ey, how’s it going? It’s me, Cecil, and I’m back to talk to you today about a classic game from my childhood. The Legend of Dragoon is a game developed by Sony Interactive Entertainment and the Japan Studio. The game is a great look into one of the most beloved genres of the 90’s, the Turn Based RPG, better known as JRPGs.
My guess is that the epic game, four discs in length, was a response to the success of Final Fantasy VII nearly three years prior. Final Fantasy spanned three discs of game, lasting 40-60 hours, depending on how you play and whether or not you struggle with some areas. The Legend of Dragoon clocks in at 80 hours of play, according the back of the game case. So this game will eat away at your time, if you decide to pick it up.
I myself am about 15 hours in and have just finished disc one, but that was only done so quickly with the aid of a walkthrough, so for someone playing it for the first time, with little knowledge, I would add another 5 or so hours, taking it up to about 20 hours per disc by my guess. This makes the game longer than many games that come out today, unfortunately, at time of writing, this game costs more to get a copy of than most new games do.
So, let’s get the graphics out of the way. The game looks good, for the time at least. Coming out in 1999 for the Playstation 1 does mean that it was very limited in what it could do, resulting in some rather primitive 3d models, but some things really shine. One hallmark of 90’s RPGs, was pre-rendered 3d backgrounds, which meant the area was made in 3d to a pretty high quality, then saved as a 2d image with pathing rules, and layers, so it appeared 3d as you walked around the map.
Doing things this way meant that they weren’t so heavily limited by the system hardware, and could improve the model quality of the characters, which makes me curious as to what they would have looked like without this. One thing this did, was made it pretty clear whether something was part of the background or something to be interacted with, helping with locating treasure and similar things.
As with many other RPGs at the time, when you enter a random battle, the models of the characters improve, so you get a better look and it feels more comfortable when they perform the attack animations. Lastly the cutscenes. Not many PS1 games had pre-rendered digital cutscenes, mostly they were 2d animation or live action film. The Legend of Dragoon was one of the few games to include full 3d animated cutscenes, complete with voice acting, which brings us onto the next section…
Audio. So some things about the sound in The Legend of Dragoon are really good, and some things are a bit lacking. The first stand out point for me, is that I can’t really remember any of the music from the game, which isn’t totally bad, because the music isn’t awful at least. The small snippets I do remember about the music, remind me a lot of the music from Final Fantasy 7 to be honest, in fact, I remember the first big boss battle. The fight started and the music fired up, to which my immediate response was “that sounds a bit like Final Fantasy 7, oh wait, no it is different, just about.” This is at least my only issue with the sound in this game, because it included voice acting, which wasn’t common at all in games at this time. The cutscenes, though few and far between (only two on the whole of disc one), do have full voice over, which blew my little mind as a child, but this isn’t the only time that real voices are heard, in fact, you will hear a real voice in nearly every battle form the beginning of the game until the end, but that's more for the gameplay section, which is coming up right…
Now! So, from a first glance, this game appears to have the same kind of gameplay as Final Fantasy and the many other JRPGs of the 80’s and 90’s, walking around the map, or overworld, and running into random encounters, and also the occasional scripted boss battle or something similar. Once the combat starts though, things get a bit more interesting, for starters, magic is rare, and doesn’t even exist for the first few hours, but eventually, you gain the abilities of Dragoon forms, which is tied to the games story and is one of the unique selling points of the game. Whilst in dragoon form, you gain increased attack, defense, and the ability to cast magic.
Dragoon form comes at a price though, it costs spirit points, which are built up by performing combos on your basic attacks, these combos are called additions and are the other unique thing about this game's combat. Additions work like quick time events, requiring a well timed button press to complete, with the game throwing in enemy counters once you are used to this mechanic. So even though it is a turn based game, it’s not just choosing attack from a menu and then waiting. Some Additions require multiple button presses, with each correctly timed hit adds SP to the gauge, but missing one ends the combo, meaning that you miss out on the voice actors saying the name of the combo when you finish it. Every. damn. Time.
Overall the game is something I heartily recommend if you liked the old Final Fantasy games, but if you’re a rather impatient person, I’d say give it a miss, or just read the story online. Which is a shame, the story is great, it just sucks that it takes so long to get through it.
Anyway that’s all from me this week, I’ll see you guys around some time, have a good week.