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Blue Dragon Plus
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this is a sequel to Blue Dragon, but offers real-time strategy gameplay instead of role-playing. Players don't have to be familiar with the first game to enjoy the second, although it doesn't hurt. The game features plenty of fantasy violence, but nothing overly graphic.
What's it about?
BLUE DRAGON PLUS takes place a year after the events of the console role-playing game Blue Dragon. The five friends, Shu, Jiro, Kluke, Zola and Marumaro (along with plenty of other familiar faces) are reunited in a new adventure that once again pits them against the villain Nene and his army of Mecha Robos as they investigate the new Cube World that was created at the end of the first game.
Blue Dragon Plus is a real-time strategy game where players explore the various "cubes" and battle the monsters lurking there in a series of staged encounters. Unlike other portable strategy games like Jeanne D'Arc or Final Fantasy Tactics, the terrain is not divided into a grid, and combat is not turn-based. In other words, instead of directing each character's actions in turn by selecting commands from a menu, both the player's units and the enemies move freely, and you must direct characters' actions by tapping where you want each one to go and selecting spells and special attacks to use on the fly.
Is it any good?
Blue Dragon Plus looks great, with plenty of impressive cutscenes to move the story along. Although the story makes plenty of references to characters and events of the first game, it's careful to fill in enough detail that newcomers won't feel lost. The campaign itself is lengthy, with more than a dozen characters to recruit, and a wide variety of equipment, items, special abilities, and spells to play around with.
In spite of each character's individual talents (which include the unique ability to summon "shadows" to attack on their behalf), without the ability to precisely place units, battles more often than not turn into free-for-all melees where the most effective strategy is to simply swarm the nearest enemy while using enough healing items to stay alive. This lack of structure makes Blue Dragon Plus both more accessible to casual fans and potentially much less satisfying for strategy game aficionados.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how different characters have certain strengths and weaknesses (for example, strong spell-casting abilities, but low defense) and why it's important for characters to work together to protect and complement each other. Would the game be easier to play if you could take turns making your moves instead of the action happening real-time, or do you prefer the more action-oriented style of play?
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