By Laura . August 24, 2009 . 1:00pm
A dragon flies over the sea of clouds, wings flapping thrice before alighting on some nearby ruins, the only inanimate platforms that rise over the mist as far as the eyes can see. A light shines and suddenly, in its place stands a human, only a fraction of his original size. He brandishes his (relatively enormous) sword at the monster before him. Who happens to be the appropriately named Gigant, the one-armed giant.
And so the battle takes off in Blood of Bahamut.
The first mission is fairly simple. But first, a quick tutorial on the controls. Moving is done either by using the touchscreen or through the buttons. I say “buttons” because, really, this game is apparently made so that both right- and left-handed people can play the game comfortably. How thoughtful of Square Enix. Both the D-pad and the face buttons allow you to move around. Pressing the L or R button (again, depending on your handedness) causes you to dash, or you can just drag the stylus quickly across the screen. On the other hand, the only way to use techniques is to press the corresponding icons on the bottom of the touchscreen, and basic attacks are done by poking the enemy with your stylus.
Now that that’s out of the way, the goal of the first mission is to destroy the core on the right hand of Gigant. Ibuki is restricted to one platform, which is still very long, while Gigant proceeds to throw enormous stones at you. If you provoke the giant enough (for some odd reason that defies all laws of space, tapping Gigant, who is very far away, will cause you to sometimes slash, which will somehow hit Gigant and irritate it), it’ll come up and try to slam its hand down on you. Guess what you do then?
You are then introduced to the rest of the cast, who are with you for a myriad of reasons. They will be described more in detail in the next piece, but for now, let’s just say that you can control whoever you want. However, equipment isn’t shared, and neither is experience. I’ve only used Ibuki thus far, to counter the under-leveling problem, so I will refer to the player character as him for the rest of the article.
By now, the formatting of the game is already quite clear. There are several missions per boss, and the objective of each mission is to somehow work towards “putting the monster back to sleep” (read: killing the monster), whether that be destroying a core or running from one end of the platform to the other to get to a teleportation device so you can get to a platform closer to Gigant. The final mission in the chapter is a long battle in which you finally take the colossus down.
Each mission has a time limit. Usually, this is 15 minutes, although with the final boss it’s 30. Normally, this wouldn’t be a problem, except in later missions the platforms become flooded with groups of smaller enemies that you have to kill. Sometimes, even, these guys are resurrected with a flash of Gigant’s eyes. The plus side to this all is that every time you attack, you regain a bit of health, not to mention the enemies sometimes drop HP and MP recovery balls.
Of course, while the small guys are giving it their all to kill you, there is still the, literally, biggest threat looming in the background. Stay still for a second too long and a boulder (also several hundred times your size) will come flying at you. If you’re close to the monster and it notices you, be prepared to dodge swipes and slams. Later, Gigant will also jump, causing shockwaves that will damage you no matter what you do.
Nevertheless, despite all of its efforts, Gigant was still a fairly easy boss. The missions basically hold your hand through the fight, so you aren’t too overwhelmed by the sudden presence of this creature several thousand times your size, or perhaps even more. In fact, despite the giant’s constant, occasionally dangerous, presence through the first set of missions, the smaller enemies proved more of a threat because they gang up on you the moment you give them a chance.
As expected, the final battle was indeed harder than the rest of the missions thus far. You are now expected to dwindle the boss’ HP gauge down to nothing in 30 min when you have nothing but a sword. Granted, you can swipe at the core on his head for easy damage, but after a while that breaks, depriving you of your one easy way to deal damage. The only way left, really, is to just continuously slash at Gigant, dealing small “chip” damage.
While it’s nice that he’s capable of being defeated this way, I feel that it was kind of a disappointment that I didn’t really have to rely on any strategy other than “dodge the big flying boulders” to beat the boss. After all, these guys carry countries on their backs. You’d expect them to put up much more of a fight.
(Although, really, after getting to Fenrir, I’ve discovered that it really is just Gigant being easy. Fenrir has a fun lightning attack that saps almost all your HP in one go, leaving you easy picking for his little minions. Damn him.)
While the controls are a bit clunky because of the heavy reliance on the touchscreen, not to mention the questionable accuracy when it comes to pinpointing when and what you’re poking at for Ibuki to attack, the game plays smoothly. What I like is that the techniques, while they can’t be spammed because they have a set recovery time, are powerful enough such that you actually will use them.
They’re not just a superfluous addition (“because all other RPGs include them!”). The only problem I had really was the under-leveling, but the game allows you to replay old missions for easy EXP. This also lets you pick up more loot, which you can sell – as your only source of income in the game – or combine to form equipment.
Look forward for the next article, which will go more into the actual story, the characters, and the other features of the gaming system.