PCE Game 14 – Dragon Knight II

Dragon Knight II (ドラゴンナイトII)
Released 8/7/1992, published by NEC Avenue

Messania, the game’s adversary

I mentioned back in my Cosmic Fantasy post that the PC Engine, for whatever reason, became the platform for releasing games that featured a lot of erotic content. I’m not sure what the legal issues are because none of the games were ever full “eroge” (pornographic games). It seems unlikely to me that every game publisher would have just agreed not to release eroge for consoles. Dragon Knight II, as far as I know, is the first time a publisher released a toned-down version of an eroge for a console. This is now standard practice, with eroge of all kinds being released on consoles in cleaned-up versions.

The status screen, showing your “Deffence” and the “Blord Sword” (Broad Sword) equipped

Dragon Knight is an interesting series, and the Hardcore Gaming article has a detailed history (NSFW, although the actual porn images are censored unless you click on them. I don’t know why the style of the page has been removed.) Apparently it was the first eroge to try to focus on the gameplay in addition to the erotic content. The first two follow a Wizardry-style of gameplay, the third is more console-JRPG style, and the fourth is a strategy RPG.

Now I’ve picked up “Scail Armor”

All four games came out for computers, but as I indicated above, ELF decided to also port them all to consoles. Thus all four games will be on this blog — the first three on PC Engine, and the last on the Super Famicom. The original DK was not released until 1995 so first up is the second game. The third game was actually released in English as “Knights of Xentar,” which CRPGAddict covered on his blog. I remember playing that at a friend’s house.

Barn

The game begins with the hero Takeru (Desmond in the English version of Xentar) losing a drinking bet with Barn (Rolf in Xentar). He has to deliver a sacred book to the town of Phoenix. There, he visits various places, meeting the young women there. (One note: if you’ve played Knights of Xentar in the English translation, they made a lot of arbitrary changes — Takeru, unlike Desmond, doesn’t stink or have a small penis.)

The item shop owner and his daughters

The art is very much 80s anime style. All the sequences are voiced, although there seemed to be problems playing the voice in some cases — I’m not sure if this is an emulation bug or a problem with the original. Takeru is played by Kamiya Akira, who is best known for playing various “manly” hero roles such as Kenshiro in First of the North Star, or Ryoma in Getter Robo. Barn is Ginga Banjo, another “manly” character actor. A few other characters have prominent voice actors, such as Kate (Hisakawa Aya) but most of them are unknowns (I think).

The weapon shop owner and his daughters

Takeru spends the night in Phoenix. The next day, all the women of the village are gone. The sorceress Messiana has bewitched them all, changed them into monsters, and put them in the tower. This tower is 300 years old and was involved in a war between the witches and dragon knights. Messania hates all men based on that war and thus has taken all the women. The book that Takeru was delivering to Phoenix was supposed to seal Messania away, but now the pages are scattered around the tower. Collecting them will enable Takeru to return each girl to normal. Takeru is really reluctant to take this task on, but the mayor is able to convince him by promising money, and maybe “special favors” from the women he saves.

Dungeons

The gameplay follows Wizardry, but the system itself is far less developed and interesting. As you can see above, it’s a normal first person map, with an automap at the top left. There is something fun about filling in all the squares of the map, and this is one of those games where every square is accessible, making it easier to find secret doors. Soon, Takeru encounters his first monster.

A mummy

All of the monsters in the game are the transformed women from Phoenix town. Because they’re intended to excite the player, the “monster” graphics are quite detailed, much better than any other RPG of this time period. The battle system is about as dead simple as can be; you basically just mash attack in every fight. Levelling gives you so much of a power boost that equipment is pointless, and when you get Sophia later and get spells there’s not much point using them. When you first get to a new floor the monsters can be difficult, but after a couple of levels you’ll plow through everything. So if you’re looking for a game with a satisfying battle system, this isn’t it. So Takeru beats the mummy.

“How can you do this to a lady!”

Each time you beat the monsters you get a scene like above; the idea is that the woman then runs off and regenerates, to fight again later. In the PC version these scenes were fully nude, but they’ve been censored for the PCE version. Unfortunately this whole setup does include suggestions of violence and rape, issues that often come up with eroge and other pornographic media. Ultimately it’s not as bad as it could be because the “cutting off clothes by force” doesn’t lead to sex, just titillation for the player. The basic goal of the game is to find all 27 pages of the book around in the dungeon. When you get a page, the next time you encounter that monster you’ll have an additional option “release”. This frees the woman from the spell, giving you another scantily clad image:

Eve, released from her mummy form

Afterwards, you’ll get a special scene in town — most of them activate by staying at the inn, but a few involve other places. From what I can gather, I think that in the PC version all of the scenes were sexual — the idea is that the mayor and other people have encouraged the girls to go “thank” Takeru for saving them, and this leads to sex. I’m not sure what restrictions the developers might have been under porting it to the PC Engine, but they did not simply retain the scenes but fade to black before anything explicit happened. Only a handful of the scenes clearly end in sex (though off screen). The rest either make Takeru think the girl is going to have sex with him only to be disappointed, or are about something else entirely. Eve is one of the former; she wants to “teach” Takeru things which he hopes will be sexual, but it turns out to just be herbal lore.

Eve’s lesson

So that’s the “reward” side of the game — what about the dungeon exploration? As I said before, the combat is unsatisfying, but the rest of the exploration is not that bad. On the first floor of the tower, there are several locked doors that you’ll have to return to later. Takeru also finds Pietro, the fiance of Kate (the daughter of the mayor) wounded.

Pietro

He’s clutching one of the book pages (the mummy one). Elsewhere on the floor there is a rat who becomes a recurring character in the game. He wants cheese and wine from the pub in town.

Mr. rat

Once he gets his wish he gives you a clue to unlocking the elevator to other floors, and gives up another page of the book. Finally, once the lift starts moving, another book page falls out. Most of the floors have several puzzles and events. So the exploration of the floors is more interesting than the older Wizardry games. Also the goal of finding all the pages and then “curing” the monsters (which then are no longer encountered) is a non-standard gameplay idea, even if it is geared towards erotic scenes.

Sophia

Barn joins the party soon, and later in the game Sophia, a mage, completes the party. Her spells are pointless other than the healing spells. However, there is a lot of humorous banter between Sophia, Takeru, and Barn.

This is one of the scenes that does end in implied sex

So is this a good game? Eh, probably not. For a 1992 console RPG it’s graphically impressive, if you can stand the 80s anime art. The story, while not amazing, has some twists and is not the worst storyline I’ve seen on this blog. Takeru is not the typical “destined hero” protagonist. The combat may as well not exist, even if the “monsters” are all very detailed. There is always something fun about exploring the 18×18 maps and filling in all the squares on the automap. The game is quite short (it only took me 8 hours, although that’s including speeding up most of the battles; probably closer to 12-15 played on an actual console). But the brevity may actually help the game.

Giant Spider enemy

I have a feeling this would get a low score on CRPGAddict’s GIMLET ranking. I’m not going to try to rank it myself on his scale, but the “economy” and “equipment” would suffer since there’s no point to equipment or buying anything.

It was an interesting decision for Elf and NEC Avenue to try to port this game to a console. Did they feel that it stood on its own as an RPG without the erotic content? Did they think the titillation factor even in the censored game was enough to sell it? Were they hoping it would act as sort of an advertisement for the full computer versions? It must have sold decently, because they ported Dragon Knight III two years later, and a remake of Dragon Knight I in 1995. Dragon Knight 4 was then ported both to Super Famicom (in its waning years) and the Playstation. So, as I said above, I’ll be returning to this series again later.

10 thoughts on “PCE Game 14 – Dragon Knight II

  1. Atantuo

    While I don't particularly care for most other aspects of the game, I do like the idea of getting rid of enemy types for good one after another, via certain in-game accomplishments. That could make for a very satisfying mechanic in a better game.

    Reply
  2. Kurisu

    I do wish this kind of thing were in more games with random encounters. I think Villgust is the only other game I've played on this blog that eliminates random encounters from areas (by levelling up, in that case).

    Reply
  3. PK Thunder

    the Hardcore Gaming article has a detailed history (NSFW, although the actual porn images are censored unless you click on them. I don't know why the style of the page has been removed.)

    They did a huge site redesign and haven't imported all their older entries to the new format, or something like that. I'm sure it was necessary from an administrative POV, but from the user's POV it's irritating (and the new design has that ephemeral, mobile-oriented, read-it-and-forget-it vibe).

    Reply
  4. Didier

    Hello Kuriso, it took me some time to follow your link on the CRPG Addict's blog, but I'll be going through your posts in the coming weeks. I certainly enjoyed this post, looking forward to the rest. I'm not a huge fan of JRPGs, but I like them enough that I enjoy playing them from time to time. And since I have a SNES emulator on my phone and JRPGs are very "smartphone-friendly", I may find a few gems here on your site (translated gems, hopefully… I won't get far in Japanese).

    Reply
  5. Nightwolve

    A comment about "eroge" on the PC Engine: Mahjong Gakuen, which I'm not sure if it's a port of the Capcom developed arcade game, has full frontal nudity which probably gave NEC headaches since a "MILD" version with censored art was released later on.

    Reply
  6. Kurisu

    Thanks for the comment — I know there are at least a few other PCE games that have full nudity (possibly one or two I'll be covering later). It seems like in general the 80s and 90s were more permissive than later; manga like Ranma 1/2 and I"s had full nudity doesn't show up anymore in shonen magazines.

    Reply
  7. Anonymous

    > The rest either make Takeru think the girl is going to have sex with him only to be disappointed.

    The thing I most liked about Dragon Knight 3 for the PCE is actually this censorship. The dialogue as well as the voice acting is hilarious. And they lampshade it so much too:

    (Takeru is signing up for a competition.)
    – And as a bonus, we have a grand prize as well as a secondary prize for the winner. The grand prize is 5000 gold. The secondary prize is, oh my, the mayor's daughter's xxx!

    – By xxx, d–do you r–really, really mean xxx, right?

    – Yeah, the one and only mayor's daughter's xxx. A man's word is his bond!

    – Will it be covered with mosaic?

    – Nope.

    – Is there going to be a power outage just as I get to the good part?

    – Won't happen.

    – What about, right as I'm going to lay my hands on it, I'll slip and hit my head and the next thing I know, it's morning?

    – Your past experiences sure have been woeful, haven't they?

    I'm glad to hear Dragon Knight 2 had the same thing.

    Reply
  8. Kurisu

    Yeah, it's nice to see some effort put into the transition rather than just doing a straight port but with the ero images cut. I mentioned that Dragon Knight II was the first eroge to be ported to a console system in an "all ages" version, so maybe they wanted to make sure it had some thought put into it.

    Reply

Leave a Reply to Didier Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published.