I took on Emerald Dragon for the first time right after I'd finished my first playthroughs of Kabuki Den and Manji Maru. ED was in an unenviable position, trying to follow in the footsteps of two RPG legends and all, but it got off to a brilliant start, especially aesthetically. Its soundtrack features some great instrumentation, and its graphics are appealing and colorful.
And that right there was the biggest disappointment: upon completing ED, I felt that the special climactic moment I'd been anticipating throughout the entire adventure never actually materialized. Sure, it has some shocking moments, though for all the blood and screaming it tosses out there, it basically indulges in one cinematic cliche after another with its "tragedies." And sure, it has some "touching" moments, though the sweetest one of all occurs during the first thirty minutes of the twenty-five hour ride.
So in a fashion, it has its share of surprising moments and emotional moments, but ED doesn't feature THAT moment, a moment that sticks with me, the sort of singular event that most elite adventure titles can boast of. Its cast is of no help, as the characters themselves do little to stand out or offset the cliches. The villain whom you'll spend a large chunk of your quest pursuing comes off as more of a clownish Drax than a sinister Phades, even though he looks pretty cool (in some scenes, at least...). And with the heroine spending almost every second of the journey in tears, I stop feeling bad for her after a while and start wishing she'd just stop blubbering.