Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies
|Main series games|
|Sentinels of the Starry Skies|
|Publisher(s)||JP: Square Enix,|
NA, PAL: Nintendo
|Release date(s)||JP July 11, 2009|
NA July 11, 2010
EU July 23, 2010
AUS August 19, 2010
|Media||Nintendo DS Game Card|
Dragon Quest IX (ドラゴンクエストIX 星空の守り人 Hoshizora no Mamoribito "Protectors of the Sky"?) is the ninth installment of the main Dragon Quest series, and the first to be initially released on a handheld console. The game was released on July 11, 2009 in Japan. It was released in July 2010 in both North America and Europe and August 2010 in Australia.
Dragon Quest IX continues the Dragon Quest tradition of turn-based combat, with a few modern twists. The game allows players to have a cooperative wireless multiplayer experience with up to four players.
The game includes a quest system. Quests serve as side-stories helping non-player characters around the game's world. Multiple quests can be performed simultaneously with some even interlocking and unlocking various stages in fellow quests. Early quests include gathering magical spring water, slaying monsters and stealing for a fellow thief. Unlike previous Dragon Quest installments, Dragon Quest IX contains many open ended mini-quests. Upon accepting a quest, the "Quest List" log is unlocked, which keeps track of all the quests the player has accepted or completed.
Unlike many other Dragon Quest games, the game includes only one save slot.
- Highly customizable characters, with many different faces, skin colors, weapons and armours.
- Co-operative play with up to four players through local ad-hoc.
- 3D graphics similar to those found in the previous instalment, Dragon Quest VIII.
- The touch screen can be used for inputting commands during battle
- Real time map like Dragon Quest VIII
- Hero - The hero is a Celestrian under the tutelage of Aquila, assigned to watch over the village of Angel Falls in his/her master's stead. Later fell from the Observatory after strange beams struck through the heavens during the Fyggbloom, losing wings and halo.
- Aquila: A fellow Celestrian and mentor of the Hero. A firm but fair master, he went missing after the hero and the fyggs fell from the Observatory.
- Apus Major: The most senior of all the Celestrians, this all-knowing ancient rules the Observatory with a benevolent hand.
- Erinn: A young woman living with her grandfather in Angel Falls; she finds the hero after he/she fell into the base of the waterfall. Her father was the "Inncredible Inntertainer," and Patty recruits her to help restore his old establishment, the Quester's Rest, in Stornway.
- Patty: A feisty, party girl and old acquaintance of Erinn's father. She recruits Erinn to help restore his old inn. Provides her Party Planning services for the hero at the Quester's Rest.
- Stella: A flippant fairy keen on fashion but prone to malapropism, Stella is the skipper of the Starflight Express and has been trying to find her missing boss. Manages the Battle Records for the hero and is always ready to give advice.
- Pavo: A Celestrian with the power to open the Rapportal. Enables the player to use multiplayer mode.
- Sellma: A representative of the Sinndicate of Pubs, Inns, and Taverns (S.P.I.T.), sent to Quester's Rest to manage the DQVC Shopping Service.
- Serena: A forlorn ghost of a woman that is wandering the Protectorate in search of someone........
- Corvus: The Guardian Of Wormwood Creek, and once Aquila's teacher. He went missing long ago under mysterious circumstances.
- Sterling: The Captain of the Starflight Express, who went missing after it was struck by a mysterious beam of light.
- Greygnarl: An ancient dragon known as the "Hero of the Heavens," he still bears wounds from when he clashed with Barbarus and the Gittish Empire. He is attended by the residents of Upover, and gets first dibs on the local ale.
- Barbarus: A dark dragon who was summoned by the Gittish Empire to do their bidding. Famously clashed with Greygnarl long ago.
- King Godwyn: A cruel tyrant from ages past who sought to bring the world under the heel of his Gittish Empire. His death was shrouded in mystery, but he and his empire seems to have returned.
- Zenus: The Grand Architect who created the world, known as simply the "Almighty" to the mortals and Celestrians.
- Celestria: The daughter of the Almighty One, she sacrificed herself and transformed herself into the World Tree Yggdrasil, until it was proven Mortals have goodness in their hearts.
Dragon Quest IX features various forms of multiplayer using the Nintendo DS's built in wireless. There are 3 different modes.
Co-op mode consists of up to 4 Nintendo DS systems linking together using local wireless (similar to Pictochat) to play together. The 3 guests join the host system's world and can go anywhere which the host has explored. Guests are not required to stay with the host, but rather can wander wherever they like. Battles can be fought as a group with the host having the ability to summon the other players into a battle using the 'Call to Arms' command.
Guest players are given a special 'Watchers Wing' item which allows them to teleport back to their own world at any time except whilst in battle or cutscene. Players can leave multiplayer at any time by speaking to Pavo at Quester's Rest.
Dragon Quest IX features an online WiFi shop which can be accessed from Quester's Rest. This shop sells items and treasure maps which the player can purchase. The contents of the shop vary each week from player to player, so 2 different players will likely have different items for sale each week. Nintendo and Square Enix have used the shop to distribute special bonuses such as party members from past games appearing as guests in the Quester's Rest, such as Carver from Dragon Quest VI, and treasure maps which lead to caves featuring past bosses, such as Zoma and Dragonlord. The WiFi shop can be accessed by talking to Sellma at Quester's Rest. The WiFi shop is the only multiplayer mode that uses WAN internet rather than the DS-to-DS wireless. The service ended on May 20, 2014.
Tag Mode is Dragon Quest IX's passive wireless mode which is active only when the DS is placed into sleep mode. Tag mode is activated by speaking to Erinn at Quester's Rest and selecting the 'Canvass for guests' option. While in tag mode, Dragon Quest IX looks for other Dragon Quest IX games and exchanges data with them.
When data is exchanged, a clone of the main character from each game is placed in the other player's Quester's Rest. This cloned character holds an item which can then be received by talking to him/her. The clone then continues to stay in the upper floors of Quester's Rest unless dismissed by the player. Using tag mode like this, players can exchange various items including equipment and treasure maps with other Dragon Quest IX players.
Tag mode was wildly popular in Japan, breaking several records for most players communicating wirelessly while playing a video game. Treasure maps in particular were highly sought after as some were extremely rare with special items/equipment, while others contained excellent enemies for building levels. Tag mode, however, was dependent on the number of other Dragon Quest IX players using tag mode in any local area.
Dragon Quest IX was primarily designed around the idea of attracting a wider overseas market by "giving the game a more action-oriented premise than previous games in the series. In mid-2006, Dragon Quest series composer Koichi Sugiyama confirmed that Dragon Quest IX was in development. He is quoted by Japanese video game magazine Famitsu as saying, "I'm not sure when Dragon Quest IX will be released, but it seems that progress is continually being made. I'm personally excited." On December 12, 2006, during a press conference celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Dragon Quest franchise, Square Enix announced that Dragon Quest IX will be released exclusively for the Nintendo DS handheld video game console making it the first numbered Dragon Quest title to debut on a handheld.
The Japanese release of Dragon Quest IX was subsequently delayed from 2007 to 2008. The company cited the need for more time to make a better game as reason for the delay. At the 2008 Tokyo Game Show, a new trailer was shown at the Square Enix booth which showed a glimpse of the changes made to the gameplay and graphics. At the end of the video, a confirmation of the release date (set for March 2009) was unveiled. Square Enix released another new trailer for the game, showing various aspects of the storyline, boss battles, along with cutscenes; the end of the trailer showed a then-correct release date for March 28, 2009, along with a price point of ¥5,980, which still stands.
On February 12, 2009, after having delayed the release of its quarterly financials by a week, Square Enix announced the game would be delayed once again to a Japanese release on July 11 of the same year. The game's release delay worried Final Fantasy fans, who were told by Square Enix president Yoichi Wada that Dragon Quest IX's delay may affect Final Fantasy XIII's release, stating that he "[could] not say there [would not] be an effect."
Dragon Quest IX was designed to be the hardest Dragon Quest game yet. The rationale is that, according to Brian Ashcraft, Night Editor for Kotaku, the Dragon Quest IX developers say "people can always find out information on the internet — like that's part of the game experience." In addition the game has only one game slot. Ryutaro Ichimura, producer of Dragon Quest IX, clarified the reason explaining that there is not enough space on the system for two traditional save-slots given the amount of freedom the game allows. Instead, the save area is used for a backup save-slot in case of battery failure.
Dragon Quest IX shipped with over 2 million pre-order sales. While the official release date for Dragon Quest IX was July 11, 2009, some retailers had already shipped orders; one such dealer asked its customers to not play the game until the official release date. In spite the large number of pre-orders and additional release shipments by Square-Enix, lines still formed for the release.
Within a two period the title had sold 2,318,932 copies out of an estimated 3 million copies that had been shipped. Some analyst say that 3 million may be too conservative and expect 5 million copies sold in Japan alone with large overseas sales expectations that could break previous Dragon Quest sales records. The sale is the largest post 2000 debut week sale which was previously held by the former title, Dragon Quest VIII.
On July 10, 2010, one day before the official release, Dragon Quest creator Yūji Horii visited the Nintendo World Store to commemorate the release of Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies in North America at a special launch event.
The North American release of Dragon Quest IX was heavily promoted by Nintendo - the company ran commercials featuring Seth Green in theaters and on television, featured Dragon Quest IX for two weeks on Nintendo Week, and sponsored special Dragon Quest IX events at select GameStop, Best Buy, and Simon Mall locations from July 31, 2010 through August 2010 where players could obtain exclusive downloadable treasure maps. Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies was also the subject of two segments of Iwata Asks, where Satoru Iwata interviewed Yūji Horii and Ryutaro Ichimura concerning the North American release of Dragon Quest IX. Nintendo also ran a trivia contest to promote the game. The winner would receive the game early free.
The August 2010 issue of Nintendo Power also featured Dragon Quest IX on the cover.
Excluding pre-orders, Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies has been the top selling DS game in the first two weeks since its release, according to Gamasutra and Amazon.com. It was the eighth best-selling game of July 2010 in the NPD charts, with 132,000 units.
Famitsu has scored the game with 40/40, the tenth game to achieve a perfect score. After its international release, it received high reviews, including an 87% on Metacritic.com and a user score of 9.0.
In the spanish magazine Hobby Consolas the game was scored on two occasions: the first time it received 96/100 and was reviewed by a journalist of the Nintendo department, the second time it received 93/100 and it was a mix of all the reviews made by the users of the game in the website of the magazine.