|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Feel Plus||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: AQ Interactive||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Feb. 24, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
February 1, 2008 - Anyone can agree that Blue Dragon was an epic story. It may not have had the emotional depth or angst-ridden characters that some of the more modern RPGs have, but many gamers found beauty in Blue Dragon's simplicity. But one thing is for sure: Blue Dragon had an explosive conclusion, in the most literal sense. And while the story could have easily finished there, there is still some hope for those of you who weren't quite ready to say goodbye to the wonderful world of Blue Dragon. This follow-up comes in the form of Blue Dragon Plus, which will be exclusively for the Nintendo DS.
Blue Dragon Plus will be a direct sequel and will pick up right where the original Blue Dragon left off. The universe is still in its altered state, but everyone seems to be living a happy life. However, one day an evil dragon is discovered which prompts some discovery as to the source of the evil dragon. This is where your quest begins. Shu will still be your main man, with supporting characters Kluke, Jiro, Marumaro, and Zola returning. Your party will also include new playable characters King Jibral, General Szabo, and a poo snake. Yes you heard right, the excrement-shaped snake that was the bane of your existence during the original Blue Dragon actually becomes your ally and is able to join your party. I can't say I particularly understand this, but I'm sure Blue Dragon Plus will afford a good excuse for such a weird inclusion.
In addition to the story and the character roster, Blue Dragon Plus will also play much differently than its Xbox 360 counterpart. Instead of the turn-based RPG style of gameplay that was featured in the original, Blue Dragon Plus will feature real-time strategy-based gameplay akin to last year's Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings, which was also a DS sequel to a console RPG. The gameplay will still be centered around your shadows, but instead of using the shadows to deal turn-based attacks, the shadows will instead control various troop formations that you will create. You can then command these troops to execute different dragon-specific attacks.
The fact that the gameplay will take place in real-time is a big departure from the original game, which relied heavily on the old-school style of turn-based gameplay. But I would suppose that the developers behind this new game are trying to take a more modern approach to the RPG genre, and perhaps appeal to the sect that was not interested in the vintage approach that was featured in the first game.
The overall look of the game, from early screenshots, is going to be pretty darn good. Early shots of cinema scenes are actually comparable to the game's console counterpart, and look to be rendered using some pretty intricate shading techniques. Gameplay footage is not as impressive, as it bears resemblance to many other DS titles currently out right now. Of course this doesn't mean that these portions of the game look bad per se, but they're just not as instantly impressive as the shots of the cinema scenes, which I can guarantee you will notice right away. The gameplay looks like it will be rendered in 2-D with 3-D shading elements, while the cinema scenes seem to be in full 3-D. However, it bears mentioning that development is still ongoing, and the overall look might change between now and the games US release (which remains unannounced). Many titles that have had trouble during their initial release in Japan have been getting facelifts before they are released in the US, so it is difficult to say anything is for certain at this stage.
Blue Dragon Plus seems like a far-off title that may not see a US release for at least another year or so. However, it seems like a very interesting title that puts a more modern spin on the classic gameplay that was featured in the original Blue Dragon. This title is also one to keep on the radar because of its awesome-looking cinema scene graphics. So if you loved the original Blue Dragon, then you'll probably love this title immediately, but if you were on the fence the first time around, then this title's new features might make it worth checking out.
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Freelance Writer