Review by Megumi-chan

"Has legendary potential.. but falls a bit short."

All right, before I begin to point out every single thing bad about this game, I shall tell you something that will either make you dance for joy or want to kill me: I actually liked this game. Quite a bit.
Woah, now! Put away the torches! I didn't say it was perfect or Final Fantasy material. Please, now, at least let me explain!
The game is rather good, yes. But it also has quite a few (noticeable, annoying, icky) flaws. I'll go through step-by-step to explain how the game is cliche, original and really annoying at the same time.

Gameplay: 5/10
Battle System
Well, the battle system is innovative, I'll give it that. You complete a series of sword swipes/punches/whatever called ''Additionals'' by pressing the X button with EXTREMELY precise timing. Sometimes the enemy will try to counter-attack you, and you'll have to press O instead, but mostly it's X-pressing all the way through.
This could be really enjoyable and cool if it weren't so annoying after awhile. I mean, it's okay when you have your starting additionals and only have to time X once, but when you get to the ones that require pressing the button eight times at EXACTLY the right time... well, it gets a bit tedious. Not to mention that timing is not easy.
Your other battle options consist of using items, running, guarding and turning into a Dragoon. Guarding is pretty cool, because not only does it reduce any acquired damage that turn by half, it also restores about 10% of your HP and prevents any status abnormalities.
Dragoon combat is, again, quite interesting. After the cool (although after awhile annoying, which can be countered on the options screen) transformation, you get two options: use a Dragoon additional or magic. A Dragoon additional will start with a weird-looking orb thingy with a cursor at the top. You press X to start a little light rotating around it, and, once again, you must time X perfectly when the light hits the top to complete and Additonal. These are quite powerful sometimes, but other times are just not worth the hassle. Magic is, well, magic. You use up MP to use it, and sometimes it has a nice affect, sometimes not.
Now, why don't I like this system? Because Additions take a lo-ong time to get used to, and just when you finally figure out how to do one well, you get another one. ><;; Nice system, could use some tweaking.
World Map
This map is pretty well detailed. However, it's more of a hindrance than a help to the game... you MUST follow the little yellow dots. This means that you have to backtrack through EVERY stinking area in the game to get to one city. Not fun, I assure you. If Sony got rid of the icky lines, then, well, it would be nice. Not too much more to say.
Items + Junk
I added this just so I could gripe about the items. You are allowed 32 items. Which, I suppose, would be okay if there weren't so stinkin' MANY! There are tons and tons and tons of items you get throughout the course of the game, and to carry them you have to get rid of things you need, like Healing Breezes and Rains and Fogs and Potions and Angel's Prayers. Just to open a treasure chest, you must toss one of these valuable items. ::sigh:: Another place with potential for the usefulness of the items, but another point down for limiting them so much. Why not 40 instead of 32? Who came up with that number?
So, in all, the Gameplay area lacks quite a bit, mostly due to wonderful ideas but nobody carrying them through.

Story: 8/10
Actually, this has a really nifty back story about the 108th race and Winglies and Humans and Dragons/Dragoons, but goes noplace with it. I think these people had a lot of good ideas, but the staff was too lazy to put them to their full potential or something. Anyhow, the story you use consists of: Save the girl. Chase the guy in the black cape all over the continent. Turn into Dragoons. Whee. It's obviously a bit more complicated than that once you get into all the weird character relationships and backgrounds... o.0;; but all that is spoiler material, sooo... Anyhow, I know this section isn't too wonderfully done, but all the junk that makes the story good is spoiler-ific. ><;
You know what's cool? Characters actually get DEVELOPMENT. I know, ''*gasp*, no way!'', right? Yup, they actually go behind the exterior of Dart: The Hero (TM), Shana the Healing Girly Girl (TM), Albert the King (TM), etc... because the nice people at Sony with all those cool ideas gave them *gasp* BACK-STORIES!! Yes, the characters are what allieviated me from the worse points of the game. I hope you find 'em interesting too.
All in all, one of the stronger sections in Dragoon... although just a BIT cliched. ^^;

Graphics: 7/10
Uhm... yeah. Perhaps the ''normal'' graphics aren't too wonderful. ^^;; Like FFVII-age. The texture maps are done well, I suppose, but I CANNOT get over the gaps in Albert's cape when he attacks due to undrawn/broken pixels. ><; The backgrounds, however, are AWESOME (despite the colored arrows pointing you everyplace)!! If only I could CG so well. The FMV's are also very well done, although at strange points in that game. They never have them at dramatic points ::coughcoughifafrienddiescoughcough::, but have them at a trivial ship crash. Again. Potential, but not fully realized (there's a heck of a lot of that in this game...).

Sound: 8/10
Well-done score. The opening/ending song is nifty and is in ENGLISH. The soundtrack covers a varitey of styles and certainly has something for everyone. Including techno junk!! (yes! ^^;) The sound effects are.. well, sound effects.. .they weren't ones that got on my nerves like those of, say Paper Mario or Sailor Moon: Another Story. Then again, those games are just CUTE. This is not. Uhm.. voices are a bit annoying after awhile. Albert's voice grates on my nerves. There are quite a few discrepancies in the names of attacks too... such as ''Ferry (instead of Flurry) of Styx''. And the voices change when you go into FMV, which is confusing, too... but, overall, nothing to really gripe about.

I'm not going to discuss replay, since most RPG's have virtually nil anyhow.

Misc Junk
Okay. Here I am going to rant about the <u>AWFUL</u> Americanization. Have you ever seen Zero Wing (''All your base are belong to us'')? This is just a step above, from spelling ''Valley'' wrong to most of the conversation consisting of ''!!'' to broken sentences... it's like it was translated from Japanese and never touched again. Even I could do better than THAT. Punctuation and grammar errors galore. Everywhere. Lines are spoken with no emotion at all. It's icky. It's bad. If you are an English teacher, DO NOT even look at this game. Otherwise, grin and bear it.

To Buy or to Rent?
Now that it's a Greatest Hit, it's pretty much worth the $35, despite all the flaws I pointed out. The game is actually quite good... it has the potential to be as good as Final Fantasy, but due to lack of effort in development ::coughcough:: falls just slightly short. I'd suggest renting it first to see if you can stomach the Americanization... if you can, then it's worth buying. Especially from Electronics Boutique... as you can turn it in for cash when yer done. $$PLUG$$

So, enough of my reviewing. You may ask ''Why, in spite of all those glaring errors, does this game get an 8?'' Well, that's simple. They were all errors I could live with, and they really didn't get in the way of my enjoying the game as much as I make it seem that they do. The worst part of the game was the Americanization... the rest was all good, just with a bit toolittle effort put in the development. A good game, really, all in all...
Hey, I thought I told you to put away those torches! Don't burn me at the stake!

Final Score: 8

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 01/14/02, Updated 01/14/02

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