Dragon Blade: Wrath of Fire

Dragon Blade: Wrath of Fire is a beat ’em up role playing game similar to God of War or Devil May Cry. Players take up the role of Dal who is questing for six legendary pieces of the “Dragon Blade”.

Developer: Land Ho!
PublisherD3 Publisher
Release Date: September 25, 2007
Platforms: Wii
JustRPG Score: 55%
+Interesting Premise.
-Weak story line.
-Poor game controls.
– Outdated graphics.


Dragon Blade: Wrath of Fire Overview

Dragon Blade: Wrath of Fire for the Nintendo Wii is a traditional beat ’em up role playing game that revolves around Dal, a young adventurer. The player’s goal is to obtain all six pieces of the legendary “Dragon Blade”, an epic sword that contains the souls of six different guardian dragons. As the player obtains these pieces he must defeat six dragons that each grant the player a different ability. While the premise of the game sounds great the combat is pretty repetitive, the graphics are outdated, there are issues with game control, and the story is underwhelming.

Dragon Blade: Wrath of Fire Screenshots

Dragon Blade: Wrath of Fire Featured Video

Full Review

Dragon Blade: Wrath of Fire Review

By, Jason Furguson

.hack Part 1 Infection (Dot Hack) begins with a bang. Something disastrous happens to your character‘s real world friend, while innocently playing a 20 million-subscriber base, wildly popular online RPG game (MMORPG), The World. To unravel the mystery of your friend’s misfortune, you become an online, ingame rogue hacker, exploring every corner of The World, even some virus-infected ones.
The hero is armed with the special skills of Data Drain and Gate Hack, and some colorful, talented fellow adventurers to fill the two other available party slots. Different adventurers must accompany you depending on the plot‘s development. You have some control over the others in your party, including upgrading them through trades or gifts. You can play only a single class, Twin Blade. Other characters are from different classes, with varied strengths and weaknesses, from a mage type (Wavemaster) to a bully (Heavy Axeman).
Gameplay takes place in three principal areas – towns, fields, and dungeons. Towns house The World’s servers. There, the player can save the game, buy magic scrolls and useful and unique items, store items, buy equipment, and talk and trade with lots of other players in character online. One town has an unusual ranch to check out, a patent homage to an enduring feature of just about every Final Fantasy.
The town’s Chaos Gate provides instant teleportation to a particular wide-open Field, containing monster encounter hotspots, a mystical spring, treasure, and lots of mysterious food. You enter three distinct keywords, some known at the game‘s onset, and others learned through play. Whatever keywords are entered, the difficulty level of the destination is helpfully revealed. This prevents a low-level party from being massacred. Once the keywords are entered, you travel through the Chaos Gate. (You can enter specific keywords learned to continue the plot, do side quests, or do unlimited exploring. Or, you can instruct the Gate to enter random keywords, and take your chances. There‘s also an option to enter any keywords you wish from a word list.) Every Field houses a single Dungeon. The dungeons, where you spend much of the game fighting for your life, are not overly large in size, and always range between three and five average levels.
Many have compared Dot Hack to Phantasy Star Online Episode I and II (PSO) on the Gamecube. Let us gently discredit this. We feel Dot Hack has far better graphics than PSO. The Fields and Dungeons contain many colorful, over stylized backdrops and settings, including weather effects. Dot Hack’s monsters resemble the beautifully-drawn monsters of the later Final Fantasy’s. Dot Hack’s world is gigantic with a seeming infinite number of locations to explore. PSO’s world is relatively small, and plot is threadbare, with meaningless, though fun, side quests, which instill no enthusiasm in the player. Dot Hack’s plot is deep and complex, with each subplot advancing the story just a little bit further. (Remember though, the end of this game in no way comes close to wrapping up the story, to be completed in the three games to be released later this year.) One visual treat, however, was lifted directly from PSO – the cascading rings that accompany the teleportation of characters to and from different areas.
Dot Hack’s combat engine can best be described as modified real-time. Much like the action-RPG, Kingdom Hearts, button mashing can be effective to beat monsters. Monster combat icons appear as large yellow twirling landmarks. As you approach, the landmark dissolves, monsters come at you big-time, and, undoubtedly, players will feel a healthy adrenaline rush. Some of Dot Hack’s many monsters do not stand around waiting to be pummeled, rather some you need to catch. Dot Hack lets you turn combat almost into a turn-based affair. The player needs only to hit Triangle in the middle of battle to pause the game instantly. From there the player can give orders to the others in the party, anything from healing someone, reviving another, casting a spell, designating a target monster. Without jeopardizing your party from the hailstorm of monster blows, combat becomes a calmer, more strategic, experience. This will help the many action-challenged. Camera angles play a big role in successful combat. You must be facing a monster to do any damage. As in many games, manipulating opposing environmental elements, like fire vs. water, is a key to successful monster combat.
Dot Hack’s cyberspace setting provides a wealth of Wow-inducing outbursts. The Data Drain option in combat is a great example. When a monster’s approaches zero, the player can Data Drain to reduce a horrendous, gigantic steel robot, for example, into a sniveling, puny monster, easily defeated with a single blow. Data Drain always results in a nifty, rare item or essential Virus Cores so you can Gate Hack areas of The World now closed, but needing investigation. One bad side effect – if you defeat, a Data Drained monster, but a single experience point is earned. One REALLY bad side effect – if you Data Drain too often without giving the skill a rest, you may overload and explode. Game Over. In the case of Boss monsters, Data Drain works the same, but what remains is no sniveling puny monster, but a full-blooded slightly less tough monster. All of this makes for interesting and captivating combat, a large part of the game.
Fresh Features
Dot Hack is replete with new and interesting features that kept us riveted.
To start, the entire background and story of a real world gamer becoming a rascal hacker, penetrating deep into a virus-infected online game, is quite novel. Combine this with Dot Hack’s emulating the look and feel of an online game universe. (Message traffic on the web shows many gamers mistakenly believe Dot Hack is a real online MMORPG, along with monthly fees! No real Internet connection is required.)
Just like in the real word, Dot Hack replicates your excitement level when “New” appears before a popular forum or on your email screen. Some of the game involves receiving emails as the plot develops, as well as new, crucial information surfacing on The World’s Board. (Look out for emails challenging you to a strange game of Tag.) The online game world looks very familiar with a bunch of characters wandering around the game’s towns, with the ubiquitous balloon icons talking typical “trash” to each other, even criticizing “newbies“.
Combat grippingly called for surprisingly strategic decision-making to succeed, not related to the usual attack or defend choices. Do you go for experience and upgrade your character or try for some special equipment or a Virus Core, vital to Gate Hacking? The innovative control of other party members became second nature to us after some practice. The game rewards a player taking chances, like entering a Field or Dungeon rated 5 levels above the player’s current level. On the other hand, the game scoffed at players entering areas much lower rated the their current level, by awarding negligible experience points for victory.
Dot Hack takes progress reports to a new level, by slowly unlocking books that contain much in the way of statistics and information. There’s even a monster compendium with tips for defeating them.
Some might complain about the minimal “Save Game” ability, but we thrived on it. You explore a very hostile cyberspace environment without the facility to save. Only in a server-hosting town is saving possible at the local Recorder. We may be a solitary voice in the Wilderness, but we like this throwback to the good old RPG days. Those of you old enough to remember the Wizardry series, may recall those fingernail-biting multi-combat treks back to the Castle just to save the game. In case you’re really stuck deep in a dungeon, a common item will teleport you to the outdoor field, from where you can simply gate back to town from the command menu.
Many pieces of equipment come with distinctive powerful attack, healing, and status skills, essential to combat dominance. The player must tradeoff whether to equip something that will raise defense or offense or something less vigorous that lets you use a powerful skill. Trading is the most successful way to upgrade equipment.
In a first, Dot Hack comes with a 45 minute anime video. This gives some great background on what’s going on in The World, as well as provide clues for completing the game. In a nice twist, voiceovers for game speech can be set for Japanese or English presentation. Listening to the authentic Japanese voices really keeps you glued to the game.
Though some may scoff at what follows as meaningless, we liked the game’s unlocking of some nifty new “toys” to like, some only available when the game is cleared. You can unlock many different background music play lists. Tired of creepy tunes, just switch to something more upbeat, or futuristic. Just like real world gamers, who constantly change their desktop wallpaper, new and different wallpapers are unlocked along the way. Some are concept art of characters, while others are full blown anime renditions of the characters. This makes for great fun, and seems to pump additional energy into the game. As you progress over a dozen special cut scenes or movies will become viewable after defeating the game.
Though Dot Hack’s extras and new wrinkles enhance the RPG game experience, much of the gameplay will ring true to those who enjoy RPG‘s. Expect plenty of exploration in a huge 3D world, frequent monster combat, tons of treasure to earn and discover, upgrading your character’s weapons and armor, and needing to level before tackling pivotal story dungeons. The status screens for the characters and all equipment are well laid out and easy to grasp.
Time for Completion
Game length in hours always concerns many purchasers. A short RPG normally takes a lot of flack, and many online are asking about Dot Hack‘s time for completion. (Some have questioned whether Bandai should have released a single 80 hour game for $50, rather than four 20-hour games for $200 for a single story. This matter is beyond the scope of this review, but our high opinion of this game as a standalone is obvious.) Our experience, playing the plot without doing side quests or extra exploration, is in the 12 to 15-hour range. Players side-questing and extensively exploring, aside from the main plot, can expect to spend 25 hours to complete the game. You can even continue to advance your character, after game completion, to get a jump start on Part 2 due in May. In the next game, your character can be imported from Part 1.
Furthermore, imagine trying to explore every nook and cranny of the fields and dungeons accessible by a large number of 3-word combinations. Doing that would put the game in the 50-hour range, if not more. However, at a certain point, new items dry up, and a single experience point is earned for any defeated monster, no matter how tough.
While, as is evident above, there is much to recommend in Dot Hack, certain concerns to varying degrees deserve mention.
From the “Why oh why did they leave this out?“ File. Pregame game board traffic and information about the Japanese version released months ago had many salivating for replaying the game in “parody” mode. This mode apparently converted all Dot Hack’s game world characters into satirical comedians. Sorry to say, this highly-anticipated feature is missing from the version released here.
The game requires massive amounts of button pressing. Every item or treasure uncovered from combat victories or exploration (opening chests, searching expired adventure remains, collecting food for Grunty’s, as examples) must be confirmed with a button press. When there could be 50-100 such occurrences in a single dungeon or field, over the course of the game, finger cramps seem inevitable. Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance also required lots of bashing for buried treasure and chests, but the items literally flew into your inventory, a much better way to handle this.
The manual is woefully terse and lacking in some crucial information and guidance. While the ingame tutorials fill in many of the gaps, one extremely important gameplay feature is missing from both the manual and tutorials – instructions on control your characters directly during combat.
Final Word
We got a kick out of Dot Hack. The feeling of “just one more dungeon” dominated our lives for the 3 days to completion. The engaging environment held our attention without much effort. The strategic nature of combat, plus the convoluted plot kept us going for hours on end. The constant unlocking of both frivolous and important gameplay features created a “what’s next” anticipation. Now, if I could only read Japanese better, Dot Hack Part 2 is already out in Japan!
Final Grade: B
On paper, Dragon Blade: Wrath of Fire looks pretty cool. It features a story by acclaimed author Richard A. Knaak, and allows Wii fans to live out their fantasies by controlling the remote as a variety of mystical weapons. Unfortunately, it will only be a few minutes into the game before you realize how poorly these two promising features were implemented.


Long ago, the world of man was fraught with violence and war. Seeing this chaos, six mighty dragons, led by their great Lord Valthorian, left their homeland in hopes of saving mankind. Following the teachings of Valthorian and his fellow dragons, mankind was united in peace, love, and respect. Unfortunately, Vormanax, Valthorian’s brother, grew jealous of his older brother and sought to overthrow him. Afraid to confront him face to face, Vormanax instead warped the minds of six powerful human kings, who turned their forces against the Dragon Lord. The humans defeated Valthorian, but his spirit lived in the sword that was used to slay him. Jandral, a noble human friend of Valthorian, managed to escape with the sword. After many failed attempts to revive the Dragon Lord, Jandral lived out a totally normal life as a farmer, keeping the Dragon Blade a secret.


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The basic idea sounds interesting enough, but it’s relayed quickly through some mediocre cut scenes that don’t really explain what’s going on. Once the game starts, you’ll be introduced to Dal, a descendent of Jandral’s who wields the awakened Dragon Blade when evil forces invade his village. With the essence of Valthorian to guide him, Dal begins an adventure to defeat Vormanax and gather the remaining Dragon weapons.


The story is sparsely told in the game, and even when it is shown through tidbits of cut scenes, it doesn’t make much sense due to the fact that many of the scenes aren’t really explained. The game’s manual is extremely thin and features no history for the game world, character information, or storyline details at all. The game jumps right into the action, with the plot being sort of an afterthought. The fact that the story was written by a respected author like Richard A. Knaak makes it even more disappointing. There really isn’t much direction in the gameplay either, but fortunately it’s all straightforward enough that you should be able to figure it out on your own.


Before you even think about getting Dragon Blade: Wrath of Fire, make sure you have the nunchuck attachment for your Wii. The game requires it since you’ll use it to move your character while you use the remote as a sword.


Unfortunately, Dragon Blade features no voice acting. Sure, it’s not required for a game to have this feature, but it’s certainly expected from a game on the current generation of consoles. Not to mention, the few noises that the game’s characters do make include giggles and grunts that sound absolutely ridiculous.

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Another problem is with the subtitles shown when a character speaks. As I mentioned before, there is no voice acting, and unfortunately there are also no character portraits shown along with dialogue. This makes it fairly difficult to determine who is speaking during conversations and makes the story even more difficult to follow.


Along with the sound, the graphics in Dragon Blade are extremely disappointing for a next generation title. Of course, graphics don’t make the game, so if you can overlook some mediocre Gamecube-quality graphics, then it won’t really matter to you. The camera is also very problematic and can’t be rotated at all, so you’ll never be able to see what’s up ahead of you. On a positive note, some of the character designs, such as the dragons and various other enemies, are well done and deserve props. These enemies often result in fairly epic and impressive boss battles that gamers will probably enjoy a lot. There’s nothing quite like hacking away at a massive Dragon, and using the Wii remote as a sword brings gamers even closer into the action!


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Players will use the Wii remote as a sword and use the nunchuck to move about. Moving the Wii remote in certain directions will cause you to attack with the sword in that direction. For example, moving left or right will cause you to slash side to side. Moving up will be an upward strike and down will be a downward strike. Lastly, moving forward will be a forward thrust. Unfortunately, the controller isn’t very precise at all and rarely will you actually perform the attack that you intend to. More often than not you’ll find yourself better off to randomly flail the controller around, hacking away at enemies rather than making a pointless attempt to perform a specific attack. Of course, this is nice because it makes the game a little bit easier since you can fling the controller around without having to know what you’re doing, but it totally defeats the point of using the remote as a sword. For the most part, you’ll probably do a left or right slash regardless of what direction you swing the remote. In theory, the idea of using the remote as a sword is great, but it’s so imprecise that it detracts HEAVILY from the gameplay.


Not to mention, it’s pretty difficult to swing the Wii remote around like a sword and still successfully use the trigger to target, the directional pad to switch weapons, or press ‘A’ to block at the same time. It’ll definitely take some getting used to and will probably hurt your hands.


As you progress, you’ll defeat bosses and unlock new dragon weapons. These new weapons are accessed by the directional pad on the controller and all have slightly different fighting styles. The major difference between these weapons and your trusty ol’ sword is that they’ll consume your Fire Power so they can be used a limited number of times. The first new weapon you will gain is the Dragon Arm. For the most part, this controls similar to your sword, allowing you to slash left and right or up and down, but you can also perform a punch attack by thrusting forward. You’ll later gain a Tail which allows you to toss enemies into the air by moving up, swing your tail around by moving left or right, and whip your tail forward by thrusting forward. The basic controls for the weapons are the same, making Dragon Blade an easy game to catch on to. Despite the similar controls, each weapon in your arsenal provides a slightly different fighting style. The differences aren’t tremendous, but each weapon is distinct enough that it’ll be more useful in some situations than others. The Dragon Arm, for example, seems to deal more damage and sweeps over a much wider area than your sword. For example, a single swipe with the Dragon Arm may clear an entire room of enemies! Unfortunately, the game never really comes out and tells you the differences between each of the weapons, so you’ll pretty much have to decide what’s best to use based on your own judgment. You’ll also gain a Dragon Head form and a Double Arm form as you progress.


Enemies that you’ve slain will drop shards that refill your HP and Fire Power. You’ll also occasionally come cross Dragon Statues that can be destroyed to refill HP and Fire Power. Your screen displays a blue Health meter and a red Fire Power meter. Fire Power refills automatically if you wait and is used up whenever you use a special weapon. If your Fire runs out, you can’t use your special weapons and will often be unable to defeat tough bosses… so be sure to conserve! By hacking away at enemies, you’ll begin a chain of attacks. After the seventh hit in a chain, you will gain a brief speed and Fire Power bonus, which can be a really handy little boost if you use it at the right time.

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If you take the time to seek them out, you’ll also gain Armor Shards that increase Dal’s Armor. Every six of these shards grants you a new piece of armor, and there are a total of 4 pieces of armor to collect. The first item you will gain is some nifty dragon boots. There are also Monuments in the game that increase your Max HP and attack when you hack at them. Like the Armor shards, you will have to seek them out, so be sure not to miss them. These features add a little bit of RPG-upgrading to the game, so it’s not all just the tiring swinging of the remote, but it’s not nearly enough depth to satisfy fans of the genre. On the positive side, you can always go back and replay levels to try and get the Armor Shards or Monuments if you miss them… the question is, do you really want to?


Aside from swinging your Wii remote around like crazy, you can also lock on to enemies, jump, switch targets, dodge roll, and block attacks. Honestly, there’s not a lot of depth here. Essentially, you’ll basically swing the Wii remote around aimlessly and slay hordes of enemies. The only real strategy is choosing which weapon to use, but your limited Fire Power will often force you to stick with your plain old Blade.


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The game features a variety of enemies for you to do battle with, including bats, spiders, wolves, minotaur, lizard men, and an array of fantasy beasts. As I mentioned earlier, you’ll also be doing battle with some rather large and epic dragons, which are by far the coolest of the game’s baddies. You’ll often find yourself swarmed by mass amounts of enemies that you’ll have to fight your way through. It’s always satisfying to beat down a crowd of foes, but it’s even more satisfying when you’re involved in the action with the Wii remote. Unfortunately, it’s very easy to get pinned in a corner by enemies, who will beat you down every time you try to get up… resulting in your imminent demise.


As you progress in the game, you will reach checkpoints that allow you to continue from that location if you die. Unfortunately, you have a limited number of continues, so use them wisely. Otherwise you’ll find yourself starting back at the beginning of a stage. Worst of all, you’ll often find yourself having to repeat entire stages from the start after you run into the tough boss at the end. I was really frustrated to see that there is no saving in levels during gameplay. Instead, you must complete an entire level in order to save. It’s not a big deal because most levels are short, but if you’re struggling with a level, it’s always annoying when you can’t save your progress. The frustrating controls and camera will probably result in you dying and having to replay entire levels many more times than you’d like. In reality, Dragon Blade is a fairly difficult game… but for all the wrong reasons. It’s not a game that requires a lot of skill or strategy, and instead is difficult only because of the crappy controls and high level of patience you’ll need in order to finish the game.


There’s actually some enjoyment to be had here. I mean, dragons are cool, right? And who hasn’t yearned for a Wii game where you can wield the remote as a mystical sword? Unfortunately, the fun is mauled by extraordinarily frustrating controls. If you’re a Wii fan desperate for a fantasy adventure, it might be worth a rental.


Final Grade: 55%


Dragon Blade: Wrath of Fire Screenshots


Dragon Blade: Wrath of Fire Videos

Dragon Blade: Wrath of Fire Trailer

Guides / Links

Dragon Blade: Wrath of Fire Guides / Links

Dragon Blade: Wrath of Fire Wikipedia Entry