Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies
Grab some friends, individualize your character, and embark on a fun quest.

Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies is the latest entry in the mega-popular series to come out of Square Enix. This franchise really shines in Japan, with each installment never having difficulty to sell a few million copies. It’s not as popular in the United States, but with the success of the Nintendo DS and its huge userbase, Nintendo and Square Enix/Level 5 hope to make this installment ripe with success.

This Action RPG starts out allowing you to create your own hero who is of an angelic race, with a good variety of customization features. It’s impressive just how much control you have over how your character looks like, what you equip him or her with, etc. There are in fact over 1,000 items in the game, each with a unique appearance. It’s impressive to say the least that the production value of this game runs high and that even compared to RPGs on vastly more powerful home consoles, this game with its shear amount of equipment, characters, quests, and more…holds its own.

Dragon Quest IX has a nice four player system.
Each member of your party, whether it’s a playable or non playable character (NPC) gets the full customization treatment.

If you’re familiar with how Japanese Role Playing Games play, you’ll be right at home with Dragon Quest IX and might be pleasantly surprised to find that you don’t have to go it alone. The game has a strong single player experience, but it really comes together with a very complete co-op mode that lets you go through almost the entire game together as a group of 4 heroes. There are some limitations in this, primarily being that one player must always be the host of a game, and only that person will have the ability to advance in the story, collect certain treasures, and a couple of other feats.

Despite those minor setbacks, the good in the multiplayer is everything else, because you’re not forced to share the same screen, nor do you even have to be in the same general area, you can independantly be completing separate quests, and even be in different dungeons.

The graphics in this game are solid for the DS and seeing how well the team was able to make such a smooth, colorful 3D world, with the power of this handheld, it makes me that much more excited to get my hands on Dragon Quest X for Wii. In addition to good wandering around visuals, DQ9 also has a few beautifully animated cinema scenes. Too bad there aren’t more in the game, but when they show up, enjoy.

Awesome artwork in DQ IX's cinema scenes
It’s like watching a very well drawn cartoon.

The music in this game helps with the overall charm that this game has. I enjoyed the different tracks, but do wish that there were more in the end. Still, credit has to be given to the team, seeing as how it is difficult to cram a great amount of audio into a single cartridge. Perhaps then comes my only real complaing in the sound department, and that’s the lack of voice acting. I forgive Square Enix and Level 5 to some degree, but with titles like the Professor Layton series on DS, being able to have a mixture of read only and spoken dialogue parts, I’m sure that some voice samples could have been added.

Overall, Sentinels of the Starry Skies is a lengthy RPG that will provide you with more than enough things to do, presented to you with nice visuals, a great amount of replayability if you want to truly maximize your experience, and be a fun title you can enjoy with a few friends. If you’re a casual gamer, this game might be a little ambitious at first, but you will be able to pick up on it after investing a few hours. If you’re seeking a hardcore RPG, look no further, because if you allow it to do so, this game will soak up your time.

Score: 8.7/10

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