Reviewed: March 11, 2009
Released: February 24, 2009
Blue Dragon as many remember was the first real RPG to grace the Xbox 360 back in late 2007 and for the most part got favorable reviews from press and users alike. I found it intriguing and I actually liked it despite the constant remarks that it was too traditional. Well lucky for me I am fairly old school and couldnít really care either way.
So now it is nearly 2 years later and Mistwalkerís Blue Dragon resurfaces on a whole new system and new gameplay. The Nintendo is vastly becoming the home to several RPGs many of which are tactical or strategy based in nature. Blue Dragon Plus for Nintendo DS is no exception.
Blue Dragon Plus is the continuation of the 360 title and takes place one year after its events. The world of Blue Dragon lives on and its people have learned to embrace the cube worlds that resulted after the planetís core was opened in Shuís last adventure. Though this inevitably does not last and a mysterious three-headed dragon shadow called Balaur emerges from one of the cubes and is discovered by King Jibral and Zola.
Zola tells Shu, Marumaro, and General Szabo of the recent events and the troupe head off to investigate. Only they find more that they bargained for and they are thrown into another race to save the planet from Balaur and a not so defeated nemesis.
So as Iíve already mentioned, the gameplay is very much different from its console counterpart. The first was a classic turned based RPG, but this time things turn strategic but in a good way. The standard rules still apply to this real time strategy but the developers steered away from the traditional grid style going for a more simplified method. Actually the entire game is a much simpler representation of a strategy RPG.
Fighting and navigation takes place on isometric planes with various levels in various locales. You start off controlling 4 characters in the beginning and by the end of the game you will have the ability to control up to 16 Humans and Mecha Robos at a time. I really like a challenge and being able to control that many characters at once is awesome.
Each character in Blue Dragon Plus is capable of fighting to some extent though most will rely heavily on Shu. However the real treat of this series is the ability to call forth Shadows. Each of BD Plusís characters save two is capable of calling one. Shuís, the main character, shadow is a Blue Dragon, hence the title. The other shadows also assume some sort animal or creature such as a Killer Bat, Minotaur, Saber Tiger or the likes.
One of things that I found is that while Blue Dragon Plus is primarily an RTS there are some serious RPG elements involved such as item collection, character progression and even Robot Customizations. This to me is awesome since RTSís are not exactly my cup of tea. Yes I do like some of them but very few. RPGs on the other hand are sort of like kryptonite to me. Hand me one and its over. There are items that can be equipped onto each characterís ear, neck, arm and finger that boost characters stats.
Controls are fairly solid and pretty much the entire experience can be played with the DS stylus and the L + R buttons. While you can use the ABXY buttons to aid you, I rarely every did. The other nice feature is that you can use the stylus to pan the cameras to the desired location.
The one thing that I will say is that while I really love RPGs and the occasional RTSís that there is a crap load of dialogue in Blue Dragon Plus. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it makes the title not time friendly for those wishing to play it in short bursts. It just doesnít happen. I could easily spend 10 out of 15 minutes reading and the rest of the time actually fighting. The DS is a portable system, where most people are looking for a quick fix.
Okay onto one of my favorite parts of Blue Dragon Plus. The graphics of are fairly good for a real time strategy. The stills used to show the conversation are well done as well. But regardless of what the actual game looks like, the FMV (full motion videos) are amazing. They are just as good, rather short sometimes, but just as good as the ones on the 360. They actually crammed 30 hours of gameplay and an hour of FMV material on one small SD card. Not only do the FMVís look sweet they actually scroll across both screens at times.
The sound in Blue Dragon Plus is pretty good considering that they managed to cram all this material on a card and still make the music sound good. Many DS titles suffer musically and this one doesnít. It isnít quite as good as the score to the parent title, which I loved, but still impressive. The combat sound effects are also well done and match the combat to a tee.
On the value scale, Blue Dragon Plus is worthy of the $30 price tag. With over 30 hours of gameplay, gorgeous FMVs, and fairly strong gameplay itís kind of hard to look past especially with other big titles running at $40 to $50 dollars. Mistwalker did a good job at taking an already good title and taking it further and to a new audience, especially since DSís are selling likeÖhotcakes.
Blue Dragon Plus is a great title for the DS. I enjoyed the challenge of controlling 16 different characters and managing all of them. The FMVs and While this is a Real Time Strategy and I am not fantastic at these titles by any stretch of the imagination, the RPG elements and the ease of use is really what sold me. I recommend this picking up this title to any DS user and particularly any fans of the original 360 title.