DS Review: Blue Dragon Plus

Shu and company return for a handheld adventure…

The story of Blue Dragon centers on a young boy named Shu and several of his friends who possess the ability to control phantom shadows that mirror the actions of their masters. In Blue Dragon Plus, one year has passed since Shu and his companions defeated the tyrannical remnant of the Ancients, Nene. In the midst of the battle, the world split in two and now consists of a myriad of “cubes” that exploded from its depths. King Jibral notices a mysterious cube in the distance suddenly start to move violently, and from it he sees the Shadow of a Balaur, a three-headed dragon, emerge. The enormous and sinister Shadow is just the beginning of the new turmoil and devastation to come.
Blue Dragon started out on the Xbox 360 and while the reviews were in the 7’s and 8’s, I personally found it to be under-rated. I devoted a huge chunk of gaming time to getting almost every achievement, even the time-consuming one of getting every character to Level 99. I had hoped for a sequel for a while, but then I heard it was coming to the DS and was a bit confused as to why since only players of the original would know about the things that Plus makes references to and the characters, of course.

Blue Dragon Plus is an entirely different game from the Blue Dragon that I came to enjoy on Microsoft’s machine. Combat has changed to a more strategic one and while it’s good to mix things up, I can’t help missing the original format of fighting since I have become so used to it. Essentially the idea is to send your characters towards the enemy and they will instantly attack, you can use your Shadow power to attack as well as casting things like medicine on your allies. The stylus comes in as a great help to move your characters around the level, although I found it best to use the d-pad to scroll the level and then use the stylus to select where to move your characters to.
This is a game that will leave you with a few head-scratching moments, not because it’s tough…but because of the decisions it makes. The game will really only appeal to fans of the original, so that means they’ll need a Xbox 360 and a DS just to get the full story, the combat has changed and is a bit off-putting to fans at first, it just seems a little odd. It’s not a bad game by any stretch of the imagination; it’s just hard to see how it will appeal to newcomers and fans alike because of these hurdles.

Blue Dragon Plus can take over 30 hours to do, which isn’t too bad by today’s standards. Also as you play, you’ll get many more units to control in battle, which helps a great deal. I didn’t struggle that much with it, but younger gamers might. RPG veterans will probably breeze through this without much trouble, but that’s more or less expected. It plays like Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings, which isn’t too bad
The game has some nice FMV cutscenes which are fairly impressive, especially for the DS to handle. Voice-acting is absent which is a small blessing since that was one area of Blue Dragon that drove me mad, especially Marumaro who’s voice was annoying as hell. Music seems taken from the original and sounds just as good, especially if you are using the new DSi…those speakers are so much better.

The Verdict

Blue Dragon Plus is an odd one. While it’s a good game, it changes things up for the fans and seems almost inaccessible to the newcomers if they care about story. But if you loved the original and want to see what Shu and company get upto next, then this is exactly what the game delivers and it does it well.