Review by wolverinefan

"Why is this dragon so blue?"

Blue Dragon was Microsoft's saving grace for some sort of sales in Japan. While it did receive some decent reviews over there and it did move a fair amount of consoles. Now the game has hit North America. Is it worth checking out though?

Shu is a young boy in a tiny town in a desert. Sounds very Star Wars... Anyway, he fights a giant metal shark that comes when the violet clouds roll of the town. He gets sucked up and tossed around. Meets an evil man named Nene who hurts people because it's fun. Yes, that's his real motive. So for rest of the game you hunt Nene and rescue towns from these violet clouds. Wow, that's deep. Why does out hero care? Just because... This entire story lacks any depth or motive behind the characters. While the game briefly shows you a glimpse of a history to this world it drops that almost instantly to continue on our mundane task.

The graphics in this game are very crisp and clean. Animations are smooth and there were times where I couldn't tell if something was CGI or in game graphics. The guy behind Dragon Ball Z provides the character designs for this game but the problem is that unlike Dragon Warrior 8 this game has generic carbon copies of these DBZ characters. It's a shame too because the monsters look cool, just no real characters do.

Another problem I ran into in the graphics department are the dungeons. While they look different from each other they tend to share the same layout ideas and while the final dungeon does offer a unique idea or two for this game, rest of the game feels a lot more tedious than it should due to shared layout ideas. The game also suffers from some frame rate issues which should never happen in a role playing game.

I played this game with the English voice actors. The game also offers Japanese and I believe one or two other languages. The English voice actors all sounded familiar yet I couldn't place them. Not only that but Shu is way too annoying to listen to and rest of the voice annoyed me about the same. Sound effects are decent with the roar of flames from a fire spell and the sound of a tidal wave from your water spell.

Uematsu is the man behind the soundtrack for this game. If this game has one thing going for it it's the fact that it has one of the most beautiful soundtracks I've heard in almost a year. Right from the get go this game amazed me with the soundtrack. The orchestra arrangements and everything is just splendid. It's kind of sad that this soundtrack feels so wasted on this product. The boss battle theme is a rock song with vocals. I liked it at first. Then I fought so many bosses I grew sick of hearing the same few lines over and over. I ended up having to mute my TV during boss battles after the first disc.

Control in this game is your basic role playing control scheme. Left analog stick moves you. A interacts with stuff. Y opens the menu. Nothing really exciting. I found it responsive. Mini games were a bit annoying with the button mashing and the shooting ones felt a bit clunky at times as well.

Blue Dragon is your typical old school role playing game. By this I mean it's go from point A to B, fight boss, find item to open next area and move on. The game itself feels linear in fashion but if one levels higher than they should then they will have access to places they shouldn't be. In that case the game is a bit refreshing but there is never a time where I didn't just end up going in the correct direction. Choices are limited if you don't power level.

The battle system is turn based and uses an atb bar. It can be manipulated by attacking the next guy in line and it can sometimes knock them back. Same can happen to you.

The game does offer some mildly interesting things in its battle system. Everyone has a starting class and it's best to keep them on it. However they can go with other classes to learn skills and swap them around. It's a slightly over sued idea but it works nicely and it isn't too painful to level things up once you get a bit further into the game. It is worth doing though as you can unlock more skill slots, attack twice in a row ECT.

Besides that the battle system also allows you to charge an attack. It features a meter and if you let go of the A button in the red zone then you'll do extra damage. The draw back is that this also requires you to possibly pass on your turn some.

You still gain experience after fights as well as SP (as said above SP is used for upping your classes). So all of the classic ideas are present here. And maybe that's my problem with the game. It really doesn't add anything new or interesting to the genre and while having your shadows attack is an interesting idea it was done years ago with Okage on the PS2.

The game does offer a slew of side quests at the end of the game but I found it really quickly that they shouldn't even be considered side quests because for some reason the difficulty of the final dungeon is ramped up by at least 10%. Either way there is a fair amount of stuff to do. Also the achievements actually require you to go beyond what most casual gamers will do. While this is nice I do wish it had offered some story based achievements to show progress. There isn't even a beat game achievement.

Those looking for a challenge can also download the hard mode or start a new game +. Hard mode is currently available for download from the Hong Kong marketplace and isn't available in North America yet. There is also a bonus dungeon which is available for download here.

It isn't that Blue Dragon is a terrible game. It's just that it doesn't do anything that's the least bit interesting. The plot is really bad. The game itself feels like any other role playing game and to be honest it isn't exactly long. I reached the final dungeon at 16 hours. But if you're new to the genre or looking for an old school fix then this is your only option on the 360. Either way I can't recommend this as a buy, a possible rental for those looking for an old school Japanese role playing game but otherwise I'd pass on this sub par gaming experience.

Story - 4/10
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 9/10
Control - 8/10
Game Play - 6/10
Replay Value - 6/10

Final Score - 5/10

Reviewer's Rating:   2.5 - Playable

Originally Posted: 09/04/07

Game Release: Blue Dragon (US, 08/28/07)

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