Review by RiddlerOne
Something Borrowed ... Something BLUE
They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery ... which to my mind makes Blue Dragon a very sincere game indeed as it borrows ALOT from other classic RPGs. Let's examine the major aspects of 'Blue Dragon' and see what I am talking about.
Story : 5
To begin with, the story is the tried-and-true "plucky kids out to save the world from evil" that's been done much better before (most notably by 'Chrono Trigger' and others). The leader of this band is Shu, a typical spiky haired hero who looks like he could be launching fireballs in any of the Dragon Ball Z games. He is accompanied around the world by his thoughtful and gentle best friend, Jiro, the calming influence versus Shu's combative nature. The young lady who accompanies them, and of course is being wooed by both of them, is Kluke ... the one who has had personal tragedy change her life when monsters killed her parents. They are joined along the way by an obnoxious and irritating Devee named Marumaro, whose tribe expresses emotions in dance and bellowing vocal discourse and the mercenary with a heart of gold named Zola. If this all sounds familiar, it should ... the storyline is about as original as those Food Stores that sell Apple "Circles" that sure do look alot like Apple Jacks. The characters aren't badly voiced or written, it's just that there's nothing new here.
Gameplay : 7.5
Here we borrow the job system and leveling up characters through SP and EXP. The originality of the class system lies in how you decide to level up each character along the way. Unfortunately, by the end of the game your characters are pretty much generic as they are maxed out in the best classes so as to obtain the best skills. The combat is fun, but by the end of the game I was elated when I obtained a barrier that allowed me to waltz through (most) previously defeated enemies and still obtain the SP points necessary to level up my team. This is a game where you become SO powerful that normal enemies stop presenting any kind of a challenge after awhile, and even the bosses begin to just be a matter of taking more time to whack, with the outcome of the fight never really in any doubt. In fact, the next to last boss supposedly had this healing move utilizing 'eternal engines' which I never saw during our battle. My team was so overpowered in terms of agility, power and strikes (all having double strikes for offense and double cast for magics) that the final bosses were a cake walk, and that is regrettable. Another issue I had with the gameplay was the generic and seemingly necessary RPG item system. Why must every RPG have these multitude of status altering items and attacks that are almost NEVER used? The only item I used were the antidotes and once, yup ... once, had to use the cure zombie item. The only status altering attack that enemies used seemed to be either poison or petrify, and since you get all these anti-petrification accessories early on, the only thing you ever needed was the antidote. Since money never was a problem I could have afforded these items, but I just never had the need.
Music : 8
The music was great, (all except for the boss battle song, which was some rock star wannabe screaming some crap about eternity ... this song blew chunks!). But again the borrowing aspect came in to play. The battle song sounded vaguely familiar and I could have sworn that there was one tune heard while flying around that sounded like a famous Christmas tune ... or maybe that's just me. But there were some really nice tunes regardless, and I enjoyed the music throughout.
Graphics : 7.5
The game looked gorgeous at first glance, but some nagging issues brought this score down. For one, why should there be SLOWDOWN in a turn-based RPG?? I know you wanted to keep the sense of 'in the fight' and immerse the player in the fights, but that slowdown really diminished the experience for me. Another issue was the 'jerkiness' of some of the battle animations, especially Zola's shadow, which would jerk one way and then smack the other way when attacking. I liked the magic effects and special corporeal attacks which you get later in the game. Unfortunately, my characters were so buff by this time that I only got to use these attacks in two fights ... a shame and a waste. But since these looked similar to a certain summons attack from another game, maybe I will give it up.
Puzzles : 4
I had to give this a separate category since the puzzles in this game's dungeons were very weak. I am so done with the push this button to move that platform thing as well as the get key A for Door B which leads you to Key C for Door D. Or the kill all of a certain type of enemy whereby a special treasure chest appears. I thought this game was from some type of videogame "Dream Team"?? Even the rotating room puzzle near the game's end seemed lackluster and lame.
Overall : 7 (actually closer to 6.5)
I know, you'd think reading my review that I hated this game, but I really didn't. It was just that I felt like they took the comfortable route at every turn with the game, and didn't try to venture outside the RPG formula on anything. They had some good ideas, but for every good idea were two that were borrowed from prior RPGs and only used because they worked in that game, regardless of their fit within this game. This was a very generic experience that worked to a point, but never really had a "WOW' moment that distinguishes it from the multitudes of other RPGs that sit on the store shelves. Here's hoping that a next effort from this group proves a great team can still produce a great game. (Except for the dude who is responsible for that boss fight song ... he really needs to fall on his sword and be done with it!!)
Rating: 3.5 - Good
Product Release: Blue Dragon (US, 08/28/07)
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