The famed RPG series goes handheld in a surprise announcement.
Square-Enix held a press conference today in Japan to discuss the future of their twenty year old Dragon Quest franchise. Subtitled "Hoshizora no Mamori Hito," which translates to "One Who Protects the Starry Sky," the game was speculated to be released on PlayStation 3 or Nintendo Wii. It turns out that the next Dragon Quest game, number nine in the main series, is under development for Nintendo DS.
The company released some tidbits about the game as well as showing off some 3D screenshots. Development is being handled by Level 5, developer of the previous Dragon Quest VIII for PlayStation 2. Koichi Sugiyama is once again composing music for the game, while series creator Yuuji Horii and character designer Akira Toriyama are also deeply involved in production.
Notably departing from the standard J-RPG formula, gameplay in Dragon Quest IX will be more action oriented and will feature four-player online cooperative play. The top screen is used as a map, while the bottom screen contains the action.
Dragon Quest IX is currently planned for a 2007 release in Japan. No price has yet been decided.