|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Level-5||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Square Enix||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: July 11, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Tony Capri
Mention the role-playing franchise Dragon Quest, and the conversation quickly becomes one of comparisons between the series success in Japan versus its success in the western hemisphere. I wont bore you with numbers, but for my money, Dragon Quest is still one of the best adventure series around. If youve missed out on it in the past, nows your chance to jump on the bandwagon.
Dragon Quest IX (DQIX) is the next installment in Square Enixs flagship franchise, and in the move to Nintendo DS, the game has lost none of its epic appeal. The presentation and production values are ridiculously polished, and if you were worried the tiny handheld couldnt carry the load, let me put your fears to rest.
When you first turn on the game, youll be treated to an animated opening sequence thats perfectly optimized for the dual screen. Youll then be asked to create a character based on various templates designed by renowned artist Akira Toriyama. You can choose between different sets of eyes, skin color, and hair, as well as a male or female character. From the very start, you can easily sense the intense level of dedication invested into the making of the game.
Like every other Dragon Quest before it, DQIX is steeped in mythology, though this latest adventure takes a classic approach. Your character is of an angelic race known as Celestrians, and its your job to aid mankind. As the gratitude of humans fills, you earn benevolessence, which feeds the world tree, Yggdrassil. Once the great tree bears fruit, the Celestrians will be able to again join The Almighty in Heaven.
If only life were that easy
On the very day Yggdrassil finally reveals its fruits, the heavens are ripped asunder, and your character is cast down to earth. He/she loses their wings and angelic abilities, and thus, your true adventure begins. The trees fruits, known as fyggs, have spread across the Earth, and youll need to gather them once again in order to uncover the mystery surrounding this catastrophic event.
Like previous games in the series, your character is a silent protagonist, and the story revolves and unfolds around you. The fact that you create your character from scratch changes the story approach little from past games, and its surprising just how well the writers manage to convey such powerful themes in spite of your characters passive role. Gathering the fyggs isnt merely a generic device for moving the story forward, either. Each situation related to a specific fygg is unique and usually consists of a deeply moving side story designed to suck you into the experience more.
In terms of actual gameplay, DQIX does stick to a fairly basic formula; however, there are oodles of things to distract you. In keeping with the story, players will generally explore a town, hit up NPCs for info, traverse areas of the overworld on their way to a dungeon, cleave their way through the dungeon to an end boss, and then observe as the rest of a given side story unfolds.