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Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies

Score: 87%
ESRB: Everyone 10+
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Square Enix
Media: Cartridge/1
Players: 1 - 4
Genre: RPG

Graphics & Sound:

The Dragon Quest series has been a very popular one throughout the years. While the monsters are almost always the same, the characters and the stories vary wildly. Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies is one of the more different plotlines that I've seen.

If you've played any of the Dragon Quests games, then you already know what it looks like. The graphics are beautifully done. The character and monster design is by Akira Toriyama, so you'll probably recognize the characters from other places. Actually, you get to create your own characters, both male and female. You are given quite a few choices of body style, hair style and color, eye color and more, so you can recreate some of your favorite Akira Toriyama characters if you really want to. I have a Dragonball Z character in my party. One nice little detail is that when you change your party's armor, it actually changes on the screen when you're running around. Granted, this makes for hair being squashed by helmets, but it's nice to be able to see the characters just a bit differently.

Like most DS games, there are no actual voices for your characters. All conversations are text-based which means that you don't necessarily have to have the sounds. I played for several hours in a bar where I definitely couldn't hear the sounds and it didn't hurt the gameplay. But I did miss hearing the sounds. The music is very pleasant to hear. It's not necessary, but it does make the game more interesting.


Gameplay:

In Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies, you are a Celestian, an angel. Your character is the "Guardian of Angel Falls." While watching over your village, you and your mentor have to protect two people from monsters. The humans give thanks to you for protecting them on their journey, even though they don't see you. This thanks turns into Benevolessence, which you have to then take to the Great World Tree, Yggdrasil. After you do this and get back to your village, you'll wander around town helping the townspeople for a bit. As soon as you have a few more crystals, you go back and take them to the tree. Finally, after thousands of years, the tree blooms and the Celestians think that they are going to be allowed to finally return to the great being. Just as the Starflight Express train lands, it explodes and everything is torn to bits. You wake up back on Earth as a human!

First thing that you're going to have to do is help the town get connected to the world once again since a landslide blocked the only road in and out of it. But the mayor's son asks you to help him do this, so you're not going to have to go at it alone, at least. Ivor's a bit of a brat, but at least he's a decent fighter. On your way to the landslide, you come across the Engine Car to the Starflight Express. Ivor can't see it though! You'll soon meet someone who can help you get going on that train again, but first you're going to have to collect enough Benevolessence that you get your celestial powers back again. Eventually, you'll make it back to the observatory and your real quest will begin. You have to go back to Earth and collect all the Fyggs that fell from Yggdrasil when it bloomed. They're a danger to the mortal world. From here on out, the game basically involves you traveling to very remote areas in search of these Fyggs. Luckily, you can always warp back to any previous location, which is very important to the quests.

In addition to the main storyline, there are a lot of quests for you to accomplish. Talking to certain people triggers quests for them. They'll tell you what you need. Some of them can be accomplished right away and some will take some time to find those items. There are also recipes that you can use to make things, a whole lot of recipes. If you want to collect them all, you'll have a lot of work to do!

Just in case you happen to want to quest with your friends, you can also play with a total of 4 people wirelessly as long as they have their own copy of the game. It'll give you quite a few additional things that you can't get from just playing alone!


Difficulty:

Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies is one of the easier games that I've played. So far I haven't died yet or even come anywhere near dying. I also haven't had to run around and level up at all. Some battles have been longer, but not really difficult. When your party is at uneven levels, it divides the experience out based on your levels, so the highest level actually gets the most experience. This makes it slower to level way under-leveled characters, but better for your main character as they actually gain some experience when you're leveling low-level guys. There are some things that really make the game easier though and maybe I've just gotten them all right. Once you get to level 5, you will start earning Skill points. These can be used to unlock more abilities and attacks. These abilities can really help you if you choose the right ones.

There are a number of different vocations that you can choose to have in your party. There are 6 unlocked at the start and a few more that you can unlock later on. I highly recommend you balance out these vocations and keep a variety in your party, including someone that can wield a wand to be your healer. A wand will steal MP from enemies when you attack, so your magic user can really be effective if you equip them with a wand. Granted, its attack is almost always lower, but not running out of MP makes it worth it! This will make your life infinitely easier.


Game Mechanics:

Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies is a very easy game to control. You can use the buttons or the touch screen, whichever you prefer, which is nice. Personally, I like just using the buttons as it feels more like the controls that I'm used to on RPGs and it doesn't require me to keep up with a stylus. I'm not going to run through all the controls as they're on page 8 of the guide, but even if you don't look it up, you'll figure it all out quickly.

One thing to note is that you save in the church and that's the only place. I'm really quite glad that you can just pause the game by closing the lid to resume later since it's quite easy for your battery to die in the middle of a boss battle when you haven't had the chance to save since you left the last town. You can also do a Quick Save from almost anywhere outside of battles, which is handy.

Overall Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies has been a really fun game to play. It's not the world's most addictive, but I do believe that I will definitely spend more time in it! If you haven't yet, I recommend that you go pick it up today.


-Cyn, GameVortex Communications
AKA Sara Earl

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