See Japan, the Xbox 360 loves you so much it's willing to incorporate your gaming culture in a marketing campaign aimed at Americans on their country's birthday. Don't you think you owe the 360 some love now?
It was confirmed during GDC this year that Blue Dragon would be hitting the U.S. sometime this August. We've received official word from Microsoft this morning that the game will ship on August 28. Yes, in just 61 days, U.S. games will finally be able to play Mistwalker's first opus. In celebration of Blue Dragon, Microsoft plans to make a fan site kit available from the official Blue Dragon page on Xbox.com (it's not available right now, despite the press release's protestations to the contrary). Xbox.com will also be hosting a feature article about the game, though it still hasn't gone live as of this posting. For those of you still unfamiliar with the game, we suggest you check out the recent preview from Eurogamer.
Eurogamer got its hands on the English version of Blue Dragon and took the time to write up some impressions. Overall, the gist of the preview is that Blue Dragon tries to recreate classic Japanese role playing game design without reinventing it. As noted by the preview, everything seems as though it was pulled from classic RPGs and made to mesh with modern console aesthetics. The graphics look like old school 2D characters and worlds come to life, the characters are broadly drawn, and the combat is solidly turn-based. About the only concession the game makes to modern game design (or "progress" as Eurogamer calls it) is that battles are not random. In the end, it seems that Blue Dragon was meant as a nostalgic trip down memory lane with a new coat of paint. The only problem, according to Eurogamer, is that such nostalgia may be in limited supply outside of Japan. We'll find out when Blue Dragon hits North America this August.
[Thanks Jonah Falcon, Via Joystiq]
The rest of us, unfortunately, will be waiting until the English version's official August release.
Speaking to Japanese website, Gpara.com, Mistwalker head, Hironobu Sakaguchi, expressed interest in taking the inevitable sequel to Blue Dragon online. Sakaguchi told the website (translated by Eurogamer), "Specifics aren't finalised, but there's a possibility that it will be produced as an online title." Granted, it's possible that something was lost in translation, but it sounds as though Sakaguchi wants to make online functionality central to Blue Dragon 2. Of course, it's just as likely that the online functionality could be limited to simple things like item trading or the Mechat shooting segments. Given the original title's relative success in Japan, adding online functionality could be a good way to get more Japanese gamers on Xbox Live.
American gamers will finally get their shot at Blue Dragon in August.
Today, Microsoft announced a sparkly new piece of Blue Dragon downloadable content that will be available for Japanese Xbox 360 gamers April 27th. For 300 Microsoft points (444 yen) you too can get your very own Random Dungeon Creator. That is if you live in Japan and have a copy of Blue Dragon. And excuse us if this is common knowledge, but what in the world is a Random Dungeon Creator? Does it create post-modern dungeons in a random fashion to explore and wander about? Seriously, a Random Dungeon Creator ... it just sounds silly to us.
During our preview of Blue Dragon and Lost Odyssey on Tuesday, we were lucky enough to score a little question and answer time with RPG luminary, Hironobu Sakaguchi (and his translator). We learned a few things about Blue Dragon, Lost Odyssey, and the differences between them. We learned about the downloadable content in store for Blue Dragon, too. We also got to ask him about what its like to have his own company now (Mistwalker), what's next after Lost Odyssey, the 360's performance in Japan, and Sakaguchi-san's love for Gears of War.
We captured all the audio and now present it for download on MP3 (Fancast subscribers will get it automatically). As an added bonus, we also threw in a bit of the music from Lost Odyssey. Download and enjoy.
A jet-lagged but amiable Hironobu Sakaguchi gave us a first look at the English localized version of Blue Dragon. As luck would have it, we also got a firsthand look at the localized version of Lost Odyssey. That statement is actually a little misleading, as Sakaguchi informed us that Lost Oddyssey will launch simultaneously around the world this holiday. That's right, this holiday, not holiday 2008. But, back to the preview. The first game up was Blue Dragon.
With more Japanese titles on the way (namely Lost Odyssey), Microsoft better get its marketing crew in gear if they want to stand a chance in Japan. If MS can get a foothold in Japan, it means more variety for everyone, and that's always a good thing.
We know that the Japanese version of the game received some decent reviews, but Joystiq sheds what little light it can on the US localized version. Essentially, the game will remain the same apart from translated text and re-dubbed English voices (which can blessedly be replaced with the original Japanese voices if desired). Some of the songs will be re-dubbed in English as well (that should be interesting). Joystiq also notes that episodic content may be available for download after the game is released.