Last week, I mostly talked about the Dragon Quest IX‘s Vocation system, the story set-up, and how themes and locations remind me so much of Dragon Quest VII. This week, I'd like to talk about some of the mechanics that make IX feel unique and different from other entries in the mainline series.
By the way, you can check out my first post on DQ IX here, if you haven't read it already.
Erinn and the Stornway Inn
Very early in the game, you'll meet Erinn and help her move into the Stornway inn, where she dreams of becoming the world's best innkeeper and maybe even winning an “Innie” Award.
The inn at Stornway (called the Quester's Rest) will quickly serve as a major hub for you. Not only can you stay at the inn for a great discounted rate, but this is where you can get DLC via the DQVC home shopping network* by speaking with Sellma. You can create or hire new party members for your quest by talking to Patty. But wait, there's more!
The Krak Pot will also show up here once you unlock it, but we'll get to that in a second. Beyond that, there's the Rainbow's End Gold Bank to store your money, the Guests' Quarters** where you can get characters from previous Dragon Quest games, and the Rapportal that lets you visit the games of other players. Pretty cool, huh? There's tons of stuff to do here.
*Unfortunately, most of the DLC is no longer accessible if you don't have it already. I tried this DNS trick, but it didn't work for me. You might want to try it yourself. Maybe you'll have better luck than I did.*
**Like the DQVC, getting party members from previous Dragon Quest games doesn't seem to work anymore.**
This Is Your Brain on Krak
It's no secret; I wasn't the hugest fan of the alchemy pot in Dragon Quest VIII. However, I found the alchemy pot in IX to be a bit better, and not just because it's now based on a pun: Krak Pot. I had played Rocket Slime already, so I was familiar with the Krak Pot, but it was still nice to see it show up in this game, too.
Alchemy works a bit smoother in IX than it does in VIII. Your alchemy pot is also a sentient being now, since it talks to you much in the same way as the Sorting Hat in Harry Potter. It's still slightly annoying that you have to Zoom to Stornway every time you want to use the Krak Pot, and I still don't like it as much as the Fun-Sized Forge in XI. But, overall, I enjoyed it a bit more in this entry and alchemized quite a few weapons and armor pieces.
I think the main reason I enjoyed alchemy a bit better is because I can farm mats for recipes by Zooming around the map and going to specific collection points. It's easy, and the locations never change. For instance, when I wanted Erdrick's Sword, I could just Zoom to Gleeba and head to a specific spot in the desert to find the glass frits I needed to make the sword. I had to wait a few hours for them to reappear in order to get enough, but it still wasn't a huge headache. Plus, I got a cool sword out of it.
A huge part of Dragon Quest IX involves travel via the Starflight Express. You unlock it pretty early in the game, and it's necessary to travel between several different realms.
Oh, and did I mention it's a train that flies through the sky and is driven by a faerie who looks like she shopped at Hot Topic in 2006? Because…yeah, that's what this is.
The train is important because it carries Celestrians like yourself to the Realm of the Almighty. It can also travel to and from the Observatory, to a tree near Alltrades Abbey, and to the Gittish Empire. In other words, you need it if you're gonna travel between worlds. Because most of these places, you can't Zoom there.
You find the train's co-pilot, Stella, early in the game. She follows you around and serves as a sidekick throughout your journey. I found her dialogue to be extremely annoying most of the time, but she kinda (maybe?) grew on me by the end of it all. She's looking for the pilot, “fatguts,” and needs your help.
You don't find “fatguts” until really late in the main story. He's a dude named Sterling that you help liberate from prison. I plan on talking about the Gortress and the Gittish Empire next week, so we'll talk about this more in a bit. For now, that's really all you need to know about the Starflight Express.
Overall, I was disappointed in it. I was used to having flying vehicles or creatures in other Dragon Quest games that I can control: a giant bird like in III and VIII, a pegasus in VI, a flying castle in V, or even a floating rock in VII (yes, for real, a very boring chunk of rock that flies for some reason). And then you get the Starflight Express, which you can only access from very specific points on the map. You have no control over it. And you can't use it to zip around the world at your leisure. Bummer, man.
Despite my minor disappointments with the Starflight Express and the Krak Pot, I still enjoyed Dragon Quest IX a ton. If you haven't played it yet, I highly recommend it. There's a rumor we're getting a remake for mobile or the Switch, so keep your fingers crossed.
I plan on writing at least one more post over DQ IX, because I really want to talk about the Gortress, the Gittish Empire, and the Triumgorate. See you next week!