Blue Dragon was one of the Xbox 360′s first beloved role playing games. Now you can play the sequel on your Nintendo DS. Same characters? Yup. Same settings? Yup. Same music? Yup. Same gameplay? Nope! While the first Blue Dragon game was a typical Japanese turn-based battles RPG, the DS sequel is a portable-friendly strategy RPG, similar to other titles like Heroes of Mana or Final Fantasy Tactics.
A word of warning: if you really enjoy the storyline of Blue Dragon, but haven’t played or finished the original game yet, you may want to go back and complete it first (I need to play through the rest of it as well, but today’s RPGs are just too long and drawn out). Blue Dragon Plus picks up a year later after the events of the first game, and just assumes that players know the story and characters. Newcomers may have a hard time figuring out what’s going on at times in the sequel.
Anyhow, a year has passed since Shu and friends saved the world, and the planet was split in two, with cubes floating all around. From one of these cubes emerges a red, three headed shadow dragon, and now Shu, Zola, Marumaro (my favorite), and the rest of the Blue Dragon cast are called upon again to investigate and rid their world of impending evil once more. The story in Blue Dragon Plus is told through captivating CG cutscenes, and there’s quite a few of them, too!
This time, you’ll face hordes of enemies and bosses on a isometric battlefield and must fight them using strategy and tactics. Move your characters around in real time using the DS stylus, and you can even draw circles around more than one character to command them all at once. Figuring out how to play is easy enough, but you’ll probably want to do the tutorial first before starting a new game.
Seems that all characters in this game can use their own special shadows now, and you can summon them for special attacks and healing magic. If you and the enemy use shadows at the same time, rub the stylus on the touch screen as fast as you can to make your shadow bigger than your enemies’ so you can have the upper hand. It would be nice if you could pull up a grid that shows you the range of your special attacks, though.
After successful battles, your party will level up and you can then visit shops to buy items, arrange your parties, and later on you’ll even be able to build your own battle robot Mechas. You can also save at any time, a big plus for a portable game. Really, the only other major problem with this game is the short, squatty sprite characters make it a little difficult to tell where you are in relation to enemies, especially when everyone is all bunched together.
Personally, I prefer the gameplay of the original. But if you don’t mind a major gameplay overhaul and really enjoy the story and characters of Blue Dragon (or if you just like DS strategy games in general), then Blue Dragon Plus is a good purchase.
Blue Dragon Plus is rated E for Everyone with ESRB descriptors of Crude Humor and Fantasy Violence. The game is all about battles, so naturally there’s violence. But it’s not very graphic as defeated enemies just fall down and disappear, and most of the violent acts are only implied via text. Crude Humor mostly stems from one of the characters, a pink, coiled up “Poo Snake.” In Japan, a pink swirly thing is a symbol for cartoon poop, and that’s what the snake looks like. Older kid gamers will probably get the most enjoyment out of Blue Dragon Plus because of all the reading involved, and the brainwork needed to master these kinds of complex strategy games.