In the hands of Square Enix, the Dragon Quest series has been making major strides to compete with the company's other series Final Fantasy. Not only is the main series still going strong, but many spin-off titles have been coming forth as of late including Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime and Dragon Quest Monsters - Joker. This is not surprising considering that Dragon Quest is immensely popular in Japan and is gaining a lot of ground here in North America. At 2006's E3 where Nintendo first officially announced the release details for the Wii console, Dragon Quest Swords: The Masked Queen and the Tower of Mirrors was placed in the lineup of third-party exclusive titles. It didn't make the system's launch, but now, nearly two years later the game is finally ramping up for a North American release.
"Dragon Quest Swords is not a typical RPG. It is more akin to a rail shooter such as Panzer Dragoon..."
Dragon Quest Swords is not a typical RPG. It is more akin to a rail shooter such as Panzer Dragoon as the game takes place in a first-person perspective with no real means of exploring off of the designated path. The main character only has to venture forward throughout the quest. As this is a game for the Nintendo Wii, the Wii Remote is used for all game actions. This includes character movement, sword slashing, stabbing, and blocking. Enemies will appear on screen stopping the character's progression for combat. At that time the player will move the remote about as if slashing with a sword in either an up-and-down, side-to-side, or diagonal motion. Blocking and deflecting attacks will also be critical to survival, as regular enemies and especially bosses will make quick work of players who do not properly move their shield to defend themselves. Characters also have powerful special attacks that require a special remote movement sequence and feature an additional cinematic.
The hero is also joined by at least two party members during the game: Prince Anlace and former nun-in-training Fleurette. Both characters bring unique assistance to the main character throughout his quest. Each can be set to specific automated commands or the game can be paused to order them to take action; however, the main character is the only one that is directly controlled.
The story of Dragon Quest Swords: The Masked Queen and the Tower of Mirrors does not seem to be as long as its subtitle. The hero is the son of a great swordsman from the Kingdom of Avalonia and his adventure begins as he sets out on a coming-of-age ritual known as the "Walk of the Worthy." Avalonia is enjoying its fifth year of peace since the defeat of Xiphos, the evil Deathbringer; however, monsters have once again started to plague the land. Further deepening the mystery is the queen who now hides her face behind an odd mask.
The game's visuals are vivid with colorful Dragon Quest characters such as the happy, yet vicious slimes, armored knights, and angry moles. The landscapes seem to be typical Dragon Quest-style fields and dungeons, all adding up to a rather impressive experience on the Wii. Music in Dragon Quest Swords is provided by Manami Matsumae and series-staple composer Koichi Sugiyama. Sugiyama brings four classic Dragon Quest themes to the soundtrack while Matsumae provides all of the original content.
Dragon Quest Swords: The Masked Queen and the Tower of Mirrors was released in Japan on July 12, 2007 and reports state that the game is rather short, possibly only eight to ten hours in length. The North American version is said to offer new content in the way of a "Payback Mode" along with four hidden bosses. Players are also given the option of sword customization which requires lots of money and rare items, so there is more content for gamers wanting a longer experience. Dragon Quest Swords is scheduled for release in North America on February 26, 2008 and is rated "T" for Teen by the ESRB.