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Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 2 Review

Not a patch on Pokemon

Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 2 review: It would be wrong to label Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 2 a Pokémon clone. After all, the concept of attracting monsters to your party originated in 1992's Dragon Quest V, Sure, it may have taken Square-Enix until 1998 to expand the idea into its own game (1998's Dragon Warrior Monsters on the Game Boy Color) but it was distinctive enough to attract its own dedicated audience of fans.

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Since the Game Boy years, Pokémon has grown into a genuine global phenomenon, while Dragon Quest Monsters... well, hasn't. But the latest iterations of both arrive with their core mechanics all but unchanged from their handheld debuts.

What's the story

On your way to a monster-battling tournament, the ship you're travelling on is struck by lightning and crash lands, scattering the occupants far and wide.

So you set off into a nearby jungle to discover the fate of your fellow passengers, but not before stopping to pick up a platypunk (a duck with a mohican) from the cargo at the back of the ship.

Being unarmed and too feeble to fight your own battles, you'll need your new pet to face off against the other monsters roaming around..You'll need to recruit some of these monsters to your party to form a fearsome fighting squad.

Choose 'scout' from the battle menu and your team wil ltry to impress the newcomer with a show of force. If it's sufficiently intimidated from the beating it receives in a single turn, it'll join your party.

Simple scraps against weak monster teams can be dealt with swiftly by selecting the 'fight' command. You can also ask them to focus on healing, conserve magic, or show no mercy by going on an all-out offensive.

Alternatively, you can issue direct orders to target specific enemies in the group, use special abilities or defend against incoming moves.


Each environment you'll visit is split into smaller areas separated by narrow passageways. The roaming monsters vary according to weather and time of day, and are ranked differently depending on their rarity and how quickly their skills will improve through levelling up in battle.

You will gradually learn new Scouting abilities - Zoom lets you return to the ship to heal in a pinch, while Zip whizzes you instantly between portals you've activated on your travels.

Managing your team is all part of the strategy, with three slots for your first team and three for substitutes. Later in the game, you'll get larger monsters which fill more than one slot, but offer greater attack power in return.

You can also synthesise - pair up a 'positive' and 'negative' monster and they'll form a new creature, with any previously learned skills passed from parents to offspring. The youngster starts off at a lower level, and so has to be eased in, forcing a short period of grinding.

That isn't always as easy as you'd think. Though there are no random encounters, occasionally monsters will pop out of nowhere and you won't know how many are in their party or which other types they're paired with. This can feel a little unfair at times.

There are a fair few of these tricky battles, too. Each area has a massive beast that'll show up periodically to frighten both you and the smaller monsters in the vicinity.

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8 comments so far...
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  1. ThePokekid78 Saturday 8th Oct 2011 at 14:50


    It's a shame really, since the graphics are really good and the monsters look creative and fun.

    I wouldn't have bought it anyway though - I'm hoping Pokemon Grey has graphics more like this!

  2. Fidu Saturday 8th Oct 2011 at 15:17

    I liked the first DQMJ and I'm going to buy this one too once the price drops.
    In Finland the Dragon Quest -franchise doesn't sell so well, so I know from experience that the price drop is going to happen very soon.

  3. Cristos94 Saturday 8th Oct 2011 at 16:36

    Dragon Quest and Pokemon in one game COOL! :D


  4. MattEdWithCheese Saturday 8th Oct 2011 at 20:26

    If anything Digital Devil Story: Megami Tensei was what Pokemon was, albeit loosely, based on as it came out in 1987. Just reminded me to import the SMT DS game so thanks! Think I might get an XL soon with so many games still coming out on the system.

    Any news on a possible review of Rune Factory 3?

  5. zelda97 Sunday 9th Oct 2011 at 16:16

    never played a dragon quest should i?

  6. Dyrk Sunday 9th Oct 2011 at 19:21

    I like Dragon Quest games... a lot! DQM:J was great but, DQM:J2 is quite different! The original had villages and towns. The new game seems to be landscapes and tunnels! I hope there is more to it than this! (I've been playing the new game for about 4 hours) PS I also like playing Pokemon games... a lot!

  7. imbusydoctorwho Sunday 9th Oct 2011 at 22:15

    I've been looking round for it and tbh,it's pretty expensive for Ł34.99.

  8. Marrow Thursday 19th Jan 2012 at 22:25

    I disagree with that score. Maybe 80% would do. It's similar to pokemon in many ways yes, but it's not fair to simply brand it as a clone. Synthisising monsters is a massive part of the game and is far more acsessible and deep then pokemon's breeding mechanic. And there is nothing more satisfiying then finally scouting that stubborn monsters or learning how to push up your scout meter. And it is one of the best looking games on the DS, at least I can't think of ones that completly supass it. But most importantly, all it's battles are 3D animated whereas the 'great' pokemon franchise still insist on using outdated blocky sprites. Trust me, you will quickly learn to love this game.

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