Does Dragon’s Quest IX Prove RPGs Are Better Than First Person Shooters?
Over the past few years, first person shooters have become the game of choice for video gamers. Titles such as Halo, Call of Duty, Left 4 Dead and others have ignited a firestorm with their multiplayer formats and solid single-player campaign mode. But this year, it looks like the role playing game has made a comeback in a major way.
Last year, Dragon’s Age and Demon’s Souls brought back the RPG from the old school Nintendo days when Phantasy Star and Final Fantasy ruled. This year saw the release of the highly anticipated Final Fantasy XIII. But one of the titles that’s really been the darling of the RPG world was the Nintendo DS release of Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies.
The Dragon’s Quest series is one of the longest running titles in gaming and is quite popular in Japan. Known for its signature art style courtesy of Dragonball creator Akira Toriyama, Dragon’s Quest is an immense experience and quite engaging. What it lacks in dynamic cutscenes and powerful graphics engine, Dragon’s Quest makes up for with its undeniable charm and throwback to what RPGs are all about—depth of story and turn-based fighting.
The story is, as always, based on fantasy with a slew of characters and continents to explore. The game begins with you creating your hero from a plethora of options. Once finished, you enter the world of a race of angelic guardians known as Celestrians who protect mortals from danger. In return, mortal offer glowing seeds of light to show their thankfulness; the seeds are then offered to the great tree known as Yggdrasil. Ultimately, the guardians want the tree to bear fruit, which signals their ascension to the highest power. Something goes awry for your character, and you are thrust into the form of a mortal who spends the game seeking how to restore his/her angelic powers.
That’s pretty much the gist of the story without giving away too much. The game features a very deep character customization mode that allows you to come up with some unique looks for yourself and your three companions. Everything from armor to fishnet stockings are available for you to slide on your character. The results can be funny or serious depending on what type of gamer you are. For those with no fashion sense, this can become a hysterical disaster.
Battling is always the name of the game and Dragon’s Quest keeps things tried and true with the latest installment. Of course, the basic professions are intact. Minstrel, warrior, priest, mage, thief and martial artist are available. As you progress, you will be able to upgrade your characters with unique weapons and magic. The fighting itself is turn-based where you issue orders to your party regarding who to attack and with what. It can get rather complex as you figure out the best strategy. Dragon’s Quest is rather challenging so picking your fights and wisely choosing your strategy is imperative to survival.
The monsters vary from slimes to tiger-men to good ol’ zombies. Everything bit of detail in the art is full of personality and will find you connecting to the game like no other as you spend massive amounts of hours playing.