sparky_buzzsaw's Blue Dragon (Xbox 360) review

Technically sound, but bogged down by a weak story and characters

Blue Dragon is a really mixed bag.  On the one hand, if you're looking for a meaty traditional JRPG with some great bonus content, Blue Dragon is an excellent choice.  But on the other hand, if you're tired of cutesy anime-styled characters, weak plotlines, and laughably bad dialogue, then you'll probably want to steer clear of Blue Dragon.

GRAPHICS & SOUND

Blue Dragon isn't a bad-looking game.  There are some framerate issues, especially at the start of combat, but those have mostly been ironed out and hardly become noticeable.  The characters all animate fluidly, there's a decent amount of cutscenes, and everything has a clean polish to it.  What I really have issues with is the cutesy-ness of it all.  If you've played any of the Legend of the Mystical Ninja games or just about any kid-oriented anime on the market, you'll be immediately familiar with the stylization of the characters.  That's not a good thing.  The main characters are derivative, and all have that "been there, saw that" feel to them.

Cutscenes follow that same basic feel.  I cringed in certain parts from embarassment.  Ultra-cute little trolls dance and sing, an overabundance of "one look" evil-types, and some of the most bland side-characters in gaming history all drag the entire experience down.

GAMEPLAY

There's very little to complain about here.  If, like me, you enjoy traditional turn-based RPG's, you'll find a lot to like here.  The combat is sound, there are plenty of hidden items and boss fights, and the world is large without becoming overly confusing.  You won't find much to break the mold, but it does everything exceptionally well.  There's a decent amount of challenge to found without becoming too rough (I'm looking at you, Last Remnant).

If you find yourself enjoying the game, you might want to check out the additional content.  It's relatively cheap and it adds several hours of gameplay to an already lengthy game.

OVERALL

How much enjoyment you'll take from Blue Dragon will really depend on two things - how well you can handle or enjoy the ultra-cute characters and the shoddy plot, and how much you enjoy JRPG's.  For what it's worth, I enjoyed the game, but I couldn't help wonder what potential it could have had with a more adult-themed atmosphere and characters.

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