With the success of Dragon Warrior and other RPGs Dragon Warrior 2 was prepared to keep the RPG ball rolling. However, Dragon Warrior 2 was a mixed bag and a game that is generally considered the worst of the 4 that reached our shores.
Just a facelift on the previous game really. There are a wider variety of characters and monsters, but they're still not animated very well and they're still very generic and simplistic. The wonderful backgrounds in the fights of Dragon Warrior 1 have been replaced by the dreaded black background that has plagued the DW games ever since. There are a wider variety of environments to explore as well. Overall, though as I said DW2 is just a slightly prettier DW1.
Just as the graphics were an evolution on DW1, so was the gameplay, the major differences being that you now have 3 characters instead of one, you fight more than one enemy at a time, and there are a lot more spells and equipment to play with. Unfortunately, though having more people is a nice idea they didn't adjust the experience gaining methods to compensate. Gaining levels with all 3 people takes even longer than DW1 and that's really saying something since it could take hours to level up just the one character. Playing almost 60 hours and only being level 20 is not a good thing.
The new weapons and spells are interesting and provide a breath of fresh air into the game. Many of them will be seen again in later DW games. The enemies show much greater variety than in the first game, but palette swapping is still rampant. Characters move about at the same speed as the first game, which is painful now to say the least. Fortunately they did get rid of that damned stupid "Stairs" command.
Much as in the first game, there isn't much to talk about here. Average compositions and poor sound quality abound. The only difference here is that the SFX are of lower quality. You're better off muting the sound and playing some good music of your own. I recommend Bach's Brandenburg No.3 for this game.
The story this time is much better than the original, though still pretty cliche and uninspired. Your characters are all descendants of Princess Gwaelin and the Hero from DW1. After defeating the Dragon Lord they went away and founded 3 new kingdoms. The game starts with one of those kingdoms under attack from the Evil Wizard (tm) Hargon. As you may have guessed, you have to find and destroy Hargon before he Takes Over the World (tm). The story is actually pretty decent despite the cliche premise.
DW2 has a wide variety of quests and subplots to keep you interested, but unfortunately that's a problem. The game seems very unfocused after you receive your ship. There is so much to do and no real direction with what to do next. It's not a major flaw, but it definitely does detract from the story.
Things just don't add up for Dragon Warrior 2. It's got neat new ideas and a much better story than its predecessor, but unfortunately the gameplay leaves much to be desired. People don't mind leveling-up a little bit, but DW2 requires a ridiculous amount of time to be spent on it. If you enjoyed Dragon Warrior 1 then I'd give DW2 a shot, but I can't recommend it much more than that. If you played the other DW games (3 & 4) before you've played 2 then I'd say to stay away. You'll only be disappointed.