Video Game: Dragon Island Blue
Dragon Island Blue
is a Mons
game for the iPhone. While touted in several reviews as being a Pokemon-game
for your smartphone, in truth it has more in common with the Dragon Quest Monsters
series (including a very Dragon Quest
-ish combat-system) or the Mega Ten
games (monsters tend more towards Cosmic Horror
and less towards Ridiculously Cute Critter
, use of Monster Fusion). Also like Shin Megami Tensei
, it borrows liberally from real-world mythology to fill its burgeoning monsterpedia - over 200 monsters available as of the latest update.
The game's Excuse Plot
centers around a young, recently-minted Monster Trainer (that's you
), who has decided to follow in his father's footsteps and become a master
. Along the way, you'll discover that your father isn't actually dead
- which would qualify as a spoiler if it was at all surprising or important. More interestingly, you'll start to get an uncomfortable feeling
that you might not be quite the hero
the game's simplistic premise would suggest...
This game provides examples of:
- Action Bomb: Several monsters have powerful Self-Destruct techniques. They invariably hit the entire enemy party For Massive Damage. Lots of tough enemies use them by the dozen, because - unlike you - they don't have to worry about fighting their way through a long dungeon to get to the battle. The two main variants are a Giant Turtle, and an Unhappy Bird...
- Breath Weapon: A stable of the game's various Dragons, of course, but many other monsters have them as well. Available in Fire, Water and Lightning. Apparently, the developers decided that it was easier to just give the Gold Dragon a selection of earth-type spells rather than try to explain some kind of rock-breath...
- Blood Magic: The Archdemon's signature Sacrifice spell which kills one of your own monsters not currently in the battle to power up an already insanely powerful attack. A max level sacrifice increases the resulting attacks power by a terrifying 450%. Needless to say this tends to be a One-Hit Kill against all, but the most overwhelming enemies.
- Bribing Your Way to Victory: Well, this IS a smartphone-game, after all. Most of what you do in-game nets you 'Silver', which you use for buying most of the game's standard stuff. A few missions will award you a small amount of Gold, however, which has other uses. You can use Gold to buy Gold Monster Cards, which will capture any enemy monster with absolute accuracy (useful for those super-rares), or buy Golden Eggs which MAY turn out to contain ultra-rare Dragon Hathlings. (You can also buy Recipes and Spirit Totems with gold, but all of those can just as easily be obtained through game progress, so why bother?) Need more gold? Buy some with RL cash. It's the only way you'll have enough to buy a reasonable number of Gold Eggs. And having some Gold in reserve is VERY nice if you happen across one of those ultra-rare 0.1% encounter-rate monsters...
- Com Mons: Plenty, of course. Simple monsters that evolve once, quickly - or not at all - and thus get left with sub-par stats and skills. You can still train them all the way to 150, of course, should you be so inclined - and they WILL kick ass at that point - but you'd still have been better off spending all that time on an Olympus Mons or something of a similar tier. On the other hand, there's plenty of Magikarp Power surprises, even on the first map... you never know what a simple, unassuming monster might grow into eventually.
- Some monsters cement their status as Com Mons by appearing in immense numbers on the later maps - you may encounter groups of 15 or more Gnolls of Sludges when you're near the end... by which point, of course, they barely qualify as cannon-fodder.
- Contractual Boss Immunity: Virtually any boss will be immune to Standard Status Effects, to prevent you from handling them with a simple Stun Lock. Poison is the exception - it always works, regardless of the target. Of particular note are the Spirits, whom you must fight in order to obtain - they have the standard Boss Immunity, and it even shows up on their skill-list afterwards... but it doesn't work anymore. Once they're fighting for YOUR team, they can be stunned or put to sleap as easily as anyone else...
- Dem Bones: A mid-game Com Mon- called, quite simply, Bones. No evolutions, nothing worth talking about... except when they show up as part of an enemy group and invariably manage to poison your entire squad before they die to a single hit.
- Desperation Attack: A number of monsters posses special attacks designed to be used at the tail-end of a hard-fought battle. The most frequently-seen is 'Vengeance', which adds another 25% to its attack-power for every ally that has fallen in the battle so far - which, if the user is at the end of the line, can be as many as 20. The most awesome alternative, however, is unique to the evolutions of the lowly Penguin - 'Last Stand', which hits all enemies, has extremely short recharge, and does either 500% or 1000%(!) extra damage (depending on how far evolved it is) if the user's the last man standing.
- Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Well, of course I did. How else was I suppose to add him to my team? Even for types that are created through Monster Fusion, you usually have to defeat someone using it (or several of it) before you can get the recipe.
- During the War: The game's backstory - the art of capturing and controlling Mons was originally developed to fight the Dragons, who were terrorizing the world. This resulted in a huge war between the Dragons, and the first Tamers. Now... the dragons have reemerged...
- Dragon Rider: The 'Dragoon' monsters - there's one for each of the four different elemental dragons. Acquired by combining a Dragon (who has not yet evolved into his final 'Wyrm' form) with a Berith - a powerful Knight. The result is, of course, a dragon-mounted knight.
- Eldritch Abomination: Several monsters and Spirits qualify, including Fear, Evil, Thought, Time, Morfeus, and perhaps most explicitly the Aqua Horror, which comes pretty close to being an outright reference to The Call of Cthulhu.
- Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors: An important part of the game - should always be taken into consideration.
- Playing with Fire: Lots of monsters with this element, including Area of Effect attacks that hit all enemies. Sometimes lowers enemy defense. Strong against Earth, weak to Water.
- Dishing Out Dirt: Quite a few monsters of this type, but most of them are fairly weak - powerful Earth-types are rare. Practically no Area of Effect skills, but tend to be defensively strong. Strong against Air, weak to Fire.
- Blow You Away: Also includes Shock and Awe. A well-balanced element whose monsters often have excellent  speed. Lightning-based attack often Stun enemies, which can be abused to Stun Lock much more powerful foes. Strong against Water, weak to Earth.
- Making a Splash: Also includes An Ice Person. Surprisingly potent element, in part because it counters the many powerful Fire-types so well. Many Area of Effect attacks, and a selection running the gamut from Fragile Speedster to Mighty Glacier. Strong against Fire, weak to Air.
- Casting a Shadow: Known as the 'Death' element. Very potent, particularly in magic, and often inflicts Standard Status Ailments. Some have HP-draining Vampiric Attacks. Powerful overall, weak only to Life.
- Light 'em Up: Known as the 'Life' element. Has no weaknesses, often includes powerful defensive Status Buff spells or healing-spells. Somewhat weak overall, but has no specific weaknesses, and is devastatingly powerful against Death.
- Infinity+1 Element: Known as 'Arcane', monsters with this element are quite rare, and usually quite powerful. Tend to be magical in focus, and often include unusual abilities. Top-tier Olympus Mons tend to be Arcane. Extremely potent, weak only to itself.
- Everything's Better with Penguins: You can catch a Penguin fairly early on. His first evolution nets him a crown and the title of Kingpen. His second evolution sees him dressed up as a Mafia-don from The Roaring Twenties, carrying the name of Don Penguini - armed with the ultimate Desperation Attack, 'Last Stand'. Damn, It Feels Good to Be a Gangster ...
- Gotta Catch 'Em All: Duh. It's a Mons-game, after all. More than 200 are available at the moment, acquired mainly by catching them in the wild. (After weakening them appropriately, natch.) Others can only be gained from winning tournaments, leveling caught monsters up to the next Evolutionary Levels, completing missions, fusing two existing monsters together, from hatching eggs, or by completing catch-em-all challenges. (Very meta.)
- Guide Dang It: In regards to some of the rarer monsters, such as the starter dragons and the Cherub, all of which have few spawn location and low spawn rates.
- Heel Realization: Several of the Guild's top trainers are defecting to La Résistance as they start to realize that the Guild's conduct isn't justifiable. The player may have one too...
- Humanoid Abomination: Some of the more powerful death monsters are humanoid physically. However, they are closer to Anthropomorphic Personifications of the darker concepts of reality (nightmares, death, despair, ect.) and were never human despite their appearances. They generally begin life looking very inhuman and become more humanoid as they evolve.
- Case in point: the Morpheus. It resembles a tall, lanky human with shadows flowing around it in semblance of a cloak and hood. It starts out its existence as a Dream Eater, a blob formed of pure malevolence and nightmares.
- Katanas Are Just Better: The 'Samurai' line of monsters wield Katanas, of course, and are mostly decent... and then there's The Blademaster, one of the absolute top-tier hitters in the game, who apparently wields TWO (The Muramasa and Masamune) to enormous effect.
- La Résistance: One has formed in opposition to the Guild's tyrannical control over Monster Taming, and their use of monster-armies to squash any dissent. Too bad YOU are part of The Guild... better be prepared to squash some rebel scum.
- Last Lousy Point: Anyone going for 100% completion is going to be left cursing over a number of things... mostly the Dragons. There are 4 different elemental Dragons, and you get to pick one at the start. In order to complete all challenges and monster-recipies, you need 3 of each and an extra Blue Dragon, for a total of 12 extras beyond your starter. How do you get them? Mostly from Golden Eggs, which you can get a few of from various storyline missions and tournaments, or by buying them with real money. Once you crack the egg, however, you have to play the roulette to find out what you get - and there's only one 'Dragon Hatchling' space. Beyond that, each color of dragon can be caught in the wild, in a selection of well-hidden, highly-specific spots, where they'll appear... with a 0.1% chance. And only the Blue dragon appears in its 'Hatchling' form - the others appear as higher levels of evolution, which means you won't get a complete Monsterpedia from just them. Good luck! (Oh, and the Cherub is nearly as rare - you get one free from a mission, but you'll need 2 to complete your Monsterpedia since it can be either evolved straight into an Archangel, or merged with an Imp to create a Fallen Angel which will eventually evolve into an Archdemon...)
- Lethal Joke Character: The Unhappy Bird. Oh boy. It's an obvious Shout-Out to the famed Angry Birds game, has no evolutions, can be caught in several places (and is the reward for winning the very first and easiest Arena Tournament), and only has two attacks. However, one of those attacks happen to be an extremely powerful Action Bomb - true to the inspiration, of course. Throughout the game, you'll fight MANY tough enemies who mix Unhappy Birds into their team to cause you grief - just a few sprinkled in the right places can reduce your all-powerful pinch-hitter squad to rubble. And all the top-tier dungeons feature them liberally mixed with the other high-level, high-evolution monsters, just to screw with you when you're trying to reach a tough boss-fight with most of your army intact. You WILL learn to hate them... unless, of course, you figure out how to use them to spice up your OWN endgame.
- Magikarp Power: Plenty of examples.
- The lowly Noko - a weird-looking snake/squid thing that you can find (quite rarely) near the game's starting-point. Despite its rarity, it's weak - it's only got two attacks, both simple, low-powered single-target attacks. That is, until you get it all the way up to level 34, at which point it'll evolve into a mighty, fire-breathing Orochi, which you might want to keep around for dealing with large groups of Earth-type enemies if you didn't pick the Red Dragon as your starter...
- The Bon, a weird fiery rabbit thing. Much like the Noko it's a weak fire element creature possessing only a single attack and weak stats. Eventually, it evolves into the incredibly powerful Ifrit, a 9.5 star fire elemental who possess the powerful Inferno, Supernova, and Explosion spells along with a team buff just in case you didn't have enough bang already.
- A simple, ordinary Wolf is given to you as a quest reward for completing one of your first tasks for the guild. They can also be caught wild on the first map, albeit in a somewhat out-of-the-way spot - and can be easily found on the next map. 'course, it's just a Wolf, nothing too impressive... granted, it'll evolve into a Dire Wolf at 22, but that's a marginal power-boost at best. But come 37, it'll become a Thunder Wolf - feared for its Stun Lock abilities! And if you combine two Thunder Wolves, you can create the fearsome Wolf God, who features prominently in many endgame strategies. As in, "Just make a team consisting entirely of Wolf Gods, and abuse their incredibly cheap powers." That's a long way to come for a Level 1 Wolf...
- The White Dolphin is a rare catch in one of the first dungeons - it's mentioned in several quests for its rarity, but when you get your hands on it, you'll likely be underwhelmed. Its only powers are a weak, physical attack, and the 'Escape' power that allows for certain escape from battle. And even if you're catching on to the pattern and leveling it all the way into the high 30's... nothing happens. No, you have to take it all the way to friggin' Level 55! At that point, however, it evolves into the gargantuan Leviathan - one of the rare 9-star monsters, and one of the top-3 most powerful Water-type monsters. (The two best being the Blue Dragoon and the Cryohydra, both of which are based on incredibly-hard-to-get Dragons.)
- The most patience-demanding example of them all... on the road between the starting town and your first destination - the capital, Westguard - you're likely to run across a lowly Assassin, with a level in the single digits. Catch one, and you'll find an entirely unimpressive Wind-type - good speed, but fragile. He'll evolve at levels 15 and 32 into first Sasuke, and finally a Ninja... but even then, he's unspectacular. He's effective against Humanoids, and his 'Ninjutsu' special makes it unlikely for AI enemies to target him, but his attack-power and overall stats are low - he's entirely unremarkable. Unless, of course, you keep leveling him up for some reason - maybe searching for that missing Awesome. You'll have to wait 'till he hits level 84 before you find it - the latest evolution in the game by a healthy margin. But that's when your Ninja will turn into Goemon - a 9-star Air-type with absolutely BLISTERING speed. His potent 'Musashi' attack will slice and dice anything that isn't an Earth-type. Worth the wait? I guess that depends on just how much you like ninjas...
- Metal Slime: Subverted. There IS a monster called the Iron Sludge, which is ultra-rare and hard to kill, and will evolve into an Iron Slime and then Iron King... a clear show of the game's Dragon Quest Monsters influences. However, these Iron Slimes grant no particular rewards. They don't drop cash, nor are they worth a lot of XP. You'll need several for some Monster Fusions, and Iron King is a potent Tank... but beyond that, they have no particular value.
- Mons: The point of the whole game, and indeed, the plot. Special cards allow monsters to be captured and controlled, and the Tamer's Guild regulates access to them - what with them being potent weapons and all.
- Olympus Mons: Lots. The Spirits are most obvious, being manifestations of concepts such as Thought, Aggression or Time. Several other monsters are also literal deities, including Asura, Morfeus and Ganesha. Others are simply referred to as gods, including the Wolf God, Snake God and Kemet God. A few are of explicitly divine origin - Solaris and Archangel comes to mind.
- Our Dragons Are Different: Well... not really, actually. This game comes as close to 'Standardized Dragons' as anything ever does. You got 4 different colors, corresponding to the 4 traditional elements, and they grow from pathetic Hatchling to colossal Wyrm. They have elemental breath corresponding to their color, and are generally antagonistic unless tamed. Of course, with the right Fusion Dance, you can create more... exotic variants.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Demontors, powerful Arcane creatures, are very capable of this if placed at the end of a team that gets wiped out as they possess the Revenge ability, which gets vastly more powerful the more allies that have fallen before it's used and hits the entire enemy field. Having three of the things pop out at the end of a line up of explosive monsters can lead to a shockingly quick victory against nearly anything.
- Shout-Out: Several, even if you ignore all the references to mythology. The most blatant is probably the highly explosive Unhappy Bird. Then there's the final evolution of the Giant Turtle, Tortilla... who looks a lot more like Gamera, but I guess the developers couldn't resist the Mexican-fastfood-based pun
- Summon Magic: The 'Spirits' stand apart from your other monsters. Rather than raising, training and evolving them as normal, you simply summon them in combat, after which they act on their own (which can be a bit problematic where some of them are concerned.) There's better than a dozen of them, and they grow more powerful the more times they are summoned. They all qualify as Olympus Mons, too, seeing as they are apparently physical incarnations of various concepts ranging from Fear and Evil, to Karma and Fate.
- The Rival: Many character consider you this as you progress through the game. Several enjoy fighting you so much that they go out of their way to make trouble because they know the Guild will send you to deal with the problem.
- You Can't Fight Fate: Actually, you can. He's holed up in one of the earlier dungeons. In fact, you're free to fight him as many times as you like, or summon him to help you in combat.
- Useless Useful Spell: The 'Death Sentence' ability is quite rare, wielded only by a handful of heavies in the demonic/undead section of the monster repertoire. It will kill an enemy regardless of HP, and has a 100% hit-rate. Sounds powerful, right? Yes, but also mostly useless. Bosses have Contractual Boss Immunity, and as such are unaffected... and the spell takes 500 time-units to take effect... and won't work if the caster is killed before then. For comparison, most 'top tier' attacks (which often hit 2 or 3 enemies for enormous damage) take 250 TU's to recover from. And everybody who has access to Death Sentence also has access to such powerful attacks. So instead of using a spell that will kill an enemy several combat-rounds from now IF you live that long, it's generally a much better idea to just dish out some heavy damage NOW. (Bosses often use this spell to greater effect, since they're almost certain to survive long enough for it to kick in... but even with them, it's often more of a handicap than anything else, since they're liable to then waste their time killing your already-doomed units with their ordinary attacks.)
- ...BUT! It is Not Completely Useless, since a few bosses apparently forgot to read the small print on their contracts, and thus wound up with Contractual Boss Immunity. Making them quite susceptible to a swift Death Sentence, particularly since the same shortage of immunity also renders them vulnerable to various Stun/Sleep/Paralysis effects that can help ensure that the caster survives to see it work. Even in those cases, though, it's usually faster to just Stun Lock the enemies into oblivion. Except that ONE Optional Boss...
- Visual Initiative Queue: Rather than simply have monsters take turns like most games, Dragon Island Blue uses one of these. Each attack, spell or power you can use takes a certain amount of 'Time Units', or TU's, which determines how far down the queue you'll be kicked. This allows for some interesting strategies, such as launching a getting in a couple of weak attacks before the Boss can move, and then launching the really BIG attack right before his turn - because you don't figure on living long enough to get another turn regardless.
- Weaksauce Weakness: One of the game's ultimate challenges is a fight against 3 Dreadnoughts - the most powerful controllable monster in the game, the Recipe for which is the reward should you win. So how do you deal with that? A huge army of top-level monsters? Well, that's an option... but you could also just realize that despite their power, these Dreadnoughts don't have Contractual Boss Immunity, and bring in some Fragile Speedster Shock and Awe monsters to Stun Lock them into oblivion. With the right setup, you can prevent the enemies from ever getting to attack at all, while you slowly grind them down.
- The ultimate Postgame Quest sees you go up against a large number of trainers with extremely powerful teams, including That One Boss, and That Other Boss... but if you feel like going out of your way a bit, you can find an Optional Boss: The Voiceless, Mai, wielding a team of 3 UNBELIEVEABLY souped-up Blademasters. The Blademaster is one of the strongest monsters in the game, with a potent single-target attack that grows stronger for every enemy he kills, and the 'Spikes' ability that causes any enemy that attacks him to take damage. Normally, tough. In this case, they've got at least 100.000 HP each (for comparison, a powerful monster under YOUR command can MAYBE surpass 2000 HP if it hits the Level Cap of 150), their spikes will do about 100 damage for each attack you land on them, and they WILL kill one of your monsters every time you attack. Effectively, they're an unbreakable wall - you won't even have a chance to bring ONE of them down to half HP before they've finished filleting your entire army. Unless, of course, you realize that they, too, lack Contractual Boss Immunity. Now, the Stun Lock strategy mentioned above isn't likely to work (since you never have a 100% stun-rate, so an attack will sneak through every once in a while) - or even if it does, it would take literally DAYS to wear them down with such Cherry Tapping. On the other hand, there's that Useless Useful Spell, 'Death Sentence', which will instantly kill an enemy... after a long time, and only if the caster is still alive... but if you were to use it in conjunction with a Stun Lock or use of Paralysis/Sleep status-effects? Then you could clear away these three invincible titans in short order. The boss is so surprised that she's not only Suddenly Voiced, but even Breaks the Fourth Wall to tell you that you weren't supposed to be able to defeat her - because she plays an important role in the upcoming sequel!