Although I just bought the game yesterday and have played a few hours into it (it's actually not much longer so I'm told and I can kinda figure out where things are going at this point anyway), here are my observations so far:
First off let me set this up by saying, I am a long time Dragon Quest fan, since the early days of Dragon Warrior. The attraction to these games for me has always been that they are always a great and expansive adventure that is more like an interactive novel than a game really. Add to that a strong cast of characters/monsters, high quality music, and a fun strategy/battle system, and great replay ability, and the mind-numbing ways to customize your character, it makes it a no-brainer why these games have enjoyed such a strong and loyal fan base since the days of the NES.
Enter the latest installment of the franchise, "DQ Swords: The Masked Queen and the Tower of Mirrors."
- **** Waaaaay Too short. And no replay ability. ****
- No real exploration or leveling abilities. Unless you return to town before completing any set mission multiple times (Think Rail-game, forward facing only).
- Hate the 3D First Person view you are forced to move around in. Movement is rather limited (i.e. no "strafing"), so you actually have to completely stop moving to turn left or right, otherwise you just make giant circles. Not to mention just "looking around" really takes a bit of effort and time.
- Battles can be a bit of a challenge since it's all real-time and enemies just start swarming and attacking you like crazy before you even realize you're in a fight, leaving you to swing the wii-mote like crazy while trying to "focus" your attacks somewhere on the screen in between blocking, and hope that your shield hasn't already disintegrated from the last battle and can find its target.
- Master Strokes are a little overly animated maybe? Sure takes a while to finally get down to executing the moves after all the jazz-and-snazz cinemas are said and done.
- Love the story line, though it did need to be longer which would've allowed a little more depth.
- Absolutely wonderful graphics, especially on such a low-res system like the Wii.
- Great voice acting. (I always enjoyed the person who voiced Angus' character in DQVIII, and I think he must've done some acting in this latest version as well for the "shop owner" character?).
- Simplistic and fun to interact with. (I especially like seeing the slimes getting sliced in half with my sword swings, somewhat rewarding, or a swath of enemies taken out with a single horizontal slice).
- High quality character animations and musical score.
- Death-blows on the last bosses are a definite plus, I do get a kick out of executing the "Master Stroke" as the "death-blow". Though I believe you can use any old swing to do the trick. Maybe more of a Mortal Kombat-ish fatality would have been more appropriate for something labeled as a "Death-blow".
Overall the game was a very enjoyable one, I just hope this isn't supposed to be the actual real "next" installment in the franchise as it can't even hold a candle to the vastness, enjoyability, and replay-ability of the last release (DQ VIII) or any predecessors. However it is a great tide-you-over game until the next "real" DQ release. Not to mention it's just plain fun that you can pick up and play anytime, which is really what I think the goal was for SquareEnix in this DQ release. If it is, they've succeeded admirably, if not, well...more homework and research is needed.
If you don't have a lot of money, then I'd suggest renting or waiting for the price to fall. Otherwise, expect this one to see most of its life on your game shelf after all is said and done. Like was said before, once you finish it, you probably won't play it again. Though while you're playing it, you're in for an enjoyable experience. Just don't expect 80+ hours of DQ exploring and level hacking. It's maybe more of a weekend warrior type game.
But I do recommend this game! I have enjoyed it just the same!