November 3, 2006 - While Dragon Quest Swords: The Masked Queen and the Tower of Mirrors was originally expected to launch with the Wii in Japan on 12/2, Square Enix ended up avoiding the launch flood, pushing the game back to Spring 2007. Thankfully, the Nintendo World event in Nagoya today gave us a chance to get some hands-on time ahead of time.
If you played Dragon Quest VIII and now you find yourself looking to this new entry in the series as a Wii adventure of similar epic proportion, we've got some disappointing news. Dragon Quest Swords shares more in common with the Kenshin Dragon Quest game unit from Square Enix, a highly successful self-contained game that connects directly to the television and has players fight monsters using a sword-shaped controller.
You're not too far off if you're immediately picturing using the Wiimote in place of the sword in this Wii off-shoot of that title. When facing off against enemies, your Wiimote slashes translate to in-game sword attacks. The attacks don't appear to be mapped directly to your sword motions, but the basic feeling of swinging the Wiimote to achieve a sword slash is there. You can also thrust the Wiimote at on-screen enemies for a sword thrust. An on-screen pointer indicates where you're pointing, as is the case with many Wii titles.
The battle system wouldn't be all that fun with just sword attacks. You also have access to defensive moves, special attacks, and magic. To use magic, you press the B button. A magic spell fires off at the enemy to which you're currently pointing. To bring up a shield, you hold down A. A translucent image of a shield then appears on screen. To successfully defend, you have to move the shield around to align it with incoming attacks.
As you defeat enemies, you slowly build up a special move meter. Once full, you can perform your special move by pressing the one button. Your character appears on-screen, and you have to build up a charge by swinging the Wiimote around as fast as you can. Your character then performs the move; in the case of the Nintendo World demo, a powerful slash.
Dragon Quest uses only the Wiimote, without the nunchuck add-on. So how do you move? Well, the long and the short is, you don't. Your character moves on a fixed path through the world. You use A, B or the D-pad to move back and forth through the world, but you can't turn around or stray off your fixed path. You can press the minus button to bring up a menu, from which you access items and view stats, but that's all the activity we found in the demo today.
Obviously, the emphasis is on the battle system. The demo had two stages, one set in an open field not unlike the outer world of Dragon Quest VIII, and one set inside a cave. Both featured numerous enemy encounters, with the expected culprits (read, lots of Slime) being pretty common. As you move forward through the world, flocks of enemies appear and begin to attack. Your character pulls out his sword, and the game switches to battle mode.
With battles being everything in this game, it would be a shame if there weren't much in the way of strategy. That doesn't seem to be the case, thankfully. The first boss fight required that you block incoming attacks, then slash like crazy as the boss character recovered. Other battles feature near and far enemies, requiring combinations of magic and sword slashes.
It may seem like a simple gameplay system, but there's potential for greatness in Dragon Quest Swords. We can't wait to see what Square Enix puts together for the final version early next year.