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

Apologies, due to technical difficulties, the video version of this review will have to wait until I can recover the files from my hard drive and finish the voiceover.

Though the Dragon Quest series is largely known for its lengthy traditional turn-based adventures, the series has had its share of spinoffs over the years. Dragon Quest Swords is one such spinoff that takes the series in a different direction. Rather than a traditional RPG battle system, battles are fought in real time with the player in direct control of the hero’s sword and shield.

The story begins with the local kingdom enjoying its fifth year of peace and the hero about to turn sixteen. Of course, things do not remain peaceful for long. Being the son of one of the warriors that saved the world five years ago, the hero is quickly brought into the battle as well. The story, as a whole, isn’t the most impressive in the Dragon Quest series, nor is it the longest. Unlike games such as Dragon Quest VIII that can very easily take seventy, if not one hundred hours, Dragon Quest Swords‘ storyline can be finished in as little as ten or fifteen. The good news is that the emphasis is placed more heavily on gameplay than telling a complicated story, so though the plotline may be rather simple and brief, the gameplay carries the game enough to help make up for this.

Each chapter of Dragon Quest Swords contains a mostly linear rail dungeon packed with enemies at set points that the hero must fight through. Though they are indeed quite linear, there are a few branching paths and secrets in some of the dungeons that can make subsequent visits more interesting. Furthermore, in addition to excess exp and gold, the hero receives a rank as well as some fame and a possible prize depending on how well you performed. Attempting to improve one’s rank can make the battles that much more interesting.


Since the player directly controls sword strikes and slashes, as well as the shield, with the Wiimote, the majority of the fighting isn’t anything fancy, but the large variety of environments and enemy patterns that the player will encounter help keep things from becoming dull or repetitive. Extra rules, such as being able to reflect certain attacks with a well-timed sword swing and shield damage serve to make things more interesting, as do super abilities called Master Strokes that can be performed once the proper gauge is filled. As the game progresses, the hero will be joined by a number of allies who can offer a good deal of magic backup as well, though they don’t do much aside from that aside from offer words of encouragement or praise.

Of course, a major factor in how well a battle system based heavily on sword slashes will perform is the detection accuracy. Though the pointer and shield work well, sword slashes register improperly a little more than most people would like, especially in a game where players are graded on accuracy and hit chains. The good news is that the player is able to set their own focal points for their attacks, significantly reducing the problems this would cause. The only downside to this is that these focal points expire very quickly, forcing the player to quickly set a new one before resuming combat. This can also be a bit of a problem since some enemies are only susceptible to counter-attack for very brief periods after their attacks have been blocked. One other problem is that attacks can occasionally seem to pass right through enemies even though the slash attack seemed dead-on.

As far as difficulty goes, with the exception of some endgame material, the majority of the game isn’t especially challenging so long as the player takes the time to keep the hero’s pockets well-stocked and equipment relatively up to date. Instead, players who want a challenge can aim for getting high ranks in dungeons or try to beat their way through dungeons with antiquated equipment.


Dragon Quest Swords does a pretty good job visually. Though they aren’t the most impressive out there, each chapter takes the player through a good variety of environments, complete with traditional Dragon Quest monsters that have been upgraded to 3D while still keeping their 2D charm.

Accompanying the many environments is a variety of background tracks. With the exception of perhaps the standard battle music, none of them really become repetitive by the end of the game. Sound effects are standard Dragon Quest fare and the voice work follows the same high level quality Dragon Quest VIII had, adding a bit to humorous and well-localized dialog.

As a whole, Dragon Quest Swords is a pretty good game, though certainly not the best that the series has to offer. The story is a bit weak, but the gameplay helps make up for that. It isn’t very long for an RPG, but postgame content, single and multiplayer minigames, and getting high ranks can help add to that. Though some parts are a bit sparse and there are a few minor issues with the controls, Dragon Quest Swords is still a pretty decent and enjoyable game as a whole.

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