Review by Zersch
"The Fury of the Storm"
More so than any other game from my youth, Dragon Force was hands-down my most favorite (and most played.) With eight different kingdoms to choose from, (two only available upon completion of the game) Dragon Force can work its magic eight times over. I just so happened to have a best friend who loved this game equally as much, and we spent many an afternoon conquering the kingdoms of Legendra.
After your first Domestic Affairs session you are thrust into the heat of a civil war. Your goal is to expand on your one or two initial castles until you take down all of the other seven rulers. In order to take over land, you must deploy a team of up to five generals (who can have anywhere from ten to one-hundred troops each) and storm castles. It pays to play on the weaknesses of your enemies troop types (ex: Samurai over Dragons, Monks over Zombies, Archers over Harpy, etc.)
When you storm a castle, the Vs. screen appears and you can choose which general you wish to deploy against the enemy general that is chosen. Sometimes one of your generals may request to go into battle before you even get a chance to see who the fight will be against. During battle your general will remain in one place, issuing formations such as Breach, Surround, Defensive, and Offensive to his troops. The real battle will be amongst your troops. When your generals MP bar fills up, you can unleash a (sometimes) devastating special move that will do damage to the enemy general, the enemy troops, or both.
If both sides come down to zero troops, a duel begins. In a duel you have no control over your general. All you can do is hope that he pulls out a special move (indicated by a line of text before he attacks.) You just go back and forth hitting each other until one finally dies. On the other hand, if the time limit runs out during battle, both sides simply retreat from the skirmish and become un-selectable for the remainder of the battle. Just remember that the enemy will not be waiting for you to make a move. If you sit there goofing off, it's a strong possibility that you will be blitzed by more than one enemy army.
The 2D graphics here are beautiful. While the terrain is a little ugly, vibrant colors paint the landscapes of battle. Two-hundred troops clash in the middle of the battlefield while generals drop special attacks with no slowdown. A big fraction of the 127 generals have awesome character models; with the others being more or less just a palette swap. The cut-scenes are full of beautiful art work.
The music is fitting without being amazing. While a spectacular soundtrack would've been great, Dragon Force gets the most out of it's limited tracks. You will be hearing the Map Theme A LOT. I'm not saying that the soundtrack is lackluster, however; the Katmando battle music is one of my favorite tracks.
The plot is very engaging. With eight scenarios to choose from, the first half of the game progresses differently for each monarch. By the time the second half rolls around, every monarch basically has the same goals: to raid the three shrines, slay Katmando, and seal the dark god away forever. It's only necessary to complete the game once to get the entire story out of it, but playing back through as the other seven kingdoms can shine some light on the generals that fly under each flag.
At first, everything will seem a little complicated, but after a few sessions of Domestic Affairs you will be able to command your troops on the fly. If the pacing is too much to handle in real-time (enemy units do not wait for you), you can simply pause the game and issue all of your commands. Basically it's a little confusing at first, but soon becomes natural.
Dragon Force is a spectacular Strategy game, and entry for anyone's Sega Saturn library. Although it is quite a rarity nowadays, it's worth it to track this gem down. I strongly recommend this game over any other game I've ever had the pleasure of playing. Once you dive in and take the throne as one of the eight members of the Dragon Force, you will be hooked. It's a damn shame that the sequel didn't get released in the U.S.
Reviewer's Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Originally Posted: 04/13/06
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