We reported earlier today that Square Enix would be holding a conference to announce a new Dragon Quest game, but no one quite expected the bomb shell they dropped: Dragon Quest IX, the next sequel in the officially numbered series and not a spin-off, will be arriving on the Nintendo DS.
Rumors suggested the anticipation surrounding Wii and its promise of lower development costs would make Dragon Quest an easy lure -- but apparently rumor mongers were wrong about the platform. Does this mean the Dragon Quest series has abandoned its console roots?
Dragon Quest IX: Protectors of the Starry Sky for the Nintendo DS is being developed by RPG powerhouse Level-5 (known for Dragon Quest VIII, Dark Cloud, and White Knight Story), and will feature 3D graphics and network play. Four players will be able to team up, and the battles are apparently action-based, unlike previous games in the series. Creator of Dragon Quest, Yuji Horii, said at the event that working on the new game brings back the same feelings he had when working on the very first game in the series, twenty years ago. Big words indeed for a very surprising announcement. Horii admitted that he recognizes the limitations of the DS but is doing his best to create a groundbreaking adventure on the platform. He wanted to make clear that DQIX is "not a spinoff or a side story; it's a true part of the series." He says he is shooting to have it ready in 2007.
And if the Nintendo DS game wasn't enough of a surprise, Square Enix also announced a card-based arcade game called Dragon Quest: Monster Battle Road, also developed by Level-5. Card-based arcade games are all the rage in Japan right now, and this one will no doubt become the most popular of them all, considering its heritage. The video at the event showed the hero of Dragon Quest VIII, and it looks like the game could be based on the Battle Road section of that game. It will be hitting arcades in Japan next Summer.
Series music composer Koichi Sugiyama will once again provide the soundtrack for both titles.
Jonathan Lumb, Hiroko Minamoto and John Ricciardi contributed to this story.