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on July 30, 2010
Please, don't mistake what I'm saying. I say to you now: There is no greater Dragon Quest fan in the US than me. Period. I've played them all - even the terrible "Monsters" series. I know the best of the series (Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen), I know the worst of the series (Dragon Warrior VII), and it seems to me that Square Enix has already forgotten what it taught in Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King. If you never played 8, know that you missed a classic as did most people who assumed it would be terrible. 8 had the best music, the best experience, cutscenes, good graphics, solid gameplay, a wide open expansive world...it just did everything right. Even throwbacks to the old DQs were present. TO date I have not found another game that managed to bring it all together in one comprehensive package. Thus I was excited to see 9, though its presence on the DS rather than a regular console was disturbing. I now know why I felt disturbed.

A little backstory:

You are a Celestrian. Think of a Celestrian as an angel. The Celestrians answer to a higher power, and are responsible for protecting cities and towns in what is known as the Protectorate. They observe the humans from the Observatory, and go down to assist them when needed. The humans can't see the Celestrians, but they experience their miracles daily. Unlike DQ games of yore, you are not a young lad who finds a legendary sword and saves the world; this time, you're a Celestrian who one day experiences a major earthquake and huge light beams attacking the Observatory, and you are grounded in the town you are sworn to protect, Angel Falls (ironic name, isn't it? More on that later). You've lost your halo and your wings, and the humans can see you, but they just think you're another human who got lost and ended up there one day. Your goal is to find out what happened to the Observatory and your fellow Celestrians, and gain back your powers.

It's not the most common of stories, but it works for the most part, and I stress that last portion.

At the beginning, you'll create a character of your own design. You can select gender, height, hair, and some basic features. You can also determine what your character's starting job is by what you configure. As you go through the game, you'll come across an Inn where you will be able to create additional characters to join your quest. If you have friends who have the game and have a DS, you can also go questing with them, either by them joining your world or you joining theirs. Either way, you'll want to make sure you create and manage a party at your earliest opportunity, because this game isn't easy at times.

Now that you've got the scoop, I'll save you the long note and just break it down for you, in my own opinion. For the record, I do not game online; to me DQ is and always will be a single player game, so my score does not credit the online gameplay in any way.

-=- What Dragon Quest IX Does RIGHT -=-

* It's Dragon Quest. Through and through. A lot of the commonly known enemies make a comeback and it's good to see them.

* The music is extremely well done, it FEELS like Dragon Quest music and that's important.

* The battle engine is almost a mirror image of DQ8 which is a strong compliment. It is text based, but you can see the animations of your characters and the enemies as they attack.

* The game has a light-hearted nature to it that will appeal to most. Town names ("Angel Falls" which is your protected town, given that you "fall" from the Observatory..."Zere Rocks"/Xerox, which is a stone copy of another town...and so on), light jokes, that sort of thing.

* Certain plot elements were done very well. Like the girl with the doll (can't say any more, it would spoil it).

-=- What Dragon Quest IX Does WRONG -=-

Oh my.

* I know they were trying to keep everything light-hearted and that's fine...except the story. To me, it's just not deep enough for a Dragon Quest game. Even Dragon Quest III had depth to it. This one is deeper than Dragon Warrior (Nintendo NES), maybe as deep as Dragon Warrior II, but not nearly as deep as the others that followed 2. This is my opinion and I stick to it.

* Like Dragon Warrior III, once you get to a certain point in the game, you'll be able to change classes. Unlike DQ3, you don't get access to the majority of job classes until you pass certain quests. I wouldn't mind this, except for the nature of the quests (see below). I consider this a negative though, because I don't like unlocking any class except the Sage.

* Map is sectioned off, not wide and large. I know this is due to the limitations of the DS which is why I would have preferred another system that could handle this. Coming from DQ8 where the world seemed to have no end, this was disheartening.

* The quests are extremely annoying, especially the ones that give you good stuff. I'm all for a bit of a challenge, but these quests are just irritating. You'll find a guy who says, "go defeat 5 wolves, they're tough" and you're like, "bring it on!!!". Then he says "ah, but wait...you need to do War Cry first to terrify them, THEN defeat them!" War Cry is a technique that doesn't always work, and even if it does, it means you have to waste turns until the same person who did the War Cry gets the kill. Of course, once you're strong enough to do this, they're likely to run away. IRRITATING. Then there was the Paladin one where you basically had to cover someone on your party 10 times; if this were Final Fantasy IV, this wouldn't be a problem since the Paladin will automatically cover anyone who's weak, but in DQ9, you have to randomly pick someone you THINK will get attacked, making it a 25% chance that person will be. MAJOR TIME WASTE anyone?

* Alchemy pot is great. Finding recipes is not.

* Inability to skip text faster than what the game allows. Listening to the priest drone on gets really bothersome, always has. It's not nearly as bad as Shining in the Darkness, but still.

* The game just doesn't have the "IT" factor. There's no real personality to anything. I can't really explain it any better than that, it just feels empty compared to its predecessors. In fact, I would go out on a limb and say it feels a lot like DQ7 without the dungeon crawling or time travel, and that's not a compliment. I don't feel the same level of development effort in this game that I felt out of Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, DQ8, or even The World Ends With You. Even the recent release of DQ5 was superior to this.

* No air flight in the main story? Really?

* I saw people say these are the best graphics on DS. Huh...seems like someone never played Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days. DQ9's are okay - everything except the character models, which look muddy and not well done at all; definitely not the best Square Enix has put out as evident by Kingdom Hearts. It reminds me of Nostalgia (DS). The best? Not by a long shot.

So...do I recommend it? That's a hard question. I would say this.

If you enjoyed Dragon Quest 7, absolutely you should try this one.
If you enjoyed Dragon Quest 8 BUT NOT 7, you're likely to be somewhat disappointed, but tolerant.
If you hate Dragon Quest, you might like this one, ironically.
If you're a quest fanatic, this game is for you.
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on November 20, 2014
From the moment I got DragonQuest 9: Sentinels of the Starry Skies ('IX' is the roman numeral for 9), I had a feeling that it would last me for a long time - and it has! This game has lasted me for about 5 years (maybe even longer) and I still take it off the shelf now and then.

There are only a few things that could be considered a problem...

The biggest issue is the online shop (called the DQVC in-game). I have internet access, and I put all the information for my private network in correctly, but it still wont work! I'm pretty sure that it requires an old type of WiFi that isn't used anymore. Because of this, I'm stuck leveling up my characters and doing grottoes forever after completing the main story! This sucks because there are some quests and items in the game that you can only unlock through this service! To break it down: No old form of WiFi = Can't use the DQVC = no special quests and items = level grinding and grottoes forever = BORING.

The other problem is the boss battles: If you don't spend a lot of time leveling up - AND unless you've created a good team (with NPCs OR real people) - most of the major boss fights in the story will give you serious trouble (the third main-story boss in particular took me more than 3 months to beat).

These are the reasons why I only put 4 stars. I would put 4 and a half though if I could.

Other than what I mentioned above, its a totally awesome game. The storyline was great with enough twists and turns to keep it interesting, the gameplay was easy to understand (but not TOO easy), and overall, it is one of the best games I have ever played on the Nintendo DS. If you want an RPG with an awesome story and fun (but challenging) gameplay, this one is for you.

HOWEVER, if you cant stand insanely hard boss battles that are nearly impossible to fight alone and without at least an hour of level grinding for each one (this time estimate is from personal experience), DON'T BUY IT.
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on November 21, 2010
This game is an MMORPG under the veil of a Dragon Quest game. To put it simply, it just isn't worth the time. Why does this game take so long to do everything? Why do you need to level to 99 so many times? Am I the ONLY one reminiscenced of Final Fantasy XI ??? You can play this game for 300+ Hours and still not be done. Have fun with that. There are better games to be played. As far as the Storyline 5/10 (The only thing I really care about) - Bland, Dry & Boring. This game is simply awful. What were they thinking?
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on July 13, 2010
Okay, I'll admit it. When I first heard that the FULL-ON SEQUEL for the PS2's Dragon Quest VIII was coming to the DS, I thought, "Exactly how much are they gonna have to dumb this game down?" Needless to say, I had very low expectations for the game.

Then it was released in the Japan, and over two million copies flew off the shelves in just two days. Those sales, combined with rave reviews from Japanese and American critics alike, meant one thing: I had to play Dragon Quest IX.

I'm telling you, if for any reason you've been holding off on buying this game, get to the nearest store immediately. I've barely been able to put it down.

STORY (9.0/10)

The story begins with the main character, who is named and fully customized by the player, as an angelic guardian who watches over a town. He/she is part of a group of other guardians known as Celestrians, whose primary goal is to ascend into the "realm of the Almighty," which I can only assume is heaven. Unfortunately, right when the plan seems to be working, everything goes wrong, and the main character is stripped of his/her wings and halo. He/she then has to cooperate with a sassy fairy to help people in order to regain Celestrian status.

Sounds simple, right? The story actually becomes much more complex and endearing as you play and interact with the motley bunch of people you meet. There's a lot of character development for sure, but it's not so much a part of the plot as it is the gameplay (more on that soon). Sadly, neither the main character nor his/her party members, who are also yours to customize, ever talk.

GAMEPLAY (10/10)

The gameplay has changed dramatically from past Dragon Quest games here, and all of it has been for the better. DQIX takes advantage of the DS's dual screens by using the top screen as a map and the bottom screen for input and movement. All characters in the party, as well as any guests, are visible as they travel. This sometimes results in a minor slowdown because of the excessive pixel-pushing, but it's more than tolerable.

The revamped battle system is a breath of fresh air. Encounters are no longer random, as monsters now visibly roam the lands. A huge variety of spells, abilities, and items are available for use in battle. Players can also use a "coup de grace" when their characters are taking a beating for special effects such as zero MP cost or increased counterattacks, depending on the character's class. The execution is much more modernized, too. You can see the characters and monsters scurry around the field to maul each other; it's pretty fun to watch. As usual, dungeons can be incredibly hard and punishing, especially the bosses lurking at the end. The penalty for a wiped out party is half your gold, so don't die! (Or use a bank.)

The new multiplayer system is a welcome change to the old formula. By connecting with up to three friends locally, players can complete the adventure together, loot treasure from other worlds, or if they choose, continue alone and ask for help when they need it. The last option is perhaps the most intriguing one. Players don't have to be stuck with each other in multiplayer, which allows for some independence.

Although I have yet to finish the game myself, I expect that the replayability will be excellent. (The main game itself is quite long already at about 60 hours.) Farming items for the new alchemy system, scouring the world in search of gold and EXP, and doing all the silly sidequests that NPCs have will tack on (from what I've heard) upward of 80 hours; the addition of wi-fi to buy items and obtain new quests online should also be interesting.

DESIGN (10/10)

DQIX's graphics are absolutely breathtaking, from watching the animated cutscenes to simply traversing the world. The environments are meticulously detailed, and the NPC sprites are prepared to give witty conversation. Players can distinguish between important and trivial NPCs by whether they are 3D or 2D, respectively.

The world is astonishingly MASSIVE, incorporating all sorts of different backgrounds and intimidating enemies. Everything, even weapons and armors and the ugliest monsters, introduces sweet, sweet eye candy. In-battle spells and abilities are magnificent, and the smooth animation of attacks and the like bespeak true, through-the-roof-quality production values.

My only nitpick is that, as mentioned before, when the party is moving about on the map, the game occasionally lags a bit. It's not too bad, considering the limitations of the DS, but it is noticeable.


The music doesn't blow my mind, but it's not bad at all. The themes are appropriately peppy or gloomy, depending on the situation. Boss fights sound intense, and sound effects are excellent. The sorrow in Coffinwell and peacefulness of Angel Falls are properly depicted. However, the music isn't very memorable, and some of it reminded me of the 8-bit era. Nonetheless, that's probably just me; the soundtrack, as a whole, is good and perfectly suitable.

OVERALL (9.0/10 - not an average)

I definitely did not see this one coming--definitely a sleeper hit for me. DQIX wraps a great story, involving gameplay, beautiful graphics, and good music all in one package. Sure, there were some slowdown issues, and the music wasn't as great as it could have been, but all in all, this game delivers. In spite of its faults, Dragon Quest IX stands as a strong testament to the gaming capabilities of the DS.
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on March 6, 2014
I adore this cutesy game. You have the power to fully customize your character up to the clothing, job/class, and skills and spells you could learn. I've contributed 200+ hours upon this monster and still have a ways to go. You can harvest, kill monsters, and play with the Krock Pot. I recommend this game for those who like turn-based games and animated cut scenes. The Amazon services were also pretty good, considering it had to go to Alaska. Thanks!
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on May 5, 2017
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on December 31, 2017
Item got lost in the mail and I expected not to get it but I still did! It’s my most favorite game. Very greatful, thank you.
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on November 8, 2017
Beautiful, LONG RPG!
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on June 10, 2014
I enjoyed the storyline and the extra storyline after beating the 'end boss'. I am still playing the game for all of the additional quests.
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on July 17, 2010
Well, it only took 19 years but a game was finally released that (very quickly I might add) replaced Dragon Warrior III as my favorite game of all time. This game takes all of the best aspects from Dragon Warrior III, Dragon Quest IV, and Dragon Quest VIII and combines them into an experience which could easily be claimed by many to be the pinnacle of DS gaming and portable RPGs. For long-time fans of the Dragon Quest series such as myself, it is arguably the best game you will ever play in your life.

Story: 10/10
SE really stepped up their game here. I feel this one has an ever deeper story than Dragon Quest VIII did, which was probably the deepest DQ game to date. Although the party members become personality-less avatars, the world and NPCs that you meet are so enriched that it more than makes up for the experience. Not only that, but the tone and themes are much more mature than in previous DQ titles. There is more death, loss, overall sadness, and overcoming grief and adversity in the NPCs featured in Dragon Quest IX than you will see in the party members of most other RPGs.

Gameplay: 10/10
All of the gameplay aspects have been modernized and perfected to keep that classic Dragon Quest feel while giving a fresh experience. My absolute favorite thing about this is the character customization and the combat system and how they seamlessly compliment each other. On top of this, there are numerous sidequests for obtaining new gear for your characters once they reach a certain level in any given class and others to obtain rare alchemy ingredients used to make your own equipment. The skill system is more in depth and varied than the one featured in Dragon Quest VIII, and the battle system is an even more fun and strategy-oriented version of that same battle system. There are numerous ways to tackle any boss in the game, depending on the difference in level at the time and what type of party you created.

Sound: n/a
I'm not going to rate the soundtrack because I have sort of bad hearing and I never paid much attention to VG music anyway. It's about what you would expect from a Dragon Quest game.

Villains: 10/10
All of the villains in this game are totally amazing and awesome. You will literally be in awe when these giant boss monsters attempt to bully your group of 1-4 heroes. Now, when you get to the first real village outside of the starting area the first thing you will notice is that the villagers are all scared out of their **** because some dude named the Wight Knight rode through, trashed the place, stole somebodies horse, and then stalked the princess. When I heard about this I ran into the bathroom to change my underwear immediately. I knew there was absolutely no way I could stand up to a dude this bad. Well, I was wrong. Because I added a Martial Artist to my party and had him specialize in Staves (The equivalent of beating Dragon Warrior I with nothing but the Stick equipped). Both your party members and the villains display ridiculous levels of manliness, such as this giant sea monster thing popping out of the water and eating a weak female NPC with absolutely no warning while she's in the middle of a conversation, or the Martial Artist ability to bully a group of enemies. Which brings me to my next point. . .

Man Factor: 10/10
This is the manliest game you will ever play. This is not even arguable. Landing a killing blow on a Metal Slime is the most satisfying feeling that you can ever experience in your entire life. One of the boss monsters is a giant spider that drops down from the roof and knocks over a weak female NPC, at which point it's up to the players to intervene and stop it from going completely rip**** on her. Not only that, but later you can get treasure maps which lead to lairs with optional bosses that will wreck your entire party if you don't prepare for them (By the time I found my first Treasure Map, the optional boss of a Level 1 dungeon was too much for my level 20-25 party to handle). All of the physical-dominant classes have manliness-appropriate skills such as group-bullying tactics or the ability to shield frail, weak, probably female allies from taking too much damage. On the other hand, the other classes have skills which can be used to boost the agility of the important attack-oriented party members and lower the defense of the enemies so that when you hit it with the Stick you can do like several hundred damage after powering up.

Overall: 10/10
There is nothing else I can say. This game is great. There may be some minor balancing issues (The Martial Artist class seems to be far and away the best, having an advantage over almost every other class in speed, attack, and HP and skills that stun/frighten a group of enemies which cost no MP to use), but each and every class serves their own purpose. In addition, there are extra classes that you can unlock later in the game via sidequests if you don't feel like having a party made up of any of the 6 traditional classes.

I would seriously rather just get back to playing the game right now than continue writing this review.

If you are interested in the Dragon Quest series, RPGs, or just great games in general, buy this as soon as possible.
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