January 16, 2008

Draglade is a 2D rhythm-based fighter. Rhythm games are king right now with people picking up Guitar Hero III and Rock Band in droves, but the 2D fighter is underrepresented in today’s market, and Atlus is hoping to capitalize on that oversight by publishing what is the strangest cross-genre game I’ve ever played. If you’re a fan of either genre then Draglade may be for you, but if you like both genres then you should definitely take a look.

There are four stories to work through, but none of them matter. Each is a series of fights culminating you in you becoming the best Grapper (a cross between grapple and rapper I suppose) in the land. For a game centered around music, Draglade‘s soundtrack and music integration are both disappointing. If Def Jam Icon can incorporate music so well into its gameplay then Draglade has no excuse for abrupt transitions between the standard fight and a special move. The cut is jarring and creates a disconnect where there should be a smooth transition as in any other fighter moving from standard punches and kicks to a hadouken.

Until a special move is activated Draglade plays like any typical 2D fighter. There are light and heavy attacks, blocks, and jumps to be doled out, but bouts are won and lost in bullets (special moves) and beat combos. You have a limited number of charges for each bullet which adds an additional layer of strategy to the game, and your rhythm can tip the scales in your favor when beat combos are used. Simple hold the left shoulder button to bring up the combo meter. The object is to press an attack button in time with the beats of the music to best your opponent. It’s possible to rack up a decent combo by just mashing buttons, but you’ll do a lot more damage if your attacks are all landing in conjunction with the beats of the song.

Draglade isn’t a revolution in fighting games, but it is a fun diversion, and the beat combo system is interesting. There’s fun to be had here, particularly in multiplayer. Draglade supports single-card multiplayer, multicard multiplayer, and WFC multiplayer as any competitive game on the DS should. Also of note is Draglade‘s Dragon Sequencer – a mini sound studio that allows the player to author his own combos for use in the game. Combos only last a few seconds, but the sequencer is astoundingly deep for as simple a tool as it is. If you’re looking for a good online fighter to play on the go then Draglade is definitely a front runner for the DS.

Score: 3/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.