by Sergio Brinkhuis
reviewed on NDS
Sticking it to them (cntd)
Things can get a little tight having to venture into a dungeon and defeating an end boss, so there is enough anxious excitement to go around but you will rarely drop your DS in frustration over being stuck in too difficult a stage. A good thing, considering this game was meant to be played ‘on the go’. On the train or in the bus, we want a challenge, not a monstrously difficult game. And if you are playing the game like that, in one or two hour sessions, combat never grows old.
New regions and islands become available for exploration are made available as you progress through the game and each area is as beautifully crafted as the previous. That is not to say that there is a lot of variety. There aren’t that many different textures in the game but there is enough variety there that you won’t go bored and the layout of each area is unique enough to give it its own feel. Cities and villages have all been given their own unique style making each recognizable on sight.
The same can’t be said for its denizens as there is a fair bit of recycling going on when it comes to NPCs not linked to a major storyline. Your own characters are a completely different story. While the base models are all the same, the enormous variety and wearable items makes equipping them into something of an ‘extreme makeover’ show. Skirts, dresses, armor, hats, helmets, braces, shoes… you name it, it is all there to be used to dress up your characters with, changing their appearance accordingly. But be warned, many of these are so flamboyant that they will make you wonder if their specific properties are worth the masquerade ball that ensues on your screen during combat.
While some items are found in the field, most of your gear will likely come from the game’s many shops. The quality of the available items is linked to the difficulty of the monsters in the area and shops do not upgrade along with your party. As such, you will mostly be visiting the most recently unlocked shop.
Bring me X
It is hardly ever worth backtracking though, and with that I have arrived at the first if only two negative things worth noting for Dragon Quest IX: The game tries a very hard to masque that it is linear but it is in every conceivable way. Cities, dungeons and other locations of interest are almost without exception part of the main quest line and once you’ve gone through that, there is very little reason to explore anything. The second is the musical score. It’s about as generic as it gets and annoying at that. You will spend about 5 minutes listening to it before you switch it off.
Despite its linearity and disappointing musical score, Dragon Quest IX is an absolutely fantastic game that brings both depth and lush graphics to the Nintendo DS. Finishing the game will easily take you upwards of 35 hours, none of which you will spend being bored as the storyline is rock solid and will keep you wanting to move forwards. If you are looking for a good Role-Playing game on the DS, look no further.
No Pros and Cons at this time