Exactly one year since DragonQuest IX was released in Japan, we here in the States will see an official, localized version. People will rejoice; there will be dancing in the streets; there may even be the sounding of drums! But will it really all be called for? Have Dragon Questers everywhere gotten their hopes up, only to have them dashed by some of the the dreaded changes that may be in store for the stateside version of this long awaited title?
Let’s take a look at them in degrees. First, and seemingly most insignificant: the cover.
Now we shouldn’t be too surprised about his change, as it is customary to change box art when it is localized for a different purchasing public, but the box art on this one looks…so stiff. Frankly, the characters look super cheesed at something taking place just at the edge of the DS case, and out of view. Is this because they know something that we don’t? Or is it just because the companies releasing the game thought it wouldn’t appeal to people if it had a JRPG’s youthful look, with people making merry? All jokes aside, the box art is an insignificant change when considering the fact that this game is finally seeing release, but American localizations are no stranger to vastly changed dialog, to the point of full-on reshaping of the storyline at times. I hope the faults of this cover remain purely aesthetic, and don’t hint at major changes to the tone of the game. Let’s have a purely translated game, please, Squenix?
Now, getting to the meat of the matter. In Japan, there is a popular feature in this game that allows map trading with others online called ‘Tag’ mode. It appears, from initial reports, that this feature will be only function at times when players are actively on-line, or participating in local wireless multiplayer, rather than is the case in Japan, where it remains active and prepared to work when the lid of the DS is closed. In one light, this reducing of the the ‘Tag’ feature to local wireless isn’t much of a setback insofar as that feature is more popular in the densely packed Japanese streets, and would likely be rendered redundant in America.
However, by taking away something so popular from the game, it almost feels like Squenix is neutering it based on their own assumptions about what we’ll like as gamers. Japanese games are known to push system functionality with often-innovative in-game and feature-based elements, and I hope there aren’t reports springing up of other elements of the game missing upon arrival. For example, this particular iteration found its way into the Guinness Book Of World Records for having the most people meet using the game’s ‘Chance Encounter’ mode, and given their behaviour with ‘Tag’ mode, I’m nervous for features like this.
With more and more people gaming on the go, it comes as no surprise that this title was finally deemed a this a must-import. Personally, we here at Koku hope that people are willing to stay loyal to this long delayed franchise, because DragonQuest has been a fairly successful, high-quality series, and it warrants a following. It’s just our hope that when it hits, that following will be able to count on everything that was loved about this one being intact.
What do you guys think? Comment below and let us know if you’re worried about these minor changes foreshadowing a sanitized version to come, or if you’re confident that DragonQuest IX will stay true to its rising-sun roots.