Lunar: Dragon Song Review
Role playing games come is all shape and sizes and now the Nintendo DS is getting into the act with Ubisoft's Lunar Dragon Song. I have faith that the DS will have a tremendous amount of great RPGs in its future...too bad we're all living in the present.
If you've been into video games for a little while you may be familiar with the Lunar series. I remember running across it during the Sega CD days. But that was a long time ago and in this case the series seems to have not improved much and taken a step or two backwards. Dragon Song is a 2D RPG that puts you into the shoes Jian and Lucia who are couriers for a delivery service (Jian is a 15 year old male and Lucia is a 14 year old female and they live together...I'm not sure if they're “shacking up” but someone is bound to get pretty upset about this!) Yup, you start off delivering packages and on your very first delivery a band of bad people steal your package. So you must try and recover the package because you are in mortal fear of getting your boss upset. Thus begins your adventure and though it seems pointless and confusing at the start it does finally begin to make some sort of sense...just not much.
The general story is your basic RPG tried and true formula, well except for the courier part. You live on a world where Beastmen and Humans coexist in a more or less peacefully and feeling good about things in general because the Goddess Althena is watching over the place. Naturally something has to come along and mess things up. Seems there are appropriately named Vile Tribe wants to stir things up and take some sort of revenge out on the Humans and Beastmen for being on the good side of Althena. Jealousy can be such an ugly thing. And from the title you can be sure that dragons have a part to play...actually four of them do. OK, the story isn't setting any new standards for originality.
While I was disappointed with the story the real letdown was, well, everything else. I never got that into the characters and didn't care for them. Most of the time I thought that they were just irritating. Kind of takes anyway my motivation when I would actually like for some of the characters to die. Graphically Dragon Song does not seem to know that it is on the DS as the graphics look very uninspired and like something I would not be surprised to have seen on the GameBoy color. A lot of the text and icons on the lower screen are very pixelated and hard to read. They seem like they were made for a lower resolution and then enlarged. There are also a number of typos in the text which does not lead to a very quality feeling.
One thing Dragon Song does have going for it is that you could play the entire game using the touch screen...it might not be easy but it can be done. It is cool to see the touch screen being used but even here there just seems that you could do so much more with it. I have been looking forward to a RPG on the DS to see how its unique characteristics would be used. This is not the game that is trying anything new so I'll keep looking.
Combat is key in any good RPG and in Dragon Song the combat is very plain and in at least one area very bad. The bad part is that you have to pick if you want to get experience points at the end of a battle or be able to pick up items from your slain enemies, but you can't have both. Maybe the developers thought gamers were getting off too easy in the past by having both experience points and items given to them after a battle. For what ever reason this did not turn out to be a good design decision. Otherwise the battle are very run-of-the-mill. It's turned-based but not with much strategy. Heck, you don't even get to pick what enemy you want to fight. So if there is one really dangerous dude and a few fairly harmless baddies, logic would say that you focus on the biggest threat and remove them ASAP. Not going to happen here, you attack whoever the computer wants you to and you'll be happy about it! And who has ever heard of a RPG where running costs you hit points? Now I'm not talking about running during a battle, that I can understand. What I mean is that when you are just roaming the countryside and want to speed things up a little by jogging to the next city you actually lose hit points!!
In The End, This Game Hath Been Rated: 58%. If you're looking for a fun RPG for your DS you will need to wait a little longer.