Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Sorry, here is my review of Blue Dragon (Xbox 360)

Sorry about the delay, I had some personal issues and this had to wait. Without further ado:

Back in 2004, Hirnobu Sakaguchi left Square-Enix and formed his own company, Mistwalker. People were shocked by this news and were even more shocked when it was known that Mr. Sakaguchi would make games for the Xbox 360; a western game system. When he brought in Akira Toriyama (Dragonball Z, Dragon Quest) as well as Nobuo Uematsu (well-known video game musician), people believed that only greatness could follow. With the release of Lost Odyssey, I thought I would give you my review of his first game for the 360; Blue Dragon.

Story – Once a year for 10 years, Talta Village has been covered in purple clouds. When those clouds come in, land sharks attack, devastating the village. Three people (Shu, Jiro, and Kluke) decide to do something about it. They attack the land shark and are thrown into a cave. They eventually find the land shark and it is actually mechanized. While in the land shark, they meet up with the person that is attacking their village, Nene. Later on, they are given light orbs and are told to swallow them. They do and their shadows become a dragon, minotaur, and bird respectively. During the course of the story, you meet up with a Deede named Marumaro and a warrior for the city of Jibral, Zola. That is the basis of the story. Your entire game is based on following and trying to kill Nene. The story follows typical Japanese story lines about finding you own way in life. The first time that you play an RPG with this story, you can handle it. But the 100th time is just getting old. First of all, Marumaro's voice is, by far, the most annoying character since Raiden from Metal Gear Solid 2. In fact, Marumaro is 20 times worse. There will be several times when Shu will say something such as, “I won't give up.” After the 100th time hearing that, you want to kill Shu yourself. There are rescue missions, as well as retrieval. In other words, this is the typical story with a horrible cast.

Grade – D

Graphics – The graphics are one of the best parts of the entire games. Akira Toriyama is well known for his work on Dragonball, Dragonball Z, and the Dragon Warrior/ Dragon Quest games. He lends his art style to this game and it shows. The character animations look great with a great sense of detail. The monsters all animate as well. The environments looks mostly good, even thought there are times when you could have sworn that you have seen this place before. You can spot minor glitches, but they are not that bad. Later in the game, you are given a special attack per shadow and they look truly amazing. They not on the scale of Final Fantasy, but pretty damn good. Overall, the eye candy makes the terrible story tolerable.

Grade – A-

Controls – Enemies appear on the playing field and you can choose to attack them or flee. You can place an attack circle around enemies by pressing the RT. Then you can fight the enemies in a typical match. There is no ATB in this game, which would have been nice. You can take as much time as you need for the attack. The battle controls are very smooth, except that you will be pressing the Defend command more often than you'd like. It can get very annoying. The character movement on the map is very annoying. It looks as if the characters are running when all they are doing is walking a small distance. Very awkward. Out on the world map, you are encouraged to check out everything. And I do mean EVERYTHING. If you get an item, good. If you get a Nothing, then that is good as well. It just seems like that was added to elongate the game a bit. Overall, the control is very good, except for some hiccups here and there. But hey, no one's perfect.

Grade – B+

Sound – This is a tale of two different sounds. On one hand, you have the terrific Nobuo Uematsu scoring the game. There are times when the music is very good, especially the ending song. I can just sit back and listen to it because it just sounds like a very good and happy song. The environmental songs are very reminiscent of Final Fantasy songs and it just sounds so good and subtle. But there are times when the music can just drive you up the fucking wall. There are, of course, boss battles. And with boss battles comes the inevitable task of a boss battle song. This song is fine at first, but when you are listening to the horrible Japanese hard rock song for the 50th time, you know the words to the song and wished that you didn't. Mr. Uematsu made a great soundtrack, except for one.
The sounds of the game are a mixed bag of good and downright shitty voices. Every grunt, every yell, every rustle of branches in the game sound as they should. The supporting cast of NPC's are voiced excellently, minus one town (I'll talk about that later). The main characters are also a mixed bag. Shu, the lead character, sounds very good but he continuously uses the same “I won't give up” mantra throughout the game. It will get old really quick. Kluke and Jiro's voice is very good. It fits the characters very well. Zola is, by far, the best of the bunch. Her voice sounds like a dark Gillian Anderson from X-Files fame. Far and away the best. Then there's Marumaro. Oh my fucking God. He sounds like Jar Jar Binks from Star Wars getting kicked in the nuts. His entire village sounds just like him and there is one time where you have to help cure his village of an illness and you actually wish that you had the option to let them die.

Grade – B-

Challenge – There are points in this game when you can cheat (somewhat) and I will tell you in this section. One of the challenges in this game is deciding how to level up your shadows. You have 9 different classes to level up and you try to get all of the skills unlocked for all 9, but it will make the latter levels brutally difficult. The shadow skills can all be unlocked by around shadow level 35 (Barrier Magic takes level 50). You want to get to level 50 with one person at the start and here is how. Go to the laser field during the game and there is a place where Needle Nosed Moles reside. When you start your level 3 field barrier, you can start to kill them and they continue to regenerate. You can gain massive amounts of levels for you shadows and make the latter parts pretty smooth. Another challenge in this game is getting a couple of achievements that are HARD. One is finding every monster in the game. There are times when you will fight a monster, or even a boss, and they will summon underlings. That may be the only time you can fight them. You may have to get two monsters together and have them fight each other to create a whole new monster. Almost impossible to get without a guide. The Last challenge involves collecting every item in the game. There times when you can purchase an item once and that is it. There are times when you need to steal a rare item from a boss and you will have to reset the game several times to get it. Just try to get the Treasure Hunt ability from the Assassin class to improve your odds. The game did not bother me at all so hopefully it will be harder for you. There are 8 super bosses that you can battle besides the final boss and they can wipe you out quickly. Just make sure that you are properly equipped. One boss kept beating my sorry ass until I had my characters at around level 66. Yes, I said 66.

Grade – B-

Achievements – There are a bunch of secret achievements in Blue Dragon. There are, in fact, too many to name here so I will put it to you like this. If you get to a scenario where it seems like a mini-game; get a perfect score on it. You will get an achievement on it. Also, run away from 50 battles for a zero point achievement.

Extras – The extras are involved in the download of extra content. For 200 points, you can get 6 new items that are not in the game. There is a free download for vets of the game. It is called “impossible” and that is all that you need to know. The gem is the Shuffle Dungeon. For 400 points, you will unlock a special cube (play the game and you will know what I'm talking about) that has new enemies, new items, and the level changes every time you enter. That adds an additional 9-10 hours easily. That with the super-bosses, makes it worthwhile.

Grade – B+

Overall, Blue Dragon is the game that you want to play because of the names, but end up not even caring about the story. The only thing that makes this game decent is the solid fighting engine and the extras. Hopefully with Lost Odyssey, Sakaguchi-san (I say that because we're tight) will do a much better job.

Overall Grade – B-

Phil-N Rob'd moment: With the leveling up shadow trick that I talk about earlier, I tried to do it on an island that constantly regenerates enemies. I put a piece of cardboard in between the analog sticks and left it so I could go to sleep. I woke up 6 hours later and found that my characters didn't level up once. I was running in a circle and enemies were behind me and would disappear before I got to them. 6 hours of my 360's life wasted on that shit.

And, of course, here is the 2nd opinion, courtesy of

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