|System: X360||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Mistwalker||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Microsoft||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Aug. 28, 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 Amanda L. Kondolojy
I will be the first to admit that ever since I heard about Blue Dragon, nearly two years ago, I have been a Blue Dragon hype machine. So when I finally got my little fangirl hands on this title, I was genuinely hyped beyond belief. The wait was over. Just holding its case got my heart racing. And once I began, I found myself completely enraptured with this game. I was blown away by the magical and wondrous experience that was (and still is) Blue Dragon.
But every journey starts somewhere. The game begins with a very simplistic (yet interactive) title screen that very subtly ushers you into the fantastic world of the game. You are transported into this small village that seems like the perfect little hamlet, complete with sunshine and smiling faces. However, a strange looking beast known as a "land shark" invades the town and starts mercilessly destroying homes with its indestructible dorsal fin. You soon find out that this is not an abnormal occurrence, and that the citizens of this small town have had to live with the constant threat of these unwarranted attacks. And while they seek higher ground, a certain elderly man searches frantically for his grandson, Shu. But as he seeks shelter with the rest of the town, he notices something. Shu, along with friends Kluke and Jiro, is attempting to subdue the land shark monster. The trio of friends soon discovers that they have a great power inside them: the power of shadow. They know almost nothing about this power and soon set out on a quest to discover both the reasons for the continued attacks on their village and the source of their mysterious powers. And this is where you begin your 3-disc quest.
It's been my experience that most people know what Blue Dragon looks like. Screenshots, videos, and artwork have been in relative abundance in the weeks leading up to Blue Dragon's release. But when you first begin the game and realize that the initial cutscene has ended, that's when it hits you: this game looks amazing. Featuring a polished opaque look, Blue Dragon's visuals hit the mark exactly. Cutscenes, battles, and in-game graphics are remarkably similar, and the whole look of the game from start to finish feels smooth and fluid. It's also quite refreshing to see a game that has anime-stylized characters that doesn't conform to the ultra-popular "cel-shaded" look.
The best way to describe how this game works is by saying that it is an "old-school" RPG. Now what do I mean by this? Think back to the Final Fantasy series before the active battle elements. Think about classics like Jade Cocoon, Chrono Trigger, and Legend of the Dragoon. These RPGs featured simplistic turn-based combat, but implemented battle systems complex enough to warrant strategic and engaging gameplay. Blue Dragon's gameplay is such as this. Now I've heard from several sources that this type of battle system is "boring" and "outdated." I would prefer to use the term "classic." I think it's pretty safe to say that while most of us appreciate the recent evolution of the RPG genre, playing Blue Dragon feels like playing a new RPG with a classic style. Sure, it doesn't involve any frenzied battles or a break-neck pace, but it satisfies in the way that those old RPGs did. And for those who hold those classics close to their hearts, this facet is key.
In addition to the bare basics of the turn-based menu system, Blue Dragon also offers several opportunities for depth. There is a fairly deep class system, which forces you to focus your character's development. Of course, this is where the player's individual strategy will come into play. You could dabble in several classes to develop a well-rounded but generally weak character, or you could make one class your specialty and ramp up on it extensively.