Dragon Quest IX (Finally) Coming to the US This Summer

Developer Level 5's roleplaying epic for the Nintendo DS gets a summer 2010 release window, but not a date.

Would that I was Japanese, because then I wouldn't have to wait a year or more for games like Dragon Quest IX to paddle across the pond. Make that 229 days, 13 hours, 24 minutes, 42 seconds, and counting since the game came out in Japan last July.

Nintendo finally slapped a timeframe on developer Level 5's role-playing opus for the Nintendo DS, sub-dubbed 'Sentinels of the Starry Skies', but we're still officially date-less.

Sometime 'this summer', that's as close as Nintendo's comfortable saying at this point. Nintendo America VP of marketing and sales Cammie Dunaway confirmed as much at yesterday's Nintendo-led press event, adding that Nintendo of America, not the game's Japanese publisher Square Enix, will publish the game in the US. Don't make anything of that -- it sounds like the two are working hand-in-glove to make it happen for whatever crypto-interregional reasons that govern the publishing-verse.

When Dragon Quest IX hit Japanese stores last July it rewrote series sales records, moving over 3 million copies in just two weeks. In November, a Top Global Markets report combining third-quarter sales data from trackers NPD Group (US), GfK Chart-Track Limited (UK), and Enterbrain, Inc. (Japan) revealed that Dragon Quest IX had nearly cleared 4 million units from July, up a full million over the next bestselling game, Wii Sports Resort, and the top-selling Japanese game overall, by units, in 2009.

The series hasn't sold as well in the US, however. Dragon Quest VIII for the PS2, which debuted to critical plaudits in North America in November 2005, had only sold 430,000 copies by the end of the year -- respectable, sure, but a fraction of the total 4 million sold at that point worldwide.

Then again, Dragon Quest VIII shipped without the US brand awareness it now enjoys thanks to the latter's critical visibility. Hardcore roleplayers knew what it was, of course, and that it used to be called Dragon Warrior (because we're what, more macho in the West?)

And after IX? Dragon Quest X, presently being prepped for the Wii.

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Matt Peckham

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