Blue Dragon preview impressions

Recently, Destructoid had a chance to sit down with Microsoft to take a look at Blue Dragon; the highly reviewed RPG from Hironobu Sakaguchi of Mistwalker studios, and Final Fantasy fame.  

Blue Dragon, which has already been released in Japan, will be arriving to the North American Xbox 360 in August of this year. Prepare yourself, because the game features a collaboration of talent that would make any RPG fanatic squeal like a little girl. Not only is Blue Dragon designed by the father of Final Fantasy, the games characters have been developed by Akira Toriyama (Dragon Ball), while the music is provided by Nobuo Uematsu — the composer from just about every Final Fantasy, ever.

Hit the jump for impressions.

Aside from knowing who all the big names that were involved in making Blue Dragon were, the only other thing I knew about the game was that it was the 360’s “Japanese bait.” A game specifically created to encourage the Japanese audience into purchasing the 360.

Whether or not you would consider that endeavor a success, the end result is that North American RPG fans finally have something to look forward to on their Xbox 360s. Because Blue Dragon is great, and not just any kind of great, it’s more like, “ZOMG!!1! They took everything great from every Final Fantasy and put it one game,” great.

Tigers!
That, honestly, is the impression I walked away with. Everything I liked about RPGs back in the day is in this game. Turn based battles: check. Small number of party members: check. Huge Esper-like magic attacks: double check.

More importantly, the main focus of this game is the story. Sakaguchi wanted to return to making an RPG in which the story is driven by game play, not fancy cut scenes and time-wasting side quests. Now, I don’t know about you, but this is music to my ears. I’ve long since abandoned the Final Fantasy universe to its Dresssphere nonsense, and look forward to a more traditional style RPG.

Huzzah!

Ironically, the story itself seems to be the standard fare. Boy and friends battle evil to save the planet, is nothing new. Although, it’s good to keep in mind that we only saw the game for about half an hour, and that really isn’t enough time to cast too harsh of a judgment. One of the things that the developers did say, though, is that the storyline is there to help promote the games most “unique” feature: Shadows.

Instead of equipping yourself with armor and swords, your characters battle with the help of their Phantom Shadows (see video). These shadows are permanently attached to each character and are the means in which you attack enemies. Through battles, you gain experience for your shadows (instead of yourself) and learn to use new magic effects and techniques. Now this may sound pretty standard as far as RPG tenets go, but the experience is actually more like battling while using an Esper full-time, and is a nice change from the old swords and armor routine.

Shadow Fight

What about looks? Well, the entire game is decked out in Akira Toriyama’s artwork, and, of course, Sakaguchi and Toriyama have worked together before (Chrono Trigger, anyone?), but with the added power of the 360; this union looks amazing. Toriyama’s unique art style lends an incredible sense of depth that helps flesh out the world of Blue Dragon and its characters, and I assure you that you won’t be let down.

So, all in all, things are looking good. The game has enough old school play mechanics mixed with next-gen loveliness to keep a player happy. It would also be an excellent choice for those of you that have grown tired of what Final Fantasy has become, and want your RPGs to be, ya’ know, RPGs.
 

Dyson