Review by ShapeQuest

"Solid plot, simple yet fun gameplay"

This is a rare RPG gem that, unfortunately, many people have overlooked. The Legend of Dragoon has a solid plot that is—gasp—not JUST a story about an evil empire trying to oppress the rebels and take over the world.

You begin the game as Dart, a person who has lost everything since his village was set afire (as an aside, his village's name was Neet. Neet?? What kind of weird name is that for a place to live??). Ahem. Gradually he'll meet other characters that will help him with his travels. What's different about this game is that it has a world map, but the character can only move around in a set path. When you are running around in an enemy-encounter environment, there is a small indicator above Dart's head that will turn red when you are about to enter into a normal battle. This is more helpful than compared to other games, which give you no warning about when you'll be forced into battle.

The gameplay elements themselves are pretty basic at first. When you want your character to attack, you must press a series of buttons at the right time so that the attack can be executed successfully (the exception to this is the archer). If you complete the attack perfectly several times, it will eventually power up. As the characters continue to level up they will learn new ways of attacking. Sometimes the game will throw in a different button combination than what is usually asked for, so you must stay on your toes. And in case you're wondering, there is no “magic” option below the attack option on the battle menu (will get to that below). You can use items, however. So your choices during battle are rather limited at first.

Eventually, your characters will gradually come to possess the ability to transform into dragoons. These are ancient warrior skills passed down to the current generation. When your character becomes a dragoon, he or she is much more powerful and resistant to attacks. Each character is assigned a different dragoon element (fire, wind, etc). The attack ability is different in this mode—instead of pressing buttons at the right time, there is an indicator on a wheel that spins, and you must press the same button whenever the needle lands on the correct spot. If you do this perfectly, the dragoon will end the attack with a quick scene of him or her finishing off in a spectacular way.

Here is where their magical abilities come in. As I said earlier, each dragoon has a specific element assigned to him or her. The bosses also have a specific element. You can use magical attacks of the opposite element to increase the damage (as is the case with most RPGs). Your characters have MP, so only a limited amount of magic can be used. The dragoons also have protective magical abilities, such as VERY handy healing powers or protection against damage.

To keep things balanced, your character can only stay in the dragoon form for so long. Eventually, he or she will be transformed back to his or her regular self. Mostly you don't need to transform unless you're dealing with a boss battle.

One of the things I like about this game is that, for the MOST PART, your characters are not constantly being switched out for some plot-related event. You can build up your long-term party, and it's all cool. And each character has his or her own strengths, too. In most RPGs, there's always that one fighter who is kinda the token silly, fun, but totally useless combatant. Thanks to the dragoons, everyone's good at something! The exception might be the purple dragoon, who is kind of the jack of all trades. Doesn't hinder him though. By the by, it's somewhat humorous that all the characters are dressed in the same color as their corresponding dragoon element. It's like the Power Rangers in their street clothes or something.

I certainly can't complain about the graphics. It's chock full of cutscenes, which is probably part of the reason why the game is on four discs. And sometimes they even have—wait for it—facial expressions! Granted, they're primitive. Nevertheless, that adds to the level of realism.

The sound is somewhat hit or miss. Most of the battle music is the same. The music does have its moments though—especially during the ending when we can listen to a lyrical song. Oh, and about the voice actors. Yes, the characters have voice actors. However, they ONLY speak when you execute a battle move (for the most part).

Sidequests? The game has some—most notably the Stardust mission, where you go and collect dozens of pieces of stardust, scattered throughout the world. Then there's a guy named Faust who is a magician and—here's the key—one tough cookie. You can't really transform into dragoons against him. Then there's the Magrad stronghold, with a three-part boss inside. One part will kill your characters, so watch out. Lastly, there's the former dragoon sidequest. These are the ghosts/spirits of the form dragoon fighters who battled centuries before. You may choose to battle them. Overall, the game has just enough sidequests to keep me happy, but not as much as some other games. And this leads me to…

…The replay value. Why would you want to replay the game? Well, there are a few reasons. One is that, like a LOT of PS1 RPGs, once you reach a certain point in the game, you cannot return to previous areas. This doesn't happen until late in the game, but nevertheless you may have missed something that you wish to find again. Secondly, you may wish to replay so that you can view everyone's completed additions (the attacks I mentioned earlier) and magic spells in their dragoon form. Also, you may want to replay the game just because you plain old want to play the game again. This is understandable.

As I mentioned in the first paragraph, the plot is, overall, stronger than most PS1 and older RPGs. There are also a handful of plot twists, two of which left me totally shocked. You may even want to replay the game to try and find out what subtle hints you overlooked while playing the first time. The point here is, not everything is in black and white, good and evil. There are gray areas to reflect upon.

So that's about it. I honestly can't think of anything bad I disliked about this game. You don't REALLY get lost in any of the dungeons, which I enjoyed. You can probably beat it without a walkthrough by simply thinking things through. Although there WAS this one dungeon which is now infamous, which had corrupted gravity and, well, let's just say it's no picnic figuring things out THERE. But anyway. Overall, things are not frustrating. The Legend of Dragoon is a refreshing RPG that does NOT have Final Fantasy in the title. Many wish for a sequel, and, surprisingly, this is one of those rare RPGs that doesn't have a sequel after becoming a reasonable hit. Perhaps that's for the best. Perhaps we don't need a sequel—that would probably suck compared to the level of hype—to subtract from this game's success.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 07/15/09, Updated 07/15/09

Game Release: The Legend of Dragoon (US, 06/13/00)

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