Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies super review

  • Provides traditional RPG feel like no other
  • One of the best looking DS games ever
  • Promises hundreds of hours of play
  • Multiplayer options occasionally hurt story
  • Too old school for some
  • Heavy accents steal focus from plot

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

More Info

Release date: Jul 11 2010 - DS (US)
Jul 23 2010 - DS (UK)
Available Platforms: DS
Genre: Role Playing
Published by: Nintendo
Developed by: Level-5
Franchise: Dragon Quest
ESRB Rating:
Everyone 10+: Alcohol Reference, Animated Blood, Comic Mischief, Fantasy Violence, Mild Suggestive Themes, Mild Language
PEGI Rating:


  • slashluke - August 7, 2010 9:44 p.m.

    That fishermen town is actually made up of welsh people.I always thought it was the strange that they spoke in British accents, but hey, it's definitely not a bad thing- American accents can get grating after a while.
  • Hydrohs - July 11, 2010 8:02 p.m.

    Nintendo's marketing must have worked. I've never touched any of the Dragon Quest games but now I intend to play them all from the beginning.
  • GameManiac - July 11, 2010 4:20 a.m.

    The only Dragon Quest game that I've played was a spin-off for the Nintendo DS: Dragon Quest: Rocket Slime. Despite the oddity of the game, I played it and liked it nevertheless, however I'm itching to see how a real DQ game is like, so I'll give this game a shot. Also, it's kind of difficult to compare DQ with Pokemon because they are a bit distant, despite the traditional-like roots and JRPG-ness. Perhaps that's just my opinion.
  • GR_HenryGilbert - July 10, 2010 3:53 p.m.

    Yeah, if you've never play Chrono, that should be your first choice. As good as DQIX is, it can't compare to CT.
  • shyfonzie - July 10, 2010 12:38 p.m.

    I might have to choose between this and chrono trigger. So Chrono would be the clear choice, right?
  • GR_HenryGilbert - July 9, 2010 11:49 p.m.

    Yeah it's better and much deeper than FFIII. Better than DQVIII? Well no, but it's much more likely you'll finish IX than VIII.
  • CatrParrot - July 9, 2010 11:36 p.m.

    I've been waiting years for a brand new Dragon Quest game, so of course this game is a must-buy for me. But, is it better than Dragon Quest 8? Because I loved 8...
  • EnragedTortoise1 - July 9, 2010 10:23 p.m.

    Gonna be my first DQ game, preordered it a few days ago. Can't wait for sunday! One more question.. is it better than Final Fantasy 3 for DS? 'Cause I loved that game. Lots.
  • garnsr - July 9, 2010 8:15 p.m.

    I got to the end of VII and never finished it, and never really played VIII. I played through I and III on NES in their day, then replayed the first three on Game Boy, and IV and V on DS, and have generally enjoyed them all, though I can never really say why. There's just something to Dragon Warrior (or Quest if you really have to say that now,) that has hold on American gamers from a certain time period, I guess. I'm not sure if I'll pick this up, though.
  • Cyberninja - July 9, 2010 8:12 p.m.

    i was going to get it anyway but i am glad to hear its good.
  • Schnipke - July 9, 2010 5:59 p.m.

    I can't wait to get this game, It'll be my third DQ game, and I like reading the accents
  • 8bitBaby - July 9, 2010 5:40 p.m.

    Awesome! You’re right, I’m an older DQ gamer and no, I don’t have that kinda time any more. so while I’m on the train I can play this. I don’t mind that all these elements are new to DQ while other games have been doing it for a while, it’s just good to see DQ make that step forward. I personally would have LOVED realtime battles (the pressure makes the game more interesting) It’s really too bad about the characters and story not really shining through. But maybe in the next game it will, now that they have these advances locked in place. I’m gonna play it, it looks and sounds like fun. Also looking forward to a US release of Ni no Kuni… later next year from the looks of it.
  • db1331 - July 9, 2010 5:15 p.m.

    I was just about to hijack another post and ask when this review was going up. An 8 is exactly what I thought it would get. I might wind up getting this as my first ever DQ game.

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