Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 2 (Hands-On) (Nintendo DS) Preview

By Adam Riley 25.07.2011 4

Review for Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 2 (Hands-On) on Nintendo DS

The Dragon Quest Monsters series has always been regarded as being one of the better takes on Nintendo’s immensely popular Pokémon franchise, with a monster catching and battling mechanic flowing through the heart of the games, except being focused around the world of the multi-million selling Dragon Quest. Square Enix has released three versions on Nintendo DS so far, all with the Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker moniker. Whilst the first game struggled to make much of an impact in the West, Nintendo is now helping Square Enix on the publishing side following the very strong sales of Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies and impressive performance of Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Reverie on DS under the current joint-publishing deal. Cubed3 recently got the chance to sample the early stages of Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 2.

What needs to be stated straight away is that Nintendo is only publishing Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 2 here in the West, the game that received 37/40 from Famitsu magazine and has sold around 1.3 million copies in Japan so far since launching at the end of April 2010, not the upgraded edition that Square Enix released almost a year later, at the end of March 2011, that has sold an extra 600,000 units to date. For most this may seem shocking that the improved version is being left without a translation at the moment, however the handful of Europeans that picked up the original Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker a couple of years ago will most likely just be happy to get anything at all Square Enix-related after seeing so many games left stuck in Japan (Nanashi no Game, Front Mission 2089, Sigma Harmonics; the list goes on).

Developed by TOSE, the team that worked on the original Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker in addition to other DS games like Super Princess Peach and The Legendary Starfy, this sequel uses a tweaked version of the already stunning graphical engine that made the first game look like a late PSone or an early PlayStation 2 title had been crammed into the diminutive touch-screen platform. It may well have taken a fair while before the DS reached its peak, but with Square Enix publishing games like Final Fantasy IV and the remakes of Lufia II, SaGa 2 and SaGa 3 in recent years it shows that developers have definitely tapped into the core of the platform to produce some amazing visual results, all running at a fair pace with no slowdown as well. As well as having highly detailed characters and monsters littering Joker 2, the whole game is accompanied by a sublime soundtrack from Koichi Sugiyama that complements the action really well.

Screenshot for Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 2 (Hands-On) on Nintendo DS

In the short trial version on show at Nintendo’s recent Press Event in London, UK, players were able to go through the early stages of the game’s introductory sequence. The majority of the first section involved watching real-time cut-scenes flaunting the impressive graphics as the ship your character is currently travelling in comes under some sort of attack before crash-landing in an area filled with monsters that must either be defeated or captured, trained and then used as your ‘soldiers,’ in a similar fashion to the monster collecting and battling aspects of Pokémon.

After being shown the basics of the control set-up, how the use the menu screen and items efficiently, as well as the best way to capture monsters by draining some of their energy first before attempting a catch manoeuvre, the game opens up to allow for wandering around the jungle-esque local area. It is at this point that the amount of enemies on-screen becomes apparent, along with the long draw distance. All manner of monsters from the world of Dragon Quest wander around before your eyes, starting to chase after the main character should he be navigated within their field of vision. The aim in these opening stages was to initially avoid the attack of a gigantic snake-like creature, before hunting it down to the place it sleeps, all the while using your current set of monsters to capture others for the team and levelling them up by battling more. It was not a particularly in-depth hands-on experience, but it certainly gave the opportunity to show how the previous game has been stream-lined for this sequel.

Screenshot for Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 2 (Hands-On) on Nintendo DS

Final Thoughts

Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 2 is due out in the US on 19th September and across Europe on 7th October. Currently it looks like more of the same monster-capturing, RPG-battling shenanigans fans of the series have come to expect, and if Nintendo’s marketing department in Europe aims this at the crowd that lapped up Pokémon Black and White, it stands a great chance of achieving great success, and deservedly so.




Square Enix


Turn Based RPG



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Aug 2011   North America release date Sep 2011   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date TBA   


Our member of the week

Graphically at least, I'm impressed by how better than Pokémon White and Black this looks. Seriously, Pokémon looks cheap next to this one, although Pokémon still seems to have a better system overall.

I'm not planning to get any new Pokémon game until the series gets a significant graphical upgrade, but in the meantime, I might get this one, depending on whether I'll like the capture and raising system or not.

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer

This seems to go at a much quicker pace to Pokémon B&W, the graphics and soundtrack are amazing and the range of creatures is very impressive. Oh, AND THERE'S ACTUALLY A STORY Smilie

Pokémon may slightly trump this in some people's eyes, but to me the 37/40 this got in Famitsu is more justified than the 40/40 Pokémon B&W got.

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]
Arzest (guest) 28.07.2011#3

This looks far more advanced than Pokemon. Game Freak should be taking some notes from Squenix's book!!

Rob64 (guest) 06.08.2011#4

Loved the DQM series since the first GB(C?) game. This definitely looks much better than Joker 1, so will be keeping my eye out for it.

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