News: Not a spinoff, not a side story, the REAL Dragon Quest IX.
There were rumors circulating that Square-Enix had a major Dragon Quest announcement planned today for Japan. But we didn't know how major until now. It seems that, according to Famitsu (link goes to English translated press release), that Dragon Quest IX will debut exclusively on the DS sometime in 2007.
In Japan, Dragon Quest can easily be called the biggest video game series ever. Even surpassing Square-Enix's other juggernaut, Final Fantasy. The series has sold 41,000,000 copies worldwide since it first appeared on the NES in 1986. And Dragon Quest IX marks the first time a "main series" DQ game has come to a Nintendo console since Dragon Quest VI on the SNES. It is also the first time that the main series has debuted on a portable.
We don't know much about DQ9 yet, but we do that it will be developed by Level 5 (the team behind DQ8) and Akira Toriyama will once again supply character designs for the series. It will also feature some kind of Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection capability.
But we also don't know when (or even if) the game will reach American shores. But with the success of Dragon Quest VII (for the PSone) and VIII (for the PS2), it will probably be localized eventually. The sometime in 2007 date is strictly for Japan and it likely wouldn't come to America until 2008 at the earliest.
Dragon Quest IX was heavily rumored to be coming to the PS3 (and even the Xbox 360 at one point), so this is a major feather in Nintendo's cap. We'll have more on this major announcement soon.