Blue Dragon (ブルードラゴン Buru Doragon) is a Japanese RPG developed by Mistwalker and Artoon and distributed by Microsoft Game Studios exclusively for the Xbox 360. It was based on a design by Final Fantasy series creator Hironobu Sakaguchi, who also supervised development and wrote the plot. The game was released in Japan on December 7, 2006, in Europe on August 24, 2007 and in North America on August 28, 2007.
The game follows the story of five friends: Shu, Jiro, Kluke, Zola, and Marumaro, as they travel across the world to confront the evil King of the Grand Kingdom, Nene. The setting inspired separate anime and manga adaptations, although these follow the story to different degrees and feature a different cast of characters. The game follows a traditional role-playing design, based around exploration and turn-based combat, with turn speed modified by characters' agility.
Blue Dragon is the first Xbox 360 title to make use of three disks. It was also the longest Xbox 360 game until Lost Odyssey was released with a story spanning four disks. Overall, the game has received a positive reception, with an average score of 77% on the review aggregator website Game Rankings. Blue Dragon was both applauded and criticized for its excellent adaptation of the traditional elements of role-playing games. In Japan, Blue Dragon was sold both as a stand-alone game and in a bundle with the Xbox 360 (including the game, the Xbox 360 system itself, and a Blue Dragon faceplate).
The battle style is more traditional than many modern console role-playing games, because the game uses turn-based combat and a number of genre-standard elements. The game world consists of a mix of towns and dungeon-like areas, with the former having places to rest and purchase items, while the latter contains numerous foes to be defeated. Shortly after the beginning sections of the game, players gain the ability to "warp" to locations which they have previously visited, greatly reducing the amount of time spent wandering on foot.
The core mechanicis the use of magical blue Shadows, with each player character having a distinct shadow modeled after either a Dragon, a Phoenix, a bat, a minotaur, a sabretooth, or a bat. Each Shadow can be assigned to a single character class (from a number of such classes) at a time, taking on the attributes and abilities of that class. Class Experience points or "ranks" are earned only for the active class, but players are free to change classes at any time except in combat, allowing the group's Shadows to be customized in order to achieve the desired combination.
As Shadows increase in rank in a given class, they learn new skills, which can then be assigned to a limited number of skill slots. Shadows can be assigned previously learned skills regardless of their current class. For example, if a Shadow is currently set to be an "Assassin", but has previously learned the ability to cast "Barrier Magic" while acting as a member of that class, the "Barrier Magic" skill can be set as an active skill. This allows mixing or hybridization, with the player able to pick and choose from among the skills known to a given shadow.
Although combat in the game follows a strictly turn-based formula, the turn sequence of the combatants is calculated based on the agility of the character, and characters are allowed to take multiple turns before enemies can act if they are sufficiently quick. Different actions take different periods of time, so the turn order is not fixed even within a given combat session.
One gameplay addition which adds to combat strategy is the "Charge Meter", which allows players to "charge up" spells or attacks by spending additional time preparing them. This meter is always used for spellcasting, as well as when using the "Charge Attack" skill of the "Monk" class. Although players can choose to act immediately, an ability will become more effective the longer that the player charges it. Depending on the ability, this will result in more damage or a greater area of effect. However, the greater the amount of time one charges, the greater the time before the next turn. As a result of this, players can choose to charge up an ability so that the ability triggers shortly before an enemy acts, or can instead aim for a special "red area" on the bar indicating an ideal charge. Overall, deciding on the correct amount of charge (and letting go of the button at precisely that time) can greatly influence the effectiveness of each character's attacks during combat.
The five main characters of Blue Dragon are:
- Shu, a 16-year old boy and main character. He wields the Dragon Shadow.
- Kluke, a mature and sensible 16 year old girl. She wields the Phoenix Shadow
- Jiro, an intelligent 17-year old, childhood friend of Shu and Kluke. He wields the Minotaur Shadow.
- Marumaro, a member of the Devee Tribe who speaks louder than necessary and acts as the comic relief. He wields the Sabretooth Shadow.
- Zola, a powerful warrior of the Jibral Blademasters and ex-mercenary. She wields the Killer Bat Shadow.
Both Shu and Kluke's parents were killed by the "Land Shark". Shu now lives with his grandfather Fushira, the village blacksmith. Shu thinks of both Jiro and Kluke as good friends. Jiro has feelings for Kluke, but does not reveal them to her. Marumaro has a crush on Zola (because her Shadow looks like a Devee god) and openly expresses this throughout the story.
The antagonists are:
- Nene, an old man who runs the Grand Kingdom(anime only). He wields a red combination of Shu, Jiro, and Kluke's shadows, has mastered every class, but this changes after his soul is purified.
- Deathroy, who enjoys his master Nene's malevolence. Little is known of Deathroy until the end...
- Szabo, a robotic servant of Nene leading his robotic army. He eventually rebels against his master. In Blue Dragon Plus, he is a player character and wields a Shadow of a pumpkin-headed spectre.
Blue Dragon takes place in a fictional open-world environment where every year for the past ten years, purple clouds have mysteriously appeared in the sky, signaling misfortune and disaster for people across the world.
For years, a terrifying beast dubbed the "Land Shark", came with the purple clouds, killing thousands of people and destroying a number of villages. At the beginning of the story, once again the purple clouds have arrived in Talta Village. As the clouds engulf the village, the villagers rush to seek shelter. Among them is Fushira, the grandfather of Shu. As he arrives at an emergency evacuation area, he asks the villagers if they've seen Shu, but none of them have. Then, as Fushira attempts to leave the area, he discovers friends Shu and Jiro confronting the Land Shark within the heart of the village. Working together, Shu and Jiro slow down the land shark, but encounter troubles and find themselves saved by Kluke. Together, the three lead the Land Shark into a net trap that they had previously set up and Shu closes in for the kill. However, as Shu approaches, the Land Shark breaks free from the net and rushes away, with Shu, Jiro and Kluke dangling from its back.
The three friends are dragged into an area of ancient ruins which they briefly explore. Shu discovers that the Land Shark wasn't actually a shark, but a machine called a "mechat". Once more, the mechat comes to life, only this time sailing into the sky, again carrying the three with it. The party arrives at a giant mechat base in the clouds and are tossed into the throne room of Nene, the apparent leader by Szabo, his robotic general. Nene explains to them how he enjoys hearing the screams of the dying victims of the Land Shark. Outraged, the party confronts Nene in battle, but is easily defeated. They are thrown out of the base and start to fall to their deaths, but Shu's determination saves their lives, with him shouting that he "will never give up". The party awakens back in the base. They then find three floating spheres in the middle of the room, where a voice commands, "Eat the spheres". The party refuses and is forced to fight an army of Nene's robots. As they attempt to flee, they discover another mechat, which is their last hope of escape. Given no other choice, and with the unseen voice promising them knowledge of how to pilot the mechat, the party eats the spheres. As they consume the spheres, a strange transformation occurs to each, changing the forms of their shadows. Shu's turns into a blue dragon, Jiro's, a blue minotaur, and Kluke's, a blue phoenix. They escape the base in a mechat (which the Shadows make possible to pilot) and crash in a desert.
The three friends then begin the journey back to Talta Village on foot. Along the way, Jiro finds that his Shadow, the Minotaur, is skilled at using healing magic, while Shu and Kluke cannot. Eventually, they see a storm of dirt and a series of large holes in the ground around them. After traversing the wilderness battling monsers with their Shadows and learning their new capabilities, they discover the Dill Machine as the source of all the holes and sandstorm. Recognizing Nene's symbol on the machine, they make up their minds to be careful of the inhabitants and to try to use it to get back to Talta.
On board, they find only robots. When they reach the cockpit, with a voice shouting through the sealed door, "Don't you dare mess with Maro". The party unlocks the door and confronts Marumaro, a Devee tribe member who denies working with Nene. He attacks the three friends, who are startled to see that the Devee has a Shadow too, in the shape of a tiger. After a short battle, Maromaro flees into a hospital which the drill machine had burrowed to. Shu, Jiro, and Kluke follow him and eventually find the small warrior fighting alone against a giant wolf monster. After the party defeats the wolf and saves Marumaro, he allows them to help him. He reveals that Nene forced him to swallow a light sphere to save the Devee tribe, who are seriously ill. After finding the required medicine, they journey to the Devee city, Lago Village.
After they use the medicine, it worsens the tribe's condition. Nene arrives and reveals he wanted the medicine for himself. After repelling the outraged party, he leaves. Shu and co. then agree to help Marumaro find the real cure, which Kluke reveals thanks to her parents being medical experts. After they acquire it, they return and heal the Devee tribe. Marumaro then joins Shu to help in the fight against Nene and to get revenge for his tribe.
After they travel back to Talta, they find a horrible truth out: the villagers left the village due to the Land Shark. Monsters have overrun it and the village is in ruins. They find a letter from Fushira that tells them to go to Jibral, where the survivors of Talta Village were heading. The group leaves the village and takes a shortcut in an attempt to catch up to the villagers.
They find a town of enchanted murals along the way that provides them with insight on the ancient civilization that created the murals. When they finally catch up to the villagers, Shu, Jiro, Kluke and Marumaro use their Shadows to repel some Steel-eating Tigers that were molesting the villagers. The villagers are amazed at the power that the party now possess.
After they save the villagers, Shu, Jiro and Kluke reunite with their family and friends. The four party members then assist in protecting the vulnerable caravans the villagers travel in. Eventually, the traveling procession is attacked and surrounded by a mass of Steel-eating Tiger enemies. Fortunately, King Jibral and a group of his soldiers help the village. Among their ranks is a talented swordfighter named Zola.
Zola then reveals her ability to wield a Shadow. The party joins her in confronting a group of Steel-eating Tigers. Marumaro develops a crush on her and Zola reveals her past to the party. Talta Village is then escorted to Jibral Castle Town.
The party has an audience with King Jibral, whom they notify of Nene's existence. King Jibral knows of the violet clouds, which affect his kingdom as well as Talta and Lago. He agrees to attack Nene's giant Flying Fortress, providing that the party is willing to assist in the battle. After they agree the battle commences with the destruction of a nearby ancient cube Nene uses to flood Jibral. This brings out Nene and the Jibral army hook his fortress with harpoons and anchor it down. The boarding parties then attack the Flying Fortress. The party is joined by Zola, who explains that they need to enter the flying fortress and destroy its Eternal Engines.
Along the way, the party is attacked by minions of General Szabo, each with their own element and powers. These are Silent Ku, Heatwave Sai, and other such elementals. With Zola added to their numbers, the party easily defeats the robotic minions. Along the way, they shut of the fortresses' multiple engines. They eventually come to a room with two teleporters. Zola takes one and the remainder of the party takes the other.
Zola arrives in the room with the final Eternal Engine. She shuts it off and returns to the place where the boarding parties landed. Shu and his friends find Nene and Szabo near a mechat, which Nene exits the base in shortly after. Shu, Jiro Kluke and Marumaro then fight Szabo, who prevents them from pursuing their enemy.
After destroying Szabo, the party commandeer a mechat and follow Nene. They succeed in damaging Nene's vehicle but lose him in the violet clouds. Meanwhile, Zola tells the Jibral soldiers to exit the Flying Fortress, which crashes into the water and sinks below the sea.
All the inhabitants and staff of Jibral then attend a party. To follow this, King Jibral gives them the assignment to track down Nene. He sends Zola to aid the party in these exploits.
After the celebrations end, Shu and his friends, now accompanied by Zola, travel to the north of the planet, where Nene was last seen traveling toward. To do this they must cross a dangerous wasteland called the Laser Fields. Filled with monsters and explosive elements, the place was rarely traversed except in emergencies.
After traveling about halfway across the Fields, there are sudden laser blasts that begin to rain down upon the surface. These come from moons that have been modified with machinery to blend in, then attack unsuspecting enemies. The malfunctioning moons start to attack Shu and friends who run toward a mound in the distance, which has a hand waving to them. When they leap in, they find themselves in a city of robots. These robots were built by the ancients to serve various purposes and have built a replica of an ancient town called Baroy Town
When the companions attempt to buy items or rest at inns, they must use computer terminals. Apparently, the robotic citizens of Baroy town have been awaiting the return of the one they call master for centuries. The party strikes up a friendship with a robot designated Sixty-one, who shows them the temple that their master lives. The companions note Nene's symbol on the communicator device shown in the temple before being thrown out by a bad-tempered robot designated Thirty-five. After this, Shu names the two robots Yasato and Hineto (in order of appearance) to the derision of his friends.
The companions cannot leave Baroy Town the way they came due to lasers, so they search for an alternative route. A barrier blocks the way to the only alternate route, but Yasato tells them that their magic power could help if they were to travel to the bottom of Baroy Town. A monster named Blazing Kirrin held the key to deactivate the barrier. After defeating Blazing Kirrin, the party moved on to the surface, thanks to the deactivation of the barrier. They arrive in an Underground River, which they quickly traverse and arrive in an ancient factory.
They encounter robotic warriors that seek to kill them. Shu realizes that they still think that the war is raging. They try to find a way back to the surface. When they do, they witness the entire ground beneath them erupt with robots from the factory. Each robot has a screen with Nene on it in place of a head. They use the special barrier activation device to create a barrier. the robots are unable to penetrate the barrier.
Realizing the attempt is useless, Nene takes command of the citizens of Baroy Town and makes them attack the companions. Shocked when they see their friends destroying themselves, the party gets Jiro to shut off the barrier. They are then captured and taken to a prison.
Shu awakens alone in his cell, with Hineto serving him food. Yasato arrives a short while after and frees Shu, explaining that Shu is his master too. Alone, Shu manages to free Jiro, Marumaro and Zola, but cannot find Kluke. After searching for a while, they see Kluke being removed from her cell on Nene's orders and witness Nene destroying Hineto. He begins threatening Yasato, which the party prevents him. Nene has his robotic servants attack the party while he flees in a giant machine made up of robots.
Shu and his friends chase after Nene but fail in catching him. When Nene vanishes, they search in vain for a way to follow him and save Kluke. They eventually reach a town with a barrier around it called Pachess Town. Upon passing through the barrier, they learn from the residents that it is impossible to leave through the barrier and that it is Nene who put the barrier around the town.
In an attempt to escape, Shu uses his Shadow to attack the barrier, but it does nothing to the obstacle. After witnessing this, the residents of the town become terrified and wary of the party, thinking that they are in league with Nene. The group head to the Elder's house and inform him of their affiliation to King Jibral via one of Zola's rings. The Elder ends the fear of the residents and the party sleep.
They wake up seeing a light behind the Elder's house. They find the Elder manipulating machinery and looking at a mural of a terrible creature destroying the Ancient civilization. After listening to the Elder's tale, the party recovers a piece of machinery that lets them control the moon laser in the underground of Pachess. It is then used to successfully destroy the barrier that Nene erected. The Elder thanks them with a strange device and the party travel off in search of Kluke once more.
After traveling a short way, the party witness Nene's fortress rise from a crater. Nene throws Kluke off the fortress, but Shu saves her. Nene than explains that the collar around Kluke's neck is a bomb with a 60-minute fuse. He promises to deactivate it if the party can reach him. With Kluke back in their ranks, the party race through Nene's fortress.
Along the way, they encounter Szabo, whom Nene rebuilt following the encounter on the Flying Fortress. After defeating him and his lackeys, they finally encounter their friend, Yasato the robot. After freeing him from an imprisoning sweeper circuit, the party was ambushed by the wrecked Szabo. Zola tells them to save Kluke while she deals with the general. The remaining four travel upward on a lift to reach Nene in the nick of time.
Nene laughs at the party and praises their progress. He then activates a choke function on Kluke's collar, prompting Shu, Jiro and Marumaro to try to pull it off. As they begin to succeed, Nene grants them collars of their own, which also choke them. Belatedly realizing that the collar was never meant to explode, the party also learn an amazing secret: the light orbs they swallowed were actually Nene's soul.
The old man extracts the party's spheres and uses their accumulated growth to restore himself to his youth. He changes the party's Shadows into his own Chimaera Shadow and prepares to crush them using an ancient walker transport. The party, drained, falls unconscious. Shu suddenly wakes up. Although his light sphere was taken, he still has magic that isn't Nene's soul. He repels the walker and then teleports Jiro, Kluke and Marumaro away. He then flees along with them, promising to return, then Nene ponders how Shu retained his magic.
He finds Jiro, Kluke and Marumaro, who are wondering about Zola, their escape, the collars around their necks and how to destroy the flesh-eating trees that prevent their escape from the village. Shu attempts to attack the monster tree, but without his Shadow, he is quickly knocked out. After reawakening in the same house where he originally woke, he ponders how to escape.
He ventures out to look at the moon and meets an orphaned girl named Sahlia who is about to commit suicide as she no longer sees a purpose in life. Shu tries to stop her, but is unable to sway her mind. He triggers a strange knowledge in his head as Jiro arrives to witness an incredible event: the summoning of Shu's Shadow.
Full of self-determination and fury, Shu summons his Shadow, which is far more powerful than the one Nene supplied him with. He is then confronted by his own dark side Dragon, which he easily defeats by unleashing the power of his heart. Traveling back, he finds Kluke ill and cures her. The remaining party members attempt to summon their own Shadow, to no avail. Shu then tries to defeat the tree, with the help of his friends. With Shu's Shadow, the tree is defeated and the party leaves.
The party now travels to the world's polar regions, with Jiro, Kluke, and Marumaro trying constantly to regain their Shadows. Eventually, they arrive in the frozen Noluta Village, in this condition thanks to Nene. They try to free the frozen residents with a machine. It does not respond to Shu's magic, needing the power of more magic. After hearing the troubles of some of the residents, lights shine in the party's hearts. They all eventually summon their Shadows, defeating their dark sides and regaining their magic.
Combining their magic, the group defeats Nene's mechat, and thaw the ice in Noluta. The grateful residents thank them and they travel through the mountains to make their way around. After a while, the party finds a group of large clear spires and Zola lands in a stolen mechat. With Zola back, they enter the mechat to find Nene. Their adversary actually entered the core of the planet and found a way to restore it to the modified version of the Ancients, with cube worlds at the center. he now makes an announcement to the world that he is the ruler.
Zola pilots the party's mechat into the Cube World region. Landing on a cube with buildings, they find it reinhabited by the mechanical residents of Baroy Town. After resting, they visit a cube with ancient creatures populating it. After defeating a dinosaur, Nene challenges them to reach him. If they can, he will make them the rulers of the world for when he dies. Shu and his friends race through the cube, battling Nene's most elite minions and the cube's inhabitants.
Nene bids his resurrected ally, General Szabo, to use his new parts to destroy the party. He confronts them, but has his new parts and weapons stripped. He is then badly crippled by Zola, who demands to be taken to Nene.
Blue Dragon was first revealed on February 24, 2005 as one of two unnamed role-playing games in development by Mistwalker Studios for the console which later came to be known as the Xbox 360. In an IGN interview following the unveiling, Peter Moore stressed the importance to Microsoft of having Japanese games available on the system, commenting "... It's a main priority for me in the next 12-18 months to ensure Japanese developers are our partners."
Contributors to Blue Dragon include a number of well known Japanese figures in the gaming industry. The title's original story was written by Hironobu Sakaguchi, the game director of the first five Final Fantasy video games. It also features art from Akira Toriyama, the creator of Dragon Ball and visual character and monster designer and illustrator of both the Dragon Quest series and Chrono Trigger.
Much of the actual software development work on the game was done at Artoon, with Takuya Matsumoto serving as director and Manabu Kusonoki responsible for the game's worldview. Matsumoto previously worked as a designer on Blinx 2: Masters of Time and Space, while Kusonoki is known for his work at Sega, including the world of Panzer Dragoon. Near the end of November 2005, roughly a year before the title was released in Japan, Artoon's Naoto Ōshima indicated that the game was around 40% complete. He also pointed out that Artoon had previously been known primarily for action titles, so that responsibility for Blue Dragon was originally somewhat frightening. Following this, a relative lack of media information for most of 2006 resulted in speculation that the title would be delayed until 2007, but Microsoft's Takashi Sensui confirmed in August 2006 that the game would indeed see a year-end 2006 release.
In a November 2006 interview with IGN, Sakaguchi confirmed that the sequel, Blue Dragon 2, was in the planning stages, and would presumably start development shortly thereafter. Later in an issue of Weekly Shōnen Jump, it was announced that Blue Dragon Plus is in the works for the Nintendo DS. This game will be a real-time simulation RPG and feature 2D sprite graphics.
Blue Dragon's score was produced and composed by Nobuo Uematsu, who is famous for composing much of the music in the popular Final Fantasy series. One of the boss themes, "Eternity", was written by Sakaguchi, composed by Uematsu, and includes vocals by English singer Ian Gillan. Blue Dragon Original Soundtrack was released on December 13, 2006 and was arranged by Satoshi Henmi and Hiroyuki Nakayama. Music from Blue Dragon was performed live at the Play! A Video Game Symphony concerts in 2006.
Manga and Anime
At first he is only able to use fire breath and a punch attack. But on episodes 11-12, he becomes able to materalize a sword made of something like energy. He is also able to use a new kind of blue firebreath which he calls his new finishing move fire crison
Reviews for Blue Dragon have been somewhat mixed, although generally favorable. On the review aggregator Game Rankings, the game had an average score of 77% based on 64 reviews. While many of the reviewers praised the game for its traditional approach, a few reviewers criticized it for that very reason, with one reviewer remarking "In fact, there is very little you can point to in Blue Dragon that hasn't been done multiple times over before". The story also came under scrutiny from some reviewers for being too generic and too similar to existing Japanese RPGs, with slow pacing during the beginning of the game. Eurogamer noted that the apparent lack of effort put into the facial animations for each character resulted in a limited ability to express emotion. They also noted that the mouth movements are well timed, but that the rest of the characters' facial movements are "static". Game Informer commented that Blue Dragon lacked "jaw dropping" moments and was missing a nebulous "key element" to make it perfect. 1UP.com also picked up on this, adding that Blue Dragon was missing "strong characters, gripping storytelling, and excellent pacing". X-Play noted that the game was very visually pleasing but they said the game was like any other role-playing game. Though most of the reviewers criticized the title in one way or another, they also all complimented it for its excellent graphics and music. Game Informer also noted that "the characters look like sculpted figurines wandering around a world built to scale". GameSpy complimented the title's music and graphics saying the game had "phenomenal music; and magnificently rendered cutscenes".