Customer Reviews: Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies
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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 July 16, 2010
Okay, I admit I am too old (64) to be playing these things - but seldom have I started a title that amazed me as much as this one - To be blunt, DRAGON QUEST IX may well define the potential of the Nintendo DS - The graphics, gameplay, story structure, and sound are totally amazing - I own a PSP and a Nintendo, and this title is going to seriously create problems for the Sony - I can almost insure you that once you start this game - you won't be able to put it down......I have only gotten less than ten percent into the story and I can't wait to stop writing this review and continue the adventure -

Try this one people!!!! You won't be sorry!!!!!!!!
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on July 22, 2010
My first impressions of this game were very high. I really enjoy the gameplay, and it has not felt like a tedious rpg for even a second. I think the story is creative, and I actually enjoy reading the text on the screen, whereas i usually just skip right on through it to keep on playing. This game fully suits what i had wanted out of an RPG experience on the ds.
To begin, the story is very entertaining. The idea of being an angelic warrior is kinda cool, and it doesn't seem like the regular run o' the mill rpg story setup. Its fun seeing where the story is going to take me. I think most people that like this style of game will find the story entertaining as well.
Next, the gameplay is just phenomenal. I have played final fantasy 3,4, Pokemon Platinum and Heartgold, and that is really the extent of my rpg playing on the ds. These games are all known for the random battles that just pop up out of nowhere. I find that to be flat-out tedious and boring after a while. On top of that it takes away from the realism of "questing." I still enjoyed those games, but I have a new favorite here with dragon quest 9. I really like being able to see the monsters. You basically get to choose when you want to fight. Sometimes the monsters will run away from you when you are a high level, and I thought that added even more realism to the experience. The battles are also fun because all the moves, spells, etc. are very well animated. It is never boring to sit through a battle. The learning curve is also very easy. Final Fantasy kinda throws you to the wolves when you start those games, but this gently pushed you into the battling, and before long you will have a good understanding of the tactics and how it all works.
I also have to commend the game for its length. I guess i qualify for the category of just starting out the game. I have gotten myself to Stornway though and am getting ready to fight the Wight Knight. I have already gotten a lot of fun out of the game, and i'm sure it will get better as it progresses. The hardest part about this game is making myself put it down.
Another bonus is the fact that the game does not sync up with the clock in the ds. I have a job and responsibilities and stuff so when i used to play the pokemon games, I got to play them in the dark the whole time. That takes away from the fun factor of the game, and it isn't fun when you cheat past this by resetting the clock on the ds. But this game changes from night to day as you battle and roam around. I'm very glad that they stayed away from making the game have a daylight setting only when its daylight in the real world. I'm sure other people can relate to what I'm saying here.
The game is very fun, and if you have been searching for an RPG that you can get hooked on, this is it. I think it is one of the most detailed games to be released for the ds, and it looks great. It is fun and the pacing is great. All the optional quests make the value of the game increase a great deal. You can play this game for a very long time. I think this game is worth every dollar they charge for it. Just buy it and have some fun!!
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on August 8, 2010
After having had my DS for about 2 years I just recently got started with RPG's for the system. In fact, I'm pretty new to video games in general. So, needless to say I've never played a DQ game before. I heard a lot of really good things about this game so I decided to chance it and pick it up. I've also noticed that most, if not all, of these reviews are from people who've played other DQ games and spend a lot of the review comparing it to other games. This isn't a bad thing at all...but it's always helpful to see a review from someone who isn't comparing it to others in the series, especially for people like me who have no idea what the other games in the series are like. Anyway, that brings me to my review:

Personally, I think this is one of the best games for the DS. Of course, I haven't played every other DS game out there, but of the ones I've played, this one shines above them. The graphics are great and I really feel that Square took advantage of the DS' capabilities. However, I'm one to be more impressed with gameplay and overall "addictiveness" of the game than graphics, so I'll spend more time with those.

Again, I can't compare this game to other DQ's. There may well be others in the series that are much better gameplay-wise. But I really like the way this game unfolds. The story might be a bit "cutesy" for some, but I really liked it and was immediately enthralled with it. It became very hard to turn off my DS once I got started. The gameplay is a classic turn-based battle system. You spend time battling monsters and traveling from town to town completing different missions or "quests". A big thing with this game, as with most other RPG's, is leveling up. Random encounters are no more with this game as you can see the monsters on the screen before they attack. However, I'd still suggest battling as much as possible, at least with the monsters that will give you the most experience. The higher your level, the easier the fights will be and the more damage you can do in battle.

You can also create other characters to be in your party to battle with, which I found to be very cool. You can pick their occupation, gender, even hair color. This is a big part of the strategy of the game...picking characters with different skill sets to compensate for your weaknesses.

Overall, the gameplay is very addicting. I was always wondering what was going to happen next. Also, if you're looking for a game that will keep you interested for a long time, this is it. There are MANY MANY hours of time to be spent with this game. Trust me, you will not get bored.

The main point of the review is this. If you're like me and have never really played RPG's, don't be intimidated by this game. It's very easy to get the hang of and will keep you entertained for a long time. Plus, there's no need to have played the other DQ's in the series before this one. In fact, it's a large possibility that I will be seeking out other DQ games to play.
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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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on July 13, 2010
Cool graphics, pretty groovy music and a mammoth-sized quest. Certainly not easy, but not so complicated to turn away the casual gamer.

Gameplay: Fairly linear and simple to follow. There is endless battling, but the cool graphics and the presentation (you get to see the enemies before they attack) make this fun. Each job centers around a specific set of weapon skills that you accrue as you advance in the game. There are a bunch of side quests that add to the fun.

Characters: Can be fully customized, from choosing to focus on a single weapon or "job talent," to mixing and matching them to your liking. My only negative here is that there is only one save slot, so you don't get as much opportunity to experiment with the characters.

Graphics: Pretty cool graphics that manage to avoid the creepy, puppet-like appearance of characters on other games. Every piece of armor and spear can be customized and the details transmit well. The scenarios are expansive and detailed.

Controls are straightforward and responsive.

Overall, this is a very entertaining, incredibly long game (so far 40 hr plus) that manages a fairly linear and simplistic story in a way that keeps you engaged without becoming stale or boring.
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on September 20, 2011
I got Dragon Quest to fulfill that... need I have to play a more classic RPG like when I was younger. I looked through those available on the DS and everyone seemed to like it the most. And at first I was sold- It has all the charm Dragon Quest 8 had in combat and the world and the side stories.
Unfortunately I was deeply disappointed about 25-30 hours into the game when I finally got frustrated enough to say ask the question "When will someone else join my party?" because I didn't realize I had to hire mercenaries to join my party. I was level 30 and I was beating bosses pretty easily because of how easy it is to exploit the class system in this game, but so I went and made a party of characters from the girl at the Inn in the beginning of the game. I didn't choose the option 'call a friend' or whatever it was previously because I assumed that was a multiplayer option.
Anyway, after adding 3 members to my party I ran around for a bit, leveled up some classes, and then removed them all from my party and went back to playing the whole game solo.
I don't want a bunch of warm bodies following around the warm body I'm controlling, I want some of the interesting and fascinating characters I met throughout the story to join my quest and push the narrative along. But no, there is none of that, the only voice on your side is this Bratz looking faerie that following you along and complains about everything but never expands on anything in the world because she's completely ignorant to all of it.

The story is a bunch of stand alone quests that show how cultures and people are influenced by power, and that's good. The leveling and combat system is classic and I was looking for that, that's good.
But I'm so disappointed that the only voice on my side of things is that stupid faerie and that my character has almost no relation to what's going on, he's more or less stumbling onto the events and, without emotion or anyone having expectations on him, helping everyone. I don't have a problem with a silent protagonist, but I do have an issue if everyone I control is a silent nobody.

I know I'm nit-picking but most of my favorite characters from RPGs in the past are the side characters. Yeah, you make a party based off abilities but you also pick one based off personality and liking characters and feeling emotions connected to them adds a lot to RPGs.
It might also be an issue that I did get so far without an extra party member... Yeah, I leveled up a bit, got every class to around level 30, but once you do that you're nearly invincible with a few alchemy recipes for armor and weapons, and I never once looked at any type of guide to figure all that stuff out.
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on July 24, 2010
$35 is what this game will run you, and you can spend 40-50 hours in completing just the main story. This game is incredible value for money, just for the longevity.

The fun in this game lies everywhere. Character creation to the point where you can have your own body style, hair style, facial expression (although it's a permanent one, no emoting for these characters), wardrobes that wouldn't look out of place in Las Vegas, and others that would let you fit into Victorian England, and many others. There is humor, there is tragedy, there are side quests galore. And even though it wasn't in high-definition, this game also includes one of the coolest fully animated cut-scenes I have ever seen on any of the hundreds of games I have played over the last two decades.

If you like old-school traditional RPGs, you're going to like this game. It's about as old-school as it gets, with updated beautiful graphics and animations; the frustrating, tedious gold hunting and level grinding; the rare items, the rare monsters.

Some thing in this game are going to drive you insane: the overly-populated monsters and the 9-limit alchemy creation plateau, mostly. But once you've figured out how to make $52,000 gold in ten minutes (after you've collected about $550,000 in gold to begin with), and once you've leveled your party up through all the vocations you can choose to keep the best stats of each, once you get critical strikes to instantly kill metal slimes, well, then you feel like you've really accomplished something.

In this sequel of Dragon Quest, the monsters spawn on the map where you can see them, so you can pick and choose what monsters you want to fight, unless they chase you down first -- but don't worry, use some holy water and you're free of that nuisance.

You can recruit three others players, either friends on Wi-fi or in the game itself, to make your journey easier. In the context of the game, they make little sense, but you're happy to have them helping you.

You can download new items and quests through DQVC, which is sort of like free DLC (downloaded content), once every 24 hours.

Once the main story is completed, you can go back and finish side quests and hunt through all the treasure maps.

It is a great deal of content, for a very decent price. If you like RPGs, if you really like old-school JRPGs, I would highly recommend it.
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on July 21, 2010
At first glance, "Dragon Quest IX" plays just like a typical RPG. Once gamers reach the second inn, however, the game expands immensely with multiplayer capabilities and Internet items.

"Dragon Quest IX" is a massive game that packs in hours of gameplay, side quests and the possibility to join other gamers in multiplayer quests.

This game was a huge hit in Japan, where people all over Tokyo could join random strangers in wireless multiplayer quests. Although "Dragon Quest IX" isn't as popular in the U.S., it still provides infinite possibilities for group fun.

The main quest starts with your character as an angel-like person called a Centurion, helping villagers in Angel Falls. Your character will rescue them from danger and do chores for them to receive benevolence energy in exchange. Supposedly, if the Centurions collect enough benevolence for the Yggdrasil tree, they can summon a celestial train to take them to the promised land in the sky above.

Matters get complicated when a shocking explosion from the promised land knocks you down to Earth. Now your character must figure out how to return to the Centurion world.

The main quest is a beautiful 3D game with the typical Dragon Quest battle system. Most quests require lots of tedious grinding, battling enemies for experience points. However, the extra features more than make up for the old style of gameplay. A character builder system allows you to design the look of your character, from the gender to the anime-style eyes. Each piece of equipment on your character has a distinguished look to it, allowing you to make your character look unique.

Once your character reaches the Stornway Inn, you can also build custom characters with whatever class suits that person. So you could add in thieves, mages, martial artists and whatever other classes you need.

The game provides tons of mini-quests in the style of the Internet quests in MMORPGs. Players can fight monsters for the items that are needed to fulfill the quest objectives. As a reward, they receive an item, as well as a "CLEAR" stamp in their record of quests completed.

All these features add to an unprecedented experience that crams the best elements of MMORPGs in a handheld console game. The game even provides an Internet store, which is updated daily with rare items that you might have trouble finding otherwise. Players can update the store every day after 8 a.m.

The game is a rich masterpiece of colorful RPG gameplay and Internet expansions. And if you know friends who play "Dragon Quest IX", you can join them for a Dungeons & Dragon's-style meeting. You can band together to defeat some of the especially difficult bosses on the treasure hunting quests.

It's a marvelous game, one of the hottest games on the market right now. The game will expand even more when Gamestop provides extra downloadable maps for "Dragon Quest IX" players on July 31. One can only imagine the possibilities of finding new quests to venture through in the future.
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on April 3, 2013
Ah Dragon Quest, the RPG series that predates Final Fantasy, that has staunchly kept its "classic" menu and fighting system. Originally released in the United States as Dragon Warrior, this [Square] Enix title garnered a cult following; well-deserved, I might add, and either you like the game or you don't.

Dragon Warrior on the NES was the very first video game that I ever beat. Offered as a free title if you subscribed to the fledgling Nintendo Power magazine, I remember spending hours in my mother's living room until I had vanquished the evil Dragonlord as Erdric's heir. The classic menu-driven battle system, the random encounters, the colorful monsters, all of this lead to a love affair with a great gaming series.

To this end, Dragon Quest IX follows faithfully in its predecessor's steps, recreating the same monster designs that date back to the very first title on the NES. Characters are designed by Akira Toriyama, the famed anime artist most associated with the Dragonball cartoons. There are random encounters galore, menu-driven battles, and the classic (cliche?) you-are-the-long-lost-hero storyline.

All of this is marvelous if you enjoy the mercilous grinding that you must do in order to complete any Dragon Quest title. The classic RPG styling is very loyal to the genre, and fans will not be disappointed. Yet, I find myself unable to love this game, even though the execution is marvelous.


Where the storyline in Dragon Quest IX shines, the gameplay itself tries to be epic and ends up selling itself as frustrating. This game introduces the jobs system a la Final Fantasy III; you start the game as a minstrel (a jack-of-all trades, if you will), and after completing the necessary story elements, you are able to change your profession into one of the initial six (mage, priest, warrior, minstrel, martial artist, and thief). You are able to unlock other professions by completing quests.

It is almost a requirement that you change classes, as the skill point system takes forever to maximize if you remain in one profession. Not to mention that certain skills are only available to a specific class. By using your skill points in the class-specific skill (and subsequently mastering the skill by dumping 100 points into it), you are able to use that class' abilities in another profession. Example: I can use swords as a martial artist, even though they cannot equip that weapon as a natural part of their profession.

The quests are where Dragon Quest IX will cause you to scream at your DS. Some are logical; your typical "fetch" quests. Others require you to kill a specific number of a certain enemy only after using a certain skill (which, of course, is only available to a certain profession). Quests become unlocked in a variety of ways, as part of the storyline or by completing certain tasks.

Yet, it is the quests with insanely ridiculous requirements that will infuriate you. One quest is from a cat and contains only the word "meow". I had no idea how in the heck to complete the quest until I looked it up online (turns out I had to wear the "cat ears" item and talk to the cat to complete the quest). Another quest requires you to use a warrior ability to scare the enemy, and then to kill them with a "regular" critical hit, which is entirely random. You can literally spend hours trying to time your kill so that the warrior is the one executing the killing blow, but only after he has scared the enemy.

Obtaining gear in the game is also borderline ridiculous, but balanced in that anyone devoting enough time and resources can create the best items using the Alchemy system within the game. It will take you hours, though, to gather up the resources, not to mention the gold, to make that axe you covet. To be fair, however, it is not a requirement to use the best gear to beat the game; a casual gamer could legitimately just buy the shop items and still get to the finish line. Completionists will spend hours upon hours farming and grinding.

The good thing this game introduces, though, is you do not have to grind as much as previous Dragon Quest titles. That is, you do not have to run around killing 100 slimes until you hit a high enough level to take on the boss. The game is more or less scaled to allow you to spend less time killing and more time reading story text.


No one picks up a Nintendo DS to be wowed by the graphics. This game is no different. If you ever played the N64, you can get a feel for the graphics. Not a smooth line in sight. I would kill to see fingers instead of block hands.


Nothing to write home about. Catchy enough, but your standard RPG fare.


As a classic RPG title, Dragon Quest IX fits the bill. Lots of monsters, an epic storyline (if a little predictable), and tons of walking around to get from points A to B, and you have yourself a fun game.

If you plan on exploring the rest of the game (and there is a lot of that, between the quests, alchemy, and jobs system), you will waste many hours and go through several battery charges. If you have a friend who is also playing the game, then you can run together, but only in one person's game world or another (if one person hasn't advanced the story further than the other, they are stuck until that person catches up).

In short, I recommend this title, but if you are a hard-core RPG fan, the temptation to complete the quests and other achievements may be too much. Be prepared to waste a lot of time chasing for ingredients to alchemize and specific monsters to kill in a new and unusual way (with wooden chopsticks while standing on your head as a martial I joking or not?).
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