Blue Dragon Plus Review: A lost gem of an RPG sequel

Blue Dragon Plus Review: A lost gem of an RPG sequel

In a world where sequels often struggle to capture the magic of their predecessors, Blue Dragon Plus emerges as a valiant attempt to expand upon the beloved universe of its predecessor. As a devoted fan of the original Blue Dragon, I found myself immersed in a star-studded ensemble of characters, both old and new, each with their own captivating abilities and intricate backstories. While the DS platform limitations may have dulled its graphical shine, the game compensates with an engaging customization system that lets you fine-tune strategies and build unique Mecha Robos. Despite some narrative and quality-of-life hiccups, Blue Dragon Plus remains a hidden gem, offering an above-average RPG experience that fans of the genre—or anyone seeking a fresh twist on strategy RPGs—will find delightfully unique and satisfying. Now, without further ado, I, Brighton Nelson of RPG Ranked present to you: a Blue Dragon Plus Review: A lost gem of an RPG sequel.

Characters - 10

Blue Dragon Plus - SteamGridDB

As an avid superfan of the original Blue Dragon, I absolutely love all the characters here, especially the ones who weren't all that featured in the original game, like Fushira, Marumaro's siblings, Sahlia, and the mysterious Himiko (who was only mentioned through accessories in the Primitive Cube in the original title). With the fantastic original cast of five, nine iconic characters from the original, newcomer Himiko, a recruitable Poo Snake, and a multitude of customizable Mecha Robos with unique designs, this is an amazing, star-studded cast of characters that perfectly builds on their brilliance from the previous game (with Marumaro being most improved, due to the lack of awful voice acting).

Music - 9.5

Blue Dragon Plus (DS) (gamerip) (2008) MP3 - Download Blue Dragon Plus (DS)  (gamerip) (2008) Soundtracks for FREE!

This game boasts all the phenomenal songs of the original, with a couple of original compositions tossed in for good measure. The original is one of my favorite VGM soundtracks of all time, and my only complaint comes from the weak DS soundfont, which significantly decreases the grandeur of the original. However, that's certainly not a big hit to one of gaming's best and most underrated soundtracks.

Art & Graphics - 6

Blue Dragon Plus Nintendo DS, 60% OFF |

While I adored the art direction and graphics of the original game, the translation to DS was rather mediocre. It's a great-looking DS game, but, unfortunately, DS games look mediocre as a whole, making for an overall "eh" looking game. The pixel art is absolutely impeccable for a DS game, but it really is still an incredible-looking game on an underwhelmingly bad-looking system.

Customization System - 8.5

There are four main ways of progressing in this game: leveling up your characters, leveling up your main Shadow Classes (each character has a unique job Shadow that correlates with a specific animal), leveling up your secondary Shadow class, and, eventually, building unique Mecha Robos that are suited to your playstyle. While the Mecha Robo building is ultimately confusing and underbaked (due to the relative obscurity of the game, nobody has truly debunked it on the Internet), the Shadow Classes are tons of fun.

Shu, the main character, has the titular Blue Dragon shadow and can access ranged spellblade attacks that devastate enemies in a straight line in front of him. There's Jiro, who has the Minotaur shadow, which allows him to cast restorative, light-elemental, curative, regenerative, and vivifying magic. There's Kluke, who has the Phoenix Shadow and is capable of dishing out major damage in a wide area with elemental sorcery. There's Marumaro, who has the Sabertooth Tiger shadow, giving him a powerful assortment of offensive and retaliatory attacking skills that cover almost all of the elements. There's Zola, the team's fastest unit and wielder of the Killer Bat Shadow that can also provide secondary offense when not flanking, flipping switches, collecting treasures, stealing from items, or acting as an evasion tank.

Moving away from the original cast, there's Fushira, wielder of the Rafflesia Shadow and the game's strongest physical attacker, with an array of strength and HP buffs that make him an absolute menace, even though he lacks the powerful burst damage provided by units like Shu and Marumaro. There's King Jibral, wielder of the Kirin Shadow and the game's best tank, allowing him to shield and defense-buff allies while he chips away at enemies on the frontline. There's Marumira, wielder of the Cerberus Shadow, who can cast ailment-inflicting spells on her enemies that debilitate them in various ways, creating openings for her allies while still doing elemental damage with her spells (though not to the degree of Kluke or Nene). There's Marutora, wielder of the Kraken Shadow, a character who can cast buffing spells on his allies to increase their offensive capabilities tenfold. There's Sahlia, my personal favorite and wielder of the Cat Genie Shadow, which allows her to absolutely demolish enemies with Death Magic that debuff enemy stats into the ground and can instantly kill any enemies susceptible to instant death (which, spoilers, is pretty common in this game). There's Toripo, wielder of the Tarantula Shadow, who is the team's resident Barrier Mage, buffing the magic defense of allies significantly and tanking magic (he's similar to King Jibral, but with magic attacks). There's Yasato, wielder of the Pegasus Prism, master of support, healing, and damaging with the use of Item Skills. There's Szabo, wielder of the Jack-o'-Lantern Shadow and user of elementally-charged sniping attacks that do major damage at immense range.

There's also the recruitable Poo Snake, who is a weak unit but has unmatchable area-of-effect, ranged attacks, almost unmatchable speed, and tons of insane innate skills that make him level up much faster than other units, allowing him to stay strong, despite his much weaker stats. The last units are quite interesting, as one of them, Himiko, is a completely new character and love interest to Nene, the main antagonist of the original game (but a protagonist in this game). Himiko (wielder of the Asura Shadow) is the game's ultimate White Mage with much better stats and healing capabilities than Jiro, but unfortunately, she has random magic-casting that makes her much less reliable. Nene (wielder of the Chimera Shadow) is the same, but with Black Magic, doing the most damage of any character in the game but, like Himiko, having a random element to his magic attacks. There's also the secret Baular Shadow that can only be equipped as a secondary class, which boasts by far the best stats in the game and two amazing innate abilities that make casting time cut in half and that make every spell fully charged for no cost.

As aforementioned, every single character is able to equip a secondary Shadow that corresponds to another character's Shadow. Want the ultimate Sage? Give Jiro Kluke's Shadow as a secondary shadow or vice versa. Want the ultimate tank character? Give King Jibral Toripo's Shadow or vice versa! Want an unnecessarily broken magic DPS? Give Nene the Balaur Shadow. Or an unnecessarily broken healer? Give Himiko the Balaur Shadow. Want a speed demon that can snipe people from across the map? Give Zola the Jack-o'-Lantern Shadow. There's tons of customization to be had here! And the best part of all of this? You can use sixteen characters in battle at a time, allowing for practically every party member to be used, as well as additional Mecha Robos you have created! This makes for a uniquely chaotic experience that allows every character you have customized to excel and shine. Ultimately, while the actual customizing is pretty much limited to secondary Shadow classes, the basis of the game's original leveling system is super fun, landing it an 8.5 in this category.

Locations - 5

Destructoid review: Blue Dragon Plus – Destructoid

This game takes place in the post-apocalyptic world from the ending of the first game, where the planet is split into a multitude of unique cubes. Unfortunately, this game does very little to develop the phenomenal and zany ideas that were established in the original, something that the third game in the trilogy does much better than this game. Regardless, this game has a fantastic level design, making me feel a little better about this game's mixed potential. The locations you visit here are good but, like many strategy RPGs, not quite great.

Sidequests - 6

Destructoid Review: Blue Dragon Plus – Destructoid, 40% OFF

This game's sidequests mostly require quick fetch quests, purchasing items, or defeating tough enemies. While there are plenty of fun, tough monsters to take down here, the sidequests turn out to be vastly more unmemorable than those of the original and quite subpar in the grand pantheon of RPG sidequests. Not too bad, but not too great.

Story - 7

Blue Dragon Plus (DS) – DarkZero

While this game's story thrives off of its characters and wacky ideas that follow up the original's off-the-walls ending, as well as finding unique ways to incorporate and redeem the villains of the original, there aren't too many interesting moments in this story. I was rather hooked by the idea of generic enemies gaining access to powerful Shadows, canonically evening out the playing field (and making the game noticeably more difficult than the original); this game does little to expand on the original's excellent narrative. However, this story isn't bad by any means, just adequately decent. And for a sequel to one of my favorite games of all time, I still felt content with the narrative experience I got here.

Quality of Life - 1

Blue Dragon Plus | Blue Dragon Wiki | Fandom

Unfortunately, this is one of those great games whose biggest downfall was its wild oversights. With easily missable playable characters if you don't happen upon a specific playing tile, a variety of missable items; to lack of explanation on a few core gameplay mechanics (Mecha Robos and Shadow Fights), and a bafflingly bad way of going about secondary classes; to only a couple save slots and literally needing to restart the game if you mess up and forget to kill a certain Mecha Robo on the map, this game requires close following of a guide. Unfortunately, even the official guide lacks much crucial information, making for a game that actively makes the experience unfun or downright rage-inducing at times. What a sad thing to see from a game I'd otherwise sing the praises of as one of the most underrated RPGs and one of the most forgotten sequels ever made.

The Verdict

Blue Dragon Plus | Blue Dragon Wiki | Fandom

Fun Factor: 7
Overall Score: 69%
Letter Rating: B

While I wouldn't recommend playing this game without at least a little bit of direction from a guide, I'd easily recommend it to any Blue Dragon fans, Real-Time Strategy fans, or even those just looking for a unique or new RPG experience. While it certainly isn't the greatest game of all time, it's an above-average RPG and, in my eyes, one of the genre's absolute best-hidden gems. As somebody who states Blue Dragon to be my third favorite game of all time, I say this absolutely was a successful sequel (albeit a very odd one).

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Primary Version: Blue Dragon Plus (Nintendo DS)