Review by vegetaken
"Nostalgia just isn't what it used to be"
Well I came into this game with high hopes and left with a slightly empty feeling. I am not the biggest fan boy of this series by any means, so I'm sorry if I step on a few toes with my review. A big note too is that this game is NOT for the NES but for the DS, decades of new technology have come around and it really does not show. This is not to say anything about the graphics (which most gamers can agree that graphics DO NOT make a game).
STORY - 7/10
Where would you be without a story? Just wandering around aimlessly, that's where.
Well firstly I would love to give this a lower score because having a silent protagonist + no one in your party to make some dialogue really makes for a boring progressing story. Great games have little tidbits to keep you entertained in between big story plots. The reason I don't is simply because it is both on a hand held and they warn you for having a light story beforehand. Personally I just think that newer games hide behind graphics / their names with numbers at the end to ride out not hiring any story tellers. I would like to try to steer clear of spoilers for the story but it is mostly about a group of higher beings watching over humans that get into some troubled times, where you are going around trying to pick up the pieces. I liked going around being a good guy and saving dead people's souls, was kind of a neat aspect of the game but it becomes kind of silly when someone can't go to heaven because they left ITEM A in SPOT B.... I would like to think waiting to go to heaven was for more of a reason.
GAMEPLAY - 6-10
Ah the meat and bones. THIS is where most gamers should look right away.
I love class system games. I really love them and I wish there were more of them. How to take away the feeling of a class system game? Simple make all the classes melt together when you master them. You know I really liked it in DW7 when you learned a skill in one group that moved with you to another job. I think this was great and it worked because YOUR character level was separate from your job. This game it isn't. So you just unlocked a paladin? Great go train it for 2 hours to be able to use it while in the story. Better yet since you have mastered wands with one of your characters you can just use wands on your Martial Artist. That is a bad idea of doing it but you could do better things on the flip side, like using swords on every, single, class. Yup there is very little reason to not use swords on every class since it puts out the most single target damage. I fleshed my party out more and used different weapons, but it was quite possible to have no restrictions. Now the ability thing staying with your character when he learned it was not so great in this game. A ton of class skills were quite useless too/ overlapped with other skills (try making a paladin with shields and fans and watch how many skills overlap). One of the things that I disliked the most was that they kept the not being able to see your experience except when using churches or with actually wasting an ability from your priest. To top it off you had to also cast the skill manually to see the experience on each character. They even show you in your attributes the total experience accrued....not how much you need to level. Saving is still church only and maybe I'm a little nit picky but I don't like little text blurbs added onto every NPC I go to. Seriously try to change all 4 of your character's vocations in fewer than 2 minutes. The fighting itself is alright. I really didn't like the lack of useful skills, for the better part of the game you simply can regular attack (magic is kind of meh again) and heal through every boss.
Battles are initiated when you touch a monster. The monsters are very easy to see and or the most part to evade. Some larger monsters you can't pass by them but overall this didn't really make or break the game when they took away random encounters. When you get your ship you can still fight monsters at random when cruising around the open seas, but you don;t spend enough time on it for it to really matter.
There are a ton of quests in this game, most leading to useless items / emotes so you can really ignore them until post-game. They add down loadable content with new quests to be done (i'm actually not sure if it's free to download), which is a very nice touch. Even though I have not downloaded any new quests, I have to assume that they will not all be fetch quests.
Synthesizing items is around in this game too. You can find a ton of recipes by searching bookshelves and also you are welcome to just make an item by winging it. Winging it is easier thanks to numerous places to find FAQs on how to do this but it just kind of adds to the grinding to kill monsters to get the items or to run around and find them on the ground by gathering. Stealing is kind of bleh too. Your steal rate is pretty low on monsters your own level even if you use a ranger with thief class skills. later you get items to help out this rate and going back to areas to farm items from lower level monsters also increases the rates but overall it's a slow trudge to getting ingredients. Honestly you can go through most of the main story without ever touching alchemy and not feel any kind of underpowered feeling.
GRAPHICS - 10/10
Ah gameplay's slow cousin who is here to distract you from minor flaws.
Really shines in this game. You can tell dragonball's artist had quite the influence here. I was happy to make Vegeta as my main guy with a party having Krillin too plus a female Brock and a giant shiny eyed dumb looking girl named Noa. Your armor/ weapons all show up when you equip them, which makes for some nice customizing BUT early on you'll look a lot alike. In battle they updated their graphics past MUDs where you only see text, to actually having characters move around and attack. This is to be applauded because it brings the series up to NES standards of being used to seeing your characters. Overall it looks like a mediocre PSX game... which is something to be proud of on the DS.
I also really like having a world map.
SOUND - 6/10
I swear this game just rehashes a lot of other games' sounds.
I'm uncertain on scoring this. Having just played Ys7 the music was very lacking in any kind of drama or awesome battle music. The sound effects for going up and down stairs were quite reminiscent of Zelda from the NES. A lot of the sounds actually sounded like 8 BIT sounds, which it may have been what they were going for. A lot seemed rehashed too from DQ8, which is a no-no.
My personal opinion on the total gaming experience.
This game may be more prolific if you're a fan boy but otherwise it falls as a pretty boring dungeon grinder, move from point A to point B to eek out some story from your silent controlled character, mix and match your classes until they turn into a nice brown mush and enjoy the NES style sounds.
RENT OR BUY?
I would say rent if you can to see if you'll like the game. If you're planning on buying, at least for me, it's low on the list of newer games.
Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 09/16/10, Updated 09/20/10
Game Release: Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies (US, 07/11/10)
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