Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 2 is the fifth installment of the Dragon Quest Monsters spinoff of the Dragon Quest series, released on the Nintendo DS.The hero decides to stow away on a zeppelin heading towards the world monster tournament, observing as the reigning championnote Solitaire from the original Joker declares the ship unfit for someone of her caliber and storms off to find more appropriate accommodations. This turns out to be prescient, the ship is brought down shortly after takeoff, right after the Hero is caught as a stowaway and forced to work as a deck hand for the crew.Waking up near the crashed ship, the engineer, Rory Bellows finds him and sets him off on a quest to attempt to find survivors. It seems that the ship has crash landed on an island populated by hundreds of monster species — fortunately for him, he always wanted to be a monster scout...As a monster catching game, various flavors of monster are available, out of several broad families — Slime, Dragon, Inanimate Objects, etc etc. Each monster has up to 3 to 5 skill trees they gain from their species and parentage, and gain skill points to place in these trees upon levelup. (This system is based on the Dragon Quest VIII system of skill trees, and is almost identical to the system in the original Joker.)Each monster also has from 1 to 4 traits, passive benefits (or penalties) that affect them no matter what skill trees they have inherited from the breeding system — for example, some monsters are just naturally able to move two or three times a turn, this is something they cannot pass on to children of a different species.Received an Updated Re-release, Dragon Quest Monsters Joker 2 Professional, which added 500 new monsters, completely re-balanced the multiplayer, and roughly doubled the single player campaign. Unfortunately, due to some poor timing in both release date and localization, this version was not the one localized.
Joker 2 contains examples of:
Actually Four Mooks: Played straight — only one monster appears on the map, but up to three appear in combat. It's further played with by the size system — monsters can be size S, M, or G — taking up 1, 2 or 3 party slots respectively. Size 2 monsters get a huge stat boost, can have more skill trees, and have more (and better) traits to make up for their size. Size 3 monsters are literal parties in and of themselves, and get outrageous stat boosts and can have 5 skill trees at a time.
Unfortunately, Size G is reserved for truly gigantic boss monsters that cannot be scouted. Until the Playable Epilogue, of course.
Fortunately, there are competitive balances between the small monsters and large ones, meaning that the multiplayer is not just "whoever has the biggest wins". The giant monsters do less physical damage (to make up for the fact that they hit the entire party) and many competitive standard size monsters have "Giant Killer", which causes every hit they make on a Size M or G monster to be a critical hit.
Fake Balance: HOWEVER, there is a significant problem with Giant monsters in Joker 2 released outside Japan: hardly any of them are actually worth using. There are a couple of issues. First, some clarification: the damage cap for normal attacks is 2000. Every Size G monster has a trait called Grand Slammer, which makes their normal attack and physical skills hit all enemies, as well as boosts all damage they inflict significantly. There are also three traits that grant multiple actions per round: Tactical Trooper (act 1-2 times, based on RNG), Double Trouble (twice), and Tactical Genius (1-3 times, based on RNG). For a Size G monster to be competitive, it MUST be able to act more than once per turn regularly, be able to heal itself, have a sizeable amount of HP, and in the absence of guaranteed multi-actions, must either have great stats/traits/resistances to make up for it. There are 18 Size G monsters available.
Of the 18 Size G monsters, three have Tactical Trooper,note Empyrea, Rhapthorne 2, Leonyx seven have Double Trouble,note Schleiman Tank, Stormsgate Citadel, Canzar, Ruin, Sagittar, Aquarion, Great Godbird]] and four have Tactical Genius.[[note]]Orochi, Estark, Zenith Dragon, Rigor Mortex The other fournote Wormonger, Missing Lynx, Bjorn, and Khalimari will only ever act once per round. Of the 18 Size G monsters, eightnote Wormonger, Missing Lynx, Bjorn, Stormsgate Citadel, Empyrea, Sagittar, Rhapthorne 2, Great Godbird have less than 2000 max HP. Should the enemy team have a Night Clubber,note a monster with 999/999/999 max HP/Attack/Defence, and the aforementioned Giant Killer trait only TWO of these Size G monsters note Sagittar, Great Godbird stand a chance of coming out alive. In all, only a third of the 18 Size G monsters are worth using,note Canzar, Ruin, Sagittar, Aquarion, Great Godbird, Rigor Mortex owing to giants in general having bad traits and painfully low max stats. Oh, and Night Clubber? Turns out it's great at killing everything else, too, especially if an Attack Status Buff is cast on it.
Though her attitude towards you does get a little better as the story progresses.
The Artifact: Solitaire, The Rival from Joker, appears in the game and her presence makes just about as much sense as keeping the title, in part because she carries over the Theme Naming (almost all the major characters in Joker derived their names from a Playing Card Motifs). Also, her status as reigning champion raises interesting questions about what happened between the events of Joker and Joker 2, given that she appears to have been demoted. No mention is made of the fact that she became commissioner of the tournament in the first game.
Artifact Title: The previous game had "Joker" as the Canon Name of the main character, taken from the game's playing card Theme Naming. While set in the same universe, Joker 2 doesn't feature the protagonist or the theme, making the "Joker" part of the title meaningless (except, of course, the Incarnus monster (Wulfspade, Hawkheart, Cluboon, and Diamagon), which does make an appearance.)
Artificial Stupidity: Left to their own devices, your monsters that know Sizz,Crack,Bang, or Woosh spells will insistently use them in the presence of Metal Slimes mixed with other monsters, despite their being immune to any spell. They are likely use these spells when there are multiple monsters, but even in cases where the spells would only hurt one monster, none of them at all , or even accidentally heal the enemy. Note that this can easily be averted by giving your monsters commands yourself.
For the most part averted the rest of the time. The AI isn't outstanding, but apart from the cases above it isn't stupid.
Luckily, the wild mosnters can be just as foolish.
Cap: All monsters have their own stat caps, level cap is based on how many "pluses" a monster has. (0-4, level 50; 5-9, level 75; 10+, level 100) Stat cap can be increased by getting stat bonus "skills", and there are even specific stat bonus skill trees you can take.
Chest Monster: The Mimic / Cannibox / Trap-Box line makes a return, and are fairly powerful material type monsters.
Com Mons: Each family has a mascot mook, from the humble blue slime to the humble green dragon from Dragon Quest I. Each one has an "X" and "XY" version that allows you to continue using them throughout the game.
Defeat Means Friendship: The Scout system, which takes into account your physical damage capabilities vs the enemy's power, and gives you a percent change to capture them based on this.
Disc One Nuke: The King Slime combination that was so heavily abused in Joker was removed; instead Drackys and Great Sabercat Cubs take it's place. These two have negative traits that decrease their usefulness, but this is easily fixed by breeding them away to equally powerful Rank C monsters without the negative trait.
Escort Mission: In Iceolation, Lily Gilder refuses to go back to the ship, instead she keeps running off unescorted by even a single monster, only to be cornered by various hellhounds, requiring you rescue her. This happens multiple times, and she remains ungrateful until the very end when you beat back a 3 story tall minotaur... thing to save her again.
Expy: Rigor Mortex is arguably one of Mewtwo. Both were artificially created as a super powered clone of one of the most powerful monsters in their respective world, both ultimately rebelled and slaughtered their creators, and both plot to destroy humanity. Although while Mewtwo had an (arguably) altruistic reason for his evil, Rigor Mortex is simply a card carryingOmnicidal Maniac.
Fusion Dance: As started by the Joker translation, "breeding" has been localized as this, called "synthesizing." It uses "Plus and Minus" instead of "Male and Female" (Possibly because "Hermaphrodite" and "Neuter" are also options), but G-Rated Sex is very much there.
Gone Horribly Right: The researchers on the island wanted to make an artificial monster stronger than Leonyx. They succeeded.
Gotta Catch 'Em All: You get bonuses for catching certain numbers of monster types, although most only worry about 1 or 2 families until the postgame.
Guide Dang It: Breeding any monster above a rank A. Most are references to Dragon Quest mythos (breeding 2 dragons to make a Big Bad is common) but others are from left field.
Hot Skitty-on-Wailord Action: Want to synthesize that Slime (roughly the size of your fist) with that Ruins (a 5 story castle complex)? Go ahead!
It gets better when you realise that fusing a Canzar requires exactly this. More specifically, it requires a Crabid (a regular crab), the aforementioned Slime and Ruin, and a GODDAMN GEM SLIME (a gigantic golden slime, and the strongest of the exceedingly hard-to-catch Metal Slime family).
Similar to Joker 1's "King Slime" breeding combination (breed 4 Rank F Slimes to make a Rank C King Slime), a player can breed 4 Rank F Great Sabercat Cubs to make a Rank C Great Sabercat or 4 Rank F Drackys to make a Rank C Great Dracky. The original King Slime combination was removed, and these new Rank C monsters are given negative traits to compensate for how easy they are to get.
Speaking of easy to get, it's very possible to stumble into fusing up a rank D Dragurn and/or a rank D Green Dragon before you even have to go to the third major area of the game. They won't be invincible forever, sure, but the green dragon in particular will make a poor joke of the next few areas all by himself, and is very good in general as his only potential weakness is a low MP pool. And even more importantly, he's upgradable; see below.
The X and XY (stronger and strongest) system, although not as prevalent as in 2 Professional, still allows for people to turn at least one Mascot Mook from each monster family into a very powerful monster at level 20 (about mid point of the game) and level 50 (about the end of the game).
As noted, one of the candidates for this is the series' iconic Green Dragon, and you can fuse up an "initial" one without a ton of difficulty before even going to Iceolation, and by the time you get to the fourth area, finding the components for his necessary fusion buddy and training it is trivial. The first-stage upgraded Green Dragon can then waltz all over the game up until the very end of the main quest.
The Swarm and Conklave Monsters, which can hit multiple times (with each having a chance to crit) and the ability to equip anti Metal Slime gear, and are both available in the first area of the game. The Conklave can even be turned into a Stronger and Strongest, to boot. These particular monsters allow for easy Metal Slime farming early on, which is vital for most of the game and postgame.
Conklave easily turns into an Infinity+1 Sword post-game. Multihitting, able to psych up and attack multiple times (turning it into what is undeniably the best scouting monster in the entire game), great attack... oh, and it gets Uber Dark Dynamiter, giving it some of the strongest spells in the game.
Infinity+1 Sword: Any of the S+ rank monsters. Especially the SS or X rank monsters. These are all Big Bad and "Dragons" of previous games, and require an extreme amount of postgame work to aquire. Arguably, the Strongest versions of the Minus Ones could count as well.
Leaked Experience: Monsters in your back row will gain experience, meaning it makes sense to bring them along. Monsters back in the Monster Pens will also gain experience, but at a vastly slower rate.
Lethal Joke Character: Wildcard. Its HP is pitiful (especially compared to its predecessor, Wulfspade Ace), but it's immune to almost everything, and has a permanent counter affect, so anything that does hit it is just as likely to hit the enemy as well.
It's even worse than it sounds. Wildcard isn't immune to much, but he has this one skill that everyone hates, Counterstriker. What's so bad about it is that it nullifies any physical attacks and attacks back for free. This wouldn't be a problem, but magic in the game is useless compared to physical attacks, as MetalSlime are immune to it, and they have a cap, unlike physical attacks. It's so bad, that every non-healer has to waste a skillset for elemental slashes, otherwise you have a great chance at being walled by Wildcard.
Actually, not even elemental slashes work. At least, the AI of the game won't use them against Wildcard, and more often then not, the only times you're fighting a Wildcard are when you can't directly control your monsters. Meaning if you don't have any offensive spellcasting at all, which is likely the case, your mons will just sit there and do nothing. Which means your only option is to forfeit. Lethal Joke Character, or something much, much worse?
Magikarp Power: The X and XY (Stronger and Strongest) system. Through patience, hard work, patience, careful breeding, and still more patience, you can turn any of the Mascot Mooks into endgame monsters. These come with updated traits (such as moving twice per turn) and each gain an "ultimate" ability, translated as Uber in the original Joker — Uber Healing, Uber Breath, etc etc. This system was expanded in the Updated Re-release — you could use any monster in the game until the endgame, provided you continued working on empowering it to the X and XY forms.
Metal Slime: An entire sub-family of them, starting with the humble Metal Slime and going all the way up to Metal Kaizer, a metal slime berserker with a face right out of Dragon Ball, or Gold Slime / Gem Slime, which is more or less a Super Saiyan Slime.
No Export for You: Unfortunately, the Updated Re-release was not localized. Given the age of the DS and Nintendo having started pushing the 3DS, it's very unlikely we will see Joker 2 Professional in the West. The announcement of the Terry's Wonderland 3D remake (on the same day as the US Joker 2 release, even) cuts the chances even further as it's likely to be localized instead, but with TW3D said to have the entire Professional roster, it's probably an even trade.
This hurt the Japanese too, as they were promised international tournaments, and they got them, but for the version that most people had already stopped playing.
This is more an example of bad timing than anything else. Professional was announced literally just as the localization of the original version was finished. Square Enix and Nintendo had to choose between releasing the localized normal version and compensate with the 3D remake, or spend another several months localizing Professional. For obvious reasons, they chose the former. The fact that many of the new monsters are from DQ games that never got released overseas (Magarugi,note The fake antagonist of Dragon Quest Monsters Caravan Heart pretty much every Rocket Slime character aside from the Hero Slime and Slival's tanks, Ghadis,note The final boss of "Monster Battle Road Victory" the monkey demon with the throne, etc) probably didn't help matters.
Old Save Bonus: Tagging with Dragon Quest IX and Dragon Quest VI DS unlocks special monsters from those games. These monsters are still available in the standard game, but much easier to get in the tag mode battles. In addition, tagging can unlock special events where Kandar from Dragon Quest III invades your game.
Olympus Mons: Multiple Examples, including several flavors of evil deity Big Bad, alongside the return of the Incarnus.
This game contains perhaps the ultimate Olympus Mon in the form of Numen from Dragon Quest VII, who is literally God Himself. Interestingly enough, He's actually weaker overall than most of the Final Bosses, which may or may not be a Mythology Gag relating to the fact that the Final Boss of His game defeated Him.
Palette Swap: A few examples, mostly from Dragon Quest history (Dragon -> Red Dragon, Slime -> She Slime, etc). Playing it more straight is the Stronger / Strongest system, which doesn't even bother with the swapping — although this is arguably the point, so one could go through the game with one's favorite nostalgic Mons.
Playable Epilogue: You didn't think becoming world champion was going to be good enough, did you?
Post-Climax Confrontation: The tournament you were trying to get to is hilariously easy after having dealt with the problems on the island, to the extent that the game doesn't even bother with making you fight most of it; its only really there to set up the postgame.
Power Nullifier: There are multiple status effects that cause people to be unable to hit, cast, or do anything at all. And there are multiple counters to this.
Punny Name: Every area (save the ship) is named after an emotion — Treepidation, Doubtback, etc. Every member of the ship's crew and passenger's list is also punny — Eugene Pool (an expert in monster breeding), Rory Bellows (an expert in the seemingly coal powered ship's engines), etc etc.
Randomly Generated Levels: An unfortunate exception, although there is a semi-Roguelike like bonus dungeon that doesn't randomize it's layout, but does randomize each room's monster family and layout.
Regional Bonus: Some bugs were fixed, and the meddle slime can now be recruited, and it will turn into a normal Metal Slime. This was not possible even in Pro. Due to it being a different monster, there's no penalty toward scouting another, and since it has lower defenses, it means that getting metal monsters is easier in the international version than any version the Japanese got.
Retcon: Joker treated the Alabast Dragon (one of the various forms of the Dragovian Lord from Dragon Quest VIII) as the Zentithian Dragon (God from DQIV, DQV, and DQVI). In Joker 2, the Zenithian Dragon got its own model and entry, and the Alabast Dragon was demoted to its proper place.
The Rival: The reigning world champion is too snobby to fly on the ship, meaning she misses out on what may possibly be the most important discovery in the history of the world's monster breeding / training / etc society. She does return for the post game.
The default names for your starting monsters are references to the Edios translation of Dragon Quest Monsters 1. For example, the Ghost is named Spooky.
Breeding 4 Great Sabercat Cubs makes a Great Sabercat — a reference to the sidekick from Dragon Quest V, which grew up between the two generations of that game.
Mostly particularly iconic characters — Big Bad and Dragons, mostly — have their own skill unique sets, which give them their iconic abilities and strategies. These can (and should!) be inherited if and when these monsters are bred away.
The Cleric (a mistranslation of "Hero") skill tree (most easily gotten from a King Slime) is the same lineup of spells the Dragon Quest III hero uses — thunder magic, the ultimate physical attack, the ultimate healing magic, the ultimate resurrection magic, and Kaclang (which makes you completely invincible for several turns). Muspell is a similar batch of dark and instant kill spells, which is typically associated with various villains — including Psaro.
Solitaire makes a return, and uses the exact same team as she did in the previous game.
Dracolord, the last boss of the original Dragon Quest I, has the same breeding combination he had in Dragon Warrior Monsters — Great Dragon + Demon-At-Arms.
Kandar, a reoccurring boss character in Dragon Quest III, now named "Prince of Thieves," can attack you while doing Tag Mode. This replaces the standard tag mode battle with a battle against him. There are several special breeds that require Kandar, including a Conklave cosplaying as Kandar's gang from 3.
Took a Level in Kindness: In the first game, the Incarnus was arrogant, snobby, demanding, and exhibited more than a little Fantastic Racism towards humanity. Here, he's a genuinely nice and courteous guy.