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Old 06-15-2012   #1
Hathor Liderc
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Default Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies

As stated in NCZ's review, Dragon Quest is an immensely popular series in Japan, and while fans have their doubts about Square-Enix's love of the series here in the West, Nintendo has promoted this title even a year after it's western release. For that, my hat's off to the guys over at Nintendo.

That said, here's my take on Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies.

Graphics: 9

Like the previous installment, this game is in full 3D, bringing you an entre world of beauty for you to explore, nearly rivaling the PS2. Unlike it's predecessor though, this one takes are more traditional approach, going for an overhead perspective of the character, as opposed to the 3rd-Person view of DQVIII. Visuals are bright and colorful, immersing you in the adventure ahead.

Gameplay: 9

Like with most DQ games, you play the role of a nameless, silent, hero in the form of a Celestrian (or Guardian Angel), sworn to protect the small villiage of Angel Falls, helping its people and collecting their Benevolessence for your good deeds so that you can offer them to the great tree Yggdrasil. Suddenly, an evil awakens, throwing you into the realm of mortals, stripped of most of your Celestrian abilities. You progress through the collecting the fruits of your labor, in every sense of the phrase as you span the globe looking for "Fyggs" that fell from the great tree.

One of the things that will bring people towards this is customization. Upon starting the game, you're allowed to create your own character's gender and appearance. Not only that, but they've utilized the party mechanics from Dragon Quest III (Dragon Warrior III), and took it a step further, not only giving you the option of making your own party, but also allowing you to customize each member's gender and appearance as well.

The overall game flow is the standard episodic formula you'd expect from DQ, along with your usual sidequests, each town you enter has a problem that you need to resolve before progressing further.

Battle mechanics are also relatively the same as that in DQVIII, where you select your actions and see the battle play out until each turn. Leveling up has been revamped to fit the new Vocation system, with each having their own trait, weapon proficiencies and even EXP levels. Upon leveling up, you'll be awarded skill points, which can be used to allocate toward your Vocation's weapons proficienies or its trait and reaching certain benchmarks will award you with skills or stat boosts. To make this sweeter, is that in the event you decide to switch vocations, you retain everything you've earned previously. For example, if you decide to switch to a Warrior, but find yourself having trouble, you can change back and be at the same level before you became a Warrior. Furthermore, any skills or boosts you earn will carry over to other vocations. What they made different, however, is that any and all magic spells you learn remains with it's respective vocation(s), so no more broken warrior that knows every spell in the game.

Where this game REALLY shines is the massive amount of content that was added. First and foremost, being the Dragon Quest Virtual Channel (DQVC), where you can connect online via your DS and download additional sidequests, access the virtual store, where you can spend your hard earned gold on rare and exotic items, and even meet special guests from past DQ games.

Along with DQVC, you'll encounter treasure maps in your travels. These maps will lead you to grottoes, hidden all thoughout the world, where you can encounter stronger monsters, and even find lots of treasure. What makes this interesting is that the game utilizes a Random Grotto Generator and depending on the name of the map, gives you a different grotto locations and terrain, which bring new experiences to each treasure map you obtain.

Las but not least is the game's interactivity, allowing you to trade treasure maps with other players and even joining forces with them via Ad-Hoc, thus making this the first Multiplayer DQ game in the series. This feature DOES have it's limits, however, to prevent from breaking the game entirely. Such limits include item trading being restricted to only common items and lower-level players recieve less exp than higher level players.

Along with all these features, it's brings a sort of nostalgia value to the game. As giving you access to special maps, where you can fight the bosses of past games, and even obtaining clothing of past DQ heroes.

Aside from the fairly weak story, possibly one of the biggest gripes about the game is something like this would have greatly benefitted from online gameplay, as DQ fans can be far and few, leaving most local players with little to no one to play with. What would've also helped would be a slightly more lenient item-trading system, allowing to trade basic weapons or even gold to weaker players, which would help save time on constant grinding for supplies and really show new players just how friendly the overal Dragon Quest community can be.

Music: 9

A great soundtrack by Koichi Sugiyama, using the DS's technology, he was able to almost replicate that orchestral feel to the game. His arrangements of past DQ tracks were also exceptional.

Replay: 8

Again, DQIX is LOADED with content, with nearly endless grottoes to explore, 183 different sidequests to undertake, and multiplayer capabilities, this is definitley one that can keep you playing.

Overall: 8.75

While it's got it's limitations, Dragon Quest IX does an excellent job with what it has. With it's basic plot, and easy to follow gameplay, it's definitely one that can please both die-hard fans, and RPG players alike.

Last edited by Hathor Liderc; 06-15-2012 at 11:03 PM.
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