Late in 2006, Square Enix surprised role-playing gamers the world over with the news that the next Dragon Quest would arrive exclusively on the DS. Gamers in the US and Europe won't have to wait too much longer to get their hands on the finished product, as Nintendo today announced that it will publish Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies in North America on July 11 and in Europe on July 23.
Given that Dragon Quest IX is the first installment in the long-running series to debut on the DS, developer Level 5 is taking advantage of the system's touch screen in ways that couldn't be done on previous systems. For example, the game will use the stylus to quickly outfit character equipment by dragging options around the screen.
Despite the change in platform and controls, Dragon Quest veterans could still feel right at home with Dragon Quest IX. The RPG will once again put gamers in control of a quartet of adventurers from series character designer Akira Toriyama, and a variety of teardrop-shaped slimes should once again provide token opposition to each player's efforts.
Dragon Quest IX was originally released in Japan last July, where it became an instant best-seller. Even though the game has been released only in the island nation to date, it was Square Enix's second best-seller for the year ended March 31, 2010, selling a whopping 4.26 million copies. Only Final Fantasy XIII proved more successful for the company, selling more than 5.5 million copies worldwide for the fiscal year.
The Dragon Quest series originated on the Nintendo Entertainment System and was brought to North America under the name Dragon Warrior. Enix (then a stand-alone company and competitor of Square) created the first four installments of the franchise for Nintendo's original hardware and then moved to the Super Nintendo for Dragon Quest V and Dragon Quest VI.
In a mirroring of the rival Final Fantasy series, Dragon Quest moved from Nintendo platforms to be a PlayStation-exclusive game for the seventh installment of the series. Dragon Quest VIII was also exclusive to Sony, and the game debuted on the PlayStation 2 in 2005. The Dragon Quest franchise's platform-hopping days are not yet over, as Square Enix has said that Dragon Quest X is in development exclusively for the Wii.
For more on Dragon Quest IX, check out GameSpot's latest coverage.