Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies



Accessible RPG with mild violence, safe multiplayer mode.
Popular with kids

What parents need to know

Positive messages

This game about a fallen angel trying to regain his divinity. Religious themes permeate the experience and players spend much of their time performing good deeds and helping others. However, the gameplay consists of nearly constant battles against monsters. The violence is quite tame, but it is the means used to accomplish most game objectives.

Positive role models

Our primary hero, who can be made male or female, is a Celestrian -- an angel -- assigned to protect a village and aid its residents in any way he can. He soon loses his wings and halo and becomes a mortal stranded on earth, but continues to help others through various quests and side-missions. Violence is one of his main tools, but it’s always directed at malicious creatures.

Ease of play

This is one of the simplest, easiest Dragon Quest games to date. The general play mechanics will be immediately familiar to anyone experienced with Japanese-style role-playing games, and the challenge level is low. Skilled players will rarely parish.


Players battle a variety of fantastical monsters ranging from big cucumbers to little slimes to slightly scarier beasts using swords, spells, and other assorted attacks. The fighting is low intensity; characters leap and jab and twirl, but all we see upon contact is a bright flash and a number depicting the amount of hit points lost.


Some of the female characters wear slightly revealing tops that show cleavage.


Players will hear the occasional mild curse, such as “damn.”

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies is a lengthy but easy role-playing game with a focus on local area network multiplayer play (not online). As with most games of its ilk, it dabbles in grownup themes, but the violence is tame, the language mild, and the sexuality limited to a few female characters with somewhat revealing tops. Strong religious overtones (not related to any real-world spiritual denomination, though similar in character to Christianity) lend presumed moral justification to the actions of our customizable hero, an angel accidentally stripped of wings and halo.

What's it about?

One of the most popular games ever released in Japan, DRAGON QUEST IX: SENTINELS OF THE STARRY SKIES comes to the West more or less unchanged. A traditional and accessible role-playing game, the story centers on a Celestrian -- essentially an angel -- who has lost his wings and halo and now walks among the mortals he once protected. Familiar turn-based battles are initiated by walking into enemies wandering the wilds. As they gain experience, the players’ characters gradually level up, learn more skills, and can be decked out in over 1,000 different pieces of armor and equipment. A robust cooperative multiplayer mode -- a first for the franchise -- lets players join with up to three other players over a local area network, with one player acting as the host and others entering his game world. Note: that while the game was clearly designed from the ground up to support the multiplayer experience, it’s still possible to play it as a single-player adventure.

Is it any good?


Robust multiplayer features aside, Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies is a little low on innovation. However, it nails the traditional Japanese RPG experience so perfectly and so entertainingly that it’s easy to overlook its lack of originality.

The writing is terrific. Filled with drama, jokes, and clever, eloquent turns of phrase, reading through the frequently appearing text boxes is more often than not a joy. The character customization and development system is fun, too. And robust. It’s unlikely any two players will find themselves with characters that look alike or have identical abilities. And the quick battles, in which you take on an ever increasing roster of imaginatively rendered monsters, are filled with satisfyingly strategy without ever becoming too complex. In fact, our only beef is that it’s perhaps a bit too easy for older, more experienced players. Still, we always prefer games to be too accessible as opposed to too abstruse. If your kids like handheld RPGs, you probably won’t find a better one this year.

Online interaction: This game can be played co-operatively over a wireless network, but only locally, not online. Other players will be close by -- likely friends in the same room -- rather than unseen strangers. 

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the notion of including religion, fictional or otherwise, in games. Does framing the narrative of an action/adventure game in spiritual terms make its violence somehow more justified or legitimate? Does it change your opinion of the characters?

  • Families can also discuss Dragon Quest IX’s local multiplayer play. Many role-playing games are solo adventures. How does the experience change when you add your friends to the mix? Does socializing somehow enhance play? Is the game less fun once your friends leave and you go back to solo exploration?

Game details

Platforms:Nintendo DS, Nintendo DSi
Available online?Not available online
Release date:July 11, 2010
Genre:Role Playing
ESRB rating:E10+ for Alcohol Reference, Animated Blood, Comic Mischief, Fantasy Violence, Mild Language, Mild Suggestive Themes

This review of Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Adult Written byKevinsmithsname April 12, 2012

If videogames are to be in the family, make sure every family member has a DS and play Dragon Quest IX together and talk about the content.

Big big story in which the character, or hero,'s only objective is being nice to others to improve the states of the game's setting. The scope of the game means this morality can be disected into the smallest details of kindness the material of story-based video game code is able to translate.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Safety and privacy concerns
Teen, 13 years old Written byRitsuNamine December 2, 2012

This game just oozes production value.

This game is just excellent, the story is great and very immersive, however it does deal with some more mature content. Violence and alcohol are present, with the latter being less common. Violence is present frequently, however, it is very light and there is no visible blood. Being a JRPG more mature themes like these are not unusual, but they are never too harsh. There are no sexual themes beyond that characters don't always have fully covering clothing. Nothing too intense- cable TV is often far worse. Do not give this game to immature kids. This is truly the last thing an immature child needs. However, if you believe your kid is mature enough, let them have at it. They will have a really, really fun time.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Kid, 12 years old January 1, 2014

Dragon Quest IX is addicting as heck!!! :D

Dragon Quest IX is one of the first RPG games I have played and that the boss music is totally epic(I just love that boss music :)) It isn't educational, but requires the ability to read since you will not understand anything if you can not read, resulting in the not best experience of this game(and it will just make playing the game harder). This game has vicious monsters(and I MEAN VICIOUS) and some cute monsters that will help your lone character or party(party means group) level up higher. The storyline may be long and dull at times, but the game overall is also pretty funny with its puns and jokes. In my opinion, Dragon Quest IX is for kids who are old enough to read and know how to play basic RPGs.(In fact, I've played for 46 hours and am a level 35 Minstrel!!!)
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much consumerism


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