Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Capsule Review - Blue Dragon (XBOX 360)

Playing lots of games that aren't obscure Japanese playstation games means... quick little capsule reviews! Although yeah, I've been playing some genuinely terrible obscure Japanese Playstation games, too. Don't play Touki Denshou Angel Eyes. It's not worth it.

An attempt to recapture the collaborative magic that resulted in Chrono Trigger, Blue Dragon is a charmless mishmash of Stuff We've Seen Before stapled to a plot that goes nowhere interesting. Akira Toriyama's character designs are his most boring ever. It's easy enough to assume that he was fed up with being associated with fictional works containing the word "Dragon" in their titles, and provided the willfully schlocky and unimaginative character designs in this game as a form of protest. The big bad guy, a geriatric named Nene (see below image) who flies around the world in his futuristic airship tormenting people (because he's just that kind of guy), is the most obvious offender. He has absurd horn-rimmed glasses, and floats around in a flying chair while wearing what appears to be a cozy blanket around his waist. It doesn't help that none of the protagonists appear to be over the age of 15. Or that I can't remember their names despite playing the game for many hours before calling it quits.Blue Dragon, being the brainchild of Final Fantasy Man Hironobu Sakaguchi, cribs Final Fantasy V's compelling job system and Final Fantasy X's compelling battle system, and removes everything that made either of them good. Characters switch between various incredibly boring classes (Black Mage! Barrier Mage! Generalist!), with no visual change other than an icon at the bottom of the screen. Instead of unlocking progressively weirder and tenuously useful job classes as you progress, Blue Dragon opts to let you slowly unlock classes from a small, unchanging list as your characters level up. The game's Xbox 360 achievements, of course, involve reaching level 99 with all of your characters, and then doing it for all of your characters' job classes. The easiest way to do this is to level a barrier mage until he learns a spell that lets you run into enemies in order to automatically defeat them for job points, and then run around, smashing into said enemies over and over for hours, occasionally visiting an Inn to replenish your mp. There are people out there who genuinely enjoy this.

The soundtrack, composed by Final Fantasy's Nobuo Uematsu, is nearly totally forgettable. Except for the boss music, which works a lot better when it's ironic. What the hell happened with this game?

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