Azure Dreams GBC - Review  

Bigger Dreams than the PSX will allow
by ATG

Hard to Very Hard
30 to 40 hours


Rating definitions 

   I bought the original Azure Dreams for the Sony Playstation. I had hours of fun building the village, gathering eggs, and trying my hand at the various mini-games it had to offer (the bowling was a particular favorite). So, when I heard that Natsume was releasing a GB color version, I was psyched. This game isn’t very different from it’s predecessor, but even so there was still many new things for me to discover.

   The premise of Azure Dreams is the fusion of an action RPG, chess, and turn-based combat. Every monster or human on the screen gets one (or sometimes two depending on abilities) turn at a time per move the player makes. You command this little boy on the screen who, at the beginning of every tower adventure, begins at level 1. He gets around this by having up to two ‘familiars,’ tame monsters who fight along side you. These monsters maintain their levels regardless of how many times you fight with them in the tower. However, as you fight with them, use their magic, or even walk around with them, you deplete their MP. This ultimately leads to an MP death, at which point you may find yourself stranded at level 5 stuck between two level 30 dragons on the 27th floor of the tower. You may escape the dungeon at any time with a wind gem, just like in the PSX version.

There is nothing on the market anything like this, period. There is nothing on the market anything like this, period.

   This game seems a lot like its predecessor, however this game makes much more use of the fusion option. Fusion is where you can merge two familiars to create a stronger familiar with different attributes. These attributes range from allowing two moves for every one move the player makes, to the unique ability to turn items into other items, to increasing various physical strengths or weaknesses. Also, even though most of the mini-games were not added to this game (along with the whole romance thing) they added something even better in its place…A BASEMENT! Another 100 levels of deviously challenging dungeon once you finish the requisite "tower" portion.

   The story is the exact same as the PSX version, except without all of the explanation…that is, until you finish the tower, at which point the story takes a much different and darker turn. I enjoyed this aspect of the game because so often there are ports of great games that when you first played them left you wanting more. Well this game actually gave more than the predecessor did. It was a refreshing turn of events.

   This varies depending on who you are talking to. Some people I have spoken to claim that if you go for broke in the first few tower runs you have to restart and try again because money is so hard to come by, and you pretty much can’t survive without it (for healing herbs and wind gems). I beg to differ. All it takes is to train up your monsters strong enough, and by then you can breeze through the first few levels picking up all those requirements for success on later missions. It depends on your exit strategy, really.

   In conclusion, you really don’t have to have played the PSX version to understand of like this game. Frankly, I would suffice to say this game trumps its predecessor through the combination of portability, monster customization, and overall length of the main adventure. I would recommend any kids who started with Pokemon on their GBA to perhaps give a once over to Azure Dreams. That is, unless you have friends with Pokemon, in which case Pokemon is pretty much the way to go. (There are no connectivity functions that are any fun available for Azure Dreams GBC).

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