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

boyward - Staff Reviewer

Content at a glance:

GAME TECH INFO

Computer Platform: Nintendo Wii
Produced by: Sqare-Enix
Price Range: $41-50
Learning curve time: 1-30 min.
Age level: Teens
ESRB Rating: T (Teen)

Reviewed By: Phil Rownd (aka boyward)
STAFF REVIEWER

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆
Genre: Adventure
Christian Rating: 4 of 5 (good)
Gameplay: 4 of 5 (good)
Violence: 3 of 5 (mild)
Adult Content: 4 of 5 (barely present)

 

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

Ouch! My wrist and shoulder hurt, and I blame you, Dragon Quest Swords, for being so fun and full of charm that I swung my Wii remote for the past 3 hours straight! It took me only 9 hours to complete your main quest, so I can rest my arm for a while before going back to your post-game adventures. I’m not sure I feel like you’re worth the $41 I paid for you, but when you hit the bargain bin I’ll definitely recommend you to fans of light-gun games and lite role-playing games.

Xiphos, Bringer of Death, was struck down five years ago by your father, a master swordsman. But Xiphos has returned, so it’s time for you to pick up your sword and strike him down once and for all.

My experience with the Dragon Quest series includes Dragon Quests III, VII, and VIII, as well as DQ Heroes: Rocket Slime (DS), DQ Monsters 2 (Gameboy Color), and DQ Monsters: Joker (DS). Swords is about as deep as one of the spinoffs, but nowhere near as involving as the numbered line of RPGs. My first RPG was Sega Genesis’ “Shining in the Darkness”, a simplistic 3D RPG on rails. Dragon Quest Swords takes that basic idea and puts the sword in your hand, so that you actually do physical battle with the monsters that jump in your way. So far, it’s the best sword game I’ve played on Wii. The controls work really well, except for the “thrust” motion, which I never quite mastered. There’s a fair bit of strategy to conquering the monsters that throw themselves at you, and all are fun to fight and beautifully animated, especially the large bosses. There are 8 locales to visit within the world of Avalonia, and most of them look terrific. The way the sunlight breaks through the trees in Galantyne Glade warrants a second look, and there is one moment late in the game where the entire geography of the level changes and I found myself gaping in awe at the splendor of what was happening. The gameplay isn’t perfect. You have to hold your arm just so to get the Wii to read your movements properly, and the fact that all the controls are mapped to the remote makes for some mild discomfort. It would be nice to at least have the option to use the Nunchuck controller for movement. Also, the “on-rails” nature of the game can be somewhat limiting. There are times when you’ll want to look up or to the side, and the game doesn’t let you. I was also disappointed that while the Dragon Quest VIII soundtrack had been recorded by a live orchestra, DQ Swords’ music is synthesized in a MIDI format. Once I accepted the game’s limitations, however, I really began to enjoy myself. The musical compositions are outstanding. And there’s a constant sense of progress as you earn a name for yourself and try to top your old high scores in each level. Each level has branching paths that open up after you finish the main game. Despite the fact that the quest lasts only 8-10 hours, I intend to go back and explore these new areas. By the time I’ve seen everything the game has to offer, I will probably have gotten 15 hours of play time out of Swords.

Here’s what you can expect:

SPIRITUAL CONTENT
Characters refer to Avalonia’s goddess in conversation: “Goddess only knows”; “May the Goddess bless you”; “Thank the Goddess”; “Goddesspeed!” The Dragon Quest series traditionally forces you to enter a church to save your progress, and Swords is no different. You talk to the Sister in charge and select ‘Confession’. You can also select ‘Divination’ to check how much experience is needed to reach the next level. At one time Fleurette, a female member of your party, was training to be a nun. She is considering returning to the chapel after Xiphos is defeated. Some characters (not you) can cast basic magic spells (fire attacks, healing spells, etc. No summons). A key character’s mind is controlled by an accursed object and the evil spirit contained within. Villagers seek shelter within the church. And old woman visiting “Bilbo’s” grave hopes she’ll see him again in the afterlife.

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LANGUAGE
None.

VIOLENCE
In dealing the death blow, your foes will be cleaved in half and sometimes fall to pieces, bloodlessly. There is absolutely no gore or blood in DQ Swords. You don’t have to fight human beings either. All the violence is done against fantasy monsters.

SEXUAL CONTENT
A scantily clad female warrior is seen about town. Though married, your father has a reputation for being a womanizer. Upon meeting Fleurette, he tells you that you have great taste in women. Fleurette wears a French dancing girl’s outfit, though she does not act seductively or say anything suggestive. Fleurette is actually one of the sweetest and most innocent characters in the game. Prince Anlace briefly (and incorrectly) questions whether his birth might have been illegitimate. “Aunty Stiletto” is a cross-dressing muscleman who runs the mini-game shop. You don’t need to visit him, but if you do he’ll offer you some mini games that he calls “the best fun since Puff Puffs!”

ALCOHOL
Your dad says he’ll raise a glass to you down at the pub. He later joins you for battle– with a head-splitting headache. You can go into the pub and see others drinking their ale, but you’re never given an opportunity to join them.

POSITIVE ELEMENTS
Prince Anlace shows loving concern for his Mother, the Queen. Your dad, for all his faults, clearly loves you and is hopeful that your mother will come back home soon. In one Beauty & the Beast-inspired moment, Fleurette stands between you and a certain foe you’re about to finish off. She begs for mercy for him, insisting that he is a person worth loving. Families and villagers demonstrate unwavering loyalty and commitment to one another.

I think the ESRB rating of Teen is appropriate. The suggestive themes and alcohol content push Dragon Quest Swords just past the point of being appropriate for older children.

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Questionable content aside, Dragon Quest Swords will still not appeal to everyone. A friend who plays nothing but epic RPGs gave me his very negative opinion of this game. “It’s only four hours long,” he said, exaggerating. “And you can’t even go off the path and explore! What kind of RPG is this?” I’m not sure Dragon Quest Swords should even be called an RPG. You can’t even go into a menu and equip your companions with different equipment. Really, Swords has more in common with one of those on-rails arcade light-gun games, except you’re swinging a sword, and you can do a few RPG-like toggles to your character’s equipment. For what it is, it’s very good, and would make an excellent rental.

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Year of Release — 2008




Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this Spotlight review are those of the reviewer (both ratings and recommendations), and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Eden Communications or the Christian Answers Network.

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