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The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this is a role-playing game in the style of Final Fantasy or Dragon Warrior and requires a large time investment (around 60 hours) to complete. While the main characters are all virtuous, the villain of the game performs many evil acts including destroying villages on a whim, deliberately infecting people with diseases, and ordering robots to kill themselves. The game also earns its "crude humor" warning from the ESRB with numerous references to "poo." One of the enemy types is a "poo snake" and various enemies leave behind droppings that contain treasures.
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What's it about?
BLUE DRAGON centers on three children -- Shu, Jiro, and Kluke -- who live in a remote village that suffers regular attacks by a fearsome beast called the Land Shark. Eventually, the three confront the Land Shark and find out that it's owned by an even more sinister villain named Nene. To thwart Nene, the companions embark on an epic quest. Eventually, two other characters join the party for a total of five, and all possess the same ability: Their shadows manifest themselves as gigantic blue creatures capable of using powerful magic and skills.
The shadows can be assigned different jobs which, when completed, unlock different forms of magic and skills. A twist with Blue Dragon is that the monster battles aren't truly random; instead, monsters appear on the overworld map and can be engaged or avoided as the player chooses. Battle is turn-based, and characters can charge up their attacks for added effect in exchange for sacrificing their spot in line.
Is it any good?
Blue Dragon was spearheaded by Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi and the soundtrack was written by renowned video game composer and fellow Final Fantasy alumnus Nobuo Uematsu. It has everything you would expect a game with its pedigree to have: beautiful graphics and music, cinematic cut scenes, an engaging (if clichéd) story, varied magic to learn, and plenty of monster encounters. The endless monster battles required to level up characters can be tedious, but it's something fans of the genre are used to.
Blue Dragon doesn't introduce much new to the role-playing genre, but it's a comfortable, well-paced adventure with characters whose plucky spirit you can't help but become attached to. Clocking in at around 60 hours of gameplay, Blue Dragon will certainly give gamers their money's worth if they're willing to invest the time.
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