Review by Ethenia

"Such a big adventure on the DS. Can the DS handle it?"

Opening statement
A Dragon Quest adventure on the go, can it live up to its expectation?

Story - 7/10
As a Celestrian, you, your job is to protect the town you sworn to protect. As a Celestrian, you are different than normal human being as you got a halo, an angel wing and you live high up in the sky. For every person you help, you will be able to get something that will be offered. When the quota of the offering is reached, you will receive seven Fyggs. However, when you received the seven Fyggs, strange light came up in the sky causing you to drop along with the seven Fyggs to the human world. When you wake up in the human world, you realise you no longer have halo and angel wing. What will you do from here?

Graphic - 9/10
The graphic for Dragon Quest IX on the DS is superb. Though when comparing to other game in the same series like Dragon Quest Monster Joker or the previous instalment like Dragon Quest VIII, Dragon Quest IX definitely does not look as good as those. However, with that being said, Dragon Quest IX got it own style of graphic art style. There is also some FMV/GCI in the game itself.

With the vast variety on environment, world map and dungeon, from the game, ranging from town to castle to even heaven, the graphic does not look repetitive or even boring and they are very well done. When I said repetitive, I mean with such huge map to explore, there are always new things to view and explore due to vast variety of scenery. However, the only repetitive part on the graphic is just on “Grotto” or also called “Treasure map” which I will further elaborate later on this review. The town looks awesome as well, with some of the town got their own theme. You will be able to rotate in the town, as well as some dungeon by pressing either the L or R button, by pressing both, you will be back to the usual front camera view.

The monster sprites are very well done and there is much variety of them, however some of them are just alternate colour of the same monster. They appear on your map as small monster, however in battle, they become really big and looks impressive, especially those bosses. The character on the other hand looks really good as well, with the ability to create your own character. But, the character customization is limited to only few choices. The equipment, further allow the customizing of looks as changing of equipment will appear your character appearance.

During random battle, the battle will have a 3D background that looks similar to where you are currently at. In battle, the character and monster looks bigger than on the field. Hence, there is more detail. Character and monster also move about in the battle, those are just for show. Skills and animation of really smooth in the battle and they looks really impressive.

Gameplay - 8/10
As usual, the meat of the game. Dragon Quest series is a RPG series it's known for its “old school” style as it is turn base battle. It is no longer random battle like other game in the series, this time, the monster will appear on the field as touching them will initiate battle. However, when you are very high level as compare to the monster, the monster will run away and if you are low level, the monster will chase you instead. During battle, you will have the same few battle command such as attack, skills, item and few more option. Though there is a new option which is call Coup De Graces, which happen randomly and is unique to their own vocation (class/job).

Dragon Quest IX allows you to pick your own vocation when you create your own character from the six original vocations. You will be able to unlock six more vocation, through side quest, making the list of choice to 12. Later in the game, you will have the choice of changing your vocation as and when you like as each vocation will have its own unique strength and weakness. In addition, you will be able to create three more party members, in a particular inn, which you are able to pick their gender, do customization (as I explained in the graphic section) and able to do everything your main character can, the only difference is that they do not engage in any storyline. Since you have the ability to create your own party, you will be able to create a party that suits you. Be it you want a strong part or just a party for fun, it is up to you to create as you will be able to pick different vocation for different party members.

With party member(s) in your party, the experience points (which is use to level up your characters) will be divided. However, the level of your party member is lower, the lower the experiences the particular member will get. You might think that is nonsense, but it actually work very well. In battle, when you level up, you will get something which is call the “job point”, which enable you to learn skills from the skill tree provided by your vocation. Your team member(s) will be walking behind you throughout the whole game, only there is some scene which require only the main character and not the others, which you will have you put your character in the inn and you will be allow to get them back anytime you want.

In the post game content, you there are various stuff you can do, such as side quests, alchemy and treasure maps. In side quests, you would have to do what the NPC told you, with rewards after each side quests. The best part is that there are more than 150 side quests available. In alchemy, you would need to farm for different item where different combination of item would end up having different piece of item. In some part of the games, you will come across bookshelf which contains book for recipe for different equipment so you don't have to try and error for a particular item you want.

Treasure map is a long dungeon with a lot of monsters and treasure chest around and one grotto boss. The treasure map range from different level, so that you can pick the map that is suitable for your party member. Grotto boss is the boss of the particular treasure map; the boss will have a 2% drop rate for a very strong piece of equipment. By completing it, you will earn another treasure map.

Soundtrack - 7.5/10
I wasn't too impressed with the soundtrack from Dragon Quest IX. However, there are a few notable soundtracks. But overall, the soundtrack is quite decent. But Dragon Quest IX manages to put the correct soundtrack on the correct scene, making this an enjoyable experience.

Replyability - 7/10
The game does have replayability as there are many side quests, alchemy, treasure maps and many different vocation. The treasure maps alone can make this game endless. The different vocation would allow you to have different team every time you want to play. However, the downside being there is only one save file. So the only way to replay is either buy a new cartridge or sacrifice all your hard works on your data.

Wi-Fi /Multiplayer
I cannot comment on the multiplayer because I never try before. However, on the Wi-Fi, you will be able to download quests, special guest and a special shop. For special guest, you might able to see your favourite character from previous Dragon Quest in this game. BUT, they are not playable, they only gave you the same shirt they are wearing. For the special shop, Dragon Quest IX will have a special theme every week, so for the particular week, they will sell item that is related to the theme. You can connect to Wi-Fi to update your shop every day.

Conclusion
Dragon Quest IX is a very good game, with a lot of things to do. Progress the story, grinding for level, farming for item and the lists carry on. Even when you finish the game, the post content will hold your attention further more with treasure maps and side quest. I totally recommend this game to all RPG, old school-er and Dragon Quest IX fan. In the end, I don't feel Dragon Quest IX is as good as its predecessor (Dragon Quest VIII), but it is still a wonderful game for the DS.

Final rating - 8.4


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 10/18/10

Game Release: Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies (US, 07/11/10)


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