Electronic Theatre Preview: Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies

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            Ahead of its launch next month, Nintendo have been touring Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies throughout the UK as part of its Nintendo Unleashed tour. Taking a pit-stop at the London MCM Expo last month, many of those eagerly anticipating the English language release of one of Japan’s most popular titles of 2010 were able to get a first glimpse at the final game, and Electronic Theatre was there to bring you this report.

            In the build available, both a town and dungeon was available. Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies’ overarching design will be familiar to any Role-Playing Game (RPG) fan, with the game subdivided by periods of high tension, downtime and exploration. Where Electronic Theatre ImageDragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies veers off the beaten path is within the finer details; the combat system may still be turn based, but its implementation is of an inventive design, the towns deliver detailed characters along with vacuous mission proffers and the world is rarely explored alone.

            Obviously, with such time restrictions it’s difficult to truly assess the breadth of such RPG titles; however Electronic Theatre did manage to explore some of the opportunities presented through the battle system. Battles are conducted through a combination of perspectives; first-person when planning attacks and third-person for the enactment of commands. Turn-based as is the tradition, both human players and artificial intelligence enemies can beef-up their attacks through creating combos. When two identical attacks are performed consecutively on the same opponent the attack damage increases by a multiplier, the greater number of attacks landed the greater the bonus sum of the damage.

            Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies is an attractive game, easily among the best 3D titles the Nintendo DS system has yet offered. Even in just the limited number of areas Electronic Theatre Imagethat Electronic Theatre experienced, distinct character and incidental detail provide a pleasant and immediately recognisable world, both colourful and expressive. Though it fails to live up to the standard set by the home console iterations of the Dragon Quest series, anyone regularly partaking in handheld RPGs will immediately identify the calibre of the art direction.

            Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies received some harsh criticism from fans around its Japanese launch, and despite the conspiracy theories it seems that many of the complaints were levelled at the innovation the title brings. Why Dragon Quest should be allowed less room to breathe than other staple RPG series – especially given the protest levelled at Final Fantasy XIII for it’s lack of new direction – remains a mystery, as on the evidence presented here it will remain as compelling as any previous experience instalment.



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