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Platform

DS

 

Genre

RPG

 

Publisher

Square Enix

 

Developer

Square Enix

 

ESRB

E (Everyone)

 

Released

July 2010

 

 

- Nice jobs system

- Pleasant, straightforward story

- Nifty online options

 

 

- Some may find the game sticks too closely to what we've seen in past Dragon Quest games

 

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Dragon Quest IX

Score: 9 / 10

 

dragon-quest-ix-1.jpg (46065 bytes) dragon-quest-ix-2.jpg (100036 bytes) dragon-quest-ix-3.jpg (91382 bytes)

 

After being released on the major home console of its time with every new iteration, the Dragon Quest series has gone down a different route with its ninth installment, instead being made for the Nintendo DS. With that, players can now take the game with them wherever they go, which is a good thing considering how well Dragon Quest IX has turned out. Despite making the switch to a different sort of platform, Dragon Quest IX embraces a lot of popular mechanisms from past iterations bringing a strong sense of familiarity to this outing.

 

The core of the game has players forming up their party of adventurers, and setting forth to knock around some monsters all in an effort to sort out what has happened to the Celestrians, and set things right. This harkens back to some of the older Dragon Quest games where players could recruit new members for their party, specializing in specific disciplines such as mages, priests, and warriors. As the game progresses, new classes become available, as well as the ability to change a character's class, which is nice.

 

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This actually meshes quite well with the more simplified story found in DQIX. Unlike more recent installments in the series, like Dragon Quest VIII, where the story line was rather fleshed out, and we saw a very strong cast of characters, in this game things have been simplified like what one would expect to find in Dragon Quests of old. With a basic premise, a hero who never talks, and nameless

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mercenaries that are recruited to help the hero on his adventure. The basics of the story here is that players control a Celestrian (a race of angel-like beings that watch over humans on the world below them). His task was to do good deeds protecting, and aiding the people of his assigned village, who would in turn worship him as their divine protector. This devotion would manifest it as a form of energy that Celestrians could collect and take to their home, the Observatory, on a giant flying castle. In this place was a tree that the Celestrians were told would one day bare fruit if fed enough of this energy. Once this happened it would open a portal to the Celestrians homeworld, allowing them to go to where their divine master was. Of course, it turns out that the hero of DQIX is the one to deliver the last of the energy needed to cause the fruit to come about, and things go horribly wrong. There is a massive earthquake that causes all sorts of destruction on the world below, and the hero falls from the Observatory to the world below. When he comes to, he finds himself in the village he was sworn to protect, but without his wings or halo. Also, humans can see him now, and think he too is human. From here the player sets out to learn what happened, and try and find a way to make the hero a Celestrian again.

 

Combat is mercifully similar to that found in Dragon Quest VIII whereby players can actually see monsters on the world map and are able to avoid combat, as opposed to being subjected to the horrors of random encounters every few steps as some other RPGs like to inflict on their player base. Combat itself is typical of JRPGs in that it starts off with players selecting their party members' actions from menus (or if you prefer, you can set characters to predefined actions, and leave them on autopilot). After a players choices have been made the party and group of monsters have at it until the turn is completed, and the process is repeated until one side comes out the victor.

 

There's also a multiplayer mode where people can play together, and that helps one gain access to new dungeons that other players have unlocked, making good use of the DS' online abilities.

 

Dragon Quest IX doesn't do much to break new ground in the genre, but adheres quite closely to elements that have helped define the series over the years. Thankfully it does this very well, providing an entertaining experience well worth spending some time with.

 

Mr. Nash

August 22, 2010

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