HG101 2022 Game Finish Challenge Jan 26, 2022 18:11:18 GMT -5
Post by Deleted on Jan 26, 2022 18:11:18 GMT -5
Dragon Quest IX (Nintendo DS, First Time, 28:43)
I picked up two copies of Dragon Quest IX on its release back in 2010 with high expectations for the multiplayer mode. As it turned out when playing with a friend as the second player you are guesting in another players game, with no access to story scenes and no ability to progress your game which meant it quickly became a chore for me beating each section twice over. Having dropped the game back then I thought I'd take a different approach this time around and just play as a single player adventure.
One aspect of the Dragon Quest series I enjoy is when the games take an episodic approach to the storytelling. VIII did this by taking you from town to town with each having their own story which contributed to the greater conflict. IX takes the idea even further in taking a short story approach, at least for the first half of the game, which doesn't do much to further the overarching plot. This presentation works wonders for handheld play as each 'episode' is particularly short and clearly designed with a pick up and play mindset.
Whilst featuring bite-sized stories and dungeons does wonders for portable accessibility the flipside is that the main game is pretty short and the difficulty has also been dialled back to suit. Even the late game bosses presented no real threat and didn't provide complex patterns or the sort of daunting attacks that require strategizing to overcome. A job system is featured, with a great amount of depth, but I beat the game without ever changing classes, simply because that would have only served to lengthen my playthrough by needing to grind each job separately. Dipping my toes into the postgame it became clear this was where the challenge had gone, as I was soon trounced by the first boss I came across there. It only took a quick glance online to find that the game is very backloaded and perhaps this is to go hand in hand with the multiplayer based nature, with the main story only really serving as an extended introduction.
What I found made the class system even less interesting was the lack of defined characters which come with the more story driven entries. Sentinels of the Starry Skies replaces the series larger than life heroes with somewhat generic avatars which can be assigned jobs and equipped at your leisure. This is a case of freedom as a trade off for the more defined roles with more limited customisation. Not only can combat encounters not be built around specific puzzles in this situation but what's more the story telling is limited by a lack of the usual vibrant interaction.
Despite this limitation the combat is still enjoyable and the characters we do meet along the way are able to drive the plot and are engaging in their own right. Visually the game is pretty impressive for the DS even though I miss the lovely sprites seen on the remakes for the platform. The music falls a little flat though it does it's job.
As a whole it's tough to judge Dragon Quest IX favourably considering the pedigree it seeks to stand alongside. Without the Dragon Quest name I doubt that it would garner much attention. That said the commitment to ensuring the games pick up and play style fits the trappings of its platform so well that there's always a forward momentum to the pacing. I found that was enough to keep the game light and fun; though nothing particularly memorable. The multiplayer doesn't fit my expectations but the single player is nice enough to see the main quest through to the end.
Score - 7/10