||It always amazes me when I hear stories about how popular the Dragon Quest series is in Japan. The entire country seems to react feverishly when the game hits store shelves, similar to how college frats shut down when a new Halo is released (just on a much larger scale that doesn't involve Jagermeister). But Japan's love for the series isn't unreasonable; Dragon Quest is one of the grandfathers of the Japanese role-playing game genre, and the franchise has had great success in the United States as well...The latest member of the series, Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies, is headed exclusively to the Nintendo DS and introduces impressive multiplayer functionality to the canonical series. The game also features character classes, item creation and -- as you might expect -- plenty of slimes to defeat. I was frustrated by certain aspects of Dragon Quest IX, as the game's by-the-books battle system is almost too traditional for its own good and the focus on multiplayer hurts Dragon Quest's otherwise enticing story. But Dragon Quest IX is ultimately a charming game with plenty to do...Despite my problems with Dragon Quest IX, I still enjoyed the game and I appreciate all the side quests and alchemy players can enjoy at their leisure. The streamlined multiplayer support is also very nicely implemented, though it depends entirely on if you can find friends that own a copy...If you can look past the lack of character development and the overly simplistic battle system, Dragon Quest IX is really enjoyable and will keep players interested for many hours. Also, any game with slimes in it is worth a look, naturally.