Blue Dragon Hits the Xbox 360: A Review

Blue Dragon Review

Blue Dragon recently hit the store shelves here in the United States. It was very-well received almost a year ago in Japan, selling somewhere around 100,000 copies, and helping boost Xbox 360 system sales in Japan. Now with the game here on our shores, it has been getting very mixed reviews.
Blue Dragon had a star cast of producers, composers, designers, etc. on board to create this game. Hironobu Sakaguchi, Akira Toriyama, and Nobuo Uematsu a trio that haven’t worked together on a video game since Chrono Trigger come back to make Blue Dragon. Sakaguchi is best known for creating the Final Fantasy series. So with such a game designer on board, and such a group of people designing the finer points of this game, many people let their expectations run wild, and in the process hyped up the game too much. There may not be anything wholly new or groundbreaking, but the game does what many others have, and it does it well. It’s just plain fun.

The most important part of any Role-Playing Game (RPG), and more importantly Japanese RPGs (JRPG), is the story. The story is what drives most JRPGs, and is normally what makes or breaks the game. Blue Dragon does of course have a story, and a good one at that. The only downfall is it takes awhile to get into it. It starts off slow, and doesn’t really climax until towards the end. If that isn’t the way you like your games to play out, then this might not be the game for you. However, if you can let the game take you in and carry you on, you will be in for a treat.

Shu (The main character of the game) and his friends have to stop the evil villain (Nene) from destroying their town and disrupting the lives of the people that live on the world. It is a cliché story to say the least, but many games are clichéd nowadays. The only thing is how they pull it off. Blue Dragon does it well.

The graphics in Blue Dragon are cartoon like, anime like to be exact. That can only be expected with Akira Toriyama doing the character designs. You may know Toriyama from the famed Dragonball Z series. He also worked on as stated above, Chrono Triger, but also on Dragon Quest VIII. The overworld and dungeons are all beautifully drawn, and seem to flow together very well. Sometimes there is a bit of lag due to the disc loading, but this flaw is very minimal.

Music and sound is amazing in Blue Dragon. Composer Nobuo Uematsu has done a great job on this game. His other works include many Final Fantasy games, Chrono Trigger, and the upcoming Lost Odyssey (http://www.nobuouematsu.com). The voice acting isn’t as good as it could be, but the Japanese voices are quite well done.

Blue Dragon’s game play isn’t very innovative, but it is very fun. Once in battle, it is all turn based combat, as seen in many RPGs, but it also adds in a bar for powering up certain spells and attacks. This adds a bit of skill and strategy when fighting battles. The player can also use a ring in the game to surround a bunch of enemies at once. With the multiple enemy encounters the player can get boosts to their health, attack, defense, etc. after each set of monsters is cleared. Sometimes the monsters will actually attack each other making the battle easier. Overall the battle system and enemy encounters are very engaging.

Overall Blue Dragon is helping Microsoft’s goal of increasing their influence across the Pacific in Japan. The game is very solid, and quite long, taking up three full DVD’s. If you are RPG hungry, own an Xbox 360, and open to a good game, definitely give Blue Dragon a shot. Score: 8.5/10.

Also look forward to Lost Odyssey and Eternal Sonata.

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