dqix artwork

Happy Birthday! Dragon Quest IX Turns 10 in North America!

Dragon Quest IX, subtitled Sentinels of the Starry Skies here in the States, initially released on July 11, 2009, in Japan and July 11, 2010, in North America. For folks here in the U.S., that means Dragon Quest IX reached the Big Ten today. Double digits. The tin anniversary. But rather than getting Dragon Quest IX some tin cuff links or a chocolate tin to say thanks and I love you, I’m using this post to celebrate the game.

A Match Made in Heaven

A good portion of Dragon Quest IX deals with angels, the Almighty, and the game’s version of heaven. So excuse the Dragon Quest-ian pun here, but the match I’m talking about is between Level-5 and Square Enix.

If you’ve read many of my posts, you know I love Level-5 games. Akihiro Hino and co. have made some truly spectacular games over the years, including Ni No Kuni, Yo-Kai Watch, and Fantasy Life. They also made Dragon Quest VIII and IX.

With DQ IX, Level-5 and Square Enix made something truly special. There’s the signature cel-shaded graphics we’ve come to expect in pretty much all Level-5 games (and later entires in the Dragon Quest series), along with trademark gathering/crafting mechanics that work seamlessly to create a Dragon Quest game with tons of side content.

Throw in treasure maps, side quests, and end-game grottos, and you have a game that players have LITERALLY spent hundreds and even thousands of hours playing. Heck, you even get an accolade if you manage to log 1000 hours.

Dragon Quest IX represents all the things I love about Level-5, as well as all the things I love about Dragon Quest, and it wraps them up in a game with crazy amounts of customization.

There’s a story and world that seem intricate and interesting. There are characters who showcase both Level-5 and Dragon Quest’s abilities to have well-rounded, comically entertaining NPCs. And there’s even a co-op option if you want to join up to three friends and go adventuring together!

It hasn’t always been rainbows and hearts, though. Level-5 and Square Enix had a falling-out around the time Dragon Quest IX released, which resulted in the Level-5 team not even being invited to the game’s release party. But they recently reunited last summer to celebrate the game’s 10th Anniversary in Japan, and they were all smiling, happy people. They even teased a remake!

The 10th Anniversary Celebration of DQ IX in Japan in July 2019

So it looks as if the rift between Level-5 and Square Enix is healed. At least, it’s healed enough for everyone to have a good time and celebrate the game they created together a decade ago.

If nothing else, they’re staying together for the kids.

Looking Back…

So let’s take a moment to look back at the game when it initially released. It caused a lot of fervor in Japan, between breaking the country’s sales records and then setting a Guinness World Record for its Tag Mode communication feature. Then it came to the West a year later, where it sold a little more than 1 million copies in its first year in the States, and had a strong but silly ad campaign starring Seth Green. You can watch a video of that right here:

I can’t tell you how many folks within the fandom played IX first and love it more than all the rest of the games in the series. It has its own cult following within the Western fandom, and there’s good reason. It’s a great game.

And I get it. I love Dragon Quest IX, too. You can even hear me and my Dragon Quest FM co-host Beej talk about the game for five entire episodes of our podcast! And if you want to check those out, the links are right here:

Looking Ahead…

So, will ever actually get a remake? And if we do, will it come to mobile or Switch? Or maybe some other console fans haven’t even thought about yet?

The answer, frustratingly, is that we don’t really know right now. The Nintendo Switch seems like a perfect home for a remake of Dragon Quest IX. As someone who doesn’t really like mobile games, I’d be pretty disappointed if we get some gacha game variation of Dragon Quest IX on our phones. Although, from a money-making corporate standpoint, I guess phones make the most sense. Everybody has a phone. Not everyone has a Switch.

Until we get some official confirmation, the remake is nothing but a tease. It may never even happen. But for the time being, Happy Birthday, Dragon Quest IX! And thanks for all the great memories!

Austin King

Austin King

I love my wife, my three daughters, JRPGs, & old wooden ships. I write stuff. Obsessed with #DragonQuest. Podcast: @dragonquestfm

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