|System: Wii||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Square-Enix||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Square-Enix||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Feb. 19, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
If you are a longtime fan of the Dragon Quest series, or even RPG series in general, you may be a little let down by the latest Dragon Quest game. It is definitely not your regular in-depth RPG with numerous side-quests and 50 hours or more of gameplay. No, this game takes a little bit more casual approach to the RPG series. You may be saying to yourself that casual and RPG genres don't mix, but I would beg to differ.
While Dragon Quest Swords: The Masked Queen and the Tower of Mirrors is most definitely an easier and more watered-down RPG, it is nonetheless enjoyable and can stand alone as an RPG title accessible to many who may have not been able to play an otherwise too-difficult genre. It features a very simplistic battle system, easy to use Wii-mote controls, and only clocks in at about 10 hours (perhaps 12 if you go for 100% completion). But these few elements strengthen this game and make it more marketable to those who have never played a Dragon Quest game before, and that is a good thing.
The game's story revolves around the familiar land of Avalonia. You play the game as returning character Claymore's son, who goes by the name of Blade. The game opens on the night before your sixteenth birthday. You learn that it is an Avalonian tradition that once a boy turns 16 he is to meet with the queen and take the Walk of Worth, which is something of a rite of passage. However, once your character wakes up and goes to meet with the queen, he is dismayed to find that she is not there. Once you return from your Walk of Worth, you find that the queen is still missing. Her son, Prince Anlance informs you that she has not been herself lately and has taken to wearing a strange looking mask at all times. Together you and Anlance investigate the situation and find out from the over-the-top Frenchy Fleurette that a series of bad guys known as the Deathbringers may be using the Queen of Avalonia to plot their return. From here the four main characters (Blade, Fleurette, Anlance, and Claymore) go on to the sealed tower of mirrors to try to defeat the evil which has taken control of the queen.
While the plot may not be anything more than superficial, the characters become surprisingly meaningful. This is probably in some part due to the absolutely fabulous work of the voice actors who worked on this game. All of the characters sound completely genuine, and they all have different provincial accents that are performed quite well. The voice acting in this title definitely helps convey the emotion of the different characters, and it is pretty amazing how the caliber of voice acting can change a video game experience so drastically. I can confidently say that if these characters didn't sound so real, then I probably would care about them as much at the end.
Gameplay in Dragon Quest Swords: The Masked Queen and the Tower of Mirrors is rather simplistic and really only consists of your character running around and getting into fights. The battle system is very simplistic and simply has you locking onto a target via a point-and-click and then swinging away with your Wii-mote. You can swing in any direction to attack or you can thrust the Wii-mote forward to stab. There is also a special attack system that you can earn by raking up combos. This special attack system is the "Master Stroke," and you have to perform a certain number of movements with the Wii-mote and then you will deal a crushing blow to your enemy. The only problem I have with the master stroke special attack is that you are not able to hoard multiple master stroke moves. One of my strategies in RPGs was always to save up my good moves for the boss battles, but in Dragon Quest Swords: The Masked Queen and the Tower of Mirrors, it is sadly not possible. I suppose it is one of those situations where you use it or lose it.