Thanks to Snaileb's impressions (Here
I picked up a copy of Blue Dragon this past weekend (I needed something new to do with Bioshock beaten at 960 achievement points I might add... just need to beat it on hard mode next).
Snaileb went into far greater detail than I will (no need to rehash the same) but I'll touch mainly on where I think I'm getting the big parts of my enjoyment from.
First of all, if you get this game, do yourself a HUGE favor and create a free Hong Kong XBOX Live account (lots of instructions on how to go about this out there...but if you need help with this, just ask) so that you can get the free DLC patch for the game. This adds the Hard Mode and New Game+ modes for new playthroughs.
I did this first and have been playing through the game on Hard difficulty because I had heard that the game was VERY easy. I like a challenge in my rpgs thank you very much. I'm very glad I've done this because the difficulty feels exactly where it should be. The fluff battles are still fairly easy as they should be...but exciting enough to where it's not enough to hit A, A, A, A, A, etc.. Some are a bit of a challenge though.
Where it really shines though is the boss fights. I've heard the boss fights on normal are just a snorefest. On Hard though, they really do test you in some cases. I frequently have to plan my charge attacks ahead to make sure I'm not leaving myself vulnerable to what the boss might be getting off on me beforehand (especially my casters which do double duty on black and white magic).
One thing which has always plagued me in JRPGs (especially the Final Fantasy games) is how the extremely valuable and helpful (yet rare) items you collect tend to never get used. Take Final Fantasy IV. The Elixirs you collect which restore all HP (and MP?) to a character. Awesome items that can save you in a pinch. I never freaking used them because they were SO valuable, I always was afraid to use them because I might need them later. By the end of the game, I had so many that they felt artificial and I really didn't need them so much. I run into this problem ALL the time.
Thankfully, this hard mode in Blue Dragon isn't following the same model for me. I have HAD to use some pretty kick ass items I've found so far just to keep my head above water. I can say now if I hadn't forced myself to get away from hoarding the good items, I'd be forced to spend a bit of extra time powerleveling my party to compete with the bosses. It has been GREAT fun because of this and I love being on the edge of my seat for so many battles knowing that one wrong move could doom my party to defeat.
For all its fanfare, surprising how I NEVER felt so close to disaster at any point in Final Fantasy XII as I have for the vast majority of Blue Dragon. And I mean that in a good way (for BD) because it makes the game that much more fun, challenging, and ultimately rewarding.
What Blue Dragon is:
-A Classic JRPG in every sense of the phrase
-Turn based, methodical (some will call it slow and boring) combat
-Full of tongue-in-cheek dialogue with endearing characters that some will abhor because of their cheesiness and cliche's
What Blue Dragon is not:
If you know this going in and want a good classic JRPG (in all forms and manners), you'll be well rewarded. Buy it! read