Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels Of The Starry Skies Review

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Starry skies but no surprise


Every time a new Dragon Quest launches in Japan, game stores across the land are besieged by rabid fanboys queuing through the night to be the first to get their hands on the latest instalment. And while this most traditional of traditional J-RPGs has fought to find a foothold outside its homeland, Protectors Of The Starry Skies isn’t the romp to finally transform the swashbuckling series into a Western sensation.

For anyone searching for quality role-playing in the palm of their hand, Starry Skies has everything in the right place, with dozens of dungeons to explore, bustling towns to visit, and turn-based battles to test your grey matter. Crisp visuals and a generous selection of enemies and special effects also go a long way to delivering a contemporary take on the classic RPG experience, while the intuitive controls and steady pace are enough to weave even role-playing newbies into the game’s twee fantasy.

But for anyone who spent their youth glued to Super NES role-players, or cut their teeth on the expansive adventures hosted by the latest generation of consoles, Dragon Quest will be a disappointment. Unlike the sprawling, bewilderingly non-linear RPGs doing the rounds today, Starry Skies forces players down a narrow predefined route, only occasionally allowing you off the leash to make your own fun, and littering the trodden path with familiar set-pieces that make it feel as if you’ve played it all before. The difficulty of the game – which won’t present much of a challenge to RPG veterans – is also an issue as most players will breeze through the main quest in a handful of sessions, and the fact there’s only one save slot will irk habitual role-players as it prevents them from experimenting with different paths for their hero.