Blue Dragon Plus (Hands-On) (Nintendo DS) Preview

By Mike Mason 15.03.2009 3

Review for Blue Dragon Plus (Hands-On) on Nintendo DS

Blue Dragon the first is an exclusive RPG on Xbox 360, so it was quite a surprise when a sequel to it was announced to be coming not only to a Nintendo system, but exclusively to the portable DS. How have Mistwalker gone about adapting the experience for such a different platform? We went hands-on with it ahead of its spring release to find out...

Despite being in the same series, Blue Dragon Plus is very different to its predecessor - mainly because it's a different genre, being a real time strategy game now rather than an RPG. Brownie Brown, masters of the DS RTS as proven with Square-Enix's Heroes Of Mana, have collaborated with Mistwalker for this one, so despite the genre change it's in good hands. Plus takes off from where Blue Dragon left off and guides it in new directions, gaining you some unlikely enemies and allies even just a few hours into the game. Never played the original? No worries, we haven't extensively either - you get a very brief summary of the last game, but it's really not essential to know too much of past events. Plus has been developed under the assumption that players will not have touched the 360 original, it seems - whenever new characters appear profiles pop up and let you know who on earth they are, for example. Story is a very clear focus though, being a series that started as an RPG (some elements of which remain, such as item management and statistics), and our hands-on time was heavily peppered with in-game narrative sections and some impressive CG.

You're put in charge of Shu and his merry band of cohorts as they set out once again to save the world with the aid of their Shadows, those that give the series its name - they're giant blue dragons that pop out behind their possessors to perform special moves. Gameplay is made up of a series of missions that take place on mini-maps wherein you control your team with the touch screen; missions we played didn't have a great deal of variety and boiled down to taking out all the enemies on a map, so we would be disappointed if there's not more to it later on given the series' RPG roots. The visuals are a lovely mix of 3D backgrounds and pixel-based characters, and it's easy to scoot around the map with either the d-pad or touch screen. If the viewpoint isn't to your liking, you can also give the map a quick spin with the L and R buttons.

Screenshot for Blue Dragon Plus (Hands-On) on Nintendo DS

To control characters you give them a tap to select them, then move them by tapping elsewhere on the map, attack enemies with weapons by clicking on the potential victim or activate one of their special attacks with the icons that pop up at the bottom of the screen. Special attacks involving the Shadows, as you might expect, do incredible amounts of damage, though they take a few seconds to carry out and can be interrupted by enemies, so you've got to be careful. Wisely, you can't use them constantly to spam your way through the game. Of course, things would get tedious if you could only select one character at a time, so there's a button to grab all your followers at once, or an excellently implemented one that pauses the real-time action and allows you to draw a circle around the units you want to command. It might've been easier to do that within the game anyway, but with the touch screen being on camera duty that isn't really an option, so they've got around it in the best way possible.

What is mildly frustrating is the way your characters don't stay selected. You can click on one and tell them to perform an action, but if you want them to do another one you have to reselect and repeat. It may not sound too bad, but it can get irritating and even a little confusing to constantly select characters in the heat of battle, especially if you've changed your mind about where you want them to move in light of a new threat appearing. In the couple of hours that we played it wasn't much of an issue due to the forgiving nature of the battles, but having seen videos of the game from much later on (it's already been out in other territories for a while) it seems that it could get much worse for more frantic sections of the game. We'll have to wait and see.

Screenshot for Blue Dragon Plus (Hands-On) on Nintendo DS

Final Thoughts

Blue Dragon Plus is looking good, but we can't help but feel that the way units are commanded could affect the game negatively as it goes on. However, this is something we'll only know when we've played through the whole thing. Aside the selection issue the combat is solid, and with a wide range of characters with different moves (many of which we've doubtless not seen yet) and a story that looks to be extensive, we remain optimistic that the game will stay interesting. Keep an eye out for it in April, RTS fans.






Real Time RPG



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


From what I played I agree about the selection issue - sadly it seems to be something that plagued Heroes of Mana, as well as FFXII: Revenant Wings. You kind of get used to it, though. I still don't think this works quite as well as HoM, which is odd...

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses

Brownie Brown, masters of the DS RTS as proven with Square-Enix's Heroes Of Mana,

Bit overboard saying theyre the masters when HoM was such a terrible RTS

I'd have to disagree with you there. HoM was a great little RTS/SRPG style effort, with lovely visuals and a fantastic soundtrack. Can't remember what I gave it, but it was no less than 8/10.

I'll be intrigued to see how well Blue Dragon Plus sells, since it did nowhere near as well as the 360 game when released in Japan.

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses

Comment on this article

You can comment as a guest or join the Cubed3 community below: Sign Up for Free Account Login

Preview PostPreview Post Your Name:
Validate your comment
  Enter the letters in the image to validate your comment.
Submit Post

Subscribe to this topic Subscribe to this topic

If you are a registered member and logged in, you can also subscribe to topics by email.
Sign up today for blogs, games collections, reader reviews and much more
Site Feed
Who's Online?

There are 1 members online at the moment.