Reviews: Dragon Quest IX

An unpolished gem

I had a lot of fun with this game, make no mistake. I sank many hours playing it and enjoyed the various puns, environments and the infinite little things you could do. However, it is by no means a masterpiece.

One thing very noteworthy about it is that it took notes from EarthBound's book and made the random encounters visible. Not only did this make looking for elusive enemies easier, but if you manoeuvre yourself well enough, you can avoid them outright, which is handy if you're low on health. As for the battles themselves, enemies and characters move around in battles, making them feel more alive and engrossing. Another noteworthy thing are the graphics. For a DS game, its really incredible the amount of detail that went into designing it. You have multitudes of different environments and each one looks spectacular. Also, the polygonal models for important characters manages to look pretty well rendered compared to other DS games.... In particular, there's so much to do. The world is massive and there are a bazillion side quests to do and alchemical recipes to make. It's borderline impossible to beat the game without at least taking a break from your main quest to go hunting for ingredients or tracking down elusive enemies and objects.

However, where the game falls flat though, funnily enough, is its plot. For the first part of the game, all you're doing is going from town to town doing good deeds and maybe fighting some bosses along the way. Then suddenly you're given a task to track down a bunch of MacGuffins. Then you get sent to another continent where the plot starts to materialize. It isn't until you meet Greygnarl that the plot finally starts to kick in. And this is happening two thirds into the game! I admit, the severe lack of urgency made me lose interest in the game and were it not for the enjoyable gameplay, I would have probably given up a long time ago. The other issue is Vocation-changing. When you switch to a new job, you reset to level one. While this is good if you want to stock up on skill points, if you're the kind who changes their mind frequently, then you are going to get severely bogged down in mundane grinding and it is very tedious getting back up to the level you were at before.

Overall, it was still a fun game. Certainly fun, but not very exciting.