Blue Dragon delivers something that Xbox 360 owners have been clamoring for since the console's release: an exclusive next-gen RPG title that offers up an epic experience that's on par with any game with the word 'final' in the title.
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There's a reason why this game has given the 360 such a lift in Japan: it is, without a doubt, a world class gaming experience.
The Beast Without
The characters in Blue Dragon, which were designed by Akira Toriyama of Dragon Ball Z fame, adhere to classic archetypes, from a smarty-pants sidekick and soulful Mother figure to the mysterious mercenary and perpetually shouting munchkin weirdo, but they're rendered with such charming individuality that even the most jaded gamer won't resist their appeal.
The main narrative isn't filled with many twists and turns but even the expository cut-scenes are entertaining, even if they do suffer from occasionally awkward translations. The game world is also vibrant and expansive, with nearly every rock and bush acting as a home to currency, jewelry, and permanent stat bonuses. There are even some character diaries and imaginary novels hidden in furniture, just waiting to be discovered.
Pick Your Battles
The same oddball aesthetics that apply to the memorable main characters also carries over to the menagerie of goofy monsters you'll face on the field. Striped cats with extra eyes, two-dimensional malevolent murals spring to life, and a lazy bear who is just as likely to take a quick snooze as maul you are just some of the colorful examples. And while the graphics won't floor you with bump-mapped realism, they are vibrantly colorful, surprisingly inventive, and imbued with subtle cinematic flavor thanks to depth-of-focus and elemental special effects.
What's more, each monster type has its own natural enemies, and you can usually find a way to make this work to your advantage. Take on a handful of baddies at once, and a fight could break out between incompatible enemies; nasty rats will start gnawing on overgrown crickets instead of attacking your crew. There are even "field skills" you can equip that lure or repel creeps, or otherwise ease your travels. Also, there are no random encounters: when and who you fight is almost always up to you.