Plot Synopsis: 4/10
You play a stowaway on an airship that was headed to a monster scouting championship of some kind. The airship crashes on an island, and you have to track down the other survivors and find a way off the island. As you do so, you discover that some of the island's indigenous monsters are intelligent, and run a scouting challenge of their own, and you have to get through it in order to get their help in getting off the island.
I have to score the plot a little low, because I really feel like Square-Enix phoned in the plot, here. Considering this is a sequel to a previous game, I was expecting a bit MORE story, not seemingly less. I'm a little disappointed.
Game Play: 6/10
The controls are fairly basic and intuitive. The A button confirms things. The B button cancels them. Press A to interact with things. Control pad to move around. Occasionally, a plot point interrupts the actual game play for a couple of minutes, and then you get back to things. You can save virtually any time you want, outside of battle. One thing that bothers me, though, is the utter lack of touch screen controls, in this game. This isn't even the first game in the franchise to be released for the DS, and yet, the touch screen controls are almost non-existent. Again, I find myself a bit disappointed.
And so, I give the game play a 6 out of 10. I might have scored it higher if I could've at least used the touch screen to type out the names of my monsters instead of arrowing over constantly to each letter, but no such luck. I don't know what Square-Enix was thinking.
The graphics are reasonable, but I don't see much improvement over the last installment. We see the typical Dragon Quest style of artwork, so there are no major changes there. I think there are only so many ways that can change before it becomes different from the series' specific visual style, so I can't complain too much about the relative lack of changes, here.
I'll rate the graphics a 7. They have a distinct style, and have hit that "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" point.
The music, as is often the case in J-RPGs, is well-produced, but somewhat forgettable. I won't find myself humming any of these melodies when I'm not actually playing the game. Hence, the score of 6 out of 10.
Overall Score: 5.75/10
Square-Enix seems to be doing something that Squaresoft tended to do, back before the merger with Enix. They are phoning in their spinoffs. If you want to play a monster-catching game, stick with Pokémon.