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Will you buy an Xbox One X on November 7?


Game Profile
 Written by David Taylor  on December 13, 2006

Early Impressions: Questing in the morning, questing in the evening, questing at suppertime. When Dragon Quest is on a bagel?err?DS, you can kill Slimes anytime!

For twenty years, the Dragon Quest series has enraptured RPG fans worldwide. The first game (known as Dragon Warrior in the U.S.) was one of the first RPGs on the NES and is largely credited with popularizing the genre. Seven sequels, multiple spin-offs, and one corporate merger later the series is still going strong. The most recent PS2 release Dragon Quest VIII, was both a critical and financial success. Given this and Square-Enix's history, few doubted that Dragon Quest IX would not appear on the PS3. Defying expectation and delighting those too indigent for a PlayStation 3 (we are many, join us), Square-Enix decided to forgo release of Dragon Quest IX: Protectors of the Sky for the next-gen home consoles. Instead, the main series will continue on the Nintendo DS.

Square-Enix has revealed few details about Dragon Quest IX. However, the information gleamed thus far shows the game will be even more revolutionary to the series than the change in hardware. Perhaps the most significant change is the new battle system. No doubt taking a hint from Final Fantasy XII, the developers decided to eliminate random battles in favor of real-time action. Now, the player will descend into an area and immediately be able to see the enemies approaching him or her.

In addition to a single player mode, up to four players will be able to play cooperatively over WiFi. Like in many multiplayer RPGS, players in Dragon Quest IX are grouped into teams. This team does not have to necessarily travel together for it seems that the game allows for a fairly liberal freedom of movement. For example, if my knight, ?Davidous Awesomeness?, decides to go to town to pick up some supplies, my entourage can keep on battling hordes of Slime instead of accompanying me (and cramping my style with the wenches).

The few screenshots released thus far show that the game possesses cel-shaded graphics similar to those found in Dragon Quest VIII. The dual DS screens will reportedly be utilized, with the bottom displaying the action and the top a map. Like many details about the game, stylus support is largely unknown, although it factors into spell casting, as a developer's demonstration showed one player tapping on another to heal him.

Final Thoughts
Square-Enix's decision to move the series to the DS makes a lot of sense. The Nintendo DS is currently the most popular system in Japan, which subsequently means a larger audience. In terms of gameplay, it is nice to see Square-Enix doing away with random battles. The random battle system is progressively becoming archaic as more RPGs adopt real time mechanics. Hopefully this dramatic change will benefit the series. Square-Enix is aiming for a 2007 release in Japan, with the North American debut a few months later. Look for more updates in the coming months here at Gaming Target.

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