Blue Dragon

Infobox VG
title = Blue Dragon


developer = Mistwalker, Artoon
publisher = Microsoft Game Studios
designer = Hironobu Sakaguchi
artist = Akira Toriyama
composer = Nobuo Uematsu
released = vgrelease|JP=December 7, 2006|EU=August 24 2007vgrelease|NA=August 28, 2007|AUS=August 30, 2007
genre = Console role-playing game
modes = Single-player, Xbox Live
ratings = vgratings|ESRB=T|CERO=A|PEGI=12+|OFLCA=PG
platforms = Xbox 360
media = 3 DVD-DL
nihongo|"Blue Dragon"|ブルードラゴン|Burū Doragon is a console role-playing game developed by Mistwalker and Artoon and distributed by Microsoft Game Studios exclusively for the Xbox 360. "Blue Dragon" is based on a design by "Final Fantasy" series creator Hironobu Sakaguchi, who also supervised development and wrote the plot.cite web|url=http://www.gamestop.com/Catalog/ProductDetails.aspx?product_id=64383|title=Blue Dragon: Expanded Information|publisher=GameStop|accessdate=2008-07-01] The game was released in Japan on December 7, 2006, in Europe on August 24, 2007 and in North America on August 28, 2007.

"Blue Dragon" follows the story of five friends: Shu, Jiro, Kluke, Zola, and Marumaro, as they travel across the world to confront the evil King of the Grand Kingdom, Nene. The setting inspired separate anime and manga adaptations, although these follow the story to different degrees and feature a different cast of characters. The game follows a traditional role-playing design, based around exploration and turn-based combat, with turn speed modified by characters' agility.

"Blue Dragon" is the first Xbox 360 title to make use of three disks.cite web|url=http://xbox360.ign.com/articles/749/749490p1.html|title=Blue Dragon Arrives|first=Anoop|last=Gantayat|publisher=IGN|date=2006-12-06|accessdate=2008-07-22] It was also the longest Xbox 360 game until "Lost Odyssey" was released with a story spanning four disks. Overall, the game has received a positive reception, with an average score of 77% on the review aggregator website Game Rankings. "Blue Dragon" was both applauded and criticized for its excellent adaptation of the traditional elements of role-playing games. In Japan, "Blue Dragon" was sold both as a standalone game and in a bundle with the Xbox 360 (including the game, the Xbox 360 system itself, and a "Blue Dragon" faceplate). [cite web|url=http://kotaku.com/gaming/blue-dragon/blue-dragon-faceplate-to-slay-japan-205680.php|title=Blue Dragon Faceplate To Slay Japan|first=Brian|last=Ashcraft|publisher=Kotaku|date=2006-10-06|accessdate=2008-07-23]

Gameplay

The gameplay of "Blue Dragon" is more traditional than many modern console role-playing games,because the game uses turn-based combat and a number of genre-standard elements. The game world consists of a mix of towns and dungeon-like areas, with the former having places to rest and purchase items, while the latter contain numerous foes to be defeated. Shortly after the beginning sections of the game, players gain the ability to "warp" to locations which they have previously visited, greatly reducing the amount of time spent wandering on foot.

Exploration

The player can see (and potentially avoid) enemies while exploring the game world, unlike other games that rely upon random encounters. In some cases, specific foes will block a path or desired treasure chest and must be defeated to proceed. Other foes will pursue the player characters once spotted, but players can elude them if they flee far enough away. Frequently, a single enemy or monster displayed on the screen actually represents a number of different foes (or potentially different types).

Combat begins somewhat differently depending on how the player avatar makes contact with the monster. If the avatar strikes an enemy from behind, a "Back Attack" is initiated. Similarly, if the avatar is struck from behind, an unfavorable "Surprise Attack" occurs. Players can also choose to fight several groups of monsters at once, with each combat taking place immediately after the previous one. This is encouraged by awarding bonuses to the player after successfully defeating groups of monsters. In rare cases, two groups of monsters may be bitter enemies, in which case a "Monster Fight" will occur, with both monster groups appearing at once in a battle against each other.

hadows

The core mechanic in "Blue Dragon" is the use of magical blue shadows, with each player character having a distinct shadow modeled after either a dragon, a phoenix, a bat, a minotaur, or a tiger. Each shadow can be assigned to a single character class (from a number of such classes) at a time, taking on the attributes and abilities of that class. Class levels or "ranks" are earned only for the active class, but players are free to change classes at any time except in combat, allowing the group's shadows to be customized in order to achieve the desired combination.

As shadows increase in rank in a given class, they learn new skills, which can then be assigned to a limited number of skill slots. Shadows can be assigned previously learned skills regardless of their current class. For example, if a shadow is currently set to be an "Assassin", but has previously learned the ability to cast "Barrier Magic" while acting as a member of that class, the "Barrier Magic" skill can be set as an active skill. This allows mixing or hybridization, with the player able to pick and choose from among the skills known to a given shadow.

Combat

Although combat in the game follows a strictly turn-based formula, the turn sequence of the combatants is calculated based on the agility of the character, and characters are allowed to take multiple turns before enemies can act if they are sufficiently quick. Different actions take different periods of time, so the turn order is not fixed even within a given combat session.

One gameplay addition which adds to combat strategy is the "Charge Meter", which allows players to "charge up" spells or attacks by spending additional time preparing them. This meter is always used for spell casting, as well as when using the "Charge Attack" skill of the "Monk" class. Although players can choose to act immediately, an ability will become more effective the longer that the player charges it. Depending on the ability, this will result in more damage or a greater area of effect. However, the greater the amount of time one charges, the greater the time before the next turn. As a result of this, players can choose to charge up an ability so that the ability triggers shortly before an enemy acts, or can instead aim for a special "red area" on the bar indicating an ideal charge. Overall, deciding on the correct amount of charge (and letting go of the button at precisely that time) can greatly influence the effectiveness of each characters's attacks during combat.cite web|url=http://www.gameinformer.com/NR/exeres/34B9976A-CE26-4DDE-BCBB-F771A75A5AEB.htm?CS_pid=200270| title=Blue Dragon|work=Game Informer|first=Joe|last=Juba|accessdate=2008-06-15]

Plot

Characters

The five main characters of "Blue Dragon" are Shu, a 10-year-old boy; [Prima Games's "Blue Dragon" Official Game Guide Page 4] Kluke, a mature and serious girl;Prima Games's "Blue Dragon" Official Game Guide Page 5] Jiro, an intelligent young man; Marumaro, a member of the Devee Tribe;Prima Games's "Blue Dragon" Official Game Guide Page 6] and Zola, a powerful warrior of the Jibral Blademasters. Both Shu and Kluke's parents were killed by the "Land Shark". The antagonists include Nene, an old man who runs the Grand Kingdom; [Prima Games's "Blue Dragon" Official Game Guide Page 7] Deathroy, who enjoys his master Nene's malevolence; [Prima Games's "Blue Dragon" Official Game Guide Page 8] and Szabo, a robotic servant of Nene leading his robotic army.

tory

"Blue Dragon" takes place in a fictional open-world environment where every year for the past ten years, purple clouds have mysteriously appeared in the sky, signaling misfortune and disaster for people across the world.

For years, a terrifying beast named the "Land Shark",a killer robot, came with the purple clouds, killing thousands of people and destroying a number of villages. At the beginning of the story, once again the purple clouds have arrived in Talta Village. As the clouds engulf the village, the villagers rush to seek shelter. Among them is Fushira, the grandfather of Shu. As he arrives at an emergency evacuation area, he asks the villagers if they've seen Shu, but none of them have. Then, as Fushira attempts to leave the area, he discovers friends Shu and Jiro confronting the Land Shark within the heart of the village. Working together, Shu and Jiro slow down the land shark, but encounter troubles and find themselves saved by Kluke. Together, the three lead the Land Shark into a net trap that they've previously set up and Shu closes in for the kill. However, as Shu approaches, the Land Shark breaks free from the net and rushes away, with Shu, Jiro and Kluke dangling from its back.

The three friends are dragged into an area of ancient ruins which they briefly explore. Shu discovers that the Land Shark wasn't actually a shark, and that it was instead a machine, a "mechat". Once more, the mechat comes to life, only this time sailing into the sky, again carrying the three with it. The party arrives at a giant mechat base in the clouds and are tossed into the throne room of Nene, the apparent leader. Nene explains to them how he enjoys hearing the screams of the dying victims of the Land Shark. Outraged, the party confronts Nene in battle, but is easily defeated. They are thrown out of the base and start to fall to their deaths, but Shu's determination saves their lives, with him shouting that he "will never give up". The party awakens back in the base. They then find three floating spheres in the middle of the room, where a voice commands, "Eat the spheres". The party refuses and is forced to fight an army of Nene's robots. As they attempt to flee, they discover another mechat, which is their last hope of escape. Given no other choice, and with the unseen voice promising them knowledge of how to pilot the mechat, the party eats the spheres. As they consume the spheres, a strange transformation occurs to each, changing the forms of their shadows. Shu's turns into a blue dragon, Jiro's, a blue minotaur, and Kluke's, a red phoenix. They escape the base and crash in a desert.

Following this, they must journey through the world, locate the survivors of Talta Village, find and defeat Nene, and shut down his multiple mechat bases.

Development

"Blue Dragon" was first revealed on February 24 2005 as one of two unnamed role-playing games in development by Mistwalker Studios for the console which later came to be known as the Xbox 360. [cite web|url=http://xbox360.ign.com/articles/607/607196p1.html|title=Former Square President to Create Xbox 2 Games|last=Perry|first=Douglass|publisher=IGN|date=2005-02-24] In an IGN interview following the unveiling, Peter Moore stressed the importance to Microsoft of having Japanese games available on the system, commenting "... It's a main priority for me in the next 12-18 months to ensure Japanese developers are our partners." [cite web|url=http://xbox.ign.com/articles/590/590733p1.html|title=Peter Moore on Mistwalker's RPGs|last=Perry|first=Douglass|publisher=IGN|date=2005-02-24]

Contributors to "Blue Dragon" include a number of well known Japanese figures in the gaming industry. The title's original story was written by Hironobu Sakaguchi, the game director of the first five "Final Fantasy" video games. It also features art from Akira Toriyama, the creator of "Dragon Ball" and visual character and monster designer and illustrator of both the "Dragon Quest" series and "Chrono Trigger". [cite web|url=http://xbox360.ign.com/articles/609/609260p1.html|title=Blue Dragon Revealed|last=Gantayat|first=Anoop|publisher=IGN|date=2005-05-02]

Much of the actual software development work on the game was done at Artoon, with Takuya Matsumoto serving as director and Manabu Kusonoki responsible for the game's world view.cite web|url=http://xbox360.ign.com/articles/613/613389p1.html|title=Pre-E3 2005: Blue Dragon Revealed|last=Gantayat|first=Anoop|publisher=IGN|date=2005-05-13] Matsumoto previously worked as a designer on "", while Kusonoki is known for his work at Sega, including the world of "Panzer Dragoon". Near the end of November 2005, roughly a year before the title was released in Japan, Artoon's Naoto Ōshima indicated that the game was around 40% complete. He also pointed out that Artoon had previously been known primarily for action titles, so that responsibility for "Blue Dragon" was originally somewhat frightening. [cite web|url=http://xbox360.ign.com/articles/672/672680p1.html|title=Blue Dragon Progress Report|last=Gantayat|first=Anoop|publisher=IGN|date=2005-11-30] Following this, a relative lack of media information for most of 2006 resulted in speculation that the title would be delayed until 2007, but Microsoft's Takashi Sensui confirmed in August 2006 that the game would indeed see a year-end 2006 release. [cite web|url=http://xbox360.ign.com/articles/729/729386p1.html|title=Blue Dragon Still On Track for 2006|last=Gantayat|first=Anoop|publisher=IGN|date=2006-08-30]

In a November 2006 interview with IGN, Sakaguchi confirmed that the sequel, "Blue Dragon 2", was in the planning stages, and would presumably start development shortly thereafter. [cite web|url=http://uk.xbox360.ign.com/articles/747/747023p1.html|title=Mistwalker Plans Blue Dragon Sequel| publisher=IGN|author=IGN Staff|date=2006-11-21|accessdate=2007-03-28] Later in an issue of "Weekly Shōnen Jump", it was announced that "Blue Dragon Plus" is in the works for the Nintendo DS. This game will be a real-time simulation RPG and feature 2D sprite graphics.

Audio

"Blue Dragon"'s score was produced and composed by Nobuo Uematsu, who is famous for composing much of the music in the popular "Final Fantasy" series. One of the boss themes, "Eternity", was written by Sakaguchi, composed by Uematsu, and includes vocals by English singer Ian Gillan.citation|periodical=Game Informer|issue=166|date=February 2007|page=50-59] "Blue Dragon Original Soundtrack" was released on December 13, 2006 and was arranged by Satoshi Henmi and Hiroyuki Nakayama. Music from "Blue Dragon" was performed live at the Play! A Video Game Symphony concerts in 2006.

Manga and anime

On November 12, 2006, Shueisha announced that a manga adaptation of "Blue Dragon" would be produced. "" is drawn by Shibata Ami and was scheduled to premiere in "Monthly Shonen Jump" in January 2007. [cite web |url=http://kotaku.com/gaming/japan/blue-dragon-the-manga-214815.php|title=Blue Dragon: The Manga|publisher=Kotaku|first=Brian| last=Ashcraft|date=2006-11-15|accessdate=2006-11-30] Takeshi Obata, the illustrator of "Death Note" is handling "Blue Dragon Ral Grad", which began serialization in issue 1 2007 of "Weekly Shonen Jump".cite web|url= http://xbox360.ign.com/articles/746/746805p1.html|title=Blue Dragon Manga Announced|publisher=IGN|first=Alex|last=Simmons |date=2006-11-20|accessdate=2006-11-28] Viz Media later released the first volume of the manga as simply "Ral Grad" in February 2008. [cite web|url=http://www.simonsays.com/content/book.cfm?tab=31&pid=592325|title=Ral & Grad Volume 1|publisher= SimonSays.com|accessdate=2008-06-15]

An anime adaptation directed by Yukihiro Matsushita, animated by Studio Pierrot and co-produced by SKY Perfect Wellthink, TV Tokyo and Pierrot was announced in November 2006. The anime began airing April 7, 2007, featuring a different vocal cast than that used for the game. It also ignored most of the game's plot. It airs on TV Tokyo, and ran for 51 episodes. A second season of Blue Dragon nihongo|"Blue Dragon: The Seven Sky Dragons"|BLUE DRAGON 天界の七竜|Burū Doragon: Tenkai no Shichiryū premiered on TV Tokyo on April 5, 2008.

On April 16, 2007, Viz Media secured the license for the anime adaptation and was originally set be released in both North America and Europe later on in the year, but that did not happen. [cite web|url= http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/press-release/2007-04-16/viz-media-licensor-for-blue-dragon-anime|title=VIZ Media Named Master Licensor for Blue Dragon™ Anime Series|publisher=Anime News Network|date=2007-04-16|accessdate=2007-07-12] The anime officially premiered in the United States, on Cartoon Network, on April 5, 2008. However, the first episode was shown on March 28 at 11:30 AM EDT as a sneak preview, which was repeated on the channel's Toonami block. As of the summer of 2008, it is on hiatus on the channel, but newer episodes are airing on Canada's YTV channel as of September 6, 2008.

Reception

VG Reviews
1UP = C+cite web|url=http://www.1up.com/do/reviewPage?cId=3162317|title=Blue Dragon (Xbox 360)|publisher=1UP.com|first= Andrew|last=Fitch|date=2007-08-24|accessdate=2008-06-15]
EuroG = 5 out of 10cite web|url=http://www.eurogamer.net/article.php?article_id=81972|title=Blue Dragon|publisher=Eurogamer|first=Rob|last=Fahey|date=2007-08-24|accessdate=2008-06-15]
GI = 9 out of 10
GamePro = 4.4 out of 5 [cite web|url=http://www.gamepro.com/microsoft/xbox360/games/reviews/131488.shtml|title=Review: Blue Dragon|work=GamePro|author=Ouroboros|date=2007-08-28|accessdate=2008-06-15]
GSpot = 6.0 out of 10 [cite web|url=http://uk.gamespot.com/xbox360/rpg/bluedragon/review.html?sid=6177861|title=Blue Dragon for Xbox 360 Review|publisher=GameSpot|first=Kevin|last=VanOrd|date=2007-08-30|accessdate=2008-06-15]
GSpy = 4 out of 5cite web|url=http://xbox360.gamespy.com/xbox-360/mistwalker-rpg/813556p1.html|title=Blue Dragon Review| publisher=GameSpy|first=Gabe|last=Graziani|date=2007-08-17|accessdate=2008-06-15]
IGN = 7.9 out of 10cite web|url=http://xbox360.ign.com/articles/812/812365p1.html|title=Blue Dragon Review| publisher=IGN|first=Erik|last=Brudvig|date=2007-08-15|accessdate=2008-06-15]
XPlay = Rating|3|5cite web|url=http://www.g4tv.com/xplay/reviews/1597/blue_dragon.html|title=Blue Dragon|work=X-Play| first=Greg|last=Sewart|accessdate=2008-06-14] |
MC = 79 out of 100 [cite web|url=http://www.metacritic.com/games/platforms/xbox360/bluedragon|title=Blue Dragon (xbox360: 2007): Reviews|publisher=Metacritic|accessdate=2008-06-14]
GR = 77%cite web|url=http://www.gamerankings.com/htmlpages2/927950.asp|title=Blue Dragon Reviews|publisher=Game Rankings| accessdate=2008-03-21]
Pre-orders of "Blue Dragon" bundled with a limited edition Xbox 360 Core system were sold out in Japan well before the December 7 2006 release date. [cite web|url=http://www.joystiq.com/2006/12/07/blue-dragon-sets-japan-ablaze/ |title=Blue Dragon sets Japan Ablaze| publisher="Joystiq" |first=Jonti|last=Davies|date=2006-12-07 |accessdate=2008-07-10] Microsoft and Mistwalker initially hoped to sell over 200,000 copies, [cite web|url= http://www.videogamer.com/xbox360/blue_dragon/news-4299.html |title=Blue Dragon sells 80,000 in Japan|publisher=Pro-G|first= James|last=Orry|date=2006-12-14|accessdate=2007-02-03] which would break their record for sales of an Xbox 360 game in Japan. The game did manage the goal, with almost exactly 200,000 copies sold as of December 27 2007. [cite web|url= http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=16768 |title=Blue Dragon Tops Lifetime Xbox 360 Software Sales In Japan|publisher=Gamasutra |first=Brandon|last=Boyer |date=2007-12-27|accessdate=2008-06-15] Creator Hironobu Sakaguchi was pleased the game sold as well as it did. [cite web|url= http://www.gamespot.com/xbox360/rpg/bluedragon/news.html?sid=6167571&om_act=convert&om_clk=gsupdates&tag=updates;title;1|title=Q&A: Mistwalker's Hironobu Sakaguchi|publisher=GameSpot|author=GameSpot Staff|date=2007-03-16|accessdate=2007-06-18]

Reviews for "Blue Dragon" have been somewhat mixed, although generally favorable. On the review aggregator Game Rankings, the game had an average score of 77% based on 64 reviews. While many of the reviewers praised the game for its traditional approach, a few reviewers criticized it for that very reason, with one reviewer remarking "In fact, there is very little you can point to in "Blue Dragon" that hasn't been done multiple times over before". The story also came under scrutiny from some reviewers for being too generic and too similar to existing Japanese RPGs, with slow pacing during the beginning of the game. Eurogamer noted that the apparent lack of effort put into the facial animations for each character resulted in a limited ability to express emotion. They also noted that the mouth movements are well timed, but that the rest of the characters' facial movements are "static". Game Informer commented that "Blue Dragon" lacked "jaw dropping" moments and was missing a nebulous "key element" to make it perfect. 1UP.com also picked up on this, adding that "Blue Dragon" was missing "strong characters, gripping storytelling, and excellent pacing". X-Play noted that the game was very visually pleasing but they said the game was like any other role-playing game. Though most of the reviewers criticized the title in one way or another, they also all complimented it for its excellent graphics and music. Game Informer also noted that "the characters look like sculpted figurines wandering around a world built to scale". GameSpy complimented the title's music and graphics saying the game had "phenomenal music; and magnificently rendered cutscenes".

References

External links

* [http://bluedragon.tv/ Official "Blue Dragon" website]
* [http://www.xbox.com/en-us/games/b/bluedragonxbox360/ Xbox.com | "Blue Dragon" - Game detail page]
* [http://bluedragon.viz.com/ "Blue Dragon" anime - Official US site]


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