 1:45 pm

Little fun side fact on Liquid Metal Slimes in DQ2 but in all versions from the GBC onwards, they have a chance to drop Mad Caps that reduce how much MP your spells cost. I got lucky enough to get one when I was playing through the game on my phone.

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nosimpleway
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Re: Let's play Dragon Warrior II: Warrior Hardier!

Postby nosimpleway » Fri Jun 22, 2018 3:17 pm

Stands to reason, they support their own.

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TA
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Re: Let's play Dragon Warrior II: Warrior Hardier!

Postby TA » Fri Jun 22, 2018 4:40 pm

Metal Slime wrote:Little fun side fact on Liquid Metal Slimes in DQ2 but in all versions from the GBC onwards, they have a chance to drop Mad Caps that reduce how much MP your spells cost. I got lucky enough to get one when I was playing through the game on my phone.


Those hats are in the NES version, they just don't drop off of Metal Babbles. They drop off of Magic Vampirii at a 1/128 chance, and at a 1/128 chance off of two bosses at the end. The remakes put them on the Metal Babbles at 1/16 and put a guaranteed one in a chest in the Cave to Rhone (renamed Rendarak).

Sidenote, from the DQ wiki:
In a 1998 interview, Pokémon creator Satoshi Tajiri revealed that his boyhood frustrations over obtaining a Cap were one of the main inspirations for the data exchanging feature his series would become famous for. To wit, he explained he felt a great deal of envy when his childhood friend (and Pocket Monster illustrator) Ken Sugimori managed to get two of them on his save file, and had absolutely no way to share the unneeded one with Tajiri.
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François
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Re: Let's play Dragon Warrior II: Warrior Hardier!

Postby François » Sat Jun 23, 2018 3:22 pm

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Image: I don't know what I expected, but...
Image: Rhone is far above sea level, and temperature falls as altitude increases. This makes all the sense in the world.

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Image: It's... it's almost pretty.
Image: There's no "almost" here. If we didn't know this was Hargon's domain, it might be the loveliest land we've ever been to.
Image: It's nice and all but I'd rather be home than trudging through this snow. Let's get the job done quick, alright?

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Image: Hooooooly crap, big boy incoming!
Image: The snow's nice but...
Image: ...the locals are something else.

Cyclops are a tiny bit weaker than Green Dragons, with more HP but slightly less defense. Instead of breathing fire, they can roll critical hits; I suspect they can one-shot both Glynn and Gwen at this point. Their magic resistances are very low though, with a 3 at best for Sleep and Defense, and even less than that for everything else. If there were more than one here, it'd be extremely worth it to go for Surround or maybe even Defeat, but Zed and Glynn can take care of this guy in one turn.

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Oof, there are still Attackbots up here. The Light Sword makes them a much quicker kill than they used to be, though we still want to stack Defence and Increase every turn if we can.

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And these guys start showing up in groups, though again Zed and Glynn together can take one out per turn. Their Firebane isn't very scary by now, since we're all resistant to spell damage; even Gwen's Infernos would hit them back harder.

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Image: Hello, what's this?
Image: Strange place for a monolith. You don't think Hargon lives here, do you?
Image: That would probably be too easy. But then again, if he isn't expecting us, we might catch him by surprise.
Image: What are the odds of that, though?
Image: Getting here was incredibly difficult! I'm sure Hargon didn't cram that cave full of dragons expecting three pampered princelings to carve their way through.

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Music: Prophecy

Image: Huh. This is... nice?
Image: And warm, too!
Image: This is a holy place if I've ever seen one.

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Image: The underworld? Back to the underworld?
Image: She might mean the regular world, since Rhone is so much higher than anywhere else.

This travel door connects to the monolith just before the entrance of the cave to Rhone, so we could easily go back to Beran from here if we had unfinished business or shopping to take care of.

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The screen flashes white after the sage says "may the light shine upon thee". He in fact replenishes all our HP and MP for free, he would resurrect everyone who needed it, and he offers kingly services as well. Taking the travel door is a one way trip, but as long as we don't save anywhere else, Return effects will send us back to this shrine. This is immensely welcome, because we still have a ways to go, and having to go through the cave every time we needed to heal would be nightmarish.

Image: Even here, Hargon's rule is not absolute. There are great forces on our side.
Image: We're still the ones doing all the sword swinging and spell slinging, so I hope these forces don't expect a butt-ton of gratitude.
Image: Please pay him no mind, kind sir. I for one am quite thankful for any assistance you may provide!

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Image: You know, now that the upper floors of the cave to Rhone are easily accessible to us from this side, I wonder what treasures we might have left behind in there.
Image: Oh dear.
Image: Ah, I know how you feel, as much as I don't want to go back.
Image: Yeah, don't get me wrong, I'd rather spend my entire life without going in that craphole again. But if there's anything of value, it's better with us than in Hargon's clutches.
Image: Yes, of course. Let's get to it, then.

Mapping that cave's remaining bits will be a lot less stressful now that we're this close to free refills. And of course we can always use the experience. I'll let you know if anything interesting hapens.

...

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Welp, an Attackbot one-shots Gwen before we even reach the cave. Did I mention we can always use the experience?

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Oh hey, there's another new enemy here too. Blizzards are a touch weaker than Cyclops, with comparable defense but slightly less HP, but they never actually attack. They can cast Defense, but their real threat comes from them also knowing Defeat. Yyyyyup, that box o' joy is cracked wide open: group-targeting instant death, in the enemy's hands. Rhone is such a swell place, isn't it?

We have some natural resistance to Defeat, probably equivalent to an enemy resistance stat of 4 or 5, but it's still a butt-clenching experience every time.

Blizzards are even immune to Stopspell, and so close to immune to Sleep as to make no practical difference, but they're only moderately resistant to other magic. If there's more than one, an Explodet/Firebane combo is not uncalled for, but otherwise Zed and Glynn can take care of it (if they don't get murderized before their turns come up, that is).

...

Gwen reached level 21, for 3 Strength, 4 Agility, 12 HP, 3 MP, and...

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Image: Ah, I get it now. Very clever!
Image: See? I knew you'd figure it out.

Seeing as Gwen has so much more MP than Glynn, her being able to cast Stepguard feels a little less wasteful, but it's more a convenience of sorts than an actual increase in power or survivability. This is also the last spell that is shared between our two casters, after Healmore, Antidote and Outside. All of the others are unique to either of them.

Not long afterwards, Glynn reaches level 26, for 2 Strength, 3 Agility, and a very welcome 12 HP.

...

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Cripes, I don't know what made me think we could take out four Green Dragons at once. Fortunately Gwen makes good her escape, and uses Outside and a Wing to take us back to the Rhone monolith.

...

A while later, Zed reaches level 28, for 5 Strength, 3 Agility, and 10 HP. Thaaaaat's a good one.

...

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We encounter more new foes on the surface on a healing run. If you thought Blizzards were as bad as it gets, do I have a lovely surprise for you.

Giants are even stronger than Green Dragons, with a huge pile of HP and fairly high defense. They can roll crits but have no other tricks up their sleeves. They're immune to Sleep and highly resistant to Defeat, but only have a resistance of 2 to anything else that matters. They can also drop the Sword of Destruction.

Gold Batboons are nearly as tough, and a bit weaker, but they come with a panoply of special attacks, with a fire breath, a sleeping breath, Firebane, and Sacrifice, which kills its user and ALWAYS INSTANTLY KILLS OUR ENTIRE PARTY. I've never seen it fail; I'm pretty sure it can't. It's the dick move of dick moves. Needless to say, it's best to take these dirtbags out as quickly as possible! They're highly resistant to Sleep and Defeat, but only slightly resistant to anything else, so a quick Stopspell is worth the expense.

So yes, to reiterate, the Rhone surface is populated by enemies that can kill our entire party at will. They often show up in groups of three. They are also often accompanied by crittin' one-shottin' Giants, and Defeatin' Blizzards.

There's your cruelty. There's your open, naked sadism. Dragon Warrior 2 no longer gives one half of one shit. It'll kill you in the blink of an eye because it can. That's Rhone. That's why people quit this game in the final sprint. All of the new interesting wrinkles of the combat system, all of the unique and flavorful objectives, all of the exploration, all of the the accumulated goodwill, measuring up against this ill-begotten gauntlet of absolute instakilling motherfuckers.

I can't blame folk for stopping here.

But there ain't no stopping this LP crazy train.

Get pumped. We're breaking through.

...

Besides their, uh, other claim to fame, Gold Batboons can drop the Gremlin's Armor, which is the strongest armor in the game at 50 defense power, and can be equipped by either Prince. However, it is predictably cursed, causing you to freeze up on your turn 25% of the time.

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Oh dang, I didn't expect to get that one.

You know what? Here's a short video of a few battles with the Sword of Destruction on, just because. It'll also give you an idea of the sorts of scuffles we're getting into as we head for the cave again. (Fortunately we don't see Gold Batboons this time.)



Image: Yeah, the power's there, but to be honest, I don't think much of this weapon.
Image: It's the curse, isn't it?
Image: I spend enough time unconscious on account of these creatures' breath problems, I don't need to deal with my sword trying to keep me out of the fight too. Let's get this vile thing offa me.

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Image: Oooof. Yeah okay sure. Good grief.
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Image: Like a virus?
Image: I... I suppose that's one way to look at it.
Image: I wonder if the Mirror of Ra carried some sort of anti-viral agent.
Image: Eh, we'll never know now.

Back in Rhone, we run into yet another new monster.

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Bullwongs are about as strong as Giants, with twice the defense and a ton more HP. They can attack twice, breathe fire, and also cast frikkin' Explodet. Man! They're immune to Stopspell and almost immune to Defeat, highly resistant to Sleep and damage spells, and slightly resistant to Defence and Surround. It's not a bad idea to debuff them some, with how high their stats are. Fortunately, I don't think you ever have to fight more than one at a time, though they are often accompanied by other critters.

These guys are real tough, but if there were more monsters like them and fewer monsters like Blizzards and Gold Batboons, this place would probably have a much better reputation.

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This particular fight sees Zed and Glynn fall to Defeat casts on the first turn, and Gwen follows in the same way on the second. Ahhhh, that's the Rhone I remember!

Good old Rhone.

That good old Rhone.

...yeah.

...

...

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Oh ho, this is new! I figured there was something more to that big empty room!

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Image: Oooooooh yeah. Ooooooooooh yeah. This is so right. This is perfect.
Image: Huh, I'll be. There really was something useful left in here.

Equipping the Thunder Sword increases Zed's attack power from 177 to 192. With the exception of the Sword of Destruction, the Thunder Sword is in fact the strongest weapon in the game, and only the Prince of Midenhall can equip it. It shoots lightning when used as an item in battle, which is an effect roughly equivalent to a free Infernos, but that's hardly ever worth it compared to just stabbing a mook with it regular-style.

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A series of dead ends with pitfalls drops us all the way back to the cave's first floor, near the bottom. Along the way, Glynn reaches level 27, for 1 Strength, 8 Agility, 13 HP, and 3 MP. Gwen gets to level 22, for 2 Strength, 10 Agility, 9 HP, and 2 MP. These are pretty great defensive levels for sure. It doesn't help them survive Defeat and Sacrifice, but they can take a bit more of everything else.

And with that, we're done with this dungeon, at last.

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Some of the teleporting doorways in the eastern portion of the top floor don't send you back all the way to the staircase, so it's not as completely horrible to go through the final forks as it could be. Just... mostly horrible.

Looking at this map, something else occurs to me. All of the pitfalls are in the upper right tile of their 2x2 block. You could conceivably avoid every pit if you make sure to only walk on the western and southern sides of each such block. In a way, it's comforting to know there's a trick to it, but it's not much help to us now.

Anyway, dang, good riddance to this awful hole.

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Image: Okay then, we're ready to tackle the rest of Rhone.
Image: I presume we're looking for a castle or fort of some description.
Image: And it'll be full of illusions, too.
Image: Here's to hoping Rubiss' magic works.
Image: It has to.
Image: It will.

As we travel west, both Glynn and Gwen fall to Defeat casts from a bunch of Blizzards. Talk about a death march.

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These hills are rough going, but knowing how mean this portion of the game is, I bet it's the most direct way to our destination.

...or maybe it's being double-mean and it's just a dead-end. Welp, no second guessing myself, let's see where it goes.

After critting a Bullwong for 210 damage (!!!), Zed reaches level 29, for 4 Strength, 4 Agility, and 7 HP. Not the best, but decent.

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At this point, Glynn gets taken out by another Bullwong. I realize I forgot to pick up another Wing of the Wyvern, and of course Gwen doesn't know Return. Daaaang. We use the Leaf and carry on. We'll definitely need to restock before the next foray.

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...wait a minute.

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Aw come on. Here's to paying attention to where I'm going, I suppose.

We take the travel door out, and go pick up Wings and a Leaf before we try again.

...and Glynn gets immediately taken out by a Blizzard as we leave the monolith.

Guys, can we have a word in private?

I kinda hate to say it but...

Um...

Rhone is pretty bad.

It just...

It just sucks.

I know, right?

Welp.

Good to get that off my chest. Back in the saddle.

Hmm, Blizzards never have more than 90 HP. Maybe Repel casts will keep them away? It's worth a shot. Cyclops have less HP than Gwen now too, so they should be out of our hair. We'll still run into Bullwongs and Giants but at least they don't just spam instant death spells.

A Giant drops another Sword of Destruction. Good grief. The only piece of equipment we might want at this point is a Mysterious Hat, but none of the critters around here drop it.

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Let's try going around the perimeter this time.

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Oooh, this is promising. I'd rather try the forest than the hills, though, so let's keep going west.

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Ugh. I think the Repel may have kept Blizzards away until here, but I didn't think to keep everyone healed up enough, and the first one that pops in kills both Zed and Gwen. Glynn can revive them, but he'll be left with so little MP it won't even be worth forging ahead.

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And we've gotta be almost there too. Next time, right?

On our following trip, we run into several groups of three Blizzards even through Repel. Welp, so much for that theory. It never works in dungeons, and I suppose there's something about Rhone that keeps it from working here either. We manage to resist all their Defeat attemps, but then Glynn and Gwen both take Giant crits to the face, and we have to shame-walk back to the shrine and try again.

Did I mention Rhone sucks?

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Did I mention Rhone really frikkin' sucks?

Two runs later, we're halfway through the trek and doing moderately well when Glynn gets taken out by a Blizzard again. I take a chance and use the Leaf, even if only to see a bit of progress again. Zed reaches level 30 after the following battle, for 5 Strength, 2 Agility, and 3 HP. It's not the best, but I'll welcome anything that lets us chew through Bullwongs even a little bit faster.

By the way... "Bullwongs"? "Batboons"? Yeah, no, these are clearly demons.

Glynn also levels up after a bit, for 4 Strength, 5 HP, 5 MP, and his next spell.

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Aaaand Glynn's final spell is Sacrifice. Yup. It's a guaranteed kill on all but a few specific enemies, and it only costs 1 MP, but... it kills Glynn and doesn't earn the survivors any gold or experience. And Glynn is coincidentally the only one of us with the Revive spell, so it'll end our current run just as well as an enemy casting it instead. It's not great. I can't think of any reason to ever use it.

That 4 Strength is aces though.

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Image

Image: Not a moment too soon, eh?
Image: If Hargon's only crime was to make us wade through Rhone, he would still deserve to die.
Image: Death and damnation are too good for him.

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Image: Okay what.
Image: I expected something strange, but... this is...
Image: This is Midenhall.
Image: Or rather, not Midenhall at all.
Image: I wonder how faithful this horrible illusion is.
Image: What do you mean?
Image: Do you think we could... maybe... rest at this inn?
Image: That's insane!
Image: Hmm. You guys could use the rest, actually. I don't mind staying up and keeping an eye open for intruders.
Image: Need I remind you of the various demons and evil spirits right outside the gate?
Image: This wouldn't be a very good illusory castle if monsters just roamed it freely.
Image: ...fine. I'll pick my battles, I suppose.

Image
Image: ...I miss my Pascal.

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That's the Midenhall shop alright. We sell the Sword of Destruction, and pick up a Medical Herb... but when we check our inventory, we still have the Sword, and the Herb is nowhere to be found. Our gold seems to have increased, but I don't think it'd carry over if we left the castle, that would be too exploitable (if we still needed money, that is).

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Image: ...I couldn't sleep a wink.
Image: Me neither. This place is...
Image: Man, I hope my actual home is okay.

Our night here recovers neither HP nor MP.

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Image: ...right. Sure.

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Image: There's no way...
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Image: A convincing replica, but it holds no enchantment.

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Image: This we know for sure is a lie.

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Image: ...!
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Image: Alright, enough of this travesty. Glynn?
Image: Right away!


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TA
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Re: Let's play Dragon Warrior II: Warrior Hardier!

Postby TA » Sat Jun 23, 2018 4:57 pm

I believe all three PCs have ... SOME resistance to Defeat, but I'm not sure how the 0-7 scale translated into chances. As I recall, Defeat has a flat 1/8 chance of working on each of you when a Blizzard casts it. It's not that bad on a single cast from a single enemy but, of course they love to spam it in groups. They're partially resistant to Explodet and Firebane, too, but the only things they can do are cast Defence and Defeat.

I too have never seen Sacrifice fail to wipe the party. At least Gold Batboons will ... sometimes just cast Firebane or a 10 damage fire breath instead.

Giants attack twice, crit, and do massive damage even when they don't. Not uncommon for them to be putting out 50 damage hits when you get there.

Bullwongs have a 53% chance to cast Explodet every turn. Just fuck 'em.

Rhone hates you. I don't know if it's a Mt. Itoi situation of no playtesting, or what, but it's borderline impassible.

IN GLITCH NEWS

There's a fun glitch with cursed gear in this game! It has massive stats that would make it the best stuff out there, but because of those lock-up chances, it's unusable. A shame. Except ... there's a way to have your cake and eat it too, thanks to sloppy programming. When you equip those items, your stats go up, but you're cursed. When you get the curse removed, the items are automatically removed. But ... the gear isn't unequipped, it's just removed. The stats are still there. The game doesn't update your stats until you look at your stats on the equipment screen, you look at your stats on the status screen, or you gain a level. Until then? You still have that Sword of Destruction attack power, that Gremlin's Armor and Evil Shield defense, but with no curses limiting what you do.

Rhone doesn't play fair. Why should you have to?
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Re: Let's play Dragon Warrior II: Warrior Hardier!

Postby Friday » Sat Jun 23, 2018 5:05 pm

I have to assume Sacrifice was either meant to have a much lower chance to work on the party, or the devs are just sadists. If they knew it was a 100% guaranteed wipe and still gave it to a rando mob, that's not a lack of playtesting. Defeat spamming mobs is one thing (a really bad thing), giving a monster an ability that just causes instant game over another.
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TA
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Re: Let's play Dragon Warrior II: Warrior Hardier!

Postby TA » Sat Jun 23, 2018 5:37 pm

If I were being generous. Trying to be as kind as possible in my interpretation. I might be inclined to offer a version of events that went thusly:

Friday wrote:[This is a really important design thing here, because I firmly believe that in the old days, this was intended design. A dungeon wasn't meant to be one-shot. You were -supposed- to go in, explore a bit, get fucked up, and back out before you ran out of resources. It was intended that you were gonna have to visit a dungeon several times to clear it out.


This is the end of the game. Hargon's Castle is it. Players want to be as prepped as possible for it, and outside of some bosses, there aren't any monsters in there players haven't already fought. This is as bad as random encounters are going to get for the rest of the game, so if you're going to have fights that the player has to struggle and spend resources to get through, this is where all the stops have to be pulled out.

But also, this is where fights get to be their most rewarding. The average encounter in Rhone gives more experience than a Metal Babble, often as much as two of them. Gold isn't a limiting factor anymore, you have all the best gear in the game already, and you have an infinite free resurrection and healing stand you can stop off at between every fight. This is where you grind all the levels you're going to grind. You go into the last dungeon as strong as you choose to be. If you genuinely want players to still expect to have to explore and experiment with the last dungeon, you need a way to enforce leaving and coming back in, because without an overwhelming obstacle like a near-unwinnable battle of attrition or a one-shot mechanic there's no way to mitigate, you can kind of expect them to brute force their way past the rest of what you have in there. Eventually, people will level up enough that a Giant that hits someone with 90 hp for 50 or 100 on a crit will be hitting for 40, or 30, on someone with 160 hp, and just not be that much of a threat anymore, but Defeat is always a 1/8 chance to die.

From that perspective, I can almost understand the allure of Blizzards and Gold Batboons, but ... yeah, including them could easily be a failure of playtesting. A failure to go through the process of actually playing all of this and realizing that fighting your way through Rhone, or getting deep in Hargon's Castle, and having the dice fall wrong on a Batboon's cast chart and losing everything, is just miserably unfun. A designer who can't step out of their own head and look at what they've done from a player's perspective is going to do shit like that - to go "Well you couldn't do any of the other dungeons in one go, why should you be able to do this one all at once either?" and not think to ask "But is THIS the only way to accomplish that?" - and the end result is just gonna be miserable. It's gonna be Rhone.

Or maybe they're just shitheads who were trying to make a point. This is all a big stretch. There's a reason the enemies that can cast Sacrifice work completely different in later games.
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MarsDragon
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Re: Let's play Dragon Warrior II: Warrior Hardier!

Postby MarsDragon » Sat Jun 23, 2018 8:12 pm

There's an interesting interview over at shumplations about the making of DQ2 that I was going to post at the end (because spoilers) but basically they were working on the balancing right up to the very last minute. It's entirely possible they just didn't have time to fully balance out Rhone.

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TA
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Re: Let's play Dragon Warrior II: Warrior Hardier!

Postby TA » Sat Jun 23, 2018 8:21 pm

Yeah that always seemed like the much more likely situation. Just a Mt. Itoi thing. "Ehh, let's give these guys Defeat, and these guys Sacrifice, how bad can it be" and then left it until after shipping to find out oh. That bad.

But then they didn't fix that up for the US release? Weird decision.
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François
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Re: Let's play Dragon Warrior II: Warrior Hardier!

Postby François » Sun Jun 24, 2018 1:30 pm

Hmm, the odds of Defeat working on us being only 1/8 surprise me, it feels like at least one of us dies to it almost every time, but maybe I'm just remembering the negative experiences more.

TA wrote:Or maybe they're just shitheads who were trying to make a point. This is all a big stretch. There's a reason the enemies that can cast Sacrifice work completely different in later games.


I remember Bomb Crags and Rogue Whispers especially being a much more interesting version of what they might possibly have been trying to do with Gold Batboons, in the sense that they also come with a heck of a lot of punch but there is still some gameplay linked to it.

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TA
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Re: Let's play Dragon Warrior II: Warrior Hardier!

Postby TA » Sun Jun 24, 2018 1:52 pm

I have't been able to find anything about monster AI in DW4. But in DW3 at least, Bomb Crabs have a 3/8 chance to cast Sacrifice, but won't cast it at all unless they're below 25% health, it can miss, and you can get items that will soak it instead of you dying. And if they don't cast it, they do NOTHING but sit there and let you Poison Needle them waiting for an instant-death proc. By the time you're supposed to be fighting them, it's unlikely they'll even get a turn in which they're eligible to cast it.
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Re: Let's play Dragon Warrior II: Warrior Hardier!

Postby François » Sun Jun 24, 2018 2:35 pm

Alright, so, Hargon's castle. The real one.

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Image: Uh... pass. Thanks.
Image: Were these ever... people?
Image: Trapped in Hargon's illusions, no doubt. What a terrible fate.

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Image: These spirits can't help us.
Image: But we can help them.

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Image: Gah, this is creepy.

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Image: Good grief, they're so far gone.

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Image: Hey, dipshits. Your dumb illusions failed.
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We get into a fight with two Gold Batboons, and it's over quickly.

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Image: Hmm...

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Image: Good thinking, kid, but no cigar.

Before we check out the sides, let's investigate this building north of here. The way it's placed screams "secret door".

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Image: Not this one. But... here! Ah-ha!

This is in fact a jail door, north of westernmost tile. Nice.

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I'm definitely glad we have Stepguard here.

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We saw that was a golden door from the outside.

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Image: Of course. We'll have to investigate the wings first, I presume.

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We haven't run into any random encounters yet; there might not be any on this foor. Small blessings, eh?

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Image: If Hargon thinks he can destroy our morale with empty chests, he'll have to think again.

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This one is also empty.

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Man, these Stepguards casts are getting annoyingly expensive.

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Image: ...still nothing. Let's try the east.

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Image: Not a sausage!
Image: We've beaten the illusions, but if Hargon isn't even here, it was for nothing.
Image: We must have missed something. Let go up the center again.

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Image: This place looks too important! Hargon has hidden it! Protected it!
Image: Don't we have some magic object that can... I don't know... reveal the path or something?
Image: Hmm...

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Image: What about the Eye?
Image: Yes, that was my next guess.

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The screen flashes white, then fades to black.

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Image: A TOWER? Are you kidding me?
Image: Zed, we're running low on magic power. I don't know how much further we can go like this.
Image: Can you hold on at least a little bit longer?
Image: Yes, we can, but we might have to turn back soon.
Image: Fine.

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At least this floor isn't very complicated.

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...but it's full of monsters.

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Mace Masters have fairly low stats compared to the rest of the menagerie in Rhone, but they have a ton of HP, and they can cast Explodet, Defence, Increase, Defeat, and even Revive on fellow monsters. They're immune to Sleep, Defeat and Stopspell, moderately resistant to damage spells and Surround, and fairly weak to Defence. Their drop is the Staff of Thunder, not that this is much use to us now.

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This looks really straightforward so far, so I don't start making a map yet.

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Ooof, okay. Atlas is a "unique" monster, in that he only appears in this room, and if you beat him, he doesn't respawn unless you save, quit and reload. He has 250 HP, 195 attack, and 200 defense, and he can attack twice in one turn. He's immune to all magic (including Sacrifice), with the exception of only slight resistances to Defence and Surround, which are both extremely worth using.

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Dang, he completely focused down Gwen turn after turn. She spent all her MP on Healall, but it wasn't enough. And Glynn can't even put a scratch on the bastard.

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Zed does finish him off after dealing about 55 damage per turn, but this run definitely ends here. Glynn casts Outside and Return; we're back to square one.

Next time we definitely won't waste all that MP on a bunch of useless Stepguards, so we should be able to make it further inside. As long as we don't get instakilled by the critters outside, that is.

The first fight as we head for the castle again gets Gwen to level 23, for 4 Strength, 7 Agility (nice), 7 HP, 11 MP, and her penultimate spell.

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For 2 MP, Open unlocks any door in the world.

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Image: Whew, that felt surprisingly good.
Image: ...what if someone else needs those one day?
Image: They can just come get them here, I don't care.

The Open spell's only virtue for us now is to free up inventory slots. I suppose if someone's really lost and can't find the Golden Key in Zahan at all, and ends up wandering the world in search of it for so long that Gwen gets to level 23, it's a bit of a small mercy, but good grief that's a bad situation to be in.

It occurs to me that we haven't gotten another Leaf of the World Tree yet, so we make the trip right quick. We also buy Medical Herbs to fill up the slots once occupied by the keys. If they save us some MP, they're worth it.

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At this point I'm going to spare you the details of every foray we make, it's going to be a lot of the same. I'll give you the level ups, as we earn them a little more slowly each time, and we'll pick up when we reach past Atlas with a full party. I mean, this is basically grinding in disguise at this point.

Trip the first. Glynn, Blizzard, outside. Zed dies on the way back.

Trip the second. Glynn, Blizzard, outside.

Trip the third. Glynn, Blizzard, outside.

Trip the fourth.

We run into a bunch of Hunters, Hibabangos and Gold Orcs in the northwestern area; it must share an encounter zone with the Tower of the Moon region.

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Glynn, Metal Babble, inside. At least Zed can one-shot the bastards by now, but we only manage to catch one this time. Everyone else gets taken out by Gold Batboons on the way back.

Trip the fifth. Zed levels to 31, for 6 Strength, 2 Agility, and 5 MP. He also takes a Defeat to the face, but Glynn brings him back.

Glynn, Berserker, inside. We don't make it back.

Trip the sixth. Everyone, Bullwong and Gold Batboons, outside.

Trip the seventh. Glynn reaches level 29, for 7 Strength (huge!), 6 Agility, 9 HP, and 6 MP. Everyone but him dies to a bunch of Blizzards. He casts Return, it's not worth continuing with so much MP spent on two Revives. I'mmmmm gonna skip the "deaths only" trips from now on, I think.

Trip the ninth. Gwen gets to level 24, for 4 Strength, 5 HP, and 7 MP. Zed gets to 32, for 3 Strength, 1 Agility, and 2 HP. Yikes.

Zed and Gwen, Giant crits, inside. Too many Revives blown, run called.

Trip the twelfth. Gwen gets to level 25, for 2 Strength, 3 Agility, 1 HP, 5 MP, and her last spell.

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For 15 MP, Chance produces a random effect, often a copy of another spell. It has a few unique outcomes that I'll get into later, but it's not really worth the cost.

Glynn and Gwen, Blizzard, outside. We don't make it back.

Trip the thirteenth. Zed gets to 33, for 1 Strength and 8 HP. Glynn gets to 30, for 3 Strength, 1 Agility, 1 HP, and 3 MP. Nnnnnot great.

Need I remind you that Zed's max level is 50, Glynn's is 45, and Gwen's is 35? Hahahahahahaaaaaaaa.

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...holy shit, a new floor. Finally! Wow! Holy crap. We're not even in too bad a shape. Okay, okay, okay, here we go.

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Huh. Let's see how far this goes.

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Okay, not that far. The stairs might be in one of those square rooms, but it'll take some doing to even find the entrance.

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We actually find the stairs in the northwestern room, which was the first we tried, but this asshole attacks us as soon as we enter.

Bazuzu is Hargon's second guardian. He comes with 250 HP, 127 Strength, and 160 Defense, and he can attack twice, and cast Explodet, Defeat, Firebane, Sleep, Healall (come the f on) and Sacrifice (...). He's also immune to Stopspell and Defeat, and mostly immune to Surround, but he "only" has a resistance of 4 to spell damage and Defence, and of 3 to Sleep. I don't think we have a chance against this sucker in a fair fight, so we have Gwen try to put him to Sleep every turn until it works.

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Image: One more of these juggernauts is down at last.
Image: It's about time! Nice work there, Gwen.
Image: My absolute pleasure. I knew learning that spell would come in handy, but not that handy!

Bazuzu did spend most of the fight asleep, so we're still doing alright. Let's keep going.

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Aaand here we have Zarlox, Hargon's third guardian. He's got 250 HP, a Strength of 200, and a Defense of 220; he can attack twice and breathe fire, as well as cast Healall, Explodet, and Increase. At least there's no instadeath bullshit to deal with this time. He's immune to Stopspell and Sacrifice, almost completely immune to Defeat, and highly resistant to Sleep and spell damage, but he has no defense against Defence and Surround.

Our strategy here is for Gwen to Surround him on the first turn, then use Defence, while Glynn stacks Increase until Zarlox's defence gets low enough that he can deal some damage.

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Image: Haha! I bet Hargon's quaking in his boots now!
Image: He can't be much further away from here, so don't let your guard down.
Image: I wouldn't dream of it!

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Image: This is it. He's here.
Image: The corruption emanating from... What... what manner of vile creature is he?
Image: The only beast in this world I waste my hatred on. Come, kin, let us not tarry.
Image: Here we go.

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Image: We are the descendants of Erdrick.
Image: Your crimes beckon to our blood.
Image: And we do not suffer the likes of you to live.
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Image: You are the worm that dares call itself a wizard.
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Image: Oh hells.
Image: What's this Shadowtime he was talking about?
Image: I... I have no idea.
Image: It doesn't matter what it is, it doesn't matter where it's from, and it doesn't matter how much stronger it is than Hargon. We will end it. We have to.
Image: Right!
Image: I'm with you, captain!


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nosimpleway
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Re: Let's play Dragon Warrior II: Warrior Hardier!

Postby nosimpleway » Sun Jun 24, 2018 2:56 pm

Haha remember when it took me like 15 tries to beat Sans?

This is so much worse.

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Re: Let's play Dragon Warrior II: Warrior Hardier!

Postby Friday » Sun Jun 24, 2018 3:06 pm

I like how Malroth spent a round healing himself to full while already at full HP just to -really- rub it in how fucked you were.

I also like how Leafs of the World tree don't work in combat? What the fuck?
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TA
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Re: Let's play Dragon Warrior II: Warrior Hardier!

Postby TA » Sun Jun 24, 2018 3:21 pm

TA wrote: an overwhelming obstacle like a near-unwinnable battle of attrition


I didn't want to give it away, but ... hahahahaha. Yeah. YEAH.

Bazuzu, Zarlox, and Hargon can also all do that, but the odds are a lot slimmer. I can lay out the math a little later, after I shower.
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TA
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Re: Let's play Dragon Warrior II: Warrior Hardier!

Postby TA » Sun Jun 24, 2018 7:45 pm

Okay, enemy AI.

Monsters in Dragon Warrior 2 are defined by 15 bytes of data that set all their stats and behaviors. Not all of this data is used - there's a part of this that's set to 0 for every enemy that allows for HP values above 255, and room in RAM for monsters to have HP above 255, but no instruction to copy those bits to memory. Something they were considering and then dropped in favor of Healall spam for boss longevity, I guess.

Anyway, five of these bytes are used to define enemy attack patterns. Each enemy has eight slots for the attacks they can do, each set by four bits in one of bytes 11 through 14 and then a bit on byte 15 telling them whether to reference attack table 1 or 2 for that attack. There are in fact only 32 different attacks monsters can do in the game, and they're all in there. Some of them are interesting not-quite-an-attack things, like 1 on table 1 is "Heroic Attack" (that is to say, crit), or D on table 2 is the "attack twice" some monsters do - this is why Attackbots can attack twice, or crit, but crit on a second attack - and E on table 2 is "attack a PC and also force all enemies in the encounter to focus all attacks on that PC until they're dead for the rest of the fight". Atlas has that one once, with seven entries of "attack twice". Seems like you encountered it.

Monsters vary widely in how complex their patterns are. Big Slugs have "attack" eight times, and will never do anything else. Slimes, interestingly, have "attack" six times and "run away" twice, because that's on there. Bazuzu might have the most complicated pattern, with seven different things he can do. However, not all attack sets are created equal - the first two bits in byte 8 tell the monster which Probability Sets to use for their attacks. There are four sets of odds stored elsewhere in the game that just say what the chances are, out of 256, of each attack pattern out of eight to be used, and each monster looks up one of those four, then applies that to their eight attack patterns (in order) to determine what their odds are. Then rolls a random number out of 256 to determine what they do on a given turn. One of them is flat even odds - Atlas has a 32/256 or 1/8 chance of focus targetting someone, and a 7/8 chance of double attacking - but one of them is extremely skewed with a 100/256 chance of doing move 1 with only an 8/256 chance of doing move 8.

Gold Batboons, for reference, end up with a 46/256 chance of casting Sacrifice, a 66/256 chance of using Attack (it's on there twice), a 72/256 chance of using Firebane (on there twice), a 30/256 chance of using Strong Flames (the ~30 damage kind of breathing fire), and a 44/256 chance of using Sweet Breath (on there twice again).

Bazuzu has a 46/256 chance of casting Sacrifice, 42/256 of casting Explodet, 38/256 of casting Defeat, 34/256 of casting Firebane, 30/256 of casting Sleep, 26/256 of casting Defeat (again), 22/256 of attacking twice, and 18/256 of casting Healall. Nasty moves, can’t be Stopspelled, but odds of a reset are slim, he Sleeps easily, and he doesn't have a ton of defense.

Zarlox has a 46/256 chance of using Healall, another 42/256 chance of using Healall, a 38/256 and another 34/256 chance of using Explodet, a 30/256 and another 26/256 chance of using Strong Flames, a 22/256 chance of attacking twice, and an 18/256 chance of using Increase. With a fucking better than one in three chance of healing himself to full every round, he's got every possibility of being an absolute wall, and when I went through he took FOREVER, especially since he's entirely immune to Stopspell. Sleep has a slight chance of landing though, and Surround and Defence never miss, so eventually you should get a situation where delaying one turn more than average to heal himself to full costs him the fight.

Hargon ... relatively not bad. He's got the super skewed odds table, but that works to your benefit - he's got a 100/256, a 50/256, and a 28/256 chance to just ... use Sweet Breath, with its 3/8 chance to put people to sleep and nothing else. 24/256 and 19/256 chances for Explodet, 15/256 chances to use Poison Attack and attempt to poison someone, 12/256 chance to Healall, and 8/256 chance to cast Healmore. It's a special version of Healmore that attempts to heal other enemies, focusing on the one with the lowest HP, and only ever healing him if he's the only enemy alive, which is weird because there's no way to encounter Hargon except by himself. Maybe he was supposed to have friends at one point? He doesn't have much offense, mostly just nonlethal status effects, especially once you land the Stopspell he's astonishingly vulnerable to. Hargon would make a lot more sense as an encounter if he had some cultists with him.

Because, see, in the Japanese original, Hargon wasn't an evil sorcerer. He was an evil Priest, the leader of the mad cult of the dark god Malroth (called Sidoh), and you are interrupting his ritual to summon his god into this world. The Evil Clowns, Mace Masters, Magicians, Sorcerers that you fight throughout? Cultists and priests of Hargon's cult. That bat symbol on all of their chests is the symbol of his church. His skillset really reflects a monstrous support caster a lot more than the destructive wizard you're coming to expect. And when you defeat him, he explicitly sacrifices himself in a last-ditch effort to bring Malroth forth.

Malroth's AI, by the way, is dead simple. Straight 32/256 for all his moves, which are four copies of Deadly Flames, two copies of Healall, and two copies of Faint Attack. One in four chance he'll heal to full every round, one in four he'll smack someone with an added 3/8 of putting them to sleep, and one in two he'll burn everyone for 50ish (25-30 with the Water Flying Cloth). He's immune to damage spells, immune to stopspell, immune to sleep. At your level, even with your equipment, expect him to still do maybe 60-90ish damage even to the Prince of Midenhall with a physical attack. After Increasing my Defense up to 199 to test, he's still landing phsyical hits in the 70s on Midenhall. He's only partially resistant to Defence, which is good, because he starts with as much defense power as a Metal Babble. Surround can work ... well, Surround can take effect.
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