Oct 4, 2007
Picture the least interesting licensed action game you've played in the last several years. Now, swap the license and its ensuing production values for a generic, by-the-book fantasy setting. What's left? Probably something pretty similar to Dragon Blade: Wrath of Fire for Wii.
Like many early Wii titles, Dragon Blade takes an established concept (weapon-based brawler) and adds motion controls to the mix, though the term "tacked-on" really isn't appropriate here. Dragon Blade does a solid job of picking up each swing and stab of the titular sword with the Wii Remote, while movement and jumping are handled comfortably by the Nunchuk attachment.
Dragon Blade's core gameplay packs equal portions of hacking and slashing (plus light "cineractives" during each dragon battle, in which you input simple commands to trigger flashy, complex actions onscreen). This leads to an expectedly rote and monotonous experience - at least, until the dragon powers are added to the mix. Each world features a mini-boss battle wedged within an early mission, and completing each frustrating fight will yield the player one of five flame abilities, granting gesture-based attacks based on dragon arms, wings, a tail, and a fire-breathing head.
The game packs a surprising amount of difficulty in the earlier missions, and never seems to let up until the third world - or shortly after the player has acquired the dual dragon arms power. Of course, doing well in the later parts of the game requires you to use the powers as a crutch, reducing the mystique and spectacle of such abilities in favor of dying much less frequently. Sadly, the standard gameplay never improves or evolves beyond the standard sword swinging, making Dragon Blade something of a tepid experience as it progresses towards its conclusion.