Review by PennStateGamer

"A fantastic introduction to Dragon Quest. Sentinels of the Starry Skies brings old school charm to the modern generation."

I never really had a chance to experience the Dragon Quest series, so I figured I'd give it a shot. My first Dragon Quest game was Hand of the Heavenly Bride; however, I shortly became stuck and quit playing it for a while. For my birthday, I decided to try my hand at another Dragon Quest game and picked up Sentinels of the Starry Skies because I had heard how great it was. Overall, it was a huge success. Because of Sentinels of the Starry Skies, I am now a Dragon Quest fan and want to experience the other titles and have been inspired to finish V.

You begin the game by creating your own character; you have a variety of options on how you want to structure your character. Once you've created your character, you're given wings and a halo which starts the story. You are a Celestrian, an angel-esque being that is charged with the task of watching over the mortals of the protectorate. During an offering to the World Tree, Yggdrasil, a mighty force strikes the observatory where the Celestrians are, causing you to fall to the protectorate and become a mortal. As far as the story goes, the overall plot is pretty good; however, the pacing isn't the greatest. Basically, a majority of the game will have you helping the citizens of unrelated towns to collect items that will progress the story. The actual plot is covered much later in the game with rare supplements to it here and there.

From a technical aspect, the graphics are adequate. The environments are your standard pallet of brown, green, and gray, but they certainly aren't horrible to any extent. The soundtrack consists of very short compositions that loop quite frequently and may even sound generic at times. As generic as they sound, though, some of them are quite catchy and fun to listen to. For example, the boss theme basically sounds like "DUN DUN! DUN DUN DUN! DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN!"; however, it's really catchy and fun to listen to.

The best part of Dragon Quest IX is the gameplay. A lot of people will say it is slow, but it's really not that bad. This game features a skill allocation point system, in which you obtain skill points upon leveling up, allowing you to customize your characters a certain way. The best part about this system is that when you are able to change classes, you get to keep the allocations from other classes, effectively allowing you to customize quite a bit and learn a lot of abilities to build your character to your liking. The actual class system itself consists of twelve different classes you can switch between. Each class has its own unique stats and equipment restrictions; however, they're either physical attackers or magic users. All classes start at level 1, meaning you have to level them up separately. Still, this ties in with the customization of the skill points system, and you can reset a class back to level 1 once you've reached 99, but you get to keep your stats from the previous leveling. Also, like your main character, you have the option of creating more characters to create a party of four or using already made characters. The customization is limitless.

The main quest is not the only attraction. There are over 100 quests to complete, usually requiring you to find a certain item, defeat a certain number of enemies a certain way, or perform party skills for people. A lot of them may seem like a waste of time; however, they really help immerse the player into the world. Also, they rack up a lot of game time because they require some effort. Also, once the main story concludes, there is a post-game in which the player can continue and even fight the final bosses of some of the other Dragon Quest games. Overall, the gameplay is one of the best aspects. Like I said, it can be a little slow with the turn-based battles and sluggish fetch-questing; however, it's really not that bad. You're either going to appreciate its content or resent its old school feel.

Overall, Dragon Quest IX is a very appealing game if you are a fan of old school games or just a Dragon Quest fan in general. It might seem really different from the others, but that's not a big deal. Square took a little bit of a gamble going back to classic gaming, and they were very successful. With hours of content, a world that is easy to be immersed in, and classic old school elements, Sentinels of the Starry Skies is definitely not a game to pass up and is absolutely worth a playthrough.

Individual Scores

Story - 6/10
Graphics - 8/10
Soundtrack - 8/10
Gameplay - 9/10
Replay Value - 10/10
Fun Factor - 9/10
Overall - 8.3/10

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 05/24/11

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

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