captainlunchbox's Dragon Quest IX: Hoshizora no Mamoribito (Nintendo DS) review

This Game Will Spoil You.

RIght off the bat, I have to say "go buy this game." I recommend you just buy it before you read anything and spoil whatever sense of wonder that could could be had by simply picking it up and diving in. It is just that amazing. So feel free to stop reading this and go pick it up and sink about 10 hours in real quick and get back to me. For the rest of you who are still sticking around, understandably snubbing such a hasty recommendation, I present you with a review that will hopefully at least get you to look into such an awesome game. 
 
 
 The Premise:
The game thrusts you into the role of a Celestrial, essentially a guardian angel. You're new to the whole thing, so your mentor is showing you the ropes. This guided tour serves as your tutorial and it gets the job done. Furthermore, it makes you feel important and really appreciate the role you are given to play.
 

First Impressions:
Going in totally blind myself and buying the game on the basis of pure curiosity, I boot up the game. As is ritual, I watch the into scene. My eyes are pleased to see Akira Toriyama's (Dragon Ball) signature style superbly animated in ways that highlight some of the games key features. It is a guarded enthusiasm, however, as I know that the sweeter the footage, the less likely I am to see any of that in the actual game-play itself. Nonetheless, I am eager to start. I hit the start button. 
 
Set-up:
My first task is creating my very own character? I am honored. The options seemed a bit limited at first, but in the end I am able to come away with a very Goku-looking character that I am pleased with. I never want to cover that awesome hair style.  
 
 How it Works:
You'll start the game with the default class of Minstrel; a sort of jack-of-all trades character while you learn the ropes. After advancing the story, you'll earn the ability to change classes at will. This allows you to experiment and find a play style that suits you, or just to balance your party that much better. It's pretty nifty as you'll find that each class is self-contained as you retain all the Exp and skill points within that class. It's even better when some of the weapon skills and other abilities transfer into the other classes.  
 The alchemy system in the game is also a welcome addition as various pieces of equipment in the game are unattainable through conventional means and hey, it's free.
 
The Graphics:
This game is thoroughly beautiful. The vibrant colors pop and really compliment the sort of light-hearted tone the game is going for. The only sort of downside is that NPCs are just 2d sprites, but I found that to be sort of charming. The different spell effects and attack animations are incredible and the boss and enemy designs vary from charming to genuinely bad-ass. You will see every piece of equipment modeled on your character as you equip it, which is a really nice touch.
  
The Sounds:
The only real music I thought was out of place was just the basic battle music. This bothers me a tad because you re going to be hearing it a lot. Again, it's not bad, just sort of doesn't fit quite right. The over world music, town music, boss battles tracks and ambient SFX are all great. A noteworthy mention is some of the "old school" noises, such as walking down stairs have a distinctly 8 bit ring to them.  
 
The Gameplay:
This is a Dragon Quest game, so you will find yourself grinding to level at times. Thankfully the battle system is top-notch and fast paced. The battles have a very cinematic feel due to the sort of camera-on-wires and it swoops around and focuses on different characters as they attack. There are a couple of different supers, on involving your tension level and the other occurring randomly both come in handy, though I wish the Coup De Grace was just a little bit less random. Other than that, its different twists to an old formula really add up to something rather enjoyable. 
 
 
The Story:
I don't want to say much about the story as that's basically the whole reason for playing- but I will speak on the nature of the story. It's great to see a game take a more light-hearted and humorous approach. You wil care about some of the folks you meet whose problems you help alleviate. You'll feel a little something when there's tragedy and you'll smile when they let you know you've done good. That's something that I feel a lot of games lack these days. It's more about the characters and their little stories within the scope of this larger tale that really give the whole thing a brilliant shine. 
 
Conclusion:
Get out there and buy this game. I don't know what else I can really say that the game can't say for itself but in a much more convincing way.

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