Blue Dragon Plus
Marc "DjinniMan" Allie
Ignition - DS
Blue Dragon Plus is both awesome and awful at the same time. Many aspects of the game are highly polished, like the graphics and the dual screen cut scenes. In contrast, other elements are poorly implemented, like unit movement and itemization.
The turn based gameplay of the original has been abandoned in what could best be described as an RTS/RPG hybrid. The main part of the game involves exploring the inside of a cube-shaped world. Battles take place when enemies are encountered on the map. The largest problem in battle is the movement of units. Often, characters do not go where you want them to, which is an issue since many of the abilities are area based. Further compounding the problem is the different speed of all units. The better melee fighters tend to walk slower, while casters and healers are quick. This means weak units will run off ahead of the others to fight hand to hand and get killed if you don't watch them closely. A formation feature would be been a good solution, but instead you end up micromanaging each unit to the point of frustration.
Another maddening aspect is the fact that you have to split your party up at many points in the game. At one point, I had to have seven characters spread out into three groups. Too bad there was only one healer among them! I was unable to find any stores to buy healing items to use, either. I found the lack of instruction for the player quite frustrating as well. I was four or five hours in before I stumbled on how to equip items. Characters level up, but the player is not told how or why experience is awarded. Quite simply, I felt like I was fighting the game more than playing it.
There's a lot to like in this game, to be sure. The graphics are quite well done. The characters are interesting, and each feels unique. The cut scenes are the highlight; they are truly jaw dropping, easily on par with those of the Final Fantasy remakes. I truly wanted to like this game, but there are so many irritating aspects of it that I eventually just gave up. There are literally dozens of similar games for the DS, and while Blue Dragon Plus does have redeeming qualities, it fails to stand out from the crowd. Unless you are a fan of the original, or of the anime, I cannot recommend this title.