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Video Game / Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 2

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Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 2 is the fifth installment of the Dragon Quest Monsters spinoff of the Dragon Quest series and a direct sequel to Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker, 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  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.

The game received an Updated Re-release, Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 2 Professional, which added 110 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. In addition, the game itself would get a sequel in the form of Dragon Quest Monsters Joker 3, this time released on the 3DS.

Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 2 contains examples of:

  • 100% Completion: There are rewards for this... At least one of which is impossible to get. You can (only) get the Prince o' Thieves (an upgraded version of Robbin' 'Ood with a black cowl and a crown) by collecting every single monster. The problem is... It didn't occur to the programmers that that should actually be every single monster except the Prince o' Thieves itself, leaving 100% completion a big ol' Catch-22.
  • 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.
  • Alpha Bitch: The reigning champion, who refuses to even get on the ship, and Lily Gilder, a Too Dumb to Live Rich Bitch who torments you throughout the game. Though her attitude towards you does get a little better as the story progresses.
  • The Artifact: Solitaire, The Rival from the original Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker, appears for the sole apparent purpose of establishing that this game takes place in the same universe—but in giving her a different hairdo and position than she had in the first game (no mention is made of the fact that she became commissioner of the tournament in the first game), the game creates an uncertainty about how this game relates to the first one. Joker 3 Professional would go on to establish that the Solitaire of Joker 2 is not the same as the original—apparently the name is passed on to different characters.
  • 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 to 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 you can easily avoid all this by giving your monsters commands yourself.
  • Battle Aura: "Psyche Up" makes a return appearance from Dragon Quest VIII, Dragon Quest IX, and Joker. As before, it drastically increases the numbers you put out, be it damage, healing, or scouting.
  • Bilingual Bonus: If you finish Joker 2 in an English mode, US DSi... the credits change to English. (Just in case the big US and EU flags during the part where the Japanese commercials talk about a worldwide tournament weren't a big enough clue.)
  • Cap: All monsters have their own stat caps, and their level cap is based on how many "pluses" a monster has. (0-4, level 50; 5-9, level 75; 10+, level 100) The stat cap can be increased by getting stat bonus "skills", and there are even specific stat bonus skill trees you can take.
  • Canis Major: The Incarnus makes a return in the postgame, and has an even bigger appearance in the Updated Re-release.
  • 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. Each one has an "X" and "XY" version that allows you to continue using them throughout the game.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard:
    • Solitare's final team is quite blatantly impossible for her without some serious cheating going on. Her first is Dr. Snapped; ignoring the fact he takes weeks of continuous grinding and synthesis to make, one material is Captain Crow; a character who she does not have any access to as he wanders the land, then eventually joins the player. Similarly the Ace Of Spades she owns requires the Incarnus; which she clearly has no access to. To put this in perspective imagine if Gary Oak in Pok√©mon Red and Blue suddenly had a shiny Mew and MISSINGNO in his party with no explanation whatsoever.
    • But wait, it gets even better. Her Dr. Snapped has the trait Double Trouble; which while it did have in Joker 1, it had taken away in this game. There's no way whatsoever to change a monster's traits so it is really a hacked monster. That Mew that was joked about a second ago? Imagine it has Wonder Guard too. The developers didn't even try to hide her blatant cheating; which considering her character, could very well be intentional.
    • Speaking of traits, the True Final Boss has an ability to have a permanent magic reflect. There's no trait that grants this and it cant be removed with skills like a normal version. Even if you synthesize one yourself, it, of course, doesn't have this trait.
  • 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 still exists here — albeit it is a bit more complicated to make this time around and can't be done until you reach Cragravation, just a bit after gaining the ability to synthesize. Instead of fusing four Slimes, you instead need to first fuse a Mecha-Mynah with a low rank Slime to get a "Behemoth Slime". Getting two these Behemoth Slimes then fusing them together will result in the King Slime in all its early-game-breaking glory. There are other combos for the Behemoth Slime such as Angel Slime+Swarmtroop and Wild Slime+Angel Slime, but the aforementioned is the easiest because both mons are obtainable right away.
    • This is arguably better than Joker 1's "formula" because having different monsters mixed in means the resulting King Slime has a greater variety of skills to inherit in Joker 2 compared to the first game. The King Slime is still hilariously easy to synthesize for how strong it is, and it can be easily made as soon as you gain access to Cragravation. You can actually get it as soon as you gain access to monster synthesis, but you'll need to level grind and chain fuse for the mons you normally get from Cragravation.
    • Additionally, a pair of combinations similar to Joker 1's version of the King Slime was added in Joker 2 — Great Sabercat (breed 4 Great Sabercat Cubs) and Great Dracky (4 Drackys), both monsters found in the first area. These two monsters have downsides (negative traits that keep them from being as broken as the King Slime) but both of these C-Rank monsters can simply be fused into other C-Rank monsters that are equally powerful, yet lack the negative traits. Either way, obtaining these monsters early on still allows you to skip all the F-Rank, E-Rank, and D-Rank monsters that you'll normally use until the later areas of the game.
  • 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 Hellhoundsnote , requiring you rescue her. This happens multiple times, and she remains ungrateful until the very end when you beat back Bjorn the Behemoose to save her again.
  • Fake Ultimate Mook: While the giant monsters introduced in this game and fearsome and powerful and very threatening to new players with weaker monsters, competitively they start to trip all over themselves. As mentioned under Fake Balance above, without a skill that allows them to strike more than once per turn, the giant monsters are sitting ducks for equally powerful small monsters to take on.
  • Fire, Ice, Lightning: Wind takes up the traditional position in the elemental trio, with Lightning being typically associated with heroes in Dragon Quest.
  • Final Boss: Malevolynx, the corrupted form of the island's ruler, Leonyx.
  • 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.
  • Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: While Leonyx is mentioned a few times in the game, the True Final Boss in Joker 2 is not once mentioned by any character before his reveal just a few moments before you're tasked with taking him down. And even in the context of the series, his design is pretty gross and out there.
  • 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 Ruin (a 5 story castle complex that was the last boss before escaping Rhapthorne's Black Citadel)? 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).
  • Infinity -1 Sword: Several:
    • 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 Sabercubs to make a Rank C Great Sabercat or 4 Rank F Drackies 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).
    • 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 Psyche 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 Bads and "Dragons" of previous games, and require an extreme amount of postgame work to acquire. Arguably, the Strongest versions of the Minus Ones could count as well.
  • Kill Sat: In Professional, there's a recruitable Kill Sat. It's a Slime.
  • Knight of Cerebus: Rigor Mortex from Joker 2 is lot more malevolent and more serious than the previous villains in Dragon Quest Monsters, which included the jerkish but far from evil kings, the foppish Darck, and the creepy but well-intentioned Dr. Snap.
  • Leaked Experience: Just like in Joker 1, 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 effect, so anything that does hit it is just as likely to hit the enemy as well. It also has this one skill, 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 Metal Slimes are immune to it, and they have a cap, unlike physical attacks.
  • Level Grinding: It's a Mons game.
  • Literal Split Personality: Leonyx launched his soul out of his body as he felt the Demonic Possession take full command.
  • 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.
  • Mascot Mook: One for each monster family.
  • Metal Slime: An entire sub-family of them, starting with the humble Metal Slime and going all the way up to Metal Kaizer Slime, a Metal Slime monster with a face right out of Dragon Ball, or Gem Slime, which is more or less a Super Saiyan Slime.
  • Mons: 311 of them. The Updated Re-release adds 110 more.
  • Mythology Gag: Lots, to previous Dragon Quest games.
    • The default names for your starting monsters are references to the Eidos translation of Dragon Quest Monsters 1. For example, the Ghost is named Spooky.
    • Breeding 4 Great Sabercubs makes a Great Sabercat — a reference to the monsters themselves from Dragon Quest V, which grew up between the two generations of that game.
    • Mostly particularly iconic characters — Big Bads 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 from Joker 1, and her team maps almost perfectly from the first game; unfortunately, new size rules mean she had to drop the Metal Kaiser Slime, but she still has Atlas and Mumboh-Jumboe.
    • Dragonlord, the last boss of the original Dragon Quest, has the same breeding combination he had in Dragon Quest Monsters — Great Dragon + Demon-At-Arms.
    • Robbin' 'Ood, a reoccurring boss character in Dragon Quest III (formerly named "Kandar"), 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 Robbin' 'Ood, including a Conklave cosplaying as his gang from III.
    • Many of the Big Bads require their "Dragons" at some point in their synth chain.
  • Old Save Bonus: Tagging with Dragon Quest IX and Dragon Quest VI DS unlocks special monsters from those games in the form of Malevolamp, Mottle Slime, Noble Gasbagon, Overkilling Machine, Shogum, Slime Stack, and Teeny Sanguini. 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 Robbin 'Ood 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.
  • One Game for the Price of Two: The almost immediate re-release of Joker 2 as Joker 2 Professional may be seen as this. A persistent rumor is that they discovered a game breaking multiplayer glitch and had to patch it, and used the modifications to the game to justify forcing people to upgrade.
  • Original Generation: Just like in Joker 1, several original monsters, most notably the final boss and the Superboss, were created by Akira Toriyama exclusively for this game. Unlike in Joker 1, only one monster would get a main series appearance, and that is the Maniacal Mole, appearing in Dragon Quest X as a rarefied monster. And with a new design, no less.
  • Palette Swap: A few examples, mostly from Dragon Quest history (Green Dragon -> Red/Dread 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.
  • Permanently Missable Content: Captain Crow wasn't quite this in Joker 1 (you just had to re-find and re-fight him after using him up), but in Joker 2 once he's used, he's gone. The workaround is to use the game's Tag Mode — Tag Mode enables you to capture a friend's monsters, at the cost of the resulting monster being a "guest" and thus unusable in online play. Fortunately the "guest" tag can be removed after 5-20 generations of breeding.
  • 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 its layout, but does randomize each room's monster family and layout.
  • Rank Inflation: Monsters go from F (Com Mons) to A (usually something from the The Very Definitely Final Dungeon), to S ("Dragons"), and finally XX / S (Big Bad and beyond).
  • 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.
  • Schizo Tech: The setting is medieval, but it features airships.
  • Slouch of Villainy: The Baboon Beast from Professional has this. No seriously, his throne is a part of his graphic.
  • Soul Brotha: The funky Don Mole and his cohort of moles return from Dragon Quest VIII, though Don Mole himself is willing to help the Hero and his allies.
  • Spoiled by the Cast List: If you're paying attention during the ending credits, you'll notice it lists the various monsters in Joker 2 via what series they debuted in. Including Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime.
  • To Be Continued: The last thing you see before the Playable Epilogue kicks in.
  • 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.
  • True Final Boss: Rigor Mortex in the original, who corrupted Leonyx in the first place. In Professional, it's the Sitting Lion Beast (Hihyurude), who comes complete with One-Winged Angel Evil Beast (Hihyudorado).
  • Useless Useful Spell: Averted. All the buffs and debuffs work on the bosses, meaning that it actually makes sense to bring along someone with the ability to increase or decrease attack, defense, etc.
  • Western Zodiac: Dragon Quest Monsters Joker 2 and Joker 2 Professional introduced a cohort of monsters based on the Zodiac, with each member of the set attached to a unique monster family, like the slime-family Canzar.