Review: Dragon Blade is worth your $40

Dragon Blade: Wrath of FireDragon Blade: Wrath of Fire is retro gaming bliss made anew with engaging motion-controls. It’s not even close to being one of the most memorable games of the year, but its gameplay, somewhat impressive visuals, and old-school storyline sans superfluous “cheese” make it a worthy purchase.

The extremely linear gameplay evokes fond memories from my gaming past; sorta like playing an old NES game in three dimensional space. The enemies are a bit mindless, but when in large numbers they can present quit a challenge.

Wrath of Fire is hack and slash mixed with some beat ’em up elements, similar to God of War and Devil May Cry. The motion-enabled controls, though not perfect, are satisfyingly fresh as are the smorgasbord of upgradible fire attacks. I particularly enjoy the thrust attack and massive fire arms, though I haven’t acquired the coveted whip attack yet.

The graphics are somewhat of a mixed bag. At times I’m pleasantly impressed by fire effects that accurately distort the background visuals and lighting effects on darkened objects as your emblazed sword approaches them. Otherwise the semi-jaggy environments, unconvincing water, and redundant power-up barrels are forgettable. That said, it’s obvious that developer Land Ho (comprised of persons who also worked on Panzer Dragoon), built the game exclusively for Wii rather than insipidly use a GameCube graphics engine.

Is Dragon Blade a sleeper hit? Only in the sense that it’s more obscure than even Beyond Good and Evil — a top sleeper released in 2003. Is it fun? You bet. And it’s only $40 to boot.

Three stars out of four