Dragon Blade: Wrath of Fire - first look

Just a little while ago, it seemed like the Wii might just be a gutter for Spongebob games and lazy PS2 ports. But things are changing - and that's good. Dragon Blade may suffer from a painfully generic title, but it befits the content of the game: a hack-and-slash adventure where your sword has been possessed by the spirit of a powerful red dragon. Better yet, the game looks to marry traditional adventure gameplay with Wii Remote control.

We don't really know much about the story besides this one totally crucial fact: a good fire dragon was slain by an evil dragon; instead of going down for the count, his spirit was transferred into your sword. Now it's your job to journey through the world and slice up the rest of the dragons, who have stolen the fire dragon's powers and corrupted the kings of the world.

To do so you'll have to engage in combat against an army of mythical creatures, manipulating the Wii Remote to use the dragon's powers against them. Over the course of the game, you'll gain abilities based on the dragon's different body parts: the tail acts like a whip; the claws can slash your enemies; the head can shoot fireballs or stun your foes; the wings can act as a shield to protect you or allow you to double-jump.

Though the game vaguely resembles Zelda, we were informed that it's going to be level-based rather than dungeon-and-overworld style. The levels we saw included a large outdoor area with a waterfall, a desert, a castle (both inside and out) and a span of floating rocks with bridges connecting them, set against a dark sky. These levels are populated with your usual fantasy enemies: minotaurs, lizard-men and the like. The combat was quick, with enemies falling quickly to the dragon powers. The game counts your combos; according to the guy demoing it, the higher a combo you build, the faster your attacks. Often it seems like you're hemmed in by magical walls for battles - which disappear, of course, when you defeat all of the enemies inside of them... which is probably the lamest thing we saw in an otherwise-promising game.

The boss battle we saw, on the other hand, was much more elaborate. The enemy dragon had a number of different attacks, and a four-tiered life bar: there are four "cores" inside each dragon, and you have to destroy them all to defeat him. To finally vanquish them after fighting the dragon regular hack 'n slash style, you have to (what else?) waggle the Wii Remote in response to on-screen commads (like in God of War and just about every other game around these days.)

In essence, Dragon Blade looks like something we've seen before, but a few elements left us impressed: its use of the Wii Remote for combat, the polish the game was already showing this early in its development cycle... and the fact that it's actually an original, traditional game for Wii (even if it doesn't seem, well, that "original" after all.) This is one worth paying attention to, we think, based on our first glimpse.