Sounds a little daft that, doesn't it?
Yet DQIX refuses to be pigeonholed, it manages to feel completely familiar yet also utterly unique.
First things first though, the main meat of an RPG is it's story and in truth DQIXs could be said to be a little lacking. There's essentially a single narrative thread holding the story together but for the most part you're travelling from town to town and dealing with individual problems encountered there, the main narrative being almost silenced in the process. I find it a charming way of presenting the story, yet I can understand those who may criticise it for not being engaging enough, or for nor instilling any sense of urgency. It may also draw ciriticism for one of it's greatest strengths; the ability to customise your own character. Yes, you can make your own party but the options in the create-a-character are a bit limited, and while it's fun to make a likeness of yourself and you best friends / girlfriends/ cousins etc, it does mean that not a single member of your party has any real character development outside of that which you dream up for them. Again, not really something that bothered me hugely, but it is a valid criticism.
So the story and characterisation could be lacking yet I've still awarded it four stars? How so?
Well, for all it's faults, it is still a grand adventure and great fun to take part in. DQ has a very unique and easy charm that makes it almost impossible to dislike and even in the more sombre moments, there's a very real (or surreal!) sense of humour. For the most part it's a very old-school JRPG with all the good and bad that comes with the territory; combat is turn based, you move from twon to town doing good deeds to progress the story and you fight monsters to earn experience to make yourself stronger.
The vocation system (essentially allowing every party member access to one of eight different classes) allows you to choose exactly how you wish to defeat the enemy, be it with brute strength, with Magic, with trickery or any combination of the above.
It's also one of the most rewarding games you'll ever play, regardless of genre and regardless of the limits of being on the DS. The story itself may take sixty or seventy hours to beat, but only then does the game really get going. The post-game content is huge. Gargantuan even. There are literally hundreds upon hundreds of hours of content, be it extra quests, extra dungeons or new bosses, DQIX has always got something new to show you. So, a single player MMO? In some cases, it can feel a bit like that, especially once the main story is done and dusted. There's nothing to drive you forward except your own determination to find ever stronger monsters and ever better equipment, and because the game is far less popular in the UK than in Japan, the local-only multiplayer mode, which was trumpeted as a major selling point, seems unlikely to see much use.
Ultimately, it's not perhaps as good as the much-loved DQVIII on PlayStation 2, but it's still one of the best RPGs on the DS and well worth checking out.