RPGamer Feature - Blue Dragon: Awakened Shadow Interview
Hexyz Force
Developer: Mistwalker
& tri-Cresendo
Publisher: D3Publisher
ESRB: E10+
Release Date:

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Hang onto your Poo Snake! D3Publisher is bringing another Blue Dragon game to North America, this time it's the latest installment, Awakened Shadow. Rather than taking on the role of Shu, RPGamers will be able to create their own hero or heroine and battle in the Otherworld. Get ready to battle, be strong, and become the best around, 'cause with Blue Dragon on your side, nothing's ever gonna keep you down!

Insperational songs aside, RPGamer was luckily enough to have Joe Fletcher and the rest of the team from D3Publisher give us the scoop on all things Blue Dragon: Awakened Shadow. Get ready... FIGHT!

Greetings! Thank you so much for taking the time to answer some of our questions on your upcoming DS RPG, Blue Dragon: Awakened Shadow. For those who are unfamiliar with the game we were hoping to get a little more insight about this one.
Joe Fletcher, Producer: Hello there! Joe Fletcher, Producer on Blue Dragon: Awakened Shadow here. I'd be happy to provide insight into the new game.

We know that Blue Dragon: Awakened Shadow is an action RPG, much different from Blue Dragon and Blue Dragon Plus. Could you share some details about the gameís battle system with us?
JF: Blue Dragon: Awakened Shadow uses a real-time action-RPG combat system. The player controls the main character while the other members in the party are controlled by the AI. They are able to run, explore, attack, dodge, and cast spells while actively avoiding enemy attacks. It is a completely new combat system for the game franchise.

We really like the idea of creating our own character to use in the Blue Dragon: Awakened Shadow world. What aspects of character creation are in our hands? Class/job? Facial features?
JF: In character creation, the player can customize the gender, facial features, hairstyle, voice, and even the name of the main character. They can set up a custom emblem from several icon choices which will identify them in multiplayer. The characters are all designed by Akira Toriyama, who created the art for all the characters and enemies in the game, so they all have a definite but varied style.

During the game, you'll pick up tons of weapons, armor, and helms. Each of these has a distinct look and will display on your character. So for players that enjoy micromanaging stats, they are more than able to do that. For those that like to play dress up, they can mix and match from several items.

As for class/job choices, this is done through the Shadows selection. Shadows are a reflection of the player's own inner abilities, and switching Shadows changes their specialization accordingly. Some Shadows, like the Dragon, are more powerful when physically attacking the enemy. Others, like the Phoenix, specialize in magical attacks such as flinging spells to help out teammates.

What about character development throughout the game? How does your character evolve? Is it mostly through weapons, armor, and skills or can the player make plot decisions to shape the outcome of the game?
JF: Characters do not gain levels in this game. Cue gasps of shock. That being said, there is still a leveling system in the game based around the Shadows. Shadows gain levels and can be switched between party members freely. This means that the player will never be stuck in a position where they have to suddenly power level a new party member for a side quest.

Additionally, weapons and armor have the standard ability to increase attacks, defenses, special abilities, and more. There is also a crafting system in the game called Synthesis that allows players to upgrade weapons and armor, making each piece more powerful. So those clothes horses out there that really like their old armor can upgrade and make it worthwhile!

How does the multiplayer aspect of the Blue Dragon: Awakened Shadow work?
JF: As the player goes through the game, they will be able to refight some bosses through the Otherworld Doors that open up in the main castle. As well, some items will open up other doors containing more challenging bosses that the player does not battle through normal gameplay. These bosses form the basis of the multiplayer component of the game. Up to three players can join up over Wireless or Wi-Fi and fight any of the bosses the Host has unlocked up to that point. These bosses will have improved loot tables in Multiplayer and some items can only be gained through Multiplayer mode. Players can also trade items with one another.

Where in the Blue Dragon timeline does Blue Dragon: Awakened Shadow fit in? Are there any other direct ties into the prior two games and should we pick those up to really appreciate this one?
JF: The game takes place two years after the end of the Xbox 360 version of Blue Dragon. It is the direct sequel to the first game, so everything that you've learned about the characters is continued. Blue Dragon Plus for the DS was more of a side story, so while it provides players with new insights into certain characters, it's not really "required reading" for anyone. That being said, Blue Dragon: Awakened Shadow does a great job of bringing players up to speed on the story. So while going back and playing the previous games will definitely help, it's not a requirement like some serial games.

What can you tell us about the game's story? Do shadows still play a big part? We're assuming so since the name is Blue Dragon: Awakened Shadow, but we are just curious how.
JF: To give the quick non-spoiler version (or at least, not a spoiler if the player is planning on playing 15 minutes into the game): As the player is awakening from a centuries long sleep, a mysterious light eclipses the surface of the world, taking away everyone's Shadows. Only the recently awakened player, dormant all this time in an underground sanctuary, still has the ability to use a Shadow. Meeting up with Shu and the group, the player is quickly drawn into the mystery behind the disappearance and attempts to restore the balance of Shadows to everyone on the scattered Cubes of the world.

Gameplay-wise, there are six Shadows that the player can unlock throughout the game, each with a different specialty and set of spells. These Shadows level up and gain new abilities as well as further increase the stats they specialize in. Shadows can be switched between party members, but only one of each Shadow can be used at once. Shadows definitely still play a big part in the game, both story and mechanics-wise.

We are always curious about game length here at RPGamer. What would you say the completion range is for this one? What's the high end for completionists and low end for those rushing through everything?
JF: The more average run will take the player about 30-35 hours, with a full side quest completion with all the optional bosses defeated in about 45-50 hours.

Now, if the player wants to be a completionist? Obtaining all the weapons and armor in the game will put that time up into the hundreds of hours as many items are crafted or dropped from defeating the optional uber bosses in the Otherworld Doors.

With the Blue Dragon franchise now three games strong and from three different developers no less, just how much involvement does Mistwalker still have with this series? What developers were involved in the development of Blue Dragon: Awakened Shadow and in what capacity? Mistwalker, tri-Crescendo, Bird Studio?
JF: Mistwalker still provides as much direction and oversight for Blue Dragon: Awakened Shadow as they have for all the other Blue Dragon games. They are the ones that make sure that what we release "makes sense" within the game world and franchise overall. tri-Crescendo handled the changes needed to gear the game from Japan to a western audience. Bird Studio is responsible for the concept art and design of every single character, weapon, armor, enemy and more that are showcased in the game.

Who do you believe is the intended audience for Blue Dragon: Awakened Shadow? How do you think this game will appeal to RPGamers?
JF: The game is intended for a few different audiences which overlap somewhat. Venn Diagram anyone? Fans of the Blue Dragon world are an obvious catch, since this game continues the original story. RPGamers, even if they haven't kept up with the series at all, will still be able to enjoy Blue Dragon: Awakened Shadow for the strong action-RPG gameplay, character customization and overall game length. Akira Toriyama fans will naturally see this as another piece of his legacy and see his art design in every facet of the game. While we're certain that quite a few casual gamers or fans of other genres will enjoy the game, the overall target audience are fans of these types of games.

Other games in the Blue Dragon series have been hit and miss with RPGamers. What do you think is the appeal of this game will be for fans of the series? What draws will this have for those that havenít liked other games in the series?
JF: This game is every bit as different from the Xbox 360 version as Blue Dragon Plus was on Nintendo DS. It has the same characters and environments (for the most part), but the adventuring and combat systems are completely different. This game is very active and free flowing due to the real time combat system. The character customization (especially with the different looking weapons and armor appearing on the main character) definitely brings quite a lot of personality to the game that is unique to itself. Fans will get to see their favorite characters return, each of whom has had some interesting developments in their lives in the intervening time. Oh, and you can add a Poo Snake to your party, which is pretty cool.

Anything else you'd like to share with us about Blue Dragon: Awakened Shadow? What are your favorite aspects of the game? Maybe something we didn't ask about.
JF: My personal favorite is the multiplayer portion of the game. Some of the bosses that players face in the Otherworld Doors are challenging, and it's a lot of fun to take a couple friends in battle and see if you can take them down. Beating the bosses for rare item drops factors into that as well, especially since a player can pull a weapon out of a chest after taking down the boss and immediately show it off to the other players in their party. There is an adrenaline rush when you run into battle with a snazzy weapon and your friends all ask where they can get one too!

RPGamer would like to thank Joe Fletcher from D3Publisher for sharing all his insight on Blue Dragon: Awakened Shadow. RPGamer's can check out Blue Dragon: Awakened Shadow on May 18, 2010.

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