Published by: 505 Games
Developed by: Dimps
Release Date: Out Now
The Nintendo DS has been a great handheld console for innovative games and Draglade is another one of those games that’s quite unlike anything you may have experienced before. Essentially the game is a rhythm based fighting game with a decent single-player experience and a rather satisfying online mode as well as support for single-card offline multiplayer. Draglade is one of those games that’s enjoyable without being particularly memorable.
The single-player Story mode allows you to pick one of four characters: Hibito (Fire Hero), Kyle (Water Hero), Daichi (Earth Hero) and Guy (Lightning Hero). The storyline for each character only lasts a few hours and in each one you’ll fight in grapping battles which are a combination of martial arts and music, and fight strange animals known as variants (which are actually normal animals who have absorbed too much Matter). Each character’s storyline is very shallow, the NPCs you’ll encounter have practically no personality, and the plot is just simply a means of taking you from one battle to another. However, because the episodes are quite short it never becomes tedious and by playing through a character’s episode you’ll get to unlock a handful of other fighters as well as level them up and make them better equipped for the multiplayer battles.
The game includes support for online battles using the Nintendo Wi-Fi service (online leaderboards available too) that allow you to show off your developed characters. Wireless play allows you to play against a friend, even if they don’t own a copy of the game as single-card play is supported, playing in either VS or Co-op mode. Bullets (a description of which will be given in a moment) amongst other things can be traded. As a multiplayer experience the game is certainly promising and this manages to compensate for the brevity of the single-player game.
It’s the fighting, known as grapping, which gives the game it’s rather unique feel. All grappers are in possession of an item known as a G-Con which forms a Matter-based weapon known as a Glade. In addition to the Glade you’ll also have access to what is known as Bullets which are pieces of crystallised Matter that, when equipped, allow your character to perform a special attack. During a battle your BP Meter will fill and when it fills the BP Gauge will increase by one. As long as you have one bar filled in your BP Gauge you will be able to use a Beat Combo or a Bullet. To activate a Beat Combo you’ll press the L button, which displays the Rhythm Gauge, and you’ll press the light attack button in time with the Rhythm Gauge to perform a powerful combo attack. It’s a battle system that actually works well and adds an injection of originality into a game that would otherwise be pretty non-descript.
Graphically the game looks OK but there’s nothing here, from a visual standpoint, that couldn’t have been done on the Game Boy Advance. The action plays out on the top screen from a 2D side-on perspective. The bottom screen is used to display the map, the bullets available to you during a battle and important information such as your grapping licence. Only a limited use is made of the stylus (you can swap between bullets during a battle by tapping the touch screen) and for the most part you’ll simply be using the directional pad and the buttons.
Draglade won’t cause deaf gamers any real problems. The dialogue in the game’s Story mode is in text and it’s accompanied by the character’s name and portrait. You need to press the A button to progress the dialogue so you’re able to read the text at your own pace. All tutorial messages are in text too. There is no need to be able to hear the musical beats during a beat combo. The only thing you have to get right is the timing of your button pressing and a gauge (displayed by pressing down the L button) allows you to do this.
Draglade is quite an enjoyable game that certainly comes across as something original. In truth it’s the game’s fighting system that gives it an original feel and it’s fair to say that whether you enjoy the game or not will really come down to what you think of the rhythm based fighting system that the game has. The four stories that you can play through are decent, although quite short, but the inclusion of support for the Nintendo Wi-Fi service does add some longevity to the game and the ability to play multiplayer battles with only one copy of the game means that most gamers will be able to enjoy the game as a multiplayer experience.