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I bought Dragon Quest IX about a month ago and have been playing it voraciously ever since. As a youngster I used to lose hours of my life to RPGs but for the last few years I haven't been playing games much at all. This changed when my girfriend bought me a DS and it is great to revisit my youth again.
I have now been playing DQIX for about 60 hours and I am nowhere near bored of this game. From the moment I first loaded up the game the nostalgia kicked in. The graphics are done in a traditional 2D style which is reminiscent of old FF and DQ games but are actually 3D. The game looks gorgeous and the various different locales you will visit are beautifully rendered.
You create your character from a host of different options choosing is hairstyle, eyes, build etc and then it's off into the game proper. As the game starts you are treated to a cutscene which draws you into the story and quickly leads you into your first battle. This gives you a chance to learn the basic mechanics of fighting which are very well laid and intuitive. As you gain levels and advance through the game, the battle options available to you expand but the interface means that you never get lost or overwhelmed in the heat of the fight.
After the first few hours you can also expand your party to include preset characters, characters you create or even other gamers through a wifi link. You get up to 3 other characters in your party and if you create them yourself you can choose which class you want them to be. The classes include things like warrior, mage and priest with your character beginning life as a minstrel which is a kind all rounder.
I found that playing with a friend on another DS was a great experience and really fun but I only did this a few times and played the bulk of the game alone. I preferred to play my RPGs by myself as I like to get lost in the game and it is hard to do this when you are having a laugh with your mate.
Later in the game still, you can change your vocation and gain levels in a different class which gives you even more options for playing the game in different ways. You can also complete quests to open up new vocations which let you learn even more powerful spells and abilities.
The fights are of the old turn-based variety but are not as random as they once were. No longer will you be completely surprised by the first strains of the random battle music as you quie happily wandering around the world map. DQ9 moves away from it's heritage slightly by allowing you to see monsters whilst on the world map or in a dungeon, so it is possible to avoid them if you want. This is not recommended though as the game is still very much a levelling RPG and it is necessary to gain plenty of experience from fighting monsters to ensure you are able to progress through the game.
The story is good and keeps you interested in finding out what happens next but is not quite in the same league as FF7. The chance to advance further through the game and to gain new items and abilities is more than ample to keep you playing though. There are also loads of mini quests to complete and things like alchemy, where you mix items to create new equipment, that give this game great scope for continued play. Even after completing the game there are still dungeons called grottoes to fight new foes and quests you can only do after beating the final boss.
There are some downsides to this game but nothing that really detracts too much from the experience. The need to level up by fighting random battles can be a little tiresome if you want to get on with the story but it very much a personal preference. I love levelling my characters up and opening up new skills but I know some people can't stand it. If this game is anything it is traditional so please be prepared for this if you buy it. If you know what you are getting and, like me, remember these games from your youth then you will love it. If you are expecting something groundbreaking then I am afraid you will be disappointed.
Overall this game is great for what it is but I don't think it will be well remembered 10-15 years down the line, it ain't no Final Fantasy 7. If you want to relive the old days or are too young to remember them but love classic RPGs anyway, buy this game.
Dragon Quest IX is the first non Final Fantasy RPG I have played in a very long time and I am pleased to say that after 45 hours of gameplay, I finally completed it last night.
Unfortunately, I can't say too much about the background of the Dragon Quest games as this is the only one I have played - a present from my boyfriend after I saw it on TV and said it looked fun. It is available on the Nintendo DS and I have to say that it has made several train journies go much quicker.
DQIX is a Role Playing Game (RPG) and one that I believe will appeal to a wide variety of ages. You are the hero, a Celestian (angel) from the skies and the Guardian of the village Angel Falls. The Celestians have been trying to move into God's Land for a very long time, but before this can happen, they require fruits called 'fyggs.' These grow on Yggdrasil, The World Tree and are empowered by benevolessence, which is obtained by helping mortals. One day, the Starflight Express (no prizes for guessing where the name is ripped from!) arrives to take the Celestians to God's land, but an earthquake hits, scattering the fyggs and knocking you to the world below. You wake in the village of Angel Falls, but without your halo and wings and many powers. On a mission to help Angel Falls, you find the Starlight Express and Stella the Fairie, who promises to help you return to the Observatory if you can prove you're a Celestrian. Without giving too much away, you must prove that you're a Celestrian and gather the lost Fyggs to eventually save the world.
One of my favourite parts of this game is the ability to create your own characters. 'Helsie the Minstral' ended up looking like me (in anime form) with pink hair. Later on in the game, when you are able to extend your party to a total of 4 members, you may also create them from scratch, although you also have the option of choosing from 'ready-made' characters. The story focuses around the main character; your party members serve no purpose other than fighting the battles. This may sound like a shame, but you have so much interaction with other characters along the way, it doesn't matter.
In a style similar to the early Final Fantasy games, you are also able to choose the classes of your characters, for example, mage (magic user), priest (healer) and so on. This leads to the battles having a tactical element and it is important to make sure you have the right line up and tactics for the battles! As is traditional in RPGs, you must level up your characters through battles to make them stronger, however in an interesting twist, you can allocate skill points earnt and choose which skills you'd like each character to develop. Battles are semi-random, as in you can see the monsters and avoid them as much as possible, but sometimes they will chase you! Battles are turn based, again standard for an RPG. This can sometimes be boring - but not in this case as the names of some of the moves and the monsters are just too funny. Just "fluffing around", are we, "singing that seriously gritty ditty?"
The graphics in this are absolutely gorgeous. Although I am a fan of RPGs, I am very traditional in how I like the graphics, and loved the 2d-ness of early RPGs and sprites. DQIX has done a wonderful job of making the graphics look slightly traditional, yet in a 3d setting, with a slight anime look about the characters. They are not overly flashy, but extremely eye-pleasing. The motion scenes are fantastic - again, they have gone for anime style, but it works brilliantly in the overall setting of the game.
DQIX is published by Square Enix, which would explain the many similarities between this and the Final Fantasy games. The story is long and engages you throughout the entire game and has many side quests and optional missions you may undertake along the way, or upon completion of the game. It took me 45 hours to play through, however this could just as easily take 60-70 hours. This is about standard for a decent RPG.
Bad points? Very few, but alas, there are a couple. First of all, it is a bit of a let down that there is only one save file, meaning that you can only play one game through at a time. I'm not sure what the reasoning was for this, but I would have thought it fairly standard for games to have more than one save file now. Secondly, the battles! I know this is most likely to make the game more challenging, but it is very frustrating near the end of the game when you want to buy more expensive armour and weapons and can't because you're making a comparitively small amount of money from battles. It means you could be spending hours on battling to buy some new armour - augh!
Unfortunately, I have been unable to test the online aspect of this game as my DS will not connect for whatever reason, but it is also possible to play this game wirelessly. However, please don't feel like you are missing out if you don't - I certainly didn't feel like I was missing anything!
All in all, this is a fantastic game which will appeal to male and females and all ages. It is cute and funny, but also exciting and action packed, making it almost the perfect RPG!
Just when I thought that dragon quest 8 was the best RPG game ever, this can comes along to say we can still surprise you. It did, the story is that you are an angel that went down to earth to help people after gaining some magical essence that you get when ever an angel helps someone, you go back up too your home in the sky, you give all this magical essence to the great tree to get some magical fruit that only comes out rarely but when the fruit comes and the train that comes when the fruit comes as well something goes wrong, the hero (or what ever name you gave him/her) falls down to earth losing his/her wings and halo, now you have to find out what is going on and why you fell from the sky, I will not ruin the rest of the story just to say it is one that never stops moving they is always something new and interesting to be doing within the game which makes it one of the most active RPG stories I have ever played.
Some of the good points of this game are the fact that even though the main story is enough to keep anyone interested in the game there are side quests you can get from talking to different people within the towns and sometimes in other places, like check points, these may be simple but they are enjoyed and most of the time to make an item that they might want you have to use something that is really fun the alchemy pot, an alchemy pot is a item in the game which is kept in the pub in one of the towns which again you can use to make loads of different times which can really help you, when you are trying to get rid of a hard boss.
Some of the bad points of the game are that sometime it can be very difficult to level up some places you do not get enough exp from the monster and other place you do get enough exp but the monster are so strong they will kill you faster than you can say dragon quest so they are a lot of moments where you have to just sit down and keep fighting monster until you level up enough.
Overall though I have to say I loved this game and am still playing it even now I cannot get enough of it, if I had to give it a score I would give it a 8/10, they were just a few things that could have been better with the levelling up, but overall a great game a must have.