I found my first real
complaint for Dragon Quest IX. I don't mind the lack of character
development, although a little for the protagonist (who is a
permanent player) is a bit sad. However, I can forgive that, some of
the annoying fetch quests (they are optional, so they are forgiven),
or the attempt to force multiplayer in lieu of quality storytelling
in some respects.
I have trouble
understanding the job system after what was done so well in DQ7. In
DQ9, the job system is the same as your character level. In other
words, if you are at level 20 and you decide to take a new class,
you are now level 1 in the new class. You don't keep the stats
you've built up (so you're now a level 1 character with too few HP,
strength, MP, or magic ability to deal damage to current enemies),
spells, or much of anything. The only thing you keep is your
unlocked abilities, which are different than spells. So, if you've
unlocked some cool sword abilities with skill points, you can carry
them over...assuming your new class can use swords. You also can
always use class specialized abilities.
While this means
you can get some permanent stat boosts from leveling your classes
special field (which usually includes a few stat boosts), you are
almost a useless character after class changes. The only advantage
to this system is if you want to grind a few quick levels for some
bonus skill points and then take a few low level permanent skills
and talents. However, since getting from level 1-10 is not bad,
while going further is slow as molasses, you are then left with a
problem; if you like the new class and it's spells, you will then
have a ton of grinding to do in order to be strong enough to
continue your quest.
While a few bonus
skill points from the levels 1-10 grind are nice, and getting a
couple low level permanent boosts are good, the system just feels
neglected. In fact, I've yet to see a single reason to ever change
classes in this game. From what I've played, so far, there is no
reason for me to ever change out from my first class and to change
the first three characters I made to join my party. As long as you
picked your party wisely (read: you didn't make three clerics or
three mages, did you?), you can ride that party the entire game.
This is such a sad
change from DQ7, which rewarded you for taking on numerous classes.
For one thing, you have a class level and a character level. So, if
you change classes, you don't have to be level one with nothing to
your talent pool. Instead you'd keep your spells, a bulk of your
stats, and you'd instead keep adding to your spells and abilities
while receiving a tweaked stat set appropriate to a
of your current level. In this system, you could have a healer who
just happens to have a cool offensive spell to help when healing is
not needed, or a fighter who could heal when the shit hits the fan.
You can also make a party that is total garbage, if you're not
paying attention. Instead, with this system from DQ9, you never can
really fail or thrive. You just keep going forward without any real
I know...some DQ9
elitist types could argue that you can make a super party with the
right job path. However, when you can succeed fine without a super
party, why waste the time to make one? I'm all for some strategy,
but I'll take the easy (thoughtless) path when strategy is just not
needed. I mean you could make some awesome strategies on FF: Mystic
Quest, but you sure as hell don't need to know anything beyond
mashing the A button, so why bother?
Anyway, the game
is fun...but this is one of the few things that takes DQ9 from being
a damned near perfect game, and making it a really good game.
There are many ways to
attract casual gamers to a hardcore console. They can be simple
ideas, like offering puzzle and "casual" games, much like the 360
has always tried to do with the Live Arcade games. There's also more
sophisticated of ways, like offering a console based entirely around
a lower price with a more intuitive control idea, like Nintendo did
with the Wii. There can even be blended ideas, like the PS3 Sixaxis
controller, which offers both standard ideas like buttons and
control sticks, but can also offer more simplified of actions like
the movement that is used with Flower.
The one idea,
however, that will always be needed for casual gamers is to make
things simple, while also keeping the price simple (read: low). So,
while the 360 and PS3 turned off casual gamers for quite some time
by looking pricey compared to the Wii (at least the 360 overcame
this with time, and the PS3 isn't looking as bad anymore), the price
was at least not 100% beyond reason. This is changing with
It is now
Kinect will run $150. That's $150 on top of about $200 for the
console. Then there's another dose of money if you want games. Then
there's the fact that Kinect (and Move, for that matter) seem to be
lacking in games to get hyped for. Combine all of this, and you have
something that's a complete puzzle to my mind.
I cannot see the
hardcore crowd getting into Kinect ("pointing your finger like a
gun", to paraphrase the Sony E3 press conference), or waving a
glowing ice cream cone (Move) while playing anything that's not
"casual". It just doesn't make sense to look like an idiot, while
dealing with what will most likely be a poor simulation of motion
capture, when you know and love your 360 or PS3 standard issue
controllers. Then you have to think the Move and Kinect are aimed at
casual types...but with that type of price for motion controller and
console, you don't have even close to a casual price point. You
cannot attract someone who is "less than fully invested or obsessed"
(how I read "casual") with a price that hurts one's
wallet...especially during an economic disaster like we're all
facing around the globe right now.
So, to put it
simple, after hearing the price point set by Microsoft (and rumors
of supposed prices for Move, Eye Toy, and all the other parts that
make the PS3 Move experience complete), I just don't understand.
It's like making the worlds most elaborate action figure, putting it
on a shelf next to your assortment of G.I. Joe, Transformers, and
the like, and then charging $100 for it. A child's toy is meant to
be affordable to them, and a "casual" gaming experience is meant to
be affordable to what a "casual" person is willing to spend. The
only way I can see this experiment really coming to full on success
is for Microsoft to offer yet another model or SKU of the 360; one
with Kinect built in for only a fraction of the 360+Kinect price.
Also, the $300 360
with Kinect bundle doesn't cut it. The $50 "saved" is not
enough of a price break when you're still looking at mainly old
technology that Nintendo offered in the $250 range...several years
ago. Plus, the difference between $300 and $350 (for buying it
separately) still keeps it in the "hard to swallow" $300 range.
With consumers, and especially "casual" consumers, $300+ is one hell
of a pill to swallow for something that is not deemed necessary.
Then again, people
will shell out ridiculous amounts of money for an iPad to go with
their iPhone, and the iPhone goes with their iPod...all the while,
the iPhone does all of the same features as the other two. Some
sectors of the economy seem immune to economic problems...and
obsessed fanboys definitely can have a strong trend in reversing