After all but being abandoned by Microsoft, Blue Dragon makes its second attempt at carving a niche on the Nintendo DS. Surviving through the drivel that was Blue Dragon: Plus, it was difficult to foresee any glimmer of hope that Blue Dragon: Awakened Shadow would serve up anything better than a run-of-the-mill Japanese role-playing game. Boy was I right.
Doing not even the littlest of things to stand out, Blue Dragon: Awakened Shadow has players wandering aimlessly through a terrible storyline that is only there to cover up the grindfest that lurks in the shadows. This all could’ve been overlooked if the characters weren’t annoying brats who lack any real-world knowledge, but alas, what is delivered is a time-consuming and head-shaking narrative that is clichéd until the bitter end.
There are a few attempts to differentiate Awakened Shadow from its predecessors and competition. The online multiplayer is one reason that RPG fans may want to invest their time into the title and see if they can overlook the flaws with the narrative to quest with their buddies. It was often better to head out on a quest with a human with a lick of intelligence rather than an AI that often committed mistakes that resulted in defeat. Whether players want to team up locally or WFC, the option to play with a friend should be immediately explored upon starting Awakened Shadow.
As with any typical RPG since the onset of the genre, Blue Dragon: Awakened Shadow is a lengthy journey that contains a lot of loot to use within the Item Fusion system. This system takes the tremendous amount of loot gathered and permits players to combine items together for upgrades or entirely new weapons. An enticing feature; especially for the loothounds out there who need every single item in their inventory. Gathering recipe books and learning combinations ought to have looters hooked, line and sinker. Sadly, this wasn’t up my alley and is a drab attempt at longevity.
The monotony of Awakened Shadow could potentially lull gamers to sleep. Many of the quests are vague in every sense and, more often than not, players may be scratching their head on where to go next. After completing a quest, a new one doesn’t immediately open, so there were times when I would find it difficult to locate the next objective. So newcomers beware; you may end up spending too much time walking rather than experiencing the thrills of combat.
On the topic of combat, Awakened Shadows abandons the turn-based combat of the Xbox 360 iteration, and instead utilizes real-time controls via the stylus or the face buttons. In light of the endless wandering, enduring combat can be a joyous event. The only downside for players without a friend to play with, is that they’ll be spending the majority of their time healing their AI companions.
Even with the limited character customization, online multiplayer, and Item Fusion system, Blue Dragon: Awakened Shadow is a disappointing RPG. There was such high hope for the series, and I was sold on the idea that there was room for new intellectual properties within the genre back in 2007. Now, three years later, I do believe Blue Dragon may have met its end.