Yeah I kinda fell out of the habit of making Amazing VGM Pieces haven’t I? The last one I did was for The Dark Colossus Destroys All from NieR and that was back in October. Perhaps I should capitalize on the game I just reviewed then? Dragon Quest II it is! Particularly I would like to go with the two world map themes and their variations. The first of these tracks is titled “Distant Journey” (Also sometimes referred to as “A Lonely Youth”) and plays on the world map with an incomplete party and is thus the first one you here.
This track is a nice and upbeat world map theme that poses a contrast to Dragon Quest I’s slower and more atmospheric overworld theme, although the songs do start out fairly similarly. I don’t actually have much to say about this version since it is pretty short but I suppose that makes sense given that you won’t hear much of the song anyway. You know, that absurdly high encounter rate and all that! When it comes to 8-bit versions of this track I’m actually more partial to the MSX version.
The MSX version is still fairly upbeat but I find that the lower pitch carries greater emotional resonance while the NES version is a bit too happy. I mean you are going on a perilous journey to stop an evil sorcerer from destroying the world and you need to brave some of the most difficult dungeons in the entire series. Although It could be that this specific melody works better with a lower pitch.
The Super Famicom version of this track is my favorite version. I love just how well arranged the Super Famicom OST is in general. I have noticed that nine times out of ten, Koichi Sugiyama’s tracks feel like they were composed with a full blown orchestra in mind rather than the hardware of whatever he’s composing for. I find this to be a general weakness of his compared to other game composers like Nobuo Uematsu whose music often time sounded better on the original games than in the remakes.
The Super Famicom version of “Distant Journey” maintains a lot more of the elegance than the NES version did, especially because the greater variety in instrumentation allowed it to build on itself and create something greater than a 27 second loop. It’s also much easier on the ears than either of the 8-bit versions.
And here we have the Game Boy Color rendition of the track. This track is basically the Super Famicom version but in chip tune form. The stronger sound quality of the GBC definitely shows and gives this composition the elegance it deserves. My favorite version is a tie between this one and the super famicom version. Well there is one more version I like more but I figure I should talk about our other world map theme first. Also I think this track is in Dragon Warrior Monsters as well but am unsure since I’m not familiar with those games.
“Endless World,” otherwise referred to as “Traveling with Friends,” is the 2nd overworld theme in Dragon Quest II. This track plays when you have finally obtained all three party members, and we all know what they say about there being strength in numbers. The upbeat nature of this track contrasts with the slightly quieter nature of “Distant Journey” in that it makes the player feel more empowered with more allies by their side.
I do find the NES version of this track to be immensely more enjoyable to listen to than “Distant Journey” because the melody and harmony are far more pleasurable and less hard on the ears. Right from the moment this track starts up it sounds pleasant and nice, and it’s just a hell of a lot catchier than the previous one.
As with “Distant Journey,” the MSX version sounds a bit more depressing with its lower pitch. I do quite like this version as well but am undecided as to which one I prefer. While the NES versions seems to sound merrier and captures the feeling of companionship and comradery, the MSX version is more on the adventurous side and gives off the sense that “the real adventure has just begun.” Considering that that there is still a fair bit of game left once you recruit the Princess of Moonbrooke, and just how brutally hard this game is, maybe this one fits more.
The pitch of this track and some parts of the melody actually remind me a fair bit of a song from a completely different game series. The track in question is “Star Festival” from Super Mario Galaxy. Hell it is actually quite interesting at how similar the melodies of these two compositions are, yet it was the pitch of the MSX version that made me establish the connection. I’m sure that I’d have more I could talk about if I knew more about composition or music theory but unfortunately I only know a few of the basics. Anyway here is the super Famicom version.
This version is predictably more in line with the NES version and expands on the mood it went for. I think there is actually somewhat of a Christmas-y vibe to it with the bells in the second half. I don’t really have much to say about this one other than that since there isn’t much of an improvement over the 8-bit versions, but it still sounds pretty nice.
This version seems to have added a slightly different baseline that is closer to “Distant Journey” than in the previous versions of this track. I actually quite like this version of “Endless World” as I think it has done well at combining the symphonic nature of the Super Famicom version despite being relegated to chip tune status. I also like how it manages to still sound different in the second half despite simply by using a different synth as opposed to the 8-bit versions that looped much quicker. You gotta hand it to them by maintain a symphonic sound on the GBC like that.
Anyway I have covered each of the in game versions of both tracks but there is one more track I would like to share here.
What you are listening to is the arrangement from the Dragon Quest II Symphonic Suite. This piece is an orchestral arrangement of both of the themes in this article while also featuring Dragon Quest I’s overworld theme between them. You can tell that this piece was exactly what Sugiyama envisioned when he composed “Distant Journey” given how grand and adventurous. The arrangement of “Endless World” is also given an excellent build up and caps off this astounding arrangement.
Well there you have it. Those were the Dragon Quest II overworld themes. For all I know I could have missed another remix but if so I will save them for some other time, mainly because these articles are supposed to be short and easy for me to make between reviews, and this one was not short and easy. Also a reminder that Koichi Sugiyama is a bigot and a war crime apoligist, and he does not deserve your financial support no matter how good his music is.
If you would like to support me or this site, then please support my Patreon if you would like to see higher quality content with more resources to put towards it. If you don’t want to spend any money on me, then you can also help out by simply sharing my blog on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Reddit, or anywhere else where others will see it. You can also follow this blog if you would like to be kept up to date on my stuff, or you could follow me on any of my social media pages (listed at the bottom of the page) and could stop by The Guardian Acorn Discord chat if you would like to talk to me and my homies.