Review by Psycho Penguin
"I can't say enough good things about this game."
Legend of Legaia is one of my all time favorite games. Despite several flaws, this classic introduced some exciting ideas to a somewhat tired genre, including a great battle system where you type in your commands instead of just pushing one button and watch your guy hack up on some weak enemy. The game definitely caters more to the average, everyday video game player than a normal role-playing game does, for that very reason.
This was one of the first games I ever bought for my Playstation, and I still play it a lot, to this day. Hell, even my stepdad went ahead and beat this game TWICE, and he never really plays much video games. Is that replay value or what? This game is so different from a lot of other RPGs, that you can either love it or hate it. The reason for this is because it is so different from other games, and therefore you might not like the differences in the game. I bought the game and loved it, but you may not. It really is that different.
I really did enjoy playing this game, and it became one of my all time favorite role playing games. But, some people will not like it, so I advise renting it out first before making a decision on purchasing it. It's not for everyone, as the crazy battle system with long battle animations may turn some people off, and the game is pretty challenging, especially when it comes to bosses. This is really a ''love it or hate it'' kind of game, and it turns out that I loved it, big time. Not only is it my 2nd favorite RPG of all time, it's my second favorite game of all time.
The storyline is not the reason why it's my second favorite game of all time, but it's not as bad as everyone claims. One of the weak points of this game has been the storyline, in most people’s opinions. Well, I tend to disagree with these opinions, because I happen to like the storyline in Legend of Legaia, to a certain extent. It may not be the best storyline ever for a RPG, but it is still pretty decent. The storyline deals with a lot of things throughout the game, but most of it deals with Seru magic and Genesis trees.
The plot, however, at heart, is just another basic ''save the world'' type, which has been seen in so many RPGs before. The unique thing about this game is the fact that you start off with only one character, and you get him for a while, then you take over the girl for a while and then you get her. Then you finally get the third character, and you’re off. Yes, there are only 3 playable characters in the entire game. The good news about this is the fact that the lack of characters leads to better character development. Even if Noa always is a bit annoying.
The story has a lot of plot twists in it as well, and the dialog is very well written, even if it is not to the level of a Lunar or Final Fantasy 7. The coolest thing about the storyline in the game, in my opinion, is the fact that there are several surprising plot twists, even in the end, so the storyline really never gets old. You might see some of the more ''cliche'' elements of the plot coming, but for the most part, the game will throw some surprises out there. Overall, this may not be quite to the top level of storylines, but the storyline is very interesting, and the character development is solid.
The gameplay is the main reason why I loved Legend of Legaia so much. It's a different kind of game, one that takes some time getting used to, but turns out to be quite addicting and fun. It features innovative battle and magic systems that really have never been seen in a role playing game before. The battle system is unique and one of the best I have ever seen in a RPG. It is definitely different than your average RPG. Most RPGs have the same old boring premise, but Legend of Legaia delves away from the basic RPG formula a bit and delivers a great game, that isn’t for everyone.
The battle system in the game is great, once you take some time to get used to it. Instead of the basic fight/magic/item box, you have a diagonal attack screen where you input where you want to hit the enemy (high, low, arms, ra-seru) It's really fun once you learn it. You can also use the spirit command, which increases the number of hits you can do the next turn. Spirit also can prove to be quite valuable in boss fights, as it increases damage big time, but for the most part, you'll be using it to increase your AP. So, instead of doing 5 hits in one turn you can use spirit and do 10 hits the next turn.
Why would you want to do this? Well, it really is quite simple. You can do moves like super arts after a while. These moves are different than your basic attacks, and to do this you need two things: enough AP and enough space to input the move. To get both of these, you have to use the spirit command (my stepdad liked to use the spirit command A LOT). The spirit command increases the amount of spaces you can input a move on the next turn, as well as increases the amount of AP you have (you can get a maximum of 100 AP. You cannot get any higher than this, it stays at 100 AP all game).
The battle system is not without faults, however. The art attacks are well done, but you have to sit through them every time out. Battles take an extended period of time, and I advise that only patient people check this game out. For one, enemies move really slowly sometimes, especially slimes, and they have to walk over, then attack you. They just don't stand there and hit you really quickly. Combine that with the fact that you have to sit there and watch the same art animations every time out (it's especially bad when you do a miracle art, as you have to watch about 10 art attacks in a row), and this is not a game for the impatient.
Besides a great battle system, Legend of Legaia also has a great magic system. Gaining magic is a rather complicated process. To gain magic, you must kill a seru without using magic on it. The person that kills it sometimes will gain the magic, but you cannot learn magic without first getting a ra-seru. Once you get the Ra-seru, you can start to gain magic. Gaining magic is a fun part of the game, and part of what makes it so addictive. There's certain ways to capture seru easier, so some portions of the game will be devoted solely to you trying to capture a seru. It may seem Pokemon-ish, but it's really not, as you still have to kill the seru and all.
It is also a very interesting thing when it comes to raising magic levels in the game. Each seru magic comes with a starting level, depending on what level it was when you gained it. To raise the levels of each individual seru, you have to use the seru a lot. Once you use it enough, its level is raised. After a while, you can max out its level. However, you really don’t have to waste time raising the level of some of the seru magic in the game. It also leads to a good deal of the game being addictive. I love to level up, and having even more things to level up is okay in my book.
The mini games in the game are pretty fun, but are pretty much limited to one area you will encounter later on in the game. Plus, they actually prove to be pretty boring later on. You get this fun ''muscle dome'' game that tries to emulate FF7's battle arena without using some of its best ideas. It's still a decent mini game in its own right, though. The ''baka fighter'' mini game is pretty interesting, once you get into it. The rest of the mini games are your usual crap, and they do prove to be quite boring after a while, but I still play them from time to time.
Another minor flaw of the game I'll have to point out is the movement speed your character has on the world map. This is truly horrific. It's like he's a piece of paper walking against a hurricane, seriously. I have no idea why they decided for him to move so slowly, but it's really annoying and frustrating. That's the major flaw of the game right there, and one that will piss you off numerous times throughout the game. It's one thing to have a world map where characters walk from place to place automatically, that's bad but not that bad. This is just plain old BAD. That's the best word I could use to describe this mess.
None of this would mean anything if the controls sucked. Fortunately, they don't. The controls in this game are top-notch. Inputting commands is a breeze. Most of the controls are very simple to figure out after a while. Switching between the various menus is no problem, and being able to do combos during battle is simple and effective. The game even supports the use of the Dual Shock controller, so you can use analog control in the game. With an easy control layout, and simple map navigation, I have nothing to complain about. Overall, the control in the game is fantastic.
The graphics in this game are merely okay. Some FMV scenes are fantastic, and the character designs and backgrounds are solid, but sometimes, there's a lot of pixelazation and blocky characters. These problems especially become apparent during battle. The main problem with the graphics is the fact that the characters in the game are polygon based, and you can make out each individual polygon in the characters. Otherwise, the graphics are colorful and great.
Character designs in the game are not the greatest I have seen, but there definitely is a mix of very interesting characters. The main character, Vahn, is your typical guy with.. blue hair. Noa dresses colorfully and had pink hair. Gala was a warrior so he dressed in blue armor with a blue helmet. The non-playable characters in the game all look different, and there was a variety, but you could tell from their designs that this was not a modern times based game. Overall, the character designs in the game are average, especially the main characters in the game.
Enemy designs in the game are very interesting, to say the least. I like how there is a variety of enemies in the game, but as in most role playing games, the same enemy seems to appear again and again, only this time with a different color. I noticed that a lot in this game, as most of the later enemies in the game are simply enemies from earlier in the game regenerated with a different color. The boss designs in the game are quite nice, as well, especially the final boss. Man, that guy looks awesome. The rest of the boss designs are great and varied, like Berserker (the plant boss) and Zora. Overall, the enemy designs in the game are great.
Backgrounds and other stuff in the game are pretty decent, as well. I especially enjoy the wide variety of landscapes that is featured in the game. For instance, in one of the stages, you are trapped in a boiler room filled with fire. Some of the other stages range from forests to dungeons. There really is a wide variety of stage designs and background, and all of them are really well done. Even some of the town designs are great, especially the ghost town (the name of it slips my mind at the moment).
There are some minor graphical problems present in the game, especially during battle scenes, but overall it is no big deal. The worst thing you will encounter is some slowdown, but that's not the worst thing in the world, as it's barely noticeable 99 percent of the time. The coolest thing about the battle scenes in the game are the fact that the backgrounds of the battles change depending in the place the battle took place. For instance, if you got into a battle in a forest, the background of the battle would be a forest type setting, but if you got into a battle in the ghost towns, then the backgrounds would be a misty type look.
Overall, the graphics in the game are great. The character designs in the game are varied and well done, as are the enemy designs. The variety of stages in the game is fantastic as well, as you do everything from running around in ghost towns to flying in Ra-Seru ship. The backgrounds are colorful and varied, and overall the graphics are just plain old great, even if they do have their minor problems, like any other game does. I can't really find any major point to harp on, however.
The music and sound effects in a RPG have always been considered an important part of the RPG. A RPG could have good graphics, gameplay, and story, but if it has terrible music, then that may turn the game player away from the game completely. And in a genre where a lot of the game is based on the music and the type of feeling that it provides, a terrible soundtrack could prove to be disastrous. Fortunately, the music and sound effects in Legend of Legaia are quite good.
Music in the game is top notch. I went into this game expecting a less than top quality soundtrack, something that sounds good but plays second fiddle at best when compared to some of the other Playstation RPGs out there. Well, it turns out that I was wrong, The music may not be the best ever for a RPG but it gets the job done, as it provides the listener with smooth tunes that really fit the feeling of the scenes perfectly. Yes, each individual scene has music, which portrays the feeling of the scene perfectly.
The battle theme in the game is great and one of the best battle themes I have ever heard in a RPG, bar none. It also never really proved to be annoying, which is important for a RPG, because you will be hearing the same battle theme a lot, and if you get annoyed by it, then chances are you would not want to play the game anymore. I suffered a fate similar to that with Breath of Fire, but I finally ended up beating that game anyways.
The boss theme in the game is also fantastic. I think that there are 3 or 4 different different boss themes in the game, and each of them sounds wonderful, especially the final boss in the game. I really liked that final boss music. It had a great beat to it that really sounded well.
Of course, I'd be remiss if I didn't point out the awesome music that played during your battle with one of your adversaries later on in the game. I cannot reveal who this person is, as it's a storyline spoiler, but you will know the song when you hear it. It's not only my favorite song in Legend of Legaia, it's one of my favorite video game songs of all time. It's got this really hard-rocking beat that'll keep you ready for the battle at all times.
One of the coolest musical pieces of the game, is my opinion, is the music that occurs whenever you are in one of the main dungeons of the game. The game plays this wicked beat that sounds great, and it always keeps on playing, even when you enter battle. Yes, you do not get to hear the regular battle music in these dungeons, which might be a good thing. It’s not that the battle theme is bad, it’s just that the dungeon music is so much cooler. And it definitely helps to take away the battle theme sometimes, so it doesn't annoy the player too much. It also makes the dungeon seem that much more important, and I love it when a game designer adds this musical feature in there.
Sound effects in the game are great, as well. One of the things I like featured in RPGs is voice acting, as some of you may already know from my various rants of role playing game sound effects. Unfortunately, Legend of Legaia really does not feature much voice acting whatsoever. Now, during battles, there is voice acting featured but I have no clue as to what they are saying. And outside of battle, there is no voice acting. So, I am a little disappointed.
During battle is where most of the sound effects take place. A lot of them are your basic punches and kicks, you know, basic battle sounds. Then you have the weirdest voice acting ever, because it sounds like the characters are talking Japanese. The only thing I can really understand is when Vahn does his tornado flame super art, he screams out ''tornado flame'' at the end. Other than that, all of the sound effects/voice acting during battle are funny. It's certainly better than Duel Saga's average English voice overs. Overall, the sound effects in the game are great.
Overall, the music and sound effects in the game are fantastic. I especially enjoy the music in the game, as it is varied and sounds great. I especially like the battle and boss themes in the game, as well as the main dungeon themes. The final boss theme is one of the best I have ever heard. Sound effects are mixed, as there is no voice acting except for during battle, and those sound way too funny sometimes.
Legend of Legaia also happens to be one of the toughest games out there. Those that think that all new RPGs are easy would be well advised to check this one out. The regular enemies can prove to be problems, as some even have these instant death attacks that are hard to figure out, as they throw cards at you, then they shuffle them quickly, and you have to figure out what card won't kill you. The enemies also consistently attack you harder than you might expect. You may think that leveling up will solve your problems, but it takes forever to level up, and it also takes forever to get enough money to buy your strongest weapons and armor. It's so bad in that regard, I could barely afford the final stuff in the final dungeon.
However, these won't be your biggest problems. That would be the bosses. The bosses in the game are very, very difficult to beat. There are a couple of bosses in the game that will prove to be especially challenging. Using spirit and figuring out when to use it and when not to use it is really the key to victory. Brute force will get you nowhere except having to start a battle over again. Some of the other battles in the game are quite difficult as well, and the game is quite lengthy. Adding to the challenge is the fact that it takes a while to build up your magic. I especially hated the bosses, but I already talked about them. Overall, the challenge level is extreme, much higher than a lot of the other Playstation RPGs out there.
Despite the fact that this game is challenging, you will want to play it again and again. Hell, I do think that the challenge level of the game will keep you coming back to the game, and you'd want to prove it to yourself that you can beat that tough boss. The biggest problem is that you might not like the game, and therefore the replay value will be limited. Here's my best way to cure it: rent out the game a few times until you beat it, then if you want to beat it again, buy it. But regardless, Legend of Legaia is a fun game. If you're an RPG Fan, run out and buy this classic now! Overall, the replay value in the game is excellent, but I do advise renting the game out first.
Legend of Legaia is fun, with its top notch control, excellent battle and magic systems, and outstanding control. Despite a few flaws, such as a weak storyline and graphical glitches, this game proves to what most people already know: If you’re an RPG fan, the Playstation is for you. And so is Legend of Legaia. The battle system is unlike anything ever seen before, as is the magic system, and this adds to some great innovation. Unfortunately, this also means that this game is not for everyone, as it is way different than your average RPG. I hope you check it out, though, as despite its challenge and some minor flaws, the game really proves to be an addicting and fun experience.
There's a reason why Legend of Legaia is my 2nd favorite game of all time.. it's really that damn good.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 07/04/00, Updated 09/22/03
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