Interview with Joe Fletcher, US Producer of Blue Dragon: Awakened Shadow
Interview with Joe Fletcher, US Producer of Blue Dragon: Awakened Shadow
conducted by Kimberley Wallace and John McCarroll
The third Blue Dragon title from as many publishers, Blue Dragon: Awakened Shadow was localized by D3Publisher of America. The Action-RPG for the Nintendo DS launches today, and we had a chance to speak with the US Producer of the title, Joe Fletcher, about his thoughts on the game. We hope you enjoy!

Joe Fletcher: Hi, Joe Fletcher, Producer at D3Publisher for Blue Dragon: Awakened Shadow here. I’ll be happy to answer your questions.

RPGFan: The first two Blue Dragon titles were written and localized by different teams, to what extent were the scripts and localizations from these two games matched?

JF: As stated, each of the three games were localized by completely different teams. That being said, all the translations and localizations were vetted by Mistwalker to ensure that all the terms, settings, and characters all matched the previous games. So while there is a difference in tone between the three games (which is completely normal for any game localized by different teams) players of the first two games will be comfortable diving right into the new game.

RPGFan: Since this is a new cast of characters, what do you think makes this cast stand out the most?

JF: The same cast returns from the original, barring a few new ones. Notably, the main character of the story is one completely customized by the player at the beginning of the game. Soon after, the player will meet up with Shu, Jiro, Kluke, Torippo, King Jibral, and all the rest as they adventure. Of course, years have passed since the previous games, so it is very interesting to see the character development with each of the members players have met and adventured with before.

RPGFan: In the other two Blue Dragon titles, the stories weren't the focus of the game as much as the gameplay, should we expect anything different from Blue Dragon: Awakened Shadow?

JF: This time around, each character has at least one personal side quest that players can go through to explore more of that character’s personality and background. So while the focus is definitely on the gameplay, there are a lot of extras for players that enjoy discovering more about the characters and environments that they’re adventuring through.

RPGFan: The gameplay in this Blue Dragon is also far different from the previous games in the series, what should gamers expect from this version's battle system?

JF: This version’s battle system is a real time combat system, as opposed to the turn based and grid based strategy systems used in previous games. This means that the player is going to need to be on their toes, actively flanking enemies and dodging incoming attacks. Spells are also cast real time with varied cooldowns depending on the spell cast, so combat is as much a matter of tactics and choosing when to cast a spell as it is getting into melee to attack enemies.

RPGFan: With the change in battle system, do you see the game losing its very "Dragon Quest" feel?

JF: The change in battle system does not change the feel of Blue Dragon: Awakened Shadow at all. The art design was created by the same legend, Akira Toriyama, which alone makes the game have a similar feel to the surroundings. As for gameplay, it is more like a minor genre shift like Dragon Quest Monsters is to the standard Dragon Quest than something like Fallout to Fallout 3.

RPGFan: D3Publisher has crafted quite a few games targeted toward younger animation fans with the Ben 10, Coraline, and the Secret Saturdays.  Do you think Blue Dragon: Awakened Shadow will fit this target audience as well as the RPG fan?

JF: Blue Dragon: Awakened Shadow isn’t really targeted to the same audience as the Ben 10, Coraline, or Astro Boy fans. While some may be interested in the game, this game is designed more with the core RPG fan in mind. D3Publisher has released RPGs before with the popular Puzzle Quest games and the first two Naruto: Path of Ninja games on the DS.

RPGFan: What are you most excited for fans of the Blue Dragon games to see with this game?

JF: For a Blue Dragon fan, we’re most excited about players seeing what has happened to the world and characters in the years that have passed since the first game. Relationships have developed and people have been pursuing their own goals during this time. Not only the good guys, but some of the "bad guys” have been working behind the scenes. Seeing how the storyline continues for each of the characters in the game is definitely exciting. Another awesome feature is the level of character customization available and the multiplayer option.

RPGFan: Why do you think an RPG like Blue Dragon: Awakened Shadow works better on a handheld than a home console like the original game?

JF: The game is designed to be played in bursts, and with small parties of friends in the multiplayer portion. Handhelds lend themselves far better to a more "intimate” experience with a small multiplayer setting. With the multiplayer component of Blue Dragon: Awakened Shadow being a draw for those players looking for a challenge and the loot from defeating uber difficult bosses, the DS seems a natural place for the game. Also, who doesn’t want a game they can take everywhere? With 40 plus hours of gameplay available, you want to be able to carry this game around with you.

RPGFan: Do you have a favorite character from the game?  Why do you like them so much?

JF: My personal favorite from the previous games was Zola. The self reliant "get it done now" type characters have a personal appeal compared to the more "think this through" characters like Jiro. That being said, with the story moving forward and the changes to the characters that take place within this game, I think I’ll be going with King Jibral now. I’ll leave it to the players to see what happens with his situation.

RPGFan: Games like Phantasy Star 0 have presented customizable characters on the DS, but the customization has seemed limited.  Is this the case with Blue Dragon: Awakened Shadow?

JF: Players can select their hair, eyes, voice, and more to create their very own hero. Another area where Blue Dragon: Awakened Shadow excels over most DS RPGs in customization is that there are hundreds of pieces of weapons and armor that each looks different when equipped. So while most games that offer this customization tend to have maybe a dozen palette swapped items, Blue Dragon: Awakened Shadow has dozens of unique armors, weapons, and helmets that will differentiate your character. To top that off, each item can be upgraded to be more powerful. So if players put enough time in that starting sword, they could be almost as strong as the uber weapon someone found as a rare boss drop. This makes playing multiplayer exciting, since players won’t always be wearing the exact same gear at a given level.

RPGFan would like to once again thank Joe Fletcher from D3Publisher of America for speaking with us. Blue Dragon: Awakened Shadow is available now..

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