This article originally appeared in Nintendo Gamer magazine.
Dragon Quest X: The Rise Of The Five Tribes Online is out! In Japan, anyway. And after seeing it in tiny-vision on various handhelds for so many years, it's great to have it back on the big screen, where the series' charming art style can be realised to its full potential.
You'll already know that it's primarily a MMORPG, albeit with a sizeable single player prologue. You probably also know about the six playable races, or the same number of basic character classes, ranging from stabby folks to magic folks tosneaky folks. But did you know that it's actually possible to play the game online in the UK, albeit with a bit of technical know-how? We'll get to that later, but here's everything we've learned about DQX since its Japanese release.
SMALL TOWN MENTALITY
Naturally, it starts in a small town. Well, actually it starts with a whopping two game discs, both of which need to be installed to your Wii - specifically, to a USB device. (To play the game after installation you won't need the discs at all.) After all that, it's a simple matter of creating a human character who will serve as your avatar during the offline portion of the game. Then, er, you have to create another character, the sibling of the one you just made. Later on, Square Enix will force you to create a third avatar, but before that act of madness comes the single player chapter that acts as both tutorial and warm-up for the main event.
So yes, after whipping up the first of many player characters, you're deposited in a typical DQ village, although it's one with a jungley vibe. As you'd expect, it's home to shops and villagers and pots stuffed with items, but compared to the relatively teensy settlements of IX, there's quite a lot of empty space between. As with most MMORPGs, the world appears to be absolutely massive - and this is just a tiny part of it.
Online is clearly the focus, and will set Japanese gamers back a monthly fee...
It's not entirely clear what's going on in this offline prologue, story-wise at least, but it only lasts a couple of hours and it restricts to you to level ten. After that, you can choose whether to progress to the main online part, or take on the role of your brother or sister, and play out a separate single-player story. So it's not quite the doom-and-gloom situation many Dragon Quest X fans were anticipating. You can play Square Enix's latest epic offline, although we're still not sure how deep or involved this single player mode will be. The online is clearly the main focus, and it's one that - for the Japanese game at least - is going to set you back a monthly fee.