Sunday, 26 September 2010

Guest writers have been asked to do some posts. Expect some at some point.

Dragon Quest IX: A ramble

The thing about blogging is that you can cover slightly different ground to traditional media. The following ramble is not necessarily the best example of this.

Well what have we here?

Possibly my favourite RPG since Final Fantasy XII, that’s what.

For the Japanese Dragon Quest is right up there with FF as one of the premier game series, spawning an absolute ton of merch and sales in the millions every time. Previous incarnations of Dragon Quest have sold modestly in Europe and the US. Even with the popularity of the Final Fantasy series RPGs have not really gained the same sort of sales here that they do in Japan.

This time around Nintendo have decided to publish the game on behalf of Square-Enix, and have thrown their PR machine behind it big time. If you’ve not seen a Dragon Quest IX ad on TV then you’re probably not been watching TV for the last month. Like all current Nintendo advertising they seem to be marketing it to a very wide audience, with ads featuring teenage girls and mid-20s men grappling with the menu systems and putting on bunny ears, although no celebs so far (they seems to have been saved for the current Mario push; Jamie Redknapp WTF!? I was waiting for him to say “that’s top, top platforming”).

There’s not really much to say about the gameplay itself. It’s all menu systems battles, old school RPG style, and wandering around looking for stuff. Actually that last bit sums up almost every game I’ve played this year. I digress. Where the appeal lies is in both the customisation (heavily featured in the ads) and the exploration, not to mention the localisation. Whoever did the translation job deserves some kind of award. I’m not supposed to be laughing out loud at RPG dialogue, but DQIX gets me on a regular basis. The various bits of map feature different British dialects including Welsh, Scottish and Cockney, a sort of generic northern and southern, and Australian for some reason (disappointingly no one says ‘flaming galah’), but it’s been done by someone who has a good grasp of such things, and can be hilarious, particularly your companion Stella’s mangling of common turns of phrase when ever she opens her mouth. I imagine her speaking like Dick Van Dyke for some reason.

Being a Japanese RPG the thing is epic, and there’s a ridiculous amount of things to collect. I’ve burnt 80 hours on it so far, and I’ve not even touched the multiplayer mode. And there’s downloadable content free via wi-fi, including extra quests on new items. I fully expect to still be dipping in to it in the New Year.

If you think the idea of fighting cucumbers and robotic pigeons whilst dressed as a Playboy bunny or in a tasteful leopard print dress sounds like a good time then this is definitely for you. Even if prefer shooting at things this might provide a respite and prevent you getting carpal tunnel syndrome.