Review by JC_25

"Thank you, Working Designs"

I first came across Dragon Force several years ago in a game store, and was quickly smitten. I ended up later buying a copy (possibly the same one I have right now) for my little brother. He really liked the game, but after beating it years ago, pretty much moved on.

Now, nearly a decade to the day after its U.S. release, I've begun to seriously start playing this game (as in yesterday and today), and I'm loving it.

If you don't already know, Dragon Force is a strategy title with an RPG-like presentation. You command one of eight rulers, each with their own story line (part of the replay value), in a quest to unite everyone.

Game play consists of map movement in which several teams under your command -- each with up to five generals -- come across opposing teams, at which point a battle will commence wherein two generals from each team face each other on a large, side-scrolling battlefield.

The battles themselves have vague similarities to football; between the two stationary generals are several troops from each side (all of whom are beaten in one hit) who will try to fight past each other while attempting to reach the enemy general. Each general has hit points, and a limited amount of special/magical abilities. The fighting continues until one general either loses or retreats. If all troops are beaten, a duel will follow.

When the entire battle is over, if the winning team has done enough damage, the opposing generals will be captured, to perhaps be persuaded to the other side later -- or rescued. Between fights, the teams roaming the land acquire various castles, in which they recuperate and regain troops. Throughout, there are intervals, known as "domestic mode," in which you leave the map screen, enter a throne room gathering, and are given the opportunity to make battle preparations while more of the story plays out.

This game is a gem, pure and simple, with plenty of charming characters, addictive game play, and engaging writing. The legendary Working Designs, one of the best publishers ever, did a great job on the English version, and their work -- right down to the manual -- is a big part of what makes this a collector's item. The graphics and music -- Mikhal's tune being a favourite of mine -- still hold up very nicely today as well.

As strong as this game is in terms of game play, it's also the sheer richness of the world and characters composing this story that, collectively, combines to make Dragon Force what it is: one of the best video games ever made.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 11/21/06

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