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Blue Dragon - updated impressions

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American audiences have had to wait a long time for Blue Dragon. Japanese gamers - the select few who own Xbox 360s, anyway - have had the RPG since last year, but we're still contenting ourselves with a handful of screens and videos. Well, the wait is finally over... for an announced release date, that is. Blue Dragon will hit US shores in late August.

Once it's here, however, the content will keep coming. When we sat down with famed creator Hironobu Sakaguchi at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco this week, he revealed that we would see no less than three downloadable updates over the five months following the game's debut. The meatiest will be an entirely new dungeon for your party to explore, with eight randomly chosen design and layout patterns to keep the experience fresh for as long as possible. Whether this extra dungeon will bring any extra characters or story with it remains to be seen.



Sakaguchi also gave us a sneak peek at the English voice translation. He cued up a scene in which the heroes have plummeted down a long metal shaft and are lying unconscious at the bottom. As the main character Shu wakes up and begins exploring, a giant robotic claw crashes in from above and appears to crush the rest of his party. At first, we weren't sure we were viewing the correct version, as everything from Shu's exaggerated huffing and grunting to his super dramatic yelp of "No!" sounded like it came straight out of a Japanese anime show.

Even when the English speaking did begin, the acting style still reminded us strongly of dubbed anime programs like Naruto or Pokemon. That's no coincidence, as Blue Dragon is avoiding the expensive, celebrity Kingdom Hearts approach and instead using specialized voice actors from just those types of shows. But while the performances may not be as subdued and understated as Western audiences are accustomed to, they should match perfectly with the bright, colorful and big-eyed world on display.

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