Gaming Today Impressions of Dragon Quest Swords: The Masked Queen & the Tower of Mirrors
Dragon Quest Swords: The Masked Queen and the Tower of Mirrors
Category: Action/Adventure, FP/RPG
ESRB: “T” for Teen
Release Date: 2/19/2008
Dragon Quest Swords: The Masked Queen and the Tower of Mirrors takes place in a town that lies at the foot of Avalonia Castle. There, a young man enjoys a peaceful life with his lecherous father until his sixteenth birthday approaches and he must take the Walk of the Worthy. This is a trial of strength, which all young Avalonian males must undergo upon coming of age. As the main character, you will need to put all of your training in the ways of the sword into practice if you are to pass the test, and take your rightful place amongst Avalonia’s warriors. Sounds like your typical RPG doesn’t it? Unfortunately the storyline is the only thing typical about Dragon Quest Swords.
Normally when I pop an RPG into whatever gaming system it is designed for, I do so with trepidation because lately, in my humble opinion, the RPG market has two things very wrong with it. One, is that the ideas surrounding RPG’s have become stagnate in the area of original storylines and two is that some try so hard to be a Diablo or Elder Scrolls clone that they end up looking like a ridiculous poser. This time though, when I popped in Dragon Quest Swords, it was neither and instead seemed to hearken back to the days of yore and bring a bit of fun and misty-eyed nostalgia to my day. Unfortunately, a mere thirty minutes of gameplay changed my mind.
Dragon Quest Swords contains the strangest and most frustrating mix of old-school first-person RPG elements combined with the innovation of the Wii and while one would think this could be a good thing, it’s not. Granted, you get to use your Wii controller as a sword which is suppose to give you the “feel” of actual battle, but instead it is nothing more than a hit or miss mess that makes you look and feel like a moron. While your slashing motions are accurately displayed on the screen via a red blade that appears when you battle, it just lacks not only in visual simulation, it lacks in fun. The most frustrating part of the battle is that not only is your sword the controller, so is your shield because the game does not make use of the nunchuck. Yes, that’s right no nunchuck to steer your way through the game, you use the d-pad instead. In this game; however, it makes sense, and I will get to that next.
The reason that the nunchuck is not included is because you do not need it. You are basically on a rail system that takes you through each dungeon and area where said battles occur. When you are out in the world, oh say to purchase more upgrades or to play the most annoying mini-game on the planet (trombola), you feel like you at least have some control as to where you are going. If you like, you can even talk to your womanizing Father who likes his drink, and plays around with a “tasty little number” until your mother comes home. Nice. The worst part about the game, be it while you are in combat or visiting an NPC that you have to talk to get more quests and advance, is that the rail system makes it so you cannot look around at all. All you can so is look forward and slightly side-to-side, which is a shame because the bright colors of the landscapes and cartoonish characters are a delight to look at.
Being that you play the game via a first-person perspective, you miss out on so much. First of all, you have no idea what you look like, you cannot see how comical you appear while wearing your “dog” armor or holding your “cat” shield and secondly, like I said, you miss out on exploring the really neat landscape that Square Enix has created. I am not saying that all RPGs have to have an open world, but to not be at the mercy of the rail system is a wonderful thing, and I will be very happy the day developers decide that this is a dead fish that must be flushed down the sewer. The only saving grace, if you could call it that, is the ability to revisit completed dungeons to level up and get more cool stuff. The only problem with this is that you will encounter the same monsters, in the same battle formations and this lack of variety is nothing short of a snoozefest.
It does not take much effort to beat your enemies either and before you know it, you have moved on to the next area and without even realizing it, you are at the final stage. This was the hardest part of the game, and while it was in no way shape or form extremely difficult, it was nice to finally be faced with a challenge, although this challenge came way too late in the game to save it.
While I may have painted a grim picture of Dragon Quest Swords for you, trust me when I say that it could have been worse. It is reminiscent of past Dragon Quest games, so the nostalgia factor is high, and if it was not rated “T” for Teen, this could be a great game to get younger kids interested in RPGs. I am assuming it was not rated “E” for Everyone because of the lothario dialogue of your character’s father and his drinking habit, therefore it may be better suited to pre-teens who have not played around with role playing too much. However, if you are an adult or someone with vast experience playing RPGs you will want to stay clear of this one unless you just love to punish yourself, and far be it from me to try and quell any masochistic tendencies you may harbor.
For a more traditional review of the game, along with a score, go to 1Up.