In a surprising move, Square-Enix has announced that the next installment to the uber-popular RPG series, Dragon Quest IX, will be made exclusively for the Nintendo DS. Most people assumed that it was destined for either PS2 or PS3, but with the Nintendo DS’s soaring popularity in the Land of the Rising Sun, Squenix saw gold in them thar dual-screened hills.
Level 5, which developed last year’s enjoyable Dragon Quest VIII, will be reprising their role as developer for the Nintendo DS outing, with close supervision from Squenix. The full name is Dragon Quest IX: Defender of the Starry Sky, and is looking at a mid-2007 release date.
Even though the DS has been immensely successful without the help of the Dragon Quest series, this move will easily make the DS the system of choice in Japan for years to come. Nintendo has been dealt the biggest hand in the Japanese market. When a Dragon Quest game is released, everyone knows about it. People skip work and school for a Dragon Quest game. Think Halo 2 proportions. You can easily expect this game to sell well over a million copies on day one.
The game looks to employ the same cel-shaded look that Level 5 used for DQ VIII, but interestingly, the game is an action-RPG now. No more turn-based battles, or even random battles for that matter. One has to wonder how fans of the series are taking that kind of news.
With news like this coming out, how long can we expect to see another high-profile game make the jump to Nintendo’s handheld? Can we possibly see an original, full-bred Final Fantasy DS game? Only time will tell, but it certainly isn’t impossible. You can check out a detailed write-up about the Squenix conference over at GamesAreFun.