At a press conference in Japan, Square Enix has made the unexpected announcement that the next numbered release in the Dragon Quest role-playing game series will appear on the Nintendo DS and not a Sony format.
Although more of a niche franchise in the West, Dragon Quest is the most popular series of all time in Japan, where it regular sells in excess of three million copies with each new game. The series had originally been closely associated with Nintendo on the NES and SNES and its move, along with Final Fantasy, to the PlayStation was seen as one of the core reasons for Sony's early success in Japan.
With the series having the same importance as a triple AAA Western franchise such as Grand Theft Auto or Halo in Japan, much speculation had already arisen over which format would receive the next numbered iteration in the series, with the PlayStation 3 and Wii seen as the front runners. The release of the next game on the Nintendo DS would presumably leave the home formats with only spin-offs, such as the already announced Dragon Quest Swords for the Wii.
After enduring a cooled relationship with Nintendo during the Nintendo 64 era, Square Enix has recently announced a number of key titles for the Nintendo DS. Forthcoming titles include Heroes of Mana, It's a Wonderful World, Front Mission 1st, Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker, Chocobo and the Magical Picture Book, Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles - Ring of Fates, Itadaki Street DS (featuring Nintendo characters) and Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings.
Dragon Quest IX itself will be developed by Level-5, who also produced the previous game in the series on the PlayStation 2. The game appears to feature impressive 3D graphics for the Nintendo DS, as well as more action based battles compared to the normally very traditional turn-based series. The game was shown in playable form and is due to be released next year in Japan.