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In a surprising move, Square-Enix has announced that the next installment to the uber-popular RPG series, Dragon Quest IX, will be made exclusively for the Nintendo DS. Most people assumed that it was destined for either PS2 or PS3, but with the Nintendo DS’s soaring popularity in the Land of the Rising Sun, Squenix saw gold in them thar dual-screened hills.

Level 5, which developed last year’s enjoyable Dragon Quest VIII, will be reprising their role as developer for the Nintendo DS outing, with close supervision from Squenix. The full name is Dragon Quest IX: Defender of the Starry Sky, and is looking at a mid-2007 release date.

Even though the DS has been immensely successful without the help of the Dragon Quest series, this move will easily make the DS the system of choice in Japan for years to come. Nintendo has been dealt the biggest hand in the Japanese market. When a Dragon Quest game is released, everyone knows about it. People skip work and school for a Dragon Quest game. Think Halo 2 proportions. You can easily expect this game to sell well over a million copies on day one.

The game looks to employ the same cel-shaded look that Level 5 used for DQ VIII, but interestingly, the game is an action-RPG now. No more turn-based battles, or even random battles for that matter. One has to wonder how fans of the series are taking that kind of news.

With news like this coming out, how long can we expect to see another high-profile game make the jump to Nintendo’s handheld? Can we possibly see an original, full-bred Final Fantasy DS game? Only time will tell, but it certainly isn’t impossible. You can check out a detailed write-up about the Squenix conference over at GamesAreFun.

3 Comments

  1. jay said on December 12, 2006:

    This is probably a big deal. I am happy because I own a DS, but skeptical about it not being turn based. But then I am also happy it’s multiplayer. But that makes me skeptical that the plot will be substantial. Hmmm…

  2. Matt said on December 12, 2006:

    I’ve been talking to this with people all day, and they are a little on the ropes about the actual game as well. I’ve actually only played the DQVIII demo. But this story has little to do with the actual game. The main point is that this series is exclusive to the Nintendo DS for the time being. This is Japan’s game; there’s nothing bigger. The game can bomb (which it won’t), and it will still gain the DS huge market share in the country. This is going to screw Sony big time, and will help Nintendo big time. I can’t imagine any other announcement that could surpass this one. The only one I could think of is if a hardware maker went out of business.

  3. chris said on December 13, 2006:

    This looks like it could be really good.  Level 5 does a good job and I’ll actually have a DS soon while I couldn’t see myself getting a PS3 for a while.  DS has a built-in huge userbase in the major markets, good hardware, some nifty control systems and even a wireless network.  Meanwhile, Nintendo will see even more sales from the only RPG series more popular than Final Fantasy in Japan (and it even seems to have sold decently in the States finally).  It’s really a win-win for the  two companies, and I would almost feel sorry for Sony if they hadn’t been so arrogant lately.  I’m looking forward to this game and also looking forward to more high-profile, detailed RPGs on the system.

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