Dragon Quest Swords, Square-Enix's Wiimote slashing game, has finally reached EU shores. So how does it play?
Starting the game up, a festival is running and a mandatory tutorial is given about how to use the Wiimote. Afterwards, it's time to take the "Walk of the Worthy" and go on the very first sword slashing adventure. Each location is presented on a world map and are completely replayable. Graphically, they look fairly good but are completely linear. Apart from in town there is only one track you move about on and I say "track" because you can only control your character to move back and forth. It's kind of like playing the "Time Crisis" machines at the arcades but with a sword. There are no random encounters. Once you reach a spot, you're attacked and the enemies won't respawn afterwards. They always appear in the same order, same spot the next time you play.
While the idea of using the Wiimote as a sword sounds like a great one and will probably have been on the minds of everyone who had heard of the Wii console while it was in the development, the console is far from accurate at detecting how you swing the controller. Thus, you'll find yourself shaking the Wiimote more than using it like a sword. You shake the Wiimote a bit to clear the screen then you take a few steps forward for the next set of enemies and repeat. What you end up with is a tired wrist and it can get fairly boring during the early levels.
Proceeding onwards, enemies start falling into formations but this doesn't change the situation much. It's not until very late into the game before they become challenging enough so that you have to pull off the right sword motions or time your slashes just right to deal any damage.
There are a few other features that do try and help add some variety. By holding the B button down, you can also hold a shield up to block attacks. It has its own durability level so you can't really rely on it for too long without starting to use expensive repair items. This helps give the hand a very short break as it becomes a game of quick reactions of pointing the Wiimote at the right part of the screen.
While fighting, you'll also build up a limit gauge to execute "Master Strokes". Depending on how well you perform one or two motions, you'll execute a very powerful attack move onto the enemies. It feels like something out of those children's Anime shows where the hero shouts out the move he's about to perform. Not something that I like.
Unlike other RPGs where you go around fighting together with a full party of members, you have to choose to bring along one partner only and they really don't do much. Even if you set their AI to a certain pattern, you'll have to give them a command before they'll do something which is really pointless. Even more so when they just jump out in front of you just to give a line of victory dialogue. It's so ridiculous it's kind of funny.
Aside from all the sword slashing, there are a number of small mini games you can play in town which involves slashing away at slimes or catching arrows. For the latter, it's like a darts game but instead of throwing darts you're catching them as close to the centre of the board you're holding as possible. They can be pretty fun but the entertainment doesn't last for long. The big muscular character in the pink mask is pretty scary too.
On the positive side of DQS, the levels are replayable as I mentioned earlier. You are ranked for each play with 'S' being the highest and offering the best rewards. This doesn't exclude bosses so you have fun fighting them again too which is rare in games. The rewards, which are mainly materials, can then be used for forging better weapons which branches out allowing you to choose the easiest to "temper" weapons or ones that require rarer materials. There's really not much equipment to choose from mind you.
Soundtrack, sound effects and voice acting are good. It's very well localised and has the right medieval fantasy atmosphere about it but what is it with Fleurette's lines? "Oui, Blade oui! My hero!" and "Do it! Do it like you mean it!" Makes me wonder what she says in the Japanese version. She also reminds me of Sylvia from No More Heroes here but they're not the same voice actress. Every character besides Fleurette has a distinct tone and accent to their voice acting which helps make them stand out greatly with thecharacter designs done by the author of the Dragonball series, Akira Toriyama.
On the other hand, the story is a very generic one with a defeated evil back again threatening the world and now it's up to you to defeat it. Thankfully the bits of humour does help throw in some entertaining dialogue.
The original Japanese version was criticised for lasting just under ten hours and it's not much different in the Western version. Only this time, we get four extra bosses after finishing the main story giving players an excuse to level all the way to the max and some more playtime. They're challenging but feels lazily thrown in. If you really want a game where you completely use the Wiimote like a sword then you might like this but after playing, you'll probably change your mind about it. Now I can see why No More Heroes went with the mix of the old button mashing and motion finishing moves. It works much better.
Time to Finish: Around the 10 hours mark.
- Makes use of the Wii motion sensing controls.
- Slashing about and other sword actions are generally fun.
- Well localised, good voice acting.
- Good visuals and music.
- A few mini games for variety.
- Restricted movement outside of town. You're on a "rail track".
- Inaccurate detection of the Wiimote.
- Single party members are useless.
- Little gear selection.
- Boring, shallow story.
- Only 10 hours for main game.
- Extra bosses for Western version are challenging but feels lazily added.
Excuse some of the images. Working with a new camera here which I'll show soon.