A Solid JRPG that too many expected way too much from…. for good reason!
Played on: Xbox 360
Developer: Mistwalker and Artoon
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
STARING DOWN ETERNITY
Date posted: November 17, 2017
There. I got that out of the way. This Boss theme, depending who you ask, is either the best boss theme of all time, or the worst. Me? Of course i’m choosing the former- are you crazy (because I sure am!).
Blue Dragon is one of the first JRPG created for the Xbox 360, a system I never did have a fondness for (I’ll explain when I review the thing). Strangely enough this game was exclusive to the system- to this day, it has not been ported to anything- not even the Xbox One- and I have my own theory, which I will get to later. But first, lets find out the (not so) surprising people behind this game.
Off the bat, the art style should be apparent to you- the art is done by the legendary DragaonBall and Dragon Quest artist, Akira Toriyama, who once again does a good job at designing characters and enemies from the game. On top of this, you have Hironobu Sakaguchi writing the story, AND Nobuo Uematsu doing the music, including the boss theme above, which was sung by the lead singer of Deep Purple, Ian Gillian! When creating an JRPG, this is the team of people you want!
So what went wrong?
Not much, but having such a great team behind, this reviewer thinks people just expected way too much out of the project. I’ll explain in the CONS section.
From the get go, Blue Dragon looks good, especially for a game that only came out a year or two after the 360 game out. It’s bright and colorful- a sight you sadly don’t see on the console that often, thanks mostly in part to brown and bloom shooters exploding in popularity in the 360’s generation. It also has a cool depth of field effect that, I personally liked- in contrasted well with the action figure-esque models.
Of course, Akira Toriyama does a great job with the artwork and aesthetic- the dragons that the protagonists use in particular are great looking and reflect each user’s personality well!
The gameplay is somewhat standard for your average JRPG- you have characters each with a different purpose, or class- (Fighter, Healer, Mage, Monk, etc.)- but the cool feature here is the ability to actually change your class a’la Final Fantasy 5, and even keep certain spells when you decide to change your class. It works really well and gives you a lot of flexibility as you play thought this long-ass 3-disc game. The JRPG work well, and most classic Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest fans will feel right at home.
Nobuo Uematsu does a great job with the score, yet again! I could go on and tell you how good the boss theme is, once again, but I’ll just leave you with the excellent cave theme instead.
Noticed how I haven’t talked about the story all that much. Well, yeah… It’s not bad, but seeing how it came from the guy who wrote the book on Final Fantasy, including the epic story of FF4, you expect a bit more then “Stop this evil emperor guy and save your village!” Don’t get me wrong- the story does have it’s moments- like when you get your Dragons taken away temporarily or something with bombs attached to your neck (What is this? The Running Man?) but for the most part, the story isn’t all that great… in fact, it might be it’s weakest link. You do at least get to explore a lot of cool areas, like airships and some dimensional rift cube things that appear at the end. Also the characters are pretty good, I guess…
It also has the “I was the actual villain all along!” cliché that FF4 had. Ugh.
It also come on 3 disks. 3 DISKS! Now and days, games usually only come on one- you think by the time this game came out, they would have made strides on fitting a game on one disk, but no! When buying this game used, be wary- check to see that you have all the disks when you order online, or before leaving! Not a deal breaker, but it does make things complicated!
I probably don’t have to say this, but this game gets a lot of flak. Remember what I told you about that ensemble cast of a legendary video game Writer, Artist, and Musician? Yes, they are all talented- and people noticed. Their ears perked up when they heard that all these legends in the industry were getting together to make an JRPG. What did they think of when they heard about this project? Final Fantasy. Chrono Trigger. Dragon’s Quest. Absolute legendary game series.
This is why Blue Dragon failed- if the project was not the greatest JRPG ever created, based on the people creating it- then it was simply nothing. I could go on here, and talk about entitled the JRPG fanbase is, or how their delusional, but instead I’ll say this- I actually understand exactly where their coming from. You get so many titans in one room, you expect a masterpiece- I get it. However, this time the game wasn’t perfect- a somewhat shallow story and combat that had pretty much been done in every other JRPG before kept this game from achieving greatness. Don’t get me wrong- Blue Dragon is not a bad JRPG by any stretch of the imagination- its just that so many expected much better from the best the industry had to offer.
If you go into Blue Dragon expecting a decent JRPG with a lengthy playtime, classic JRPG gameplay, and graphics that actually hold up, along with great soundtrack, your going to have a pretty good time. Go in expecting a masterpiece or a good story, and, sadly, you are most likely going to be sorely disappointed.
Most people wanted too much out of this game- and with the people at the helm, I really can’t blame them. All I want to say is that you shouldn’t go to hard on the game just because it never reaches the same height as games like Chrono Trigger. I really think the game doesn’t deserve a lot of the flak it gets. In fact, I think its one of the more underrated JRPGs on the 360. If you already played Lost Odyssey- an admittedly better game by the same studio and one of the best JRPGs available for the system, then I hope you give this game a chance as well.
Agree? Disagree? Good! Leave a comment about how terrible my taste is in the comments below!