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Thursday, March 27, 2008

First Impressions: Blue Dragon

You know what's great about J-RPGs such as Blue Dragon? I've put in about 6 hours with the game and have accomplished nothing. I've leveled up a bit, met a few new characters, met a big bad guy, and saved some dog-man-thing from a giant horned lizard-like-thing. But I've barely scratched the surface of Blue Dragon's story.

Of course, the length of J-RPGs could also be considered a bad thing too. Especially for husbands and fathers who have precious little free time. But Blue Dragon is shaping up to be a pretty great game. It may take me a year to finish but it'll be a fun, colourful ride to the finish!

I don't have much time to post today. I just wanted to pop in and say that I'm enjoying Blue Dragon. It reminds me of the older Final Fantasy games and other old-school RPGs which I've always loved. I've spent a lot of time just wandering around. And I have to admit that there's nothing quite as relaxing as spending an evening mindlessly level grinding.

I've also managed to pick up a few achievements. But before I go into any further achievement details, here's a brief overview of Blue Dragon's characters and story:

Each year for the past ten years, purple clouds have mysteriously appeared in the sky, signaling misfortune and disaster for people across the world.

After years of torment at the hands of a "land shark" which ravages their village each time the clouds appear, youths Shu, Kluke, and Jiro hatch a plan to fight back against the monstrous fiend. However, in the course of attempting to stop it, they discover it is not a creature at all, but rather a strange machine. After scuffling with the trio, it leaves the village and eventually takes flight, returning to a mother ship high in the purple clouds, taking the three heroes with it.

At the mother ship, they are subjected to constant attacks from metal soldiers. Exploring further, they encounter the ship's captain, an ancient man named Nene. Revealing that he has been behind the yearly attacks on the village, Nene apparently delights in the anguish he causes. Shu and the others are outraged and attempt to defeat him in combat, but he easily defeats them. After barely escaping to a nearby hangar, the three discover a smaller ship docked within, but lack the necessary skills to pilot it. At this point, three small spheres of light appear, and a disembodied female voice instructs them to swallow the spheres in order to gain both power and the ability to pilot the craft. The three youngsters do so, and immediately find that their shadows have grown into monsters; Kluke's becomes a blue phoenix, Jiro's a blue minotaur, and Shu's a Blue Dragon. They then hastily make their escape aboard the smaller ship, exercising sufficient flying ability to get them down to the ground before it crashes.

Following their escape from Nene's air fortress, the heroes (and several others who join with them) gradually traverse and explore the continent. In the process of doing so, they encounter other people from others towns that have also fallen victim to the purple clouds in one form or another. Struck by the injustice and harm that has been inflicted, they decide that they must stop Nene from continuing to bring ruin upon their world.

The game itself is extremely pretty and stylized - both of which are huge selling points for me. I'm a sucker for nice graphics. The musical score is pretty solid too. Voice acting seems to be ok but I don't expect much from J-RPGs.

Ok, I've gotta get going here. But before I go, let's take a look at the three achievements I've picked up so far:

Back Attack [5 GamerPoint]: This is a simple achievement to pick up but worth very few gamerpoints. I seem to recall sneaking up behind a pink Poo Snake and lunging. Don't ask me to explain the whole "poo" thing. I think "poos" are a subclass of creatures that all derive from animal feces. I'm not kidding. Bizarre game...

Multi-Monster Encounter [5 GamerPoint]: Another simple achievent cleared when I managed to engage two separate groups of enemies in a single fight. This is accomplished by targeting separate groups of enemies after pressing the Right Trigger button to engage the encounter circle. Sounds complicated but it's dead easy to pull off. This achievement may only be worth 5 GamerPoint but it's the easiest points I've ever earned.

Closed Flying Fortress Door [5 GamerPoint]: I earned this achievement by rapidly pressing the "A" button while attempting to close a large door on a giant ship. It actually took me about four tries to get this done. Japanese game developers seem to expect quite a bit from gamers' and their mad button-pressing skillz. I only managed to clear this achievement by placing my controller on my lap and furiously hitting the "A" button without looking up until I heard the sound of an unlocking achievement. Brutal...but worth it!

Have a good one!