Join the party
We can somewhat forgive the lack of interesting team members, as the game was made with multiplayer in mind, as up to three friends can replace your party as you travel the world together. It’s a different way to enjoy the game, though we’re a bit antisocial and prefer to travel the world alone. When you take into consideration that only the multiplayer host keeps any of the story progress from the local multiplayer set-ups, it’s even less attractive. Still, it is an enjoyable diversion and gives you a chance to show off what an amazing character you’ve made, but good luck finding another player with a copy.
Additionally, on top of the 100-plus optional quests open in single or multiplayer, you can take the game online and download more side quests and items even after if you’ve beat the 40-hour storyline. There have been tales of many Japanese players putting over 100 hours into the game regularly, and even one famous game developer says he’s played for 400 hours. So if you only have enough cash for one game to play all summer, this could be it.
In spite of all the improvements on the classic and endlessly replayable formula, Dragon Quest IX is still too stuck in its old ways for its own good. It’s one of the most approachable in series’ history, but is too much of a traditional grindfest to be attractive to many new players. But if you’re a traditionalist just like the developers seem to be, you’ll really appreciate this fresher spin on the tried-and-true method. For better or worse, while every other game risks their popularity on western and modern styles, Dragon Quest will always give you exactly what you expect, a classic JRPG.
Is it better than…?
Final Fantasy XIII? No, but it’s close. This is by no means a fair comparison, but these two are still the premier JRPG series, so it only seems right to compare the two most recent entries. DQIX loses in the looks department and it comes off as ancient compared to all the new ideas in FFXIII. However, if you’re part of the vocal group that thought FFXIII didn’t feel like a Final Fantasy, than the much more conventional DQIX is right up your alley.
Dragon Quest V? Yes. V has possibly the best story the series has ever seen, making character and plot the main focus, instead of class systems and grind-a-thons. Still, even with all the bells and whistles in the DS remake, it’s a SNES game at heart. For all the grief we give IX for being old-school, when you compare its innovations and looks to V, you get some idea of how far the series has come.
Pokemon HeartGold/SoulSilver? Maybe. They both play pretty similar, because once you discount the monster collecting, core Pokemon titles are old school RPGs. And both series have a history of modest additions while keeping the series very traditional. But DQIX is for a slightly more mature crowd than Pokemon’s base, so it could work as a nice bridge for exclusively Pokemon players into the grand world of JRPGs.
Just for you, Metacritic!
Though certainly not a huge shift for the series, Dragon Quest IX has a near-perfect mix of classic JRPG style and grand (for the DS) visuals to make a great portable adventure.
Jul 9, 2010