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.
The rest of us, unfortunately, will be waiting until the English version's official August release.
Speaking to Famitsu (translated by IGN), Hironobu Sakaguchi reveals new details of Mistwalker's current Xbox 360 project Lost Odyssey. The game is now 70% complete, and the development team has reached the "balancing and tuning" phase of production. The music (composed by RPG legend Nobuo Uematsu) is nearly done. Sakaguchi notes that the game's theme focuses on "humanity" and that the music conveys inner emotions. The camera will remain fixed in the game, though there will be cinematic rumbling and focus effects used.
Finally, Sakaguchi reveals more information about Lost Odyssey's combat. Lost Odyssey will use a wall system that requires the front lines to defend those in the rear. This is crucial, as magic users cause the most damage and must be protected (this is in line with what Sakaguchi told us at GDC) Also revealed, certain items will require skills to equip and the game features a crafting system that binds magical items to weapons.
More Lost Odyssey details are expected soon.
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.
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.
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.
Yes, we know. You've already seen the Blue Dragon box. Why show us again, you say. Dear friends, that was merely a box. Now this, this is a bundle, and as bundles go, the Japanese Blue Dragon bundle is a monster. The bundle comes packed with goodies, first of which is of course Blue Dragon itself. Also included in the box: a 360 Core system, a 2007 Blue Dragon calendar (though 2007 is actually the year of the pig), a Blue Dragon faceplate, and five (!) figurines representing each character from the game. It's a little odd that the bundle includes no way of saving your game (kind of an important feature in RPGs), but then we expect Microsoft is hoping to make few bucks on hard drives and memory cards. Some of you may have heard that Blue Dragon received an impressive 37/40 from Famitsu, Japan's biggest gaming mag, so it will be interesting to see how this bundle fares at retail. Oh, and lest we forget, it should be available in Japan today. Head over to 1UP for more pictures.
Update 2: This bundle has no hard drive.
We don't really understand the aversion to putting big titles on Marketplace in Japan (they did the same thing with Ninety-Nine Nights). Does having it on a physical disc make it special somehow, like a collector's item? Would any of our readers in Japan care to comment?
Today we bring you two entirely new screens from Blue Dragon, that wacky Japanese system seller. We particularly enjoy the screen above, with its "big fish eats smaller fish" mentality. But that's not all, we have even more Blue Dragon goodness: a new video of the game's combat. Check out the video after the break, and check Xboxyde for some screen grabs taken from the video.
According to YouNEWB.com (we've never heard of them either) a Japanese blog is claiming that Japanese retailer , eDigi, has sold every single Blue Dragon pre-order bundle. What's more, they were reportedly sold out within five minutes. The article doesn't have a lot of specifics. For example, we don't know how many units the retailer had to sell. It could be five or fifty for all we know. So, the info is a little tenuous but good news for Microsoft if true. Would any of our Japanese savvy readers like to take a stab at translating the blog?