Previews// Blue Dragon Plus will find yourself entering a Hikikomori mode...

Posted 3 Feb 2009 17:56 by
This, actually, is the heart of the game. You control the merry band. They have got to fight Nene's minions to stop him returning the world (or worlds, or cubes) to the Ancient ways. These ways are ancient, therefore not modern, therefore not good. You follow? You have two methods of combat:

1. First, weapons. Each character comes with various strengths and weaknesses. Take my advice and bring a notebook in order to keep track of these. Some are good at fighting with fists and weapons. Some are absolutely rubbish, I mean they are as poor as James McAvoy at the start of Wanted. However, due to the general timbre of chirpy, morally wholesome, team-player violence that pervades the game (I won't give up! - why you little bast... but I digress), the McAvoy-like characters have other solid virtues. Some are good at healing the band; others are great at providing timely advice.

2. Shadow skills: right, this is the main event. This is where you have to enter the mindset of a chess, or probably Go player. Why? Well, for goodness' sake, there is no point deploying a fire-based skill against an enemy with a fire-based strength! You need to select a water-based skill don't you. Yes, the old fire, water, earth elemental system is there.

So, while being whipped from one location (to fight) to the next (to fight again) by the game engine, you also have to organise your group into the optimal configuration (for fighting). This is, of course, highly dependent on how Nene's minions are attacking you. After only a few short hours of play, however, you will find yourself entering a Hikikomori mode; selecting group members with the correct skills as if by magic; deploying shields and healers; you will even begin to come to grips with the plot.

Because, you see, even for a 'noob' such as myself, Blue Dragon Plus is immensely playable. Squad movement is simple, with the ability to select individuals, sets or the entire group. After selecting them, however, moving them to the desired locations can result in some annoyance as you prod your DS's wand and prod it again before resigning yourself to unleashing a character who... lashes a healing balm on a bloody huge robot that is currently bashing the hell out of the tremendously po-faced Jiro (the strategist and prig if you ask me).

This may be a fault with this build of the game (some of the cut-scene graphics also look horribly scaled) or it may be my impatience at a level of complexity that would suit gamers of a much younger age than me (about 30 years younger).

Now, this preview, like the game itself has suddenly grown from what I thought was going to be a short run through. Suffice to say that developer, Brownie Brown (Heroes of Mana) has managed to sprinkle some Japanese whimsy all over the DS in such a way as to come close to capturing my heart, if not my soul (and you've got to have soul in order to control you shadow... see, madness!).

All in all, it's a fun few hours away from any form of reality.

I'll certainly be having a crack at the finished product.

Here's an eyeful of it (in Japanese) to give you a better feel:

Oh, if you like me were not totally up on the whole Blue Dragon meme, try the following as an introduction to the characters and the general gung-ho'ness.

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