In a lot of ways, Dragon Quest Swords: The Masked Queen and the Tower of Mirrors is a lot like the Wii itself. It appeals to a new kind of gamer by making sacrifices for the greater good, and introduces them to a genre they might not have known of or cared enough about in the past. However, in making these sacrifices, Dragon Quest Swords ultimately fails as a RPG.

But that's not the end of the world, necessarily, because this is a title to ease gamers into the genre, ignoring the best features and aspects of modern RPG titles and replacing them with simple gameplay and an overall easily accessible package. But longtime fans of the Dragon Quest (previously Dragon Warrior) franchise will find that this game is a lackluster spin-off.

Most folks will tell you that a RPG ultimately needs two things: a good story and an engaging battle system. This game, sadly, falls flat on both accounts.



The game's story starts off with a narrative, touching on the mask and the main bad guy, Xiphos, the Death Bringer. We then open to the tutorial level, where the main character is taught how to rock a sword by Dao, the man who trained his father. We then learn that your father, Claymore (oh, did we mention your name is Blade? ynuck ynuck), is the man who defeated Xiphos on this day five years ago. But, at the price of his arm, so he can no longer wield a sword (even though his metallic arm looks as functional, if not more, than one of flesh and bone).

After celebrating Avalonia's fifth year of liberty from the menace, the main hero must embark on his Walk of Worthy. This is something that all of the boys must do on their 16th birthday, as they mature from boy to man. Of course, shortly after this is where the game's real quest begins (divided up into Chapters). Considering how easy it is to succeed in the game's battle system, however, we're not sure that being a man in this game is all that difficult.

The combat is extremely easy to conquer. As you might have seen in videos posted on this very site, all one really needs to do is head to downtown Wagglecity and get to flailing their wrist about. You have a variety of moves, including a thrust, diagonal, vertical and horizontal slashes. Also, you can hit the B button to whip out your shield to block, well ... everything. And, if you need to target a specific area in front of you, all you need do is move your targeting cursor to the enemy or area and hit the A button, directing all slashing to that region. But, ultimately, what every battle boils down to is you sighing a lot out of boredom and your wrist hurting from relentlessly horizontally slashing every enemy on the screen. Sure, you get the few-second break to block a fireball or an arrow every now and then, but for the most part this game feels a lot like detention back in elementary school, when your punishment was to repeat a sentence on the chalkboard 100 times.

Master Strokes are also a part of the combat, adding more ease to the process of killing everything in your path. These are screen-clearing maneuvers that are triggered after you've killed a certain amount of enemies, filling a sword gauge at the bottom-left of the screen. Once triggered (hitting the 2 button), you need to accomplish a gesture with the Wiimote to enable the move, then you have a short time to slash in order to trigger the move.

It isn't all bad, though. Two of the things this game really has going for it are the graphics and the voice work. The character models animate pretty well, as they convey emotion through their faces while talking to you by furrowing their brow or shooting you a smile. And the environments, although they're very small, look really nice as well, as trees look more like trees and less like hastily-put-together pieces of colored paper. The game doesn't support full 16:9 aspect ratio, though.

And let's not forget about the voice work. Each character has their own distinct personality, presented through some very good voice acting, from the casually unconcerned father Claymore, to the regal and almost feminine prince Anlace. While some characters just come off as annoying, it's part of their personality to be so.

Overall, Dragon Quest Swords isn't a horrible game, it's just more like Diet RPG, taking some of the grand aspects of the genre and either scaling them down or disregarding them altogether. And for fans of previous Dragon Quest games, they'll be sad that this title isn't along the same scale as Dragon Quest VIII. But, for newcomers to the genre or children who've never experienced an RPG, this is going to be a good choice for an introductory game.

Final Score: 6.5/10

This article was originally published on Joystiq.

A new H3 Ghost Town screen to add to our gallery