Thursday, August 23, 2007

Blue Dragon

Developer: Mistwalker
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studio
Release Date: Aug. 28, 2007
Systems: Xbox 360
ESRB Rating: T
Official Web Site

In a nutshell: Final Fantasy + Dragon Ball Z = Blue Dragon.

0:01 The title screen is a stark white background with the words" Press Start" floating there. Where's the title? I like the gently lilting music, though.
0:02 What better way to start a demo than some impossible to understand dialogue. "Wow, he's got all sorts of stuff." Who has what? One character has a glowing bracelet. "There's not much time left." "I'm gonna save you no matter what." Maybe it'll make more sense later?
0:03 So the glowing necklace around Kluke's neck is a bomb that we have to disarm. Yikes. Also: What kind of a name is Kluke?
0:06 Enemies can eat each other in a monster fight. Cool! Shades of Doom.
0:09 Just like Dragon Ball, you can spend massive amounts of time charging up your attacks.
0:10 Jira just kind of stands there impassively with arms folded as giant blue cougars slash at his body. He dies without flinching, then is resurrected for some reason. What's going on?
0:13 Jira dies again but this time he stays down. Luckily the demo packs me with plenty of items to revive him.
0:17 I'm fighting armored fish. ARMORED FISH! THEY WALK AROUND ON LAND! WITH ARMOR! Just thought I'd point that out.
0:19 Half my characters level up with relatively little fanfare.
0:21 I like the variety of options for each of my five characters. One has a meditation healing, another has multi-enemy attacks, another can steal. Makes them feel unique.
0:22 Holding A to powering up attacks is way too touchy. I can't seem to get the meter to land where I want it to.
0:23 The presentation is a strong point so far. I love the lifelike animation and the evocative music.
0:25 "Szabo, we destroyed you" "I am a machine, my body simply needed repairs." "That sucks!" The bad voice acting is only matched by the bad dialogue.
0:26 Boss battle time. The enemies get off half a dozen attacks before I get a turn. That hardly seems fair...
0:30 So far all but one turn has been spent healing or un-paralyzing from that first volley. Fun?
0:32 Quick question: Should a character named "Grand Silent Ku" really be talking so much in battle. Shouldn't his words be reserved for important moments, like Silent Bob in Clerks? Also, the boss battle music is possibly the most Emo song ever created.
0:34 Apparently healing was a bad strategy. Once I do start attacking, the mini-bosses go down very quickly. But then Grand Sazbo comes in. "I'll blow you to scum pieces with these cannons." "Oh yeah, we'll just smash those cannons." HINT HINT!
0:35 Jeez! The first volley of cannon attacks kills off three of my characters! I wasn't ready for that!
0:39 The bosses attacks really vary from turn to turn. One turn he'll do 27 damage to one character. The next he'll do hundreds to all at once. Sheesh.
0:40 Summon time. The "corporeal" attack turns my blue dragon into a white flying King Kong style monkey with fangs. An energy barf bathes the boss in a white cylinder. The whole thing takes a full 60 seconds.
0:43 The animations for the attacks are elaborate and beautiful. I love them now, but I'm sure I'll hate them around, oh, hour 20 of watching them OVER and OVER!
0:45 The boss battle is finally done. Apparently the mysterious "Nene" has been watching us this entire time. I don't know why that's a problem.. all we did was attack and rattle off some expository dialogue.
0:48 That was only floor one of the fortress? Jeez! Floor two looks a lot like floor one. I mean a LOT!
0:51 Yikes. After charging up for three turns, an octopus enemy explodes and does massive damage to everyone. I gotta be quicker.
0:53 I like the focus on fewer, more in-depth battles. I also like being able to group nearby enemies together for battles, and the ability to skip easy battles with a special barrier. Keeps things moving quickly. But... is it a good sign that I enjoy skipping the battles?

Would I play this game for more than an hour?
Why? Let's put it this way. I'd play it for ten more hours, not 40.

This review based on a demo version downloaded from Xbox Live.

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