Title: Draglade (DS) 2
Posted: January 25, 2008 (12:14 AM)
Over the last few weeks, I have had occasion to play a nifty fighting game for the Nintendo DS called Draglade. Of course, Honestgamers already has posted its own review, considering its early December release, but I wanted to provide my own thoughts on it.
Draglade, as mentioned before, is a fighting-style game, and the pace of the battle is more akin to the SSB series than Street Fighter (in other words, fairly quick). The regular attacks and techniques of each character is varied, but do not expect too much; this is no Virtua Fighter. The story behind this goes that matter in the air can be molded to create weapons called Glades (each person having their own unique glade) that create musical beats when hitting other Glades. The point that the game tries to sell itself on is being able to create your own musical beat combination that you can hit your enemy in sync to; doing so will allow you to cause massive damage (and flip your enemy over and hit their weak point for some foes) and gain more money from battles. These Beat Combos also provide a surprising amount of customization, although actually organizing it can be a bit frustrating. Kudos to anyone who decides to do a homage to the Mario theme with this. Since each of the unique characters in game have a different weapon, you must also take into account their speed and range.
Unfortunately, as a selling point the Beat Combos are still somewhat weak. The real innovation for the game is its use of Bullets, which are basically special techniques that you can equip and bring in with you to use in battle. For example, one bullet might throw a fireball, while another can heal your health. Not all Bullets have generic effects, as others can send homing missiles at the opponent, generate walking bombs, turn you invisible, and even mess up your opponent's beat combo. With a little bit of screwing around, you can come up with some fun armaments (you can carry six different Bullets into battle) for long-range or melee fighting.
Unfortunately, the storyline (which is split into four basic three to five hour long stories, each of which has a different leading hero) tends to throw a little too much sidescrolling fighting (in which you cross environments littered with bestial opponents) your way. I would not mind it so much, but it gets tedious. Additionally, probably about one half to three fifths of the human opponents you fight in game are generic, and usually have only two attacks and a couple of bullets. It is when you fight against any of the nine unique characters that the game really becomes fun, and these are the moments that you can thrive on.
However, the game is dragged down by the fact that a lot of stuff is recycled between each story, with only a few variations. Sure, you are using a new character each time, and can formulate new strategies and have new experiences, but after a while, it becomes annoying. This is when you go into a Vs. CPU mode against one of the computer opponents, so that you can actually have a decent hot-blood stimulating fight (all the computer opponents in this mode are one of the noble nine mentioned before).
Unfortunately, the WiFi scene has been dying down somewhat as of late, although there is still a robust community on its GameFAQs board, so you can always arrange matches if you cannot find anyone at random on WiFi. You could also aim to go find a copy of the game now, and start playing it at around the time the European version launches in March, as the network will be revitalized for some time after that. Or you could wait until Draglade's sequel releases on English shores, but that is a risky prospect, as their is no guarantee that the second iteration will see a translation like the first did. You could also browbeat a friend into also purchasing a copy to play for a while against each other. Or you could just disregard this entire last paragraph because you cannot/will not buy this game and was just reading this post out of interest.
As for the art style, while a generic anime look, I am perfectly OK with it. Nothing is quite too ugly, the backgrounds and characters are detailed and colourful enough to not be a turnoff, and if ever you begin to decide that your character's colour scheme is fugly, the game even offers you six alternate schemes that you can use in the story mode and all the other modes.
Music-wise, the actual game is nothing special; that much I should make clear very quick. When I got into some of the longer fights, the battle theme also grated on my nerves to a large degree. Overall however, most of it is fairly tolerable, and there is certainly nothing of the junk variety that I would not be able to abide listening to when playing. However, when playing around with the Beat Combos, you can get some pretty vibrant stuff going. The game also offers about three dozen preset combinations that you can buy from stores, and I can say that almost all of these presets have their merits. Additionally, you can further customize on the presets, which makes it even better.
Overall, those are my thoughts (at this rate, I suppose I have enough material to do a full-length review on it). I would not completely recommend a buy at the current moment if you plan to play it right away, but if you can find it and wait for the European release to come by and then start playing it (allowing you to take advantage of the influx of new players), you can probably get your money's worth of entertainment ($26.99 Canadian when I purchased it).
Oh yeah, and it is an Atlus-published game.
Wish Upon A Darkstar
Posted: January 25, 2008 (10:43 AM)
If you wanted, you could turn this into a review and post it on HG, ya know. We love having more than 1 review for a game.
Posted: January 25, 2008 (12:25 PM)
Plus you'll get some points to throw at some contests.
Posted: January 25, 2008 (12:25 PM)
Hence my line near the end '(at this rate, I suppose I have enough material to do a full-length review on it)'.
Posted: January 25, 2008 (03:26 PM)
Ah, my apologies.