The Legend of Dragoon Review
Welcome to the retro review of the Legend of Dragoon. I will be your host this evening. If you haven’t heard of the Legend of Dragoon, I can’t really blame you: The game is little known, minus a cult-following the likes of Homestuck’s zealots. Is it any good?
Before I start, I must confess: I was almost blinded by the goggles of nostalgia when I began to write this review. I remember fondly this game and it’s convoluted story, playing along with my brother when I was seven years old. Back then, this was the most epic of epic stories I had ever come upon. I figured the characters to be deep and intriguing, and the story to be an enlightening tale. Now, however, after branching out in my obtainment of new media, and better and better stories, replaying this game has shown me that both of these pieces of the game are essentially false. The characters, from the protagonist Dart, to his love interest, Rose, to Emperor Diaz-All are essentially one note. Though they fill their necessary roles, they do not branch out much by the end of the fourth(!) disk of the game. Likewise, the story is dull and convoluted at first, and very hard to be interested in for the first half of the game. Thankfully, it gets much more interesting halfway through, as the plot twist train begins to chug and the pace picks up.
But the translation. Dear lord, the translation. I have no idea how I missed this as a kid, because some of the mistakes in this game are simply unforgivable. There are a boatload of typos, and even a discrepancy of terms, where words are said one way in one conversation, but entirely differently in another way. This doesn’t come across as professional at all, and makes the story take quite the hit.
But it doesn’t really matter if it at least *plays* pretty well, right? Well, yes. But also no. Combat is turn-based, and one of it’s two features is the “Addition” system. In this system, when you attack, a square appears on screen, and homes in onto a smaller square. When you hit the button at the right time, you initiate a combo. It is somewhat akin to Parappa or the Mario RPG hand-helds. You only have one or two Additions at the start of the game, and obtain more as you progress. While it is an interesting change of pace at first, causing you to focus on the battle at hand, by the end you will become exhausted by the tedious combos. Couple that with the high encounter rate prevalent in early JRPGs, and you’ll be doing your best to finish battles as quickly as possible, to the point of even ignoring the Addition system altogether.
The other key feature of LoD is the titular Dragoon system. As you successfully complete combos, you obtain dragon spirits. When you obtain enough, you go into cool cutscene Dragoon transformation mode. This gives you the ability to do special attacks and dragoon spells specific to whoever did the transformation. Awesome! Except, though the transformations look cool, the attacks that come with them aren’t all that stronger than what you already have at your disposal, making the use of Dragoons almost moot, minus the occasional boss battle, where the extra beefed up defense of Dragoons can come in handy.
Alright, the combat is a little tedious, but the game at least *looks* pretty, right, Mr. Grumpy Reviewer? Well I’m happy to say yes, on that account: The Legend of Dragoon still holds up in terms of visuals, even today. Cutscenes are pretty, and the design of the areas of the game are all very unique and interesting. Along with that, the music of the game is memorable, minus the fact that in-battle dubbing is absolutely horrendous.
So, to conclude: The Legend of Dragoon was a game that may have done well when it was first released, but age has not exactly done it any favors, especially with how drastically the JRPG has evolved. This isn’t to say it’s *bad,* in any way. Rather, that it is average, where other games surpassed it.
How do you feel about The Legend of Dragoon? Were you ever a fan?