Blue Dragon. An Xbox 360 exclusive JRPG featuring the talents of Hironobu Sakaguchi, Nobuo Uematsu, and Akira Toriyama. It’s one of those games that genuinely convinced me that I would have to get a 360. I still wouldn’t until the XBONE was right below the horizon, but still, when I got one Blue Dragon entered my sights. However, once I got my hands on the game I would end up shelving it until LaTerry revived Band of Bloggers and revealed his theme of “Dragons”. When I thought of which dragon game to play, Blue Dragon was the obvious choice. It’s a hole in my gaming repertoire, and one I fully intend to fill.
But I probably won’t finish it this month. Let’s be honest, I picked a hefty game. The main campaign is at least 30ish hours, and I fully intend to mess around and due side stuff. And God of War comes out this month, and then Blue Dragon will be temporarily shelved again. So I can’t do a review or really critique the game as whole. Instead, I’m doing a sort of “first impressions” kind of blog for now. When I do finish the game, I’ll do a more thorough blog detailing how I feel about the complete game. But for right now, let’s just talk about how the game made me feel within the first few hours.
Blue Dragon is a critically acclaimed game. One beloved by JRPG fans and considered to be among the greatest JRPGs of all time.
Based on my first impressions, I can understand why.
At first, I was a bit underwhelmed. The game’s main protagonists are not the most unique characters. You have Shu, a fairly standard shonen protagonist. Loudmouthed, determined, stupidly heroic. He reminds me a lot of Naruto. Right down to his annoying voice. But at least he kind of sounds like a kid. Unlike Jiro and Kluke, who both sound like 25 year olds stuck in 10 year olds bodies. And both have rather standard personalities. Jiro is the smart one that’s kind of a dick and Kluke is the plucky girl that’s tougher than she looks and has a tragic backstory. It’s not that big of a deal to have such fairly standard JRPG heroes, but I was a little disappointed since the game gets so much acclaim, I assumed the characters had to be something special. Granted, I’m still fairly early in the game, so perhaps they get developed more later, but for now I’m not impressed.
Now I don’t want you to misinterpret me here. I am enjoying this game quite a lot. It’s just that the main characters aren’t particularly interesting. The enemies on the other hand, are pretty unique. Not the main villain mind you (who I’ve been calling purple Piccolo). But the enemies you face most of the time are quite interesting and unique. I mean the first thing I faced was a land shark. That’s kind of cool. And later I faced poo snakes. POO. SNAKES. Little snake men that are shaped like a pile of shit. That’s not something I ever expected. And later on you face lots of unique enemies that you don’t see in any other game. And best of all, thanks to the game’s mechanics the fights with them can be pretty special too.
What I mean by this is simply this. You can make enemies fight one another. By using the R trigger you can choose to fight more than one enemy at a time from the non-battle map. Doing so with certain enemy combos causes the enemies to fight amongst themselves. This can lead to making some fights against tough enemies much easier and you can get some extra gold by doing so as well.
Speaking of extra gold, you can get a decent bit just by checking almost everything in the environment. Rocks, trees, random objects? Check them to gain extra gold, experience, stat boosts, items. I love this idea, as I already do this in RPGs anyway. Feels so good to have it actually pan out in a game.
Similarly, if your like me as a kid you would tap buttons during spells and special attacks in the vain, delusional hope that it would somehow help. Well, in Blue Dragon, it does. Tapping “A” while using spells increases damage done to the enemy or HP restored to an ally. It’s so satisfying to have such a dumb thing I did as a kid, even though it didn’t help at all finally do something! It’s silly, but I absolutely love it!
As for the game’s story? Nothing to special just yet, but that’s okay. There is definitely some intrigue as to why the main villain Nene is doing what he’s doing and the mystery surrounding the shadow creatures themselves to keep me interested. The locations you visit are cool and interesting. I’m more than invested enough to keep going and see where it’s all leading. And the gameplay is engaging enough to keep me playing too. And I have some hopes for future character development and new party members. The pirate lady already seems more interesting due to her design and the fact that she doesn’t look like a child. Seriously, why do so many JRPGs have children saving the world?
So far I’ve been enjoying Blue Dragon. While narratively not the most unique game ever, it makes up for that with truly engaging and special gameplay. I can easily understand why so many people love this game. And why it’s so highly regarded as a JRPG classic. If you have access to a 360 and can get your hands on a copy, I would recommend doing so highly. It’s a great way to spend your time. I don’t know how I’ll end up feeling about it when I’m done, but I can see considering it one of my favorite RPGs. Time will tell though.