Dragon Quest games are an interesting concept to me. At the core, each game is essentially the same. The combat rarely changes in a drastic way, the enemies seem familiar, and even the plot doesn't get too crazy. Despite all this, this series is a core for any RPGamer. When people ask what a classic RPG is, Dragon Quest often makes the lists. This game is no exception.
The plot is pretty straightforward. Save the world, rescue people, high fantasy adventure, etc. What sets this one apart is the fact that the world is split between the real world and the dream world. This mechanic is used numerous times to tie the whole overarching plot together. There are some pretty predictable plot twists during the game and at times it seems kind of cliche but it never feels stale.
Combat is similar to the other games in the title. The player has their team of four combatants and controls what they do. Each character feels unique and has their own strengths and weaknesses. One of the new things in this game is the vocation system. Basically, the player picks the vocations for the team at a certain point in the game. These can be switched as needed but a lot of time it is better to pick one and master it. Each of these "trades" feel different and a lot of the basic ones are needed to unlock the fancier ones. Each character can be any of the vocations but some perform better than others in them. For instance, Carter is naturally strong. So making him a warrior or attack type vocation suits him better than being a mage. That doesn't stop the player from making Carter a mage and it is sometimes fun to experiment. As the "trades" level up, characters learn skills that they keep. This really lets players customize their team.
The music isn't too memorable. If you have heard a Dragon Quest game before, this will sound incredibly similar. The art is also very similar. This is not a bad thing. The game definitely benefits from being on the DS. It is nice to be able to play this game on the go, especially since it is on the longer side. There are some post game things to do and lots to keep players busy, so it is well worth the money.
For what it is worth, this game is great. It seems generic at the core but there is a lot there to make the experience unique for each player. The typical humor for the series is still there and the enemy names still make me chuckle. If you like RPGs or Dragon Quest, this is an excellent entry to the series. Having it portable doesn't hurt and it is definitely a great addition to any collection.