Dragon around

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

It's not unusual for a big Japanese RPG like Blue Dragon to get a side-story or sequel game. However, it is odd that a game that's exclusive to the Xbox 360 is seeing its sequel released on Nintendo's diminutive handheld rather than on a console.

Blue Dragon Plus continues the story of the original with some noticeable changes and alterations necessitated by the portable platform.

Blue Dragon was a cookie-cutter role-playing game for the Xbox 360. It featured the usual pre-teen protagonist and his friends fighting an ancient evil sorcerer to save the world.

The sequel picks up a year after the resolution of the original. The world is torn asunder and the evil sorcerer is vanquished but a new unknown evil has appeared to present a new challenge for the stalwart heroes.

The handheld title does not feature turn-based RPG play, instead leveraging the Nintendo DS touchscreen to direct the team of characters in real time. The player will need to quickly learn how to manipulate multiple characters, and often it feels like corralling a herd of toddlers in battle.

The controls suffer from some rather annoying flaws. Characters frequently fail to go where instructed and can't figure out how to navigate obstacles in their paths, including other characters or enemies.

Additionally, the game's touted strategy elements feel shallow. Most combat devolves into simply rushing the foe with your party and quickly attacking them while using herbs to keep your own characters intact and alive.

The game continues to use the designs of Dragonball creator Akira Toriyama, and fans of his art will likely be impressed with the game's full-motion video cut scenes and character designs.

Those familiar with the original will be happy to see Shu, Kluke and the gang joined by some comedic new partners like the Poo Snake, all of whom gain the ability to use a shadow before the end of the game.

Once the story begins to move you'll be locked into certain groups of characters, though, which is a bit disappointing; it forces you to use all the characters even if you find them less than useful or annoying.

Blue Dragon Plus is truly a game for fans. The change from traditional RPG controls to the handheld's motion-active controls will disappoint, however, especially with the title's less tactical feel.

"Blue Dragon Plus"

System: Nintendo DS

Players: 1

Price: $40

Rated: T for Teen

Who Should Buy It?: Dragon warriors

GameOn! Grade: C

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