|System: Wii||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Land Ho||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: D3 Publishers||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Sep. 25, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Tom Kelly
Dragon Blade: Wrath of Fire is an action adventure romp steeped in ridiculous dragon folklore. Unlike your average action game, Blade takes things a step further by using both parts of the Wii remote (Wii-mote and the Nunchuk) as virtual weapons. You swing and attack just as you do on screen. Now in principle that may sound like a blast, but unfortunately there are just too many hurdles that this game did not overcome.
We will start with the story, or lack thereof. You are Dal, generic looking commoner, who apparently is the last hope of humanity. Why is the world in danger? Well really it's simple, there was this dragon Valthorian who once ran the show, but he was defeated and his multiple body parts were taken by kings. With Valthorian's various appendages at the service of these kings, they rule with an iron fist, or a dragon fist in some cases. Through the enhanced power they now possess, they decide to pillage and plunder anything and everything. This is where Dal comes in; as the game begins his village is being raided. Oh NO! What should he do? I know, listen to the disembodied voice who just so happens to be a sword that used to be a dragon. Thus the adventure begins as you traverse the non distinct world collecting the rest of Valthorian and setting right everything that has gone wrong. You will battle your way through the game's five areas, each of which has its own unique king and dragon, and its roughly 20 stages. With the awful story firmly in place, it is up to the rest of the game to continue the standard of mediocrity that has already been set.
Gameplay wise Dragon Blade can be fun, not for long, but there was that small period of time where I almost enjoyed myself. The problem lies in the fact that it is all the same. Every king, every dragon can all be defeated in the same way. There is no real strategy to any of it. You block occasionally when you fight regular enemies, and you run away from the boss's major attacks. Part of the boredom can be attributed to the fact that almost all the levels and enemies are exactly the same. The only original pieces are the dragons and the kings, who all have their own unique looks. There are literally around seven different enemy types, which include such originals as spiders, bats, and different colored wolves (there is a red and grey). After seeing the enemies, the shallow attempt to give this game depth should come as no surprise. Throughout the adventure there are various armor shards (collect six to upgrade your armor) which allow you to gain all sorts of neat stuff like dragon boots. There are also rocks with either blue or red orbs that will increase your health or Dragon Blade power. It all seems like almost an afterthought, especially the armor - so far as I can tell it doesn't help your defense at all. Gripes aside there are some cool elements to the game. The sword becomes pretty sweet as you unlock more and more pieces of it. The dragon's tail serves as a whip like weapon, and when you have both dragon's arms you can come down on enemies with a Hulk like smash. If the gameplay rundown did not tip you off to the lack of effort put into this title, then surely the graphics and sound will.
I know the movie Grindhouse probably gave people the impression that making things look retro was cool, but in the case of videogames that technique is probably not as hip. Graphically this is one of the worst looking games I have played in quite awhile. To say it looks like a PS2 title would be generous. I remember Clockwork Knight for the Sega Saturn looking better than this. Everything is so drab and plain; it is hard to believe that a Wii game looks like this. There are no details in the walls or backgrounds of each level. The only differences from area to area will be the colors. Then there is the aforementioned standard enemy set that accompanies each level, and it feels like you are playing the same level over and over again. The only way you know you are actually progressing is that your sword continues to get better, which leads us to the only bright spots visually. The effects of the sword look decent, with each different dragon part taking on its own form. The kings and the dragons, compared to the rest of the game, also look great.