Dragon Quest IX - Sentinels of the Starry Skies

Atelier Annie

Platform: DS
Developer: Level 5
Publisher: Square Enix
Release Date: 07.11.2009 (JP) / TBA (NA)

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Quest for Fun

As I start this, I've had Dragon Quest IX - Sentinels of the Starry Skies in my possession for about nine hours. Unfortunately, about half of that was spent working (though my students all agree that the game has great music). So what have I been up to so far?

First, I enjoyed a really nice movie at the game's title screen. Beautifully animated throughout, it treated me to the sight of a group of warriors traveling the world, partying at an inn, and defeating a dragon (not necessarily in that order). It was so nice, I would share it with you all if I could just find it on Youtube.

Next I got down to the business of deciding who my hero would be -- and I had quite a bit of choice. There were seven different parameters to play with, starting with gender. Since I never had the opportunity to play DQIV, I decided to have fun with a heroine this time around. I chose the tallest body type for her (type 1, though there didn't seem to be much of a difference between them all). Then I gave her a short, pageboy-ish haircut (type 5). My next four choices were all Type 8's, leaving her with an impish expression, lavender hair, gray eyes, and a mocha complexion. After I named her Mariel, my cute little heroine promptly sprouted wings and flew away!

"Sweet! I'm a bona-fide Guardian Angel!"

Sweet! I'm a bona-fide Guardian Angel! As such, I have to help the people of my chosen village in all sorts of subtle and unnoticed ways. Starting by preventing two slimes and a zucchini monster from waylaying a couple of my constituents.

I know there was a big fuss over keeping this game true to the tradition of the series, and the battle system really is the same, but it sure doesn't feel like it. Level 5 has managed to make battles look downright dynamic, even with the same strict, turn-based combat. Hopefully I'll still think that by the end. The first two characters I get in my party for a while (both story characters) are both AI-controlled, and battles with them play similar to the later Persona games. Character-generated party members are completely under my control, though.

As a reward for my good deeds, I get a Star Aura, a crystalised dollop of good will straight from the heart of the people I help. Apparently the World Tree up in angel land needs these in order to bear fruit, so after a bit of time up there, I'm back in town, helping more people when- and wherever necessary.

As I'm finally free to run around and explore a bit, I do so. My first discovery-- the B button does not let me run. Mariel runs just fine on her own. B button brings up the Pose menu instead. If I press the B button and up at the same time, Mariel does the cutest little victory pose ever. She makes a fist, pumps it in the air and goes "YAH"! From the menu, I can set one pose each to the up, left, and right buttons, and a sequence of up to four poses to down button. Twirling, jumping, clapping, praying... there are a lot of little poses to unlock over the course of the game, it seems. It'll be interesting to see how Level 5 has worked this into the game.

I returned with a just a little more Star Aura, but apparently it was enough. The following animated sequence can be described as follows: Oooh, Aaahh... Pretty... Whee! ... Huh? ... Uh-oh! ... KABOOM!! ... Crash!!!

So now my little angel is grounded (literally), and I'm going to have to stop writing now, because I want to see what happens next!

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