Saturday, July 17, 2010

Dragon Quest IX Review ~

We'll be doing something a little different today. It'll be part video post/part written. Why? Because of this. It's probably a good thing I try to get back into video blogging (the vlog, for all you young kids). And I have to keep the video under a minute, which is not enough time to discuss Dragon Quest. But we’ll see how this goes and based on feedback, I might do more of these.

Dragon Quest is not the franchise of success for SquareEnix in the U.S. But it's a big deal in Japan. 4 million + big deal. The last DQ game (number 8) only sold approximately half a million copies in the West. Which is understandable why SE was slightly hesistant on bringing DQ9 to the West (thank you Nintendo for being the awesome big name that you are).

If you can't tell by now, I like Dragon Quest. In these times where more of the gaming community is clamoring for changes to the RPG genre, Dragon Quest exudes the essence of a traditional RPG by sticking to its guns. With this series, you know what you are getting out of the experience. It has a great game-play formula that still works with today's audience. In this landscape of ever-evolving video game content, there is a comfort in knowing that Dragon Quest will always be Dragon Quest. And I like it that way.


The best of Dragon Quest. It's all stuffed into this tiny DS cartridge. It is the best, and most blatant use of turn-based fighting, predictable story lines, crazy cast of characters, bonking and stabbing a silly selection of slimes and monsters, horribly funny puns, and DragonBall art style overload. And that's why Dragon Quest works. It doesn't apologize for what it is. It puts all of it's cards on the table and says "here you go." You can like it or you can leave it. And that's why 4 million (and counting!) copies have sold in Japan. All of the great and stupidly silly things people loves in the first Dragon Quest are still around in number 9.

Expansive story-line. The premise of the game is that you are a creature from the sky (basically an angel) whom has fallen to the mortal realm after being stripped of your wings and halo. So you set out across the land to find a way to get back home. Simple premise. But as you begin your journey, the story expands with a vast array of little side-trips and hitches that make the game a little more enjoyable. You find yourself doing more and more of the side-quests, not to obtain money/weapons/armor, but to learn more about the characters in the game and their relation to the overarching plot. I'm still amazed at how much more there is to the story with every town I travel through.

Character Customization galore! It's a limited system since it's confined to the DS specs, but it's a nice change from past DQ games. You can create your party to look and feel just as you want. It's a welcomed change to the franchise and allows you to alter you characters at a whim when visiting the Inn in a town/city/kingdom. The new Vocation system (i.e. job classes in Final Fantasy) allows you to alter your party's set-up to suit your play style. So if you feel like being suicidal, make 4 Martial Artists and see what happens. This touch helps to make the game a tad more Western without shoving it into your face. It still feels like Dragon Quest, but with an edge.

DQIX goes online, sort of. Location connection only (sad face), but the game has evolved to allow for a four-player co-op with a gigantic list of quests for you and your adventuring friends. It would have been amazingly awesome if this were fully online, visa-vie Mario Kart DS. However, this doesn’t diminish DQIX's attempt at making the game accessible to everyone. Think of it like the early days of Pok√©mon when you had to use your GameBoy and GameBoy Advance Link cables to trade your little monsters with your friends. It keeps the game enjoyable, if you have three friends to bug before they start ignoring you. One thing I love about the local connection is that you are not required to follow around the host. You can play the game as normal, and if the host is in trouble, he can send out a Call to Arms and you can jump into the fight at any time. It's a painless system. Easy to use. Easy to access. I just wish it had full online capabilities.


Lifeless party. The draw-back to being able to create your own party members from scratch is they lack personality. They don't contribute to the dialogue and are merely there to keep your main character from hitting the grave before level 2. Which sucks. One of things I enjoyed about Dragon Quest 7 and 8 were the charismatic and over-the-top cast that was your party. Your main character didn't say a word, but that's why you have 3 party members to act as your voice. While I approve of the character creation system, it does take away from the life of your party members.

Overindulging side-quests. IX has a lot of them. And I mean a lot. So much so that you find some of them to be a giant time sink. Especially the Vocational quests to unlock new jobs. Are the side-quests necessary? Not really, unless you want some of the coolest crap in the game. Luckily the main plot is more then enough to keep you entertained. But unless you have a few hours to kill for a quest, it can be a minor inconvenience.

Truly the negatives are miniscule and won’t overshadow the fun that spills from this game. It really is an RPG being an RPG. The charm and wit of Dragon Quest IX is worth the purchase. Unless you hate Dragon Quest. Then I wouldn't buy it. 9 is Dragon Quest in a DS package, in all of it's glory.

1 comment:

  1. Hello, your review was pretty detailed. I enjoyed it. :)


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