Friday, April 23, 2010


Short Review -- Dragon Quest Wars

(This is a review I did for the Eegra "Reader Radness" forum, so that explains the different formatting. I'm moving it here for preservation because Eegra seems to be packing up.)

DONE BY: Square Intelligent Systems Enix
YEAR: 2009

I like Dragon Quest Wars because it's not a strategy RPG. There's no fifty hour story or hundreds of scripted battles.

It's just a board game. It begins when two people (one of whom might be the game system) decide to start playing, and a couple minutes later, one of them wins and it's over.

It has some of the trappings of a collectible miniatures game in the sense that it's played on a grid, you put together your team from a collection of possible monsters, and they all have their different powers and attack patterns and movement ranges and so on. But the difference is that there's only six kinds of monsters to choose from, and you can have as many as you like of any of them right from the start. It leaves enough room for strategy, because the six pieces have very distinct characteristics, but it also sort of narrows the scope so that you don't have to worry about playing paper-rock-scissors with two hundred possible kinds of units.

The game itself is very quick and simple. You knock out your opponent's entire team, or you get one of your team into the goal zone, or you have the highest score after a certain number of rounds.

What I like best about the game is the simplicity. Most pieces have two hit points and most attacks do one point of damage, and not a single element of the game is decided by chance. It makes situations very easy to read, but nuances like attack ranges and spells to boost offense and defense keep the game from being too tediously straightforward.

You can play the game multiplayer from one system by passing it around, which is always a welcome feature for a portable game. You can play online with random strangers or friend code friends, but I suck at video games, so I don't do that. You can't save a game in progress, but honestly, a game lasts roughly five minutes; it's not going to break your heart to stop prematurely.

I know a lot of people are disappointed that it's not something with a larger scope, but I like it. It's just this tiny, perfect little game, exactly suited for pulling out and fooling around with at lunch. I think it would make a great tabletop board game, and there's really no reason why it couldn't be.



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