Game Analysis: Dragon Warrior Monsters


Pokemon X/Y comes out tomorrow.  So today I am going to talk about my favorite monster collecting game.  No, it’s not Pokemon.  In fact, my favorite game in the “collect, raise, and battle” genre is a spinoff of the well-known series Dragon Warrior/Dragon Quest.  The game is Dragon Warrior Monsters (DWM), and while I have not played it through as many times as I have the original Pokemon, I have loved it a great deal more, and spent more energy on it.  It is rare for me to actually write stuff down in a notebook for a game, but for DWM I found myself recording my findings in a notebook for future use.  This is due to its unique take on how you collect and battle your little monster minions, even if you raise them just like most other RPGs (yay grinding!)

The story for the first game (yes!  There are more than one!) begins with your sister getting kidnapped by a strange monster.  Immediately after another monster shows up and offers to help you get your sister back.  He takes you to another world and introduces you to a king.  Apparently there is a tournament soon, and the prize for winning is a wish.  Before you can participate you must train up and qualify, and so begins your journey (which includes other stories as well).  I am honestly terrible at plot-synopses because I don’t like to give anything at all away (I believe part of the joy of a story is going into it completely blind).  So as per usual I am going to focus my reviews on mechanics.

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Wolf Who Rules, by Wen Spencer

I have to admit, my memory of Wolf Who Rules has blended into the book that comes before it (Tinker, which I reviewed last week) and the next one in the series (Elfhome).  As you might expect from such a situation, if you liked Tinker you’ll almost certainly like Wolf Who Rules.

I can extricate the details of the plot with some additional focus, but the stories all pile together, following one another so closely that it is not easy to tell where one ends and the next begins.  Little is done to ease you back into the story beyond a few quick info drops, but this also means that if you’ve just read Tinker you’ll easily slide along into this one without any sense of confusion.  Without one of the sometimes ponderous prolonged reintroductions that are so common to a series, Wolf Who Rules whisks you straight into the next adventure.

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Sword & Sworcery


The Scythian.

I finally finished the magnificent Sword & Sworcery.  This game is a sumptuously designed experience.  Sword & Sworcery shattered my expectations by providing such a beautiful and completely enveloping story that I almost want to call it a story before I call it a game.  And don’t get me started about the sound design.  Or rather, do, because the music is simply a delight and the sound design creates a beautifully ethereal and dreamlike space that lends an air of enchantment to the entire piece.  I’m listening to the music right now, just because I can.

This game is wrapped up in a bizarre shell of self-awareness, with the other characters completely cognizant of the duality of the game and maybe even aware of how everything will end.  And yet it still has an emotional pull that I haven’t found in any other games I’ve played recently.  Stories I’ve read, movies I’ve watched, yes.  Games?  No.  Despite a one year hiatus part way through completing the game, I’m still exceedingly excited about it.  I want to play it again all in one sitting just to get the full and immediate impact.

This is a game worth discovering.  It is an adventure that is glorious and sad and perfectly appropriate, all in one.  Let me tell you more…

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Guns, Gams & Go-Fast Machines: Fast & Furious 6

I feel a little embarrassed saying this, but I recently watched and enjoyed the fast-car soap-opera-with-guns Fast & Furious 6.  It was just as intelligent as I had expected it to be, with plenty of zoom-zoom-bang-bang to make up for its intellectual shortcomings.  Which is to say, the movie was almost entirely about action and cars.  Much as in other entries in the series, women’s legs also made an important appearance by filling the screen at (in)appropriate moments.

While the writers clearly didn’t care one whit about how computers actually work (normal for the genre), they surprised me by offering a genuine sense of continuity with the other Fast/Furious films.  This made me very happy indeed, as the various tie-ins towards the end brought Tokyo Drift into relation with the rest of the series.  They also clearly established where the next action will most likely take place and why it will be exciting…

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