Dragon Quest Swords: The Masked Queen and the Tower of Mirrors

It’s a shame that too few developers have done the Wiimote justice so far into the consoles lifespan. many attempts to incorporate motion sensitivity feel tacked-on or underused. Dragon Quest Swords wont shake things up an awful lot, but it does try some bold new tricks that almost hit the mark, yet ultimately fall flat.

Taking an Elder Scrolls approach, the latest in this long-running series of RPGs is viewed entirely in the first-person, which is a first for the brand. As a young swordsman in training, you must embark on the “Walk of the Worthy”, which charges you with heading out of the heavily-fortified city Avalonia for the first time on your own with trusty sword in hand. Before you go charging off however, your swordsmanship instructor Dao gives you a bit of final schoolin’.

This lesson serves as a tutorial level and is really easy to follow. This is entirely controlled by the Wiimote alone, so combat never gets too confusing with a limited move set and stripped-back menus, quite a change from the main Dragon Quest titles. Swinging the controller causes the hero to attack in thin swipes, rendering random waving useless in battle – quite often a major design flaw of Wii games and the cheater’s way out. There is a great deal of accuracy here, with a tap of ‘A’ locking onto a point on the screen.

The ‘B’ button brings up your shield which damages over time, so deflecting enemy attacks requires a bit of precision. A split second before an enemy fires an arrow or hurls a rock at you, a marker flashes up onscreen. Move the shield in the dead centre and this counts as a perfect block, dealing no damage to your equipment. In tougher battles this really does keep you on your toes as ranged attacks fire in from all directions.

So the combat is fun enough, random battles remain however, although these are not nearly as frequent as those found in the PS2’s Dragon Quest VII for example. No, the major gripe here is a lot more ugly than random battles with bats, moles and the always-‘adorable’ slimes.


Seriously though, If I saw one of these little buggers roll out of the grass in my local park, my first instinct would not be to batter it to death. How could you!?

Anyways, the real gripe with combat is that the action fields are entirely on rails. Fair enough, you have the ability to walk forwards and backwards but this acts as an anti-thesis to the freedom of exploration the role-playing genre is famed for. In the first mission of Swords you walk along a lush moorside path with shades of green you didn’t even know existed, as clouds soar along a perfect blue skyline, yet you have to stick to the set path. You want to go and see whats on the other side of that grassy knoll but you are denied every time – boo! 🙁

Story-wise this is role-playing lite, that means, fewer characters, an fairly obvious plot, no real adult overtones and some rather questionable voices. The acting is fine enough, but goth chick Fleurette’s French accent sounds like a parody that belongs in an episode of ‘Allo ‘Allo, rather than Dragon Quest. To be fair, a few of the actors do well but are let down by a weak script, with the central quest revolving around the Queen of Avalonia wearing an odd mask and refusing to take it off for reasons unknown.

As a gamer who prefers Final Fantasy, I find it hard to tap into the Dragon Quest mythology. The Spell names are odd, the items overpriced and levelling is always such a chore by comparison. They are great games don’t get me wrong but it is hard to see how Swords will make a huge impact in the West and particularly the young audience it targets.

This is a nice attempt at taking a fresh spin on the franchise and making something new out of it. Very few developers have the guts to try this and perhaps for good reason. However, Dragon Quest has always exuded an undeniable charm. From the gorgeous graphics, charming soundtracks and Dragon Ball Z artist Akira Toriyama’s character design, it pains me to say that this is less a role-player than an adventure title, with battles that handle a bit like mini-games.







2 responses to “Dragon Quest Swords: The Masked Queen and the Tower of Mirrors”

  1. Joolee avatar

    Poor cute slimey guys 🙁

  2. Dave avatar

    I know, they didn’t do anything wrong :'(

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