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Platform

Xbox 360

 

Genre

Role-Playing

 

Publisher

Microsoft Games Studio

 

Developer

Mistwalker

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

August 2007

 

 

- A solid romp with some excellent turn-based combat

- Easy enough to get into but still has some depth

 

 

- You'll spend a lot of time watching cutscenes

- The overworld exploration could have been scaled back

 

 

Review: Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (360)

Review: Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Wii)

Review: BioShock (360)

 

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Blue Dragon

Score: 7.0 / 10

 

Blue Dragon instantly took me back to about 1993 at the very moment I was installing Police Quest IV – spread across a dozen 3 ¼” floppies.  The two games couldn’t be more dissimilar but the two share a commonality: multiple discs.  Blue Dragon is spread across three discs!  And it’s not because the adventure is that long or that it pushes the 360 to the breaking point, it’s because it features so many cutscenes that you’ll be forgiven if you feel like you’re watching an anime-inspired cartoon rather than playing an anime-inspired role-playing game.

 

blue dragon          blue dragon

 

The first hour or two in particular set the tone for rest of the game, which proceeds thusly: wander through an area fighting “monsters” of your choosing, upgrade your abilities, etc., open a few chests, watch a mostly overwrought cutscene and repeat.  As prevalent as these cutscenes are I found myself caring less and less interest in the story as the game progressed – beginning with a boy and his friends battling a Land Shark – and more on the turn-based combat, which gets quite deep about half-way through the adventure since you need to deal with as many as five party members with an array of stats and abilities.  In fact, much

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of the “overworld” exploration – that is, non-combat situations – begins to get in the way of the battles.  It made me wished that the whole game was turn-based, not just the combat.

 

For the most part, the menu system driving the combat and the ability to access inventories and character information is straightforward, but 

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there are layers to flip through.  I found it to be no more complicated than most console role-playing games and the turn-based sensibility lends itself to careful party management so it didn’t form any frustration.

 

blue dragon          blue dragon

 

One thing that just can’t be avoided is that Blue Dragon is a cute game.  Even most of the creatures and deviants you fight look like they escaped from a Pokémon game – or were kicked out for not being cool enough.  That seems an indictment of the kind of big, bright character designs throughout Blue Dragon, but for every couple of lackluster creatures there are nearly as many “original” creatures to keep it interesting.  (And if you time things right on the overworld map, these creatures will often battle each other before turning their attention to your party.)

 

Blue Dragon is a harmless, lighthearted role-playing game at its core with too many cutscenes but with some really great strategic battles.  As a coming out title for Mist Walker Studios, it’s solid, so I can’t help but wonder what kind of spin-off/sequel they might follow Blue Dragon up with.

 

- D.D. Nunavut

(October 17, 2007)

 

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