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Although stylistically influenced by the manga and anime released in the interim, Blue Dragon Plus is a direct sequel to Mistwalker's original on Xbox 360 — at least as far as the story goes. As for the play of the game, the DS-exclusive sequel is an action RPG, with exploration and combat that takes place in real time (unlike the console's turn-based original). Blue Dragon Plus was co-developed with Brownie Brown, and plays in a style similar to the developer's Heroes of Mana and Magical Starsign games for DS. Players use simple stylus strokes to control a small squad of heroes who explore maps and battle monsters. All character move about and fight simultaneously, but the action can be frozen at nearly any time, allowing players to ponder tactics, chose characters, and give precise orders. The action also stops automatically when a character prepares to use a shadow power, giving players a chance to choose the right abilities and plan their attack. There are 16 playable characters in all, including Shu, Zola, Kluke, and Jiro, General Szabo the mechanical man, and a few new allies as well. Each has strengths, weaknesses, and a powerful shadow monster to control. Blue Dragon Plus takes place a year after events of the first game. The world has been split, opened to the core, and now consists of thousands of cubes. For the Good King Jibral, Shu and his friends join Zola to face a new and sinister threat: an enormous three-headed dragon called Balaur. Blue Dragon Plus' original story was written by Hironobu Sakaguchi, with art by Akira Toriyama and music by Nobuo Usmatsu. More than 30 minutes of computer-animated 3D movies tell the tale between missions. ~ T.J. Deci, All Game Guide