Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker
|Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker|
|Series||Dragon Quest Monsters|
|Genre(s)||Role-playing video game|
Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker (ドラゴンクエストモンスターズ ジョーカー Doragon Kuesuto Monsutāzu Jōkā?) is a Nintendo DS role-playing video game published by Square Enix, and the fourth installment of the Dragon Quest Monsters series. Square Enix released the game on December 28, 2006 in Japan and in North America on November 6, 2007.
This is the first game in the series to have online play, via Nintendo Wi-Fi. Like the other games in the series, the character and monster designs are credited to long-time Dragon Quest series artist, Akira Toriyama, with the music composed by Koichi Sugiyama.
Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker is the first game in the Dragon Quest Monsters series to be in 3D, and the first to be developed by TOSE. It uses cel-shaded animation, and the battles are of the same type in other Dragon Quest games: commands are issued in a turn based style, then are executed in full 3D.
The player's avatar is that of a tanned, grey-haired youth with an editable name. He dreams of becoming a world famous monsters 'scout', which is a tamer of wild monsters who uses them in battle.
The battle system itself is very similar to previous Dragon Quest Monsters games. The player controls up to three monsters that make up the party, and can issue them direct orders or set them to one of 5 AI settings. The main character does not directly participate in battles except for when the player uses items.
Joker does not have random battles. The only way to encounter enemies is to run into one on the overworld. The monsters can be seen, avoided, and attacked from their back to get a free attack round.
The game takes place in the region known as Green Bays, consisting of seven islands. A jet-ski is used to travel from one island to another, with specific paths defined for every couple of piers. However, the main character may notice uncharted islands beyond some of the main islands. The chances for this are completely random and are not located on the main map. Pirates may also appear when traveling between islands, with the pirate captain, Crow, counting as a rare monster.
The game also has a Nintendo Wi-Fi element. The player connects to the server, and their monster team is ranked. The DS then downloads a set of opponents to battle. The battles are against the monster teams of higher and higher ranked other players. For each battle you win, you get a reward, either an item or a monster. These rewards change daily and can range from unexciting items to rare monsters such as liquid metal slimes. This feature is designed to be used once per day. The player can only fight one set of opponents, and get a reward once each day.
The player gets more monsters by scouting them. Unlike previous games in the series, this is a battle command, and not the result of using items in battle. You can make as many scouting attempts as you want during a battle, until the monster decides to join, or takes offense. Success depends on the relative strengths of the monsters making the attempt versus the relative defense of the monster that is being scouted.
The monster families have been rearranged into a different categorization, so some monsters are in different families than they were on previous Dragon Quest Monsters games. The monsters are Slime, Dragon, Nature, Beast, Materia, Demon, Undead, and Incarni.
Unlike previous games in the series, there is not a Boss family. The Boss monsters (end game, or powerful bosses from Dragon Quest games) have been merged with the other families. For example, Zoma from Dragon Warrior III is now in the Demon family.
Monsters now all have a rank associated with them: F, E, D, C, B, A, S, and X. The ranks give an idea of how quickly the monster's stats will grow, and how hard they are to get/synthesize. There are 210 different monsters, though some are just color swaps of others with different stats.
There are three monsters, Trode  (トロデ, Torode), Leopold  (レオパルド, Reoparudo), and Empyrea  (レティス, Retisu) that can not be scouted or bred in the normal game. The only way to get these monsters is to visit a DS Station in Japan or get all the monsters in your library and talk to a guy. There, one can use the games' Wireless mode to fight against these monsters and attempt to scout them. Leopold and Empyrea are required in order to synthesize the main monster into its final forms.
Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker features a skill system based on the one from Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King. Skill points are gained on certain character levels, and these can be assigned to one of the monster's (up to) three skill sets, learning techniques or gaining stats boosts.
Some skill sets can be upgraded by maxing them. Others can be unlocked when parents have specific skill sets mastered. When synthesizing, the resulting monster can choose its skill sets from those its parents had, the ones that monster naturally knows, and any new ones unlocked.
There are also skill seeds, which can be found during the night, and give 3 skill points to the selected monster.
The protagonist, Joker, is a young boy who wishes to join the upcoming Monster Scouting Tournament taking place in the Green Bays island cluster. Having been imprisoned for attempting to join without permission, Joker meets with Warden Trump, his father and leader of CELL, a secretive monster research organization. Trump gives Joker permission to join the tournament, but only to spy on the proceedings. After choosing his first monster, Joker heads for Domus Isle.
After being told that the opening ceremony has been postponed, Joker heads for Infant Isle to take the Scout's Pledge. After reaching the peak of the mountain, Joker witnesses a female scout attempting to scout a canine monster. The monster, who, unlike other monsters, can speak the human tongue, derides her attempt to tame him and escapes. The girl introduces herself as Solitaire.
After taking the Scout's Pledge and attending the opening ceremony, presided by Dr. Snap, the head of the Monster Scouting Organization, Joker heads for Xeroph Isle, the desert island. After falling through quicksand into an underground cave, Joker witnesses the monster that Solitaire tried to tame falling unconscious after being attacked by an orc. Joker defeats the orc and takes the wolf to the island scoutpost to be healed, but the staff are unable to do anything due to never seeing him before. Strangely, Dr. Snap appears and heals the creature. Joker overhears Dr. Snap talking to the wolfpup about the Incarnus, a legendary creature that once saved Green Bays from destruction. After Dr. Snap leaves, the creature asks Joker if he would accompany him to a shrine on the island, which he had been attempting to enter when Joker found him. Joker agrees and the beast, Wulfspade, joins him.
Joker and Wulfspade find the shrine and enter the innermost chamber where, after defeating a guardian Golem, Wulfspade transforms into a featherless avian creature, Hawkhart. After Joker agrees to give Hawkhart the Scout's Mark, the prize for winning the tournament, Hawkhart joins him permanently. They travel to Palaish Isle where, after finding the island's shrine and defeating its guardian, Hawkhart transforms again into a primate creature, Cluboon. It is here that the creature reveals to Joker his true identity: the Incarnus. He has appeared again at the sign of a great catastrophe, which he is trying to stop, and each transformation grants him greater power to do so.
After this, Joker travels to Infern Isle, a zombie-infested island where a great disaster once took place, and from there to Celeste Isle, a large island with two great towered temples: the Temple of the Sun and the Temple of the Moon. The shrine on Celeste Isle is in a seemingly unreachable place, but Joker is able to solve the puzzles of the Temple of the Sun and the Temple of the Moon and open the way to the shrine. He and the Incarnus then battle another guardian: afterwards, the Incarnus transforms again, this time into a reptilian creature known as a Diamagon.
Joker's next destination is Fert Isle, a jungle island. While traveling to the shrine, Joker notes that Fert Isle is alarmingly close to CELL HQ. He proceeds to escort the Incarnus to the highest level of Fert Isle's giant tree, where the island's Nexus Chamber is found. After defeating another guardian monster, the Incarnus assumes a new form called Wulfspade Ace, which could be described as a more powerful version of the Wulfspade form. He then tells Joker that he is ready for the tournament.
Joker competes in the tournament and wins. When he goes to receive the scout's mark, Dr. Snap gives him the mark but then corrupts the Incarnus, revealing his motives: he plans to open the gate to the dark world, and is going to use the Incarnus to do so. Having a negative premonition about Dr. Snap's plan and determined to purify the Incarnus somehow, Joker pursues Dr. Snap to Fert Isle. When he obtains the Baryon Sphere from Warden Trump, a disaster strikes Infern Isle, presumably Dr. Snap's doing. Joker arrives at Infern Isle and starts scaling up the volcano. Near the entrance to the inner volcano, Joker must battle the Ace of Spades. After defeating the Ace of Spades, Joker uses the Baryon Sphere, purifying the Incarnus. Joker arrives at the peak of the volcano. There awaits Dr. Snap, who transforms into a monster after he absorbs darkonium, and attacks Joker. After Joker wins the battle the Incarnus seals the portal and disappears. Later on, after Joker is advised to go back to Infant Isle, the Incarnius reappears at the Scout's Stone and rejoins Joker.
Developed by behind the scenes game developer TOSE, Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker is the first Dragon Quest game to feature Wi-Fi capabilities. Yuji Horii, famous for leading the development for all of the Dragon Quest games, added new gameplay elements to this installment, such as "scouting" for monsters. Akira Toriyama, creator of Dragon Ball, also returned for Joker, creating the visuals for the game in his unique style. Completing the Dragon Quest team, Koichi Sugiyama composed the tracks for Joker.
|Weekly Famitsu||36 of 40|
|GamePro.com||6.5 of 10||→|
|GameSpot||7.5 of 10||→|
|Hardcore Gamer Magazine||9.5 of 10|
|IGN.com||7.9 of 10||→|
|Nintendo Power||8 of 10|
|Play Magazine||7 of 10|
|Metacritic[notes 1]||76 of 100||→|
Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker received fairly decent scores overall, gaining an average of 76% on Metacritic. GameSpot's Austin Shau gave the game a 7.5/10, or "Good", with mostly positive comments, but advised users to approach the intense level-grinding with caution. IGN gave a similar score, 7.9, citing the game's excellent graphics and over all quality. IGN stated that the game "should definitely surprise some newcomers to the franchise in the sheer amount of depth and versatility it presents." Nintendo Power gave the game 8/10, and defended Joker, saying it was not just a Pokémon pretender. Similarly, GameSpy gave Joker an 8/10, and enforced the idea that the game is more than just a copy of Pokémon. Gamezone also gave the game a positive review with a score of 8/10. However, GamePro, who gave Joker a 3.25/5, felt the game was just "another monster catch-and-battle game" along the lines of Pokémon. The review also cited the Scouting to be tricky and that the battle camera can be annoying. Game Informer gave the game 8/10, with the game receiving the "Handheld Game of the Month" for the December 2006 issue. Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu gave the game a positive review with a total score of 36/40.
Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker sold 593,994 units in the first four days after release in Japan. To date, it has sold over 1.45 million units. Joker was wildly popular in Japan, spawning merchandise based on the game, such as carrying cases, for the Nintendo DS.
Near the end of January, Square Enix announced the development of Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 2. The game is not a direct sequel to Joker, featuring a new protagonist, more than 300 monsters (some from Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies) and direct online multiplayer battling over Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection.
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- From Dragon Quest VIII, known as Trode outside Japan
- The Demon Dog from DQ VIII, known as Leopold outside Japan.
- Known as Empyrea from DQ VIII, and Ramia from Dragon Quest III
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- Official Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker website (Japanese)
- DS Station (Japanese)
- Official North American site
- Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker on the Open Directory Project