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The Legend of Dragoon

A video game for the original Playstation

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So Much Potential

  • Jan 6, 2010
  • by
Legend of Dragoon was a game that really came out during the Playstations RPG renaissance. It came out after Final Fantasy VII, but then we discovered that development of the game started shortly after the success of said game. The hype and advertising was enough to make people believe it could be a Final Fantasy killer. So of course, a lot of people were drawn into that hype. In the end the game was no Final Fantasy killer. In the end it wasn't even enough of a rival.

The Legend of Dragoon centers around Dart and his friend Shana. Dart's village of Seles is attacked, and Dart's friend Shana is kidnapped. So Dart must save Shana from a bunch of soldiers. He does so, but they can't go back to Seles. Luckily for Dart when rescuing Shana he gets some help from a lancer named Lavitz. He can't go back to Seles, though. There's just no way. So instead he goes with Lavitz to Bale where they get involved in all sorts of crazy antics that will eventually lead them to saving the world. The first thing about the story is that it's really slow. There's a lot of stuff thrown at you, but the real story of the game doesn't even come out until some time in the middle of disc 2. The game itself doesn't even pick up until disc 2, and each disc is pretty long.

The second thing wrong is that some gamers with a keen eye will see a lot of similarities to Final Fantasy VII. No, they probably won't bother you in the long run, but at least other games that tried to compete with the Final Fantasy series didn't rely so heavily on the series for its creation. Not only does the plot move slow, but the characters aren't well worth the time to care about and the dialog is not that well written. For the most part the story isn't convoluted at least, but it definitely doesn't go anywhere for a really long time.  That wouldn't be so bad if the story were incredible, but it's not.  There are moments where it seems interesting, but for the most part much of its plot is predictable.  There are twists and turns but the game makes it almost obvious from the moment it begins what's to come.  It just doesn't do a very good job masking its secrets.  At one point concerning two twists in particular that were supposed to be big jaw droppers I was actually wondering if it was supposed to be a surprise because the game borders on telling you long before you get there. In most games the gameplay is enough to hold you over. In Legend of Dragoon, the gameplay only remains interesting for so long.

Like any RPG, you'll go exploring the world, dungeons, towns and getting into battles. In Legend of Dragoon's gameplay you can't really explore much on the overworld map, unfortunately.  On the world map you have to follow dots to their destination. You can never veer off course and explore on your own.  Even worse than that you can't actually explore new locations on the World Map until they're actually uncovered.  It's very linear... unfortunately if they were going to do it like this, perhaps making you run across the overworld map in such a slow fashion wasn't the best idea. Surely the battle system can save the game, yes? Well, not entirely.

Battling at first is a bit more fun than in most other RPGs. Each character has what's called additions. When you go to strike an enemy you'll see a blue square appear in the center of the screen. Then another blue square begins centers in on it. When the two are overlapped at just the right moment, you press X. In essence it works. As the game goes on, you get more additions. Timing with your additions is everything. When the blue squares overlap, that's when you press X. In some additions however, there are as many as seven links you have to get through to perform a successful addition. If you miss in the middle, or your timing is off, the characters turn in battle ends. But that's not all, sometimes you'll strike an enemy and he'll attempt to counter you. At this point the blue square becomes red and you'll have to press the circle button as they overlap instead. If you miss, not only is your addition over, but you take damage from the enemy.

It's a very inventive battle system, but after a while it becomes repetitive. For one, you can only use one move at a time. Some characters get as many as seven different moves, but you can only change the moves up after the battle. For example, Dart has Double Slash and Volcano early on in the game. If you set for him to use Double Slash that's all he can use. You can't select to use Volcano at any time while he's set to double slash. It makes the battle system lack a lot of variety.  The good news is that it keeps you paying attention, but the bad news is that at times it makes for some really slow paced battles. 

The one thing everyone got excited about was being able to turn into a dragoon. At first it was pretty exciting. You could use spells, and they were really good looking, but morphing into a dragoon seems very wasted. Each character had a different dragoon spirit and could use different sorts of magic. The problem was that the spells were so limited (about four per character) and cost an absurd amount of MP. You went into dragoon mode by gathering spirit points acquired through using additions. As your Dragoon level increased so did your MP. The problem is your MP maxed out at 100, and your spells often took anywhere from ten to eighty MP! Even worse, once you morphed into a dragoon, there was no way to get out of it. And you only had two options. Either attack or use magic. In the end it was a great idea that was poorly executed.  Some of the animations for spells look absolutely astounding, though, especially when you gain the abilitiy to summon each dragon.

Battling in Legend of Dragoon isn't terrible, it just fails to be as interesting as other RPGs.  The Dragoon system isn't as worthwhile as it could be.  There's not a lot of customization and much of it is just really basic stuff.  Aside from the Dragoons, Legend of Dragoon doesn't seem to have that much to call its own.  There's no manipulating of stats or anything like that either.  The Legend of Dragoon gets all the basics but doesn't really bend a lot of them.  For a game that tried so hard to one-up the Final Fantasy series (and in the year 2000) it sure leaves a lot to be desired in terms of its combat.  And coming out in the same year as Final Fantasy IX and just after Final Fantasy VIII doesn't help it too much either.

If you're an RPGer who loves sidquests, Legend of Dragoon doesn't have a whole lot. However, it does have an interesting quest to collect all the stardusts and it does present a challenging optional boss, but for the most part, there's not a lot of "extra" stuff to do here.

One of the good things about the game, however, is that it does present a pretty challenging quest. Much of it is long and arduous, but the boss battles and such can really keep you on your toes. It's also nice that the battle system requires the player to pay attention where as most RPGs you could get by with just mashing on the action button all day long. For those seeking an RPG that requires strategy, Legend of Dragoon certainly requires it. In part because its a challenge, but also because you're very limited. You can't carry around 99 healing items or anything like that. In fact the game only lets you carry around 30 items. Period. If you buy two of the same item they take up two different spots. This is good and bad. Good because you can't get greedy and you actually have to think before rushing into battle. Bad because the limitation can be daunting, especially when you start finding special items. It's even worse because of the fact that you can't cast spells freely unless you're a dragoon and there aren't a whole lot of healing spells.  You'll have to go through the game with a lot of healing items (and guarding) in tow.

As far as the game looks there are some highs and lows there. The pre-rendered backgrounds in cities and dungeons are absolutely gorgeous, but the character models themselves aren't all that great looking, even for a Playstation game in the year 2000. Many of them use polygons, meaning they look similar to the character models used in games like Final Fantasy VII and Legend of Legaia. In 2000, however, the Legend of Dragoon could've been far better looking than both games, and it really isn't. The pre-rendered backgrounds are nice and some of the enemies in battle are really good looking, though. The FMVs on the other hand, are good looking all around.

I wish I could say the sound was good all around, but most of it is rather forgettable. The music itself has some memorable tunes (particularly battle tunes) but for the most part it's nothing worth remembering. The voice acting is among the worst I've ever heard in video game (although many games had pretty bad voice acting before and after Legend of Dragoon). It was great to see that the game had voice acting, especially at the time of its release but a lot of it was rather lifeless and emotionless.

It's hard to talk about Legend of Dragoon. Even for its time it was a game that just barely got by and it's mostly because of limitations that it shouldn't have had. It begins as a game that doesn't really know where its going as far as story goes, and while the battle system is really inventive, they didn't do enough with it. Legend of Dragoon isn't a bad game, just one that doesn't feel complete. For a game which spent three years in development, it should've been far better than the final product we received.

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January 07, 2010
Hey, Rhodes, you reviewing BAYONETTE (or something like that) soon?
January 07, 2010
Ah, you caught me.  I was actually working on that one!
January 07, 2010
give a holler when you finish it. Btw, I am about to tear Cameron's TITANIC apart...stay tuned. (it won't be a rant I promise)
January 07, 2010
How dare you tear anything by James Cameron apart!  And the highest grossing film of all time!  Forget that I did the EXACT SAME THING a few months ago! <.<  

But I await.  I've actually been working on quite a few review projects lately I just haven't posted much because I'm trying to iron out some of them first.  Reviewing video games is almost always easy, but I've been looking to do write ups on some of Count's datapoints (which are really difficult) and I've had a little special reserved for a very special commentator lately that's REALLY hard to write.
More The Legend of Dragoon reviews
review by . February 01, 2002
posted in Siliconera Bounce
Pros: Mostly uses the right cliches and rip-offs     Cons: Uses cliches and rip-offs. Battle system completely sucks     The Bottom Line: I'm going to pass this bottom line thing up once again, saying: Just let the damn review speak for itself, alright?     Kudos to Sony. They know exactly what to rip off and from whom.      That being said, they had a lot of guts advertising their biggest rpg effort as a "Final Fantasy …
About the reviewer
Sean A. Rhodes ()
Ranked #7
I'm a more analytical person. I believe that the purpose of the review is not for me to give you my opinion but for me to give you an analysis and help you decide if you want to get it. If you reading … more
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About this video game


The Legend of Dragoon is a console role-playing game developed and published by Sony Computer Entertainment for the PlayStation. It was released in Japan on December 2, 1999, in North America on June 11, 2000, and on January 19, 2001 in Europe. Despite mixed critical reception, the game has amassed a very large cult following.
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ESRB: T for Teen
Number of Players: 1
Console: Playstation
Genre: RPG

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