||System: Wii||Released: 9/25/2007
|Developer: LandHo!||Publisher: D3 Publisher
|Genre: Action/Brawler||Players: 1
|ESRB Rating: T for Teen||Controller: Remote & Nunchuck|
|Game Save: 1 Block||Reviewer: Laserkid (Staff)
Dragon Blade was a title that, for me at least, held great promise. It was an action brawler on the Wii that used the Wii remote as a sword. Sure, Twilight Princess had generic sword controls, but Dragon blade promised more sword specific gestures. Moreover, this isn't a puzzle solving adventure, it's a beat em up (an all too rare thing in this era of gaming). So when this game came out I purchased it right away. That first night with it was very good, Heavenly even. A Wii brawler with Wii remote controls was enough to satisfy on my first play. However, consecutive plays found that this game made my wrist hurt... a lot. Thus began the further and further spiral from a game I first thought was a good brawler, to a game that makes me want to cry.
As you can see to your left, the games visuals are completely unspectacular. Nothing horrendously bad, there aren't any jaggies or anything, but the graphics look like they made this for the Sega Dreamcast. In fact it looks like a Phantasy Star Online clone to me, visually anyway. Except, unlike PSO, the game level variance is set to an extreme low. Everything looks like an ancient temple; there's an occasional run outside, but you still see the ancient temples exteriors from them. It doesn't even look intricate. The music is fairly forgettable. Nothing ear bleeding, but nothing that really inspires the action either. It borders on elevator music.
Up to this point everything sounds average: a typical game. But oh do the controls suck. It's a good concept, the way it's supposed to work. But the lack of Wii remote sensitivity set to this game makes my wrist want to bleed (and write a message saying this game sucks in its own blood). But the sad part is, I wanted to play anyway. The beat em up is strong in this game; it may not be a top tier beat em up, but its pretty standard and good. It makes me want to play more and more, but then my wrist starts bleeding again. The problem is, eventually, the game just stops being fun. It's not a high caliber beat em up; so no matter how fun it could have been, the wrist pain is enough to detract from the experience. Moreover, the repetitiveness is off the scale. Sure, I expect some recolor of older enemies in my brawlers. It's an expected part of the formula, but they don't even try to do that. I just face off against the same lizard men, demon dogs, bats, spiders, pig demons and minotaurs over and over again with little mix variance.
Then there's the plot, and more importantly the writing. In the screenshot gallery I've included an example of this: "Here once stood a temple whose people did honor me." Yes, that may work grammatically, but it's unnecessarily obtuse. There are plenty more examples of this throughout the entire game. Such as the protagonist's wife dying after the first level, to such lines that would make House of the Dead 2's death lines look good. Moreover, the plot just doesn't seem to make much sense really. You have Valthorian, the fallen Dragon who is the cause of the power of the Dragon Blade. Those who followed him turned against him, broke him, and split his power apart for themselves. Now according to the narrative, Valthorian's disciples were tricked by evil dark dragons who we want to stop. Okay, so when we meet one of these disciples he seems not to care at all that he's betrayed Valthorian. That's all well and good. But then, when you defeat this boss, Valthorian goes off on a tirade about those he loves. It just feels out of place (Like Harry's death in House of the Dead 2). Particularly when Valthorian is the only character who has voice acting in the game. So during the lead up to the aforementioned boss fight, Vathorian booms at the boss with his voice. Then the boss replies... in text. He doesn't even make grunts and arghs when attacked, he just runs around and has sound effects for his attacks.
Ultimately, there was something good in this game, but it was clearly made on a low budget. The development team had a lot of good ideas, but the execution was just poor. I really wanted to like this game, but it has too many flaws. I hope that if D3 Publisher gives Landho a chance at a sequel, they fix the damn sensitivity issue first and foremost. If that alone is fixed, the game would have been a solid Three. But if they manage to get enough suckers like me to buy the first one, I also hope they try better level design and graphics with the cash they get. This game feels like it's the first game in a series that the first game sucks in, it's like Mega Man before Mega Man 2. The roots for an excellent franchise are here, but only if they improve on some issues.
For trying very hard to be fun, but falling short in execution, Dragon Blade: Wrath of Fire receives 2 wrist bleeds out of 5.