Review – Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies

Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies
Developer:
Square Enix
Publisher: Nintendo
Genre: Turn-based RPG
Release Date: Out Now

The Dragon Quest series has been churning out games for years and it doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon. Dragon Quest IX marks the 9th game in the main series and what better way to gain new fans than to release it on the DS? Even the casual gamers will buy an RPG if it’s advertised well enough. Read on for the full verdict.

As every RPG should, Dragon Quest IX has a long and exciting story. Certainly better than Final Fantasy XIII anyway … minus Sazh. You play the role of an angel who has just been appointed the position of protecting a village. Your hero’s goal is to collect Benevolence from grateful humans and offer them to the Almighty Tree. Benevolence being a container of energy that represents their gratitude. However, a mysterious eruption hits the angel Observatory and your hero is sent falling down to the world of humans, stripped of their wings and halo. Your hero must find his way back to the Observatory and regain his/her wings and halo, along the way visiting many towns and villages that each seem to have their own problem for you to fix, with the golden Fyggs you’ve been given the task of collecting usually the root of these problems.

Dragon Quest IX may look like any other RPG but it has a unique selling point. Customization. The game allows you to freely customize how you and your party members look. You have the option to choose between several hair styles, facial expressions and more. As well as appearance, you have the ability to choose the class of your party members. Warriors, mages, thieves. You want it? It’s yours my friend. Other than the initial six vocations available, by doing quests later on in the game you can unlock even more vocations which each offer unique abilities and quests. It doesn’t end there. Any equipment you obtain and, well, equip, will appear on your character in-game. This really gives the customization a nice touch. That and something about running about with a knight’s helmet on your head amuses me.

To keep up with series tradition, famous artist and manga author Akira Toriyama, who is probably best known for the Dragonball series, has been called in to do the designs for the game. Every character and monster have all been created by Toriyama himself. It kind of explains why the character customization screen is more like a “make your own Dragonball Z character” screen. The monsters still look good, every single one of them. I just can’t get enough of the slimes. It’s such a simple design but they stay in your mind. How can something so cute be so … monsterous? Only in Japan. Oh and a lot of them are named with hilariously so-bad-it’s-good puns, such as Cruelcumber, Sacksquatch, and Batterfly very early on in the game. The puns don’t just stick to monsters though, towns, important characters, and even some items have punny names.

As you may already be aware, Dragon Quest IX went the route of very traditional turn-based combat rather than real time action. I do love free roaming combat, it worked fantastically for Tales of Vesperia, but I still have a soft spot for turn-based combat. It gives you more time to sit and think over your next move. Either way, it still works. Battles consist of the usual gameplay mechanics. You can choose to attack, defend, flee, use an item or cast a spell. Thankfully, it’s not just a case of hammering the A button until your foe is defeated. Sometimes you have to use specific methods to take down a foe, and the unique abilities and spells party members learn depending on their vocations keeps things interesting. Battles are still a tad easy though, as it’s very easy for you to accidently over level via grinding.

If you’re looking for a lengthy RPG then Dragon Quest is gonna keep you busy. As well as the main story, you have a bunch of side quests to deal with, as well as downloadable quests every week. As you venture throughout the game, NPCs will ask for your assistance in several tasks. These will mostly involve you finding specific items through different means. There are also treasure maps, which you use to go through randomly generated dungeon to find rare treasures, and similar to the Mystery Dungeon games, these are infinitely generated, so offer endless game play. The main story alone is massive, and takes place over a large world map that would take a while to run (and sail) all the way across, and should easily run you over the 25+ hour mark, but including all the extras the game has on offer, it’s not hard for it to last you so much longer than that. Money is very easy to obtain so you probably will find yourself killing monsters for cash. While it’s definitely fun, it does contribute to one of the negative points of this game.

As I previously mentioned, Dragon Quest IX doesn’t offer much in terms of a challenge early on. Mainly because of, as I keep bringing up, the fact it’s extremely easy to over level your characters. The difficulty doesn’t take much away from the experience but it’s never nice for an RPG to be too easy.Although, to be fair. As you get deeper into the game, and as changing classes resets you to level 1, this doesn’t pose too great of a problem. My second complaint would be your party members. Sure it’s nice to have the ability to customize them as you want but they feel so lifeless. Since they’re just generic creations, they have no backstory to them which makes it feel a bit empty. I like my RPGs to have an interesting story with things to learn about the characters but that doesn’t seem to be present here. It may just be a personal negative point but I would have liked at least one party member with a personality.

I have to say, the DS has found itself another great RPG. Despite the few negatives, Dragon Quest IX is still a very enjoyable experience for anyone. It doesn’t matter if you’re new to the RPG genre or if you’re a long time veteran. This is a game anyone can pick up, play, and enjoy. Not the best RPG you can pick up but definately one you should try.

Final Verdict: 8/10

Fun and enjoyable. Story is quite lacking and the difficulty spike is rather unfitting. Customization is a nice touch and makes the game stand out from other RPGs.

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One Response to “Review – Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies”

  1. […] Full review here Permalink […]

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