If Mistwalker, the studio founded by the creator of the Final Fantasy series, were hoping Blue Dragon Plus would be the title to pull them out of Square Enix’s considerable shadow, then we’re sorry to report that this isn’t the case. They’ve gone and done a Revenant Wings – that is, concoct an RTS-lite handheld sequel to a console title. But unlike with Final Fantasy XII, few of us actually played, or wanted a sequel to, the original Blue Dragon that came out on Xbox 360 two years ago.
The game hits the ground running, a welcome change to the snail’s pace at which most RPGs crawl along. Newcomers will undoubtedly be baffled at first but, thanks to a big chunk of text that appears every time a character is introduced, it doesn’t take long to catch up. After the first hour, the game settles down and the resulting tale is easy to pick up.
It may appear to be a traditional fantasy RPG, but Plus is more sci-fi in tone. The game takes place within Borg-style cubes full of robots and ancient technology, while the game world functions similarly to a board game. Your party (and, later, parties) move from node to node in a turn-based fashion, doing battle whenever they land next to a foe. It’s an unusual system that, if developed fully, could be quite fun, although we miss actually walking around.
The switch to real-time skirmishing means you can get up mid-fight to make a cuppa. Units take ten billion years to reach their destinations, and when they get there it’s usually a case of whacking enemies till they fall down. Elemental attacks add slightly, but by now are so clichéd they’re barely worth mentioning. You’ll only ever win Blue Dragon’s battles through persistence rather than skill.
It’s a shame this isn’t as deep or involved as Revenant Wings, and its world, full of Dragon Ball rejects, isn’t anywhere near as inspired. Plus may be a fresh start for the series, but compared to Square Enix at their best it’s as stinky as one of the game’s Poo Snakes.
Feb 24, 2009