You are not allowed to call it DraQue

You may have heard that Dragon Quest IX is launching in the U.S. July 11. I have already put in an order for two copies; one for myself, and one for the fiancée as a sort of last resort to get her interested in RPGs. She’s been on a gaming kick lately, but keeps reaching a point at which she’s frustrated by her inability to advance past the sticking points in whatever she tries. DQIX is highly approachable, and the coop means I can actually join in her game and help when she gets stuck, so I’m hoping this does the trick. Of course, there’s the not-insignificant issue that she doesn’t like games that involve a lot of reading and menus, preferring instead to shoot at things and blow them up, but if anything can break the mold it’ll be DQIX. And if not… well, keep your eyes on the Trading Time thread on the forums, I guess.

I have another preview of the game up at 1UP. It’s, like, my third. And that’s not including all the podcast talk and blog posts I’ve penned about the game. What can I say, I like it.

More importantly, I think it’s a very forward-thinking game despite the reputation for stagnation Dragon Quest commands among the American gaming public. Yes, it’s running on 1995’s technology, and it’s a turn-based RPG, and yadda yadda blah. But its social components are extremely innovative, butting a classic RPG up against the realm of MMOs, and that’s far more important than its polygon count. Videogames have reached a point where technology is more or less moot; only large studios with millions to spend can make games that truly push the boundaries of visual design, and the need to make a return on that investment brings with it a certain creativity-stifling caution. Not that pretty games are inherently boring. That would be a ridiculous claim! But the need for market performance often suffocates invention.

The future of games is pretty clearly in socialization. Nintendo’s turned Wii into a stunning success, and why? Because its design emphasizes socialization rather than sitting alone, hunched over a controller. Facebook games are huge (or were right up until Facebook turned stupid a few weeks ago), and Mafia talk has taken hold of Talking Time like a particularly annoying kudzu. Why? Because these games are about sharing, networking, communicating. How we play games has grown to define the medium, not how pretty the games we play are. Dragon Quest IX changes the way one of the medium’s oldest genres — the turn-based RPG — is played. That’s a damn revolution, right there. And the fact that it’s built on the series’ basics, its lovable enemies and distinctive skills and emphasis on small, self-contained vignettes about the lives of everyday people, just means that all those social elements are bringing people together to enjoy something genuinely worthwhile.

So anyway, I hope to see you and your copy of DQIX this year at PAX. I would like to siphon off all your awesomest treasure maps, please.

24 thoughts on “You are not allowed to call it DraQue

  1. could DQ9 finally be the game to get you to show up to the bay area talking time meet ups?

  2. I dunno, does it come with a few hours’ extra free time as a pack-in? Or maybe a tiny slave to do some of my work for me?

  3. Jeremy, I remember when you were discussing the “Tag” system on, I think, the ATB podcast; you were hoping it would go WiFi. From what I’ve read so far, that doesn’t seem to be the case. How much do you think this will hurt the game seeing as this is how one goes about getting all the best maps?

    I mean, there has been a whole year between the two releases and, also from how it reads, there wasn’t a whole lot of work needed on localization when compared to even other DQ games because of the relatively simpler plot (correct me if I’m wrong). Would it be fair to fault SE/Nintendo for not implementing something akin to your WiFi idea for the Tag system?

  4. I’ve successfully got my girlfriend playing Chrono Trigger DS and she seems to like it so far…her preference for time travel certainly helps, though.

    In any case, I can’t see her enjoying DQIX by herself for very long, but I’m not sure how much solo stuff is built in before I can start co-oping the game with her, and how viable it is for someone to play it if they have zero interest in progressing on their own.

  5. They teamed you up with a Treehouse staffer? Did they work on the localization?

  6. Really, no wi-fi? I guess that’s reason enough to schedule a trip to Japan this year…

  7. Also, on the topic of PAX, did you hear about the guy who’s setting up an “IRL” version of the Pokemon League, complete with Gym Leaders, Badges, and an Elite Four?

  8. As excited as I am for DQIX, I still kinda wish they would’ve stuck to the action RPG concept. Not that I think the series needs to change, it just seems like such an obvious idea–a multiplayer action RPG that looks/plays like Secret Of Mana–and I’m not sure why it hasn’t been done.

  9. I’ll be at PAX Seattle this year with my DS, and I’ll be purchasing DQ9. But if I don’t like the game’s single player experience, I might not bring it to PAX.

    Even though I’m an open Dragon Quest fanboy (since perhaps 1990, maybe 2000), I’m not one hundred percent sure whether I’ll like DQ9. After all, I wanted to like DQ7 — but I gave up after ninety hours. And while I genuinely liked DQ8, I slowly lost interest.

    We’ll have to wait and see if Nintendo can spin or tweak DQ9 to make the English version appealing to people other than old-school RPG fans like me. Should be interesting to see how that’ll work out.

  10. What do Facebook games have to do with the Mafia threads?

    Do… do you think the threads are about the Facebook game?

  11. I think it’s because both Facebook games and Mafia “are about sharing, networking, communicating.”

  12. I got started with DQVIII and have enjoyed 4 and 5 thus far. Looking forward to 9, however can you not get the “bonus” dungeons by just downloading them over WiFi?

    I won’t be able to do the passive sharing stuff since I know no one near me with a DS and live way too far from a major city to see if I can find anyone. :( Sort of the same thing that happened with FF3DS, I couldn’t get the two hidden bonus dungeons in the game which was sucky:(.

  13. Dang. 10 days earlier and it would have been just in time for Anime Expo. At least it’ll be good and ready for Comic-con, though there are often too many people there for comfort.

  14. I may have to head downtown to Gen Con just to see if I can get tagged/tag some folks (both sound a bit dirty though).

  15. Parish: I think you should introduce her to Rocket Slime if you want her to get interested in Dragon Quest. It’s sort of like a nicotine patch in reverse. It worked for me, anyway.

  16. “Or maybe a tiny slave to do some of my work for me?”

    I can help you out there, although they prefer to be paid in Pokemans.

  17. You think it was surprising when DQ9 was announced for DS? Just wait until you find out that DQ10 is a facebook app. Is there a Japanese equivalent, or have they already evolved past Facebook 5 years ago?

  18. I second the Rocket Slime suggestion. The game is incredibly charming, very grab-n-go gameplaywise, and the sound design/music is terrific.

  19. The game that made my wife a fan of the series was DQ4. Because you can have an all female party, of course.

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