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Video Game Review - Blue Dragon (Hironobu Sakaguchi, Akira Toriyama, Nobuo Uematsu)

Blue Dragon is a colourful entrant into a genre that is typically defined by bloody dark fantasy (such as Dragon Age: Origins), epic space dramas (Mass Effect) or post-apocalyptic wastelands (Fallout 3).

Blue Dragon European Cover Art, Shu, Dragon Shadow, Nene, Kluke, Jiro, Marumaru, Zola

Akira Toriyama, popular for his work with the Dragonball anime series, contributes the character design for the game – a major contribution that goes a long way to establishing the rather warm and friendly aesthetic of the narrative and character development.

Narrative, Cast of Characters, Ominous Dark Clouds

The plot in Blue Dragon is fairly simple as far as fantasy tropes are concerned. For the past decade, ominous dark clouds have been appearing annually on the fringes of villages across the land, followed immediately by brutal raids which leave destruction in their wake.

Shu, a teenager from Talta Village, must gather a band of friends and allies to undertake the mission of thwarting this ancient evil, laying waste to the technological horrors inflicted upon the land by arch-villian, Nene.

An interesting facet of the plot development is the mild expletives used by otherwise chibi characters, as well as some adult themes that seem strangely out of place given the rather child-like ambience. Nene and Deathroy evolve into sinister characters, especially towards the end of the second disc and the beginning of the third.

Combat System, Turn Based Role Playing, Collecting Nothings

The combat system in Blue Dragon is novel and engaging, allowing for some degree of strategy even before the battle proper is to begin. Monsters and other foes are always visible from the field, and can be engaged with traps, back-attacks, and multi-monster battles. Further, party members may acquire “field skills” that can be put to use against enemies, traps that might influence the upcoming combat in the player's favour.

Nearly every object in the world can be searched, simply by pressing the A button. This may result in finding gold, objects, or even what is known as a “nothing”. While “nothings” may not add to your inventory directly, they can be accumulated and traded to a gentleman in the city of Jibral in exchange for special, high-powered items.

The turn-based combat system in Blue Dragon is classic and does not change much from the established formula (a move which has drawn both praise and criticism from reviewers). For those who relish the traditional JRPG format when it comes to role-playing games, Blue Dragon will not disappoint. For those expecting a more modern take on the genre, this game may come across as lacklustre.

A charming and inexpensive experience (commonly found used for ~$15 at the time of this writing), Blue Dragon for the Xbox 360 is worth every penny.

Final Rating : 8.0 / 10

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