So the next phase of Dragon Quest IX requires me to go to Gittingham Palace. Since a convenient doorstep stop has been created for the Starflight Express, that's an easy enough task. So easy that I figured I would do some dawdling first. I had recently found a key that can open any lock, after all, and there were doors that needed opening.
After opening those that I could remember, I got back onto the game's main track.
So I show up at Gittingham Palace's gates and see two guards on the door. I was geared up for a relatively easy fight. Instead, however, one of the leaders of the Gittingham Empire appears when you near the palace: Hootingham-Gore. Then he challenges you.
This is like going to fight Magus in Chrono Trigger and having him challenge you after the iconic cutscene of the exterior of his castle. Although that game does an exceptional job of evenly pacing out your characters' levels with its difficulty curve.
Dragon Quest IX does not do the same.
Hootingham-Gore threw out Frizzles and Swooshes like a pitching machine throws out baseballs, and his flanking guards swung their halberds for never less than 30 damage. Not expecting a mini-boss before the dungeon even started, I was not only taken off guard I was taken out. Reduced first to my two party members who have no means of reviving the others, and then to my powerful (in one on one encounters) thief, my party crumbled then and there on the doorstep of Gittingham Palace.
Realistically, should I have expected a different outcome? No. Not at all.
Since the journey to Upover, the game's not offered any direct means of level building.
I could've left the prison break for a session to grind around the Gittish Empire or elsewhere. Or I could have done some grinding before or after going to the Realm of the Almighty. But since Upover, I've only been facing a series of bosses (mini and otherwise) without the monster-filled, and subsequently level-boosting, dungeons they usually go with.
Because I'd been facing this string of bosses I had no real sense that I needed to level up before heading into Gittingham Palace.
And maybe I don't, but I have a full quest queue so why not kill two mecha-mynahs with one stone?