Dragon Quest Wars (DSiWare)

Game Review

Dragon Quest Wars Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Corbie Dillard

It might not be a typical Dragon Quest RPG, but there's still plenty of fun to be had

It goes without saying that the Dragon Quest series has enjoyed phenomenal success around the world as an RPG series over the years, so placing the name on any game is going to automatically heap certain expectations onto that game, no matter what type of game it might be. Thus is the case with Dragon Quest Wars, a game that takes the Dragon Quest theme and somehow simplifies it down into a unique grid-based strategy title that proves to be easy to pick up and play for gamers of all ages, yet still manages to offer up enough depth to keep strategy game fans interested.

When you begin the game, you're presented with a tutorial that will help you come to grips with the way the game is played. And while you don't have to complete the entire tutorial in order to move on to the game's Battle Mode, it will help you better understand the intricacies of the game's battle system, something that will prove quite useful once you begin taking on some of the more talented online players around the world.

At the beginning of a battle, you'll be able to select from a group of six monsters. Each monster has its own unique strengths and weaknesses. Some monsters have the ability to strike at multiple opponents, whereas other monsters have special healing abilities. Some are faster than others and some have better defensive characteristics. It's up to you to decide how you want to approach each battle and with what set of four monsters. After you've chosen your group, you'll then have to arrange them on the grid in the marked spots that are available to you, and once in place the battle will ensue.

When it's your turn in battle, you must click each monster and move it to the desired square on the grid, after which you'll be shown all available moves as you drag the monster to the desired spot. You're then allowed to assign a magic card to the monster which will determine its actions during the turn. These include everything from offensive attacks, to wait-based attacks that can be used to counter an opponent's attack during their turn; you can even use certain monsters to heal other monsters on your team. It's this strategic turn-based method of battle that gives the game its unique feel and keeps you constantly guessing as to what your opponent is going to do next.

While the tutorial mode is a good chance to learn the mechanics of the game, the Battle Mode is really the meat of the package and clearly the mode most players will make the most use of. There are three individual types of battles in this mode that include: local wireless battles, worldwide Wi-Fi battles, and Free Mode. Local wireless and online Wi-Fi battles play out very similarly, it just depends on whether you want to play with other DSi owners locally, or players around the world. You'll be able to select to join a group already set up or create your own group and have other players from around the world join in. If you'd rather take the game on as a single-player experience, you can also choose the Free Mode and do battle with the CPU. And while the solo experience is enjoyable enough, you won't get the full experience out of the title until you take on the multiplayer battles where every opponent you face has their own unique style of play to keep you guessing.

There are basically two modes of play in each of the Battle modes. Versus allows you to lead your group of monsters against another player's group: your goal is either to get one of your monsters to the other side of the grid and into the other player's home area, or to defeat all of your opponent's monsters. Of course, if you'd like a bit more of a challenge, you can choose to take on the Survival mode. This is basically where four groups of monsters all take each other on in a free-for-all type of battle where you try to be the last one standing, so-to-speak. Both types of battles are fun in their own way, it basically all depends on your personal preferences.

The simplicity of the game's mechanics makes it easy to get into quickly, but the stylus-only control can be a bit clunky at times until you get a handle on it. The monsters won't always stick where you want them to if you're not fairly precise in your pointing, but given the basic movements needed in most cases, it's not overly detrimental to the overall gameplay experience itself. It also might have been nice to have had a broader range of monsters and abilities, but at the same time this might have taken something away from the game's widely accessible feel.

Since the game is basically just variously-themed battle grids, you're not going to get a lot of flashy eye candy. Then again that's not what this game is about anyway. The six monsters are all well constructed and will be immediately familiar to fans of the series. The variety in the grids is a nice touch, but you'll generally spend most of your time planning and strategizing and very little time admiring the scenery.

Dragon Quest fans can rest easy with the fact that you will get to hear some of the classic tunes from the series in this DSiWare release. It's also nice that the developers didn't try to force the music into the experience and allowed it instead to blend in almost seamlessly with the game's battle sequences themselves. Toss in a few solid sound effects and you have a simple, yet very effective musical score that fits the game rather perfectly.


If you can somehow curb your expectations of Dragon Quest Wars being a typical Dragon Quest-style RPG experience and accept it for the simple, yet enjoyable strategy title it is, then you're likely to find a very fulfilling and playable DSiWare title that will provide you with many hours of fun. Sure the stylus control could have used a little tightening up and the single-player experience can be a bit bland, but the local and wireless multiplayer modes more than make up for the game's few shortcomings. Couple that with the very reasonable 500 Nintendo Point price tag and you have yet another DSiWare offering that further proves the adage that sometimes less is more.

From the web

Game Trailer

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Here is the official "Dragon Quest Wars" gameplay trailer for the upcoming DSiWare release.

User Comments (44)



KeeperBvK said:

Oh man, I still can't believe this actually got to the West. Now if only us Europeans can also get it soon...this is an instant download.



WolfRamHeart said:

Wow, very nice review Corbie! I was a little worried about this one since it doesn't follow the traditional Dragon Quest formula but it looks like it turned out to be a worthy entry for the franchise and DSiWare. Hopefully we will start seeing more quality DSiWare games like this one showing up more frequently.



RGVEDA said:

Would be nice if they translate it in different languages Including German of course



gabikun said:

When it comes to Europe, this is an instant download for me. Great review.



JayArr said:

This looks like a fun a little pick up and play game. Plus, you can't beat that price.

It seems the inclusion of on-line is what made this game. I hope more developers follow suit in that manner.



warioswoods said:

I'm always in favor of these DSiWare games you can just launch and play for a few minutes at a time.



ReZon said:

It was an 8! I admit Corbie, I was fooled.

A thorough and well written review for a great game.



Chunky_Droid said:

I thought Nnooo said 3rd party DSiWare developers aren't allowed to put Wi-Fi in?

I guess that's out the window!

If I were a fan of strategy titles i'd get this easily!



Hardy83 said:

It's a little hard to know since the boxes are so small, but you can play with 1 system.
While your setting up a game, you can turn the AI off, meaning you can control it. So you essentially can just pass the system around.



pixelman said:

Yet another reason to buy a DSi. Dagummit Nintendo, lower the fagraticablubberskatching price! x-(



Stuffgamer1 said:

Sounds interesting. I may try it out whenever I decide to get some points for something else. Not something I want to buy twice the points to be able to play NOW, in other words. Great review as always, Corbie!



x10power said:

I think I am the only person disappointed with this game since I was expecting at least a tiny story mode when there is none



SwerdMurd said:

I'm liking it more!!! This never happens with games like this! 8/10 or not, this gets the "tactical game I'm still playing after an hour" award, which should hold much more merit than Corbie's rating



Bassman_Q said:

Great Review and I completely agree with its score. Great graphics and effects, but can get bland after awhile. I recommend playing it in short bursts.



MindFever said:

@warioswoods: assuming there are other dsiware games that are a must-have...if not,talking in plural seems useless i do agree though,that such games are just cool to have,play for 15 minutes and feel satisfied... but,i dunno.i would rather pay 800pts and have more monsters/strategy ellements.

what do u think ppl?

NOW,if only ANCIENT EMPIRES (1&2) were coming to DSIWARE /w online play capabilities,you could then consider my dsiware boycoting an epic fail (you should realy try this one i mentioned,on mobile... its like Advance Wars set in a fantasy/medieval world.amazing + u can dl extra levels)

note:i dont have the game,obviously... i dont think ill buy it either.yes yes,im a party breaker



astarisborn94 said:

I should get this game, it's gonna be good.

My next DSiWare games will be Mario Vs. Donkey Kong: Minis March Again and Dragon Quest Wars.



postmanX3 said:

Easily worth the 500 points, and then some! Really, the DSiWare shop needs more polished, pick-up-and-play games like this.

I'd say it's around an 8.5, if you're counting scores.



Grumble said:

I gave it a 7 out of 10. Almost 100% what Corbie said but I really don't like RPG games outside of Zelda (does that count?) so it wasn't for me... Kind of like a total board game but on the dsi and with the rules kinda jumbled up. Great graphics but... I dunno... just not playing it at all anymore.




Brionkendo said:

I got this game.. and I've been having a really hard time getting into it.... the multiplayer is pretty slow as well... I don't know its pretty good.. but I just don't think its my cup of tea... sort of had that problem with pop solo too.



Metafish said:

I like the design but have never been a Dragon Quest fan, or strategy RPG's as a whole



Darknyht said:

After the review, this is a pass for now. I am not a strategy game player and when I do I dislike playing real opponents since I normally get my head handed to me.



CanisWolfred said:

I was kinda hoping for more of a SRPG kinda thing than a board game(granted, most strategy games are effectively board games, but at least those have bigger boards). I'll probably pass.



Spaced_Out said:

To chunky_droid,
Square Enix might as well be 2nd-party on the DS, considering all they've done... Really, look at their catalog for the DS and most RPG fans would take a pee in their pants... But there's always Mario Hoops to ruin the bunch of them...



Azikira said:

I find this game to be rather fun Its like monster chess that doesnt take an hour~ I reccomend to anyone and everyone Especially because the online multiplayer, a first for DSiWare



jtt02 said:

If you own another turn based strategy game for the DS, like Advanced Wars, you will likely play through the tutorial and go back to Advanced Wars, never to play this game again. It needs to be less strategic and more complicated/random to where it balances out with different terrain, more movement, etc. I'd also like some sort of custom features like player made tutorial levels over Wi-Fi. It seems like this game would be a good way to get into this type of strategy genre, but is unlikely to keep you hooked long before you move on to something bigger.



bob12345 said:

i love this game but when i go online no one is there so i got sad and changed my mind for this game gets boring just playing computers



Moochr said:

that happened to me the first few times-- but keep going back to the wi-fi- you'll get people, trust me.

this is what dsiware should be- a small, pick up and play game with strategic battles and wi-fi.



AVahne said:

since its made by strategy veterans Intelligent Systems, theres an even bigger chance that i'll get this.
though i find it strange that Square Enix would have Nintendo's company make the game for them, don't they have a tactics team that could make this for them? sure Nintendo and Square Enix are friendly again, but I still find it weird lol



KiroX777 said:

@11 so nintendo is the culprit behind this "wifi is overrated" motto huh... yup its always their fault, smh at least nintendo promised improved online experience on the 3DS thats a start :



Therian said:

This is such a great game for it's price. A must have for strategy lovers or dragon quest lovers!

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