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Legend of Dragoon revisited

On 02/27/2013 at 08:56 AM by Ranger1

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This is a repost of a blog I wrote on 1up 2/08/12 and I'm only reposting it because Sneenlantern asked me to.

When I mentioned in a previous blog that I was replaying The Legend of Dragoon, the comments fell mostly into two categories: “I loved that game” and “never played it before”. Ben (BrokenH) went a little further with it. He asked me how well it holds up. That got me to thinking about it as I've been playing. I'm a little over half-way, a little past the beginning of the third disc, so I'm pretty confident that I've played enough to answer that question.

First off, the story is pretty cliché. Spiky-haired orphan sets out to save world, has romance with childhood sweetheart, meets and recruits others along the way, blah, blah, etc. It's very linear, the game aims you at your next location and objective. Not a hint of an open world anywhere. The translation is amusing. Lots of grammatical errors, words left out and multiple spellings of different things depending on if you're in the menu, in combat, or on the map screen. The graphics are a bit on the blocky side, but still pretty, as far as I'm concerned. I did notice some graininess, but that may be from playing a PS1 game on a PS3, or from playing an SD game on a HD TV. None of those things really bug me, though. Heck, I still enjoy playing games from the NES, SNES, and Genesis era.

The combat system is still pretty cool. It's turn-based, but there's a twist. Your skills are called Additions and are pretty much like combos. You have a targeting square and a square that spins over the targeting square. You have to press the X button as the two squares line up. Hitting the X button too soon or too late interupts your attack. You learn new additions as you level up, and each one gets a little more complex. For example, the basic addition that each character starts with is a two-hit combo, you only have to hit the target square once to complete that addition, giving you two hits. Mess up on the timing and your addition is incomplete, resulting in only one hit. They go up from there to at least as many as seven additions (meaning you have to nail the target correctly six times). The big problem is that the frequency at which you have to time your hits varies from addition to addition and from character to character. I did great with most characters up to four additions, I've got two characters that I've managed to nail the five addition attacks, and the rest I'm totally sucking at. I like that you're neither button-mashing, nor restricted to giving your characters simple battle commands like attack or use magic.

Another nice thing about the combat system is being able to gain HP back when you guard. You regenerate 10% of your HP every time you guard. That really helps, because you're restricted to 32 item slots total. In order to have a decent mix of all of the different types of healing and combat items, you can only carry a few of each. So far, I have yet to totally run out of healing items in battle by using the guard command.

Also used in combat is the ability to transform your characters into Dragon Knights, aka Dragoons. This becomes available after a character acquires the Dragon Stone that matches his or her element. In order to transform, your character has to have at least 100 Spirit Points. Each turn as a Dragoon requires 100 SP, and you can raise your Dragoon level up to 5. How this happens is still a mystery to me. You earn SP by performing additions in combat in human from. Each addition attack has a certain number of SP that accumulate per hit, with an additional amount for that extra hit when your addition is completely sucessful. There is a different version of the addition attacks (which does not earn SP), which is basically a spinner kind of like the Wheel of Judgement from Shadow Hearts, and you have to hit the X button as the spinner reaches the top of the circle, and you get up to four hits. If you manage to land all four hits perfectly, it gives you a fifth as a freebie. You also get to use spells while in Dragoon form. Some are very useful, others not so much. The drawbacks to Dragoon form are the inability to use items or to guard. Plus, once you've used up your allotment of SP, you have to start over in human form to accumulate more SP.

So far, so good. However, there are things that don't hold up as well. You can turn off the long version of your Dragoon transformations in the options menu, which is fine. What you can't do is turn off the animation for the spells. You're stuck watching a lengthy animation of the same spell over and over and over again. I almost had time to go refill my cup of coffee this morning during the animation for one single spell. After you've seen each one more than twice, it gets very old. Item management can also be a problem, as I mentioned briefly above. The other issue that I'm finding is having seven characters, but only being able to have three at a time in my active party, one of which has to be Dart, the main character. It makes balanced leveling and training problematic. Those nifty additions only get stronger by using them, you have to perform each addition correctly 99 times to master it, and you only earn the final addition by mastering every addition available to your character. Not that this is going to be a problem for me, I can't manage to get one of the more complex additions completed correctly.

I like most of the characters, with the exception of the love interest, Shana. She's pretty much useless. She doesn't get to use additions and her attacks are too weak to be of any real help. She also drops out at some point and is replaced by someone else who is just as useless. What was really surprising is that the first time I played the game, I beat the final boss with her in my party.

So I guess to sum it all up, yeah, it does hold up pretty well for a PS1 game.



Matt Snee Staff Writer

02/27/2013 at 09:03 AM

thanks for reposting.  Now I have more of an idea of what I can expect. 

it's funny, those long animations in old PSONE games.  Nothing was worse than FFVIII though, using your GF's. And you had to use those things over and over!  My god, I could recreate the Shiva animation from memory.  

I think the most surprising PSONE JRPG's I've played lately are Breath of Fire and Grandia. I had no idea these existed at the time, and I'm just so impressed with them.  


02/27/2013 at 09:08 AM

Matt, is that BoF IV? If so, I have both of those, too. Just sitting on my hard drive waiting for me...

Matt Snee Staff Writer

02/27/2013 at 09:20 AM

Breath of Fire IV...  I don't think they have 3 on there.  It's just a really neat fantasy world with interesting characters and great handdrawn sprites.  I haven't finished it, but I'm going to go back to it soon.  It really impressed me when I played it.  


02/28/2013 at 09:42 PM

I have both BoF 3 and 4 and I love those games. Both have really great stories...if you haven't played 3 yet I highly reccomend it!


02/27/2013 at 11:22 AM

Grandia is really good. I had the physical game in really beat up condition but sold it. Now I have the PSN version on my PSP.


02/28/2013 at 03:39 AM

Breath of Fire IV...

That just put some coal in the reminisce-train. I only watched my cousin play it, but it was one of my first experiences with RPGs and to this day it still shapes my expectations for everything else in the genre (which may be why I dislike so many RPGs this generation).

Chris Yarger Community Manager

02/27/2013 at 09:09 AM

I downloaded Legend of Dragoon of the PSN whenever you informed me that it was being released.. But dammit.. I have YET to finish it.. lol

I suck at completing games.


02/27/2013 at 09:24 AM

Join the club? That was actually the first RPG I ever finished.


02/27/2013 at 09:19 AM

A friend of mine borrowed my PSX back in the day and rented this game. He gushed about it all the time. He actually hates open worlds and stuff in RPGs, or at least he did. Although, he managed to get like every materia in FF7 (just sayin'). Anyway, he always told me to play this game.I watched him play once and I remember the HP throwing me off  a bit, haha. It didn't have high numbers! I know it's all relative, but I was used to FFs where nearing end-game you could take off huge amounts of HP (especially in the later entries) and was thrown off by doing massive attacks for like 2000 HP damange in LotD.

Matt Snee Staff Writer

02/27/2013 at 09:21 AM

Yeah a lot of people love it, so it can't be all bad.  I'm curious to check it out.  Most of these PSONE classics are better than most modern JRPG's, even if they're a bit dated. 


02/27/2013 at 09:30 AM

I find myself either replaying older RPGs, or checking out remakes/reprints of the old games on new systems. I call my PSP my "way-back machine" for that exact reason!


02/27/2013 at 09:31 AM

My significant other would laugh at me - I'd be in the middle of a boss fight and I'd be yelling "Just f'ing die, already!" I think the absolute worst boss that wasn't optional was the Grand Jewel.


02/27/2013 at 09:45 AM

I thought Rose was a better love interest than Shana but there was the whole issue of how she loved Dart's father so in theory she could be his mum! (Though I don't remember the game revealing her as such) Regardless, Rose was more interesting to me.


02/27/2013 at 09:56 AM

Not only that, but Rose pulled her own weight in the game! As for Dart's mother, that was Haschel's daughter.


02/27/2013 at 03:07 PM

That's right, Tam! Sorry, it's been awhile for me. lol. But yeah, Rose could totally throw down in a tense fight. That made her all the sexier to me!


02/27/2013 at 03:16 PM

The difference between Rose and Shana is like the difference between Marion and Willie in the Indiana Jones movies. Marion kicked ass, Willie stood around and waited to be rescued. If I were a guy, I know which one I'd find sexier!


02/27/2013 at 12:40 PM

Never played it.  Sounds interesting but I'd have to quit my job to have time to go back and play all the games I never played.


02/27/2013 at 12:43 PM

Well, it is available as a download on PSN. Just sayin'.

Jesse Miller Staff Writer

02/27/2013 at 12:56 PM

I remember how Legend of Dragoon was going to be Sony's next big RPG.  It shared more than a few similarities with Final Fantasy VII, but was a fantastic game all the same. It's too bad that it failed financially (the game's budget was monstrous) and that we'll likely never see a new entry.


02/27/2013 at 01:12 PM

I didn't know that. It did feel like there ought to have been a follow-up, though. And I remember there being a ton of new copies selling for around $10 when I finally got a PS1 after the PS2 came out.

Our Take

Angelo Grant Staff Writer

02/27/2013 at 01:20 PM

Screw the haters, I really enjoyed this game when I played it however many years ago on my ps1. 


02/27/2013 at 02:24 PM

I never understood the hate. And I liked it even more the second go-round last year.

Super Step Contributing Writer

02/27/2013 at 05:39 PM

I uh ... never played it. lol

The going and grabbing coffee thing though, when PS1 first came out, was a plus to friends and I related to load times lol.

"That damn N64 doesn't let you get a break, with PS1 you can make yourself a sammich first!" Cool


02/28/2013 at 02:37 PM

Load times for PS1 games have nothing on the time the cut scenes in Xenosaga take up. I think I could have walked to the corner store, ordered a sandwich, walked home, and eaten it in the time those cutscenes took.


02/27/2013 at 06:12 PM

I only played this game a couple of times. I think my brother has it. My stepbrother used to be obsessed with this game. Boy was he happy the day it came to psn lol. Thanks for the review Tami. I plan on revisting this one again at some point.


02/28/2013 at 02:38 PM

Aaron, it's a pretty good game. Just be prepared to do a lot of level grinding.


02/27/2013 at 09:50 PM

Hmm... I think I have read this before.Laughing


02/28/2013 at 02:39 PM

Kevin, really? I wonder where that could have been?


02/28/2013 at 03:40 AM

Then there was Legend of Dragoon.


I remember when I saw the TV ad (in all it's 20XX CG glory) and thought the entire game would have that visual quality (thought the same thing about FF VII). It also made me painfully aware of my inability to enjoy (or finish) RPGs once reaching their final chapters.


I'd still say I fall in the "love it" category though.#1UPbit


02/28/2013 at 02:41 PM

The nice thing about a) not watching much TV, and b) having come so incredibly late to the party with the PS1 was that I walked into this game with only my old Sega Genesis to compare things to. 


02/28/2013 at 03:50 AM

The greatest RPG of all time, end of story.


02/28/2013 at 02:42 PM

Tru, I dunno about that, but it certainly is one of my personal favorites


02/28/2013 at 03:04 PM

Absolutely loved that game! I need to get it back and in disk form. A true classic RPG. I never should have traded that one. Good news is it's pretty easy to find at our local all-around cool game/music/movie store,Vintage Stock. You have great taste in games and music,always have.


02/28/2013 at 05:58 PM

Thank you, kind sir. As do you. Speaking of music, have you gotten a chance to hear Jed Marum live yet? I think he does a set at the Oklahoma Scottish Festival these days.


02/28/2013 at 09:44 PM

This is one game I got majorly stuck on! I am not sure if you'll remember but you just might know the part I am talking about. It was when you are on the ghost ship and you have to fight the pirate captian I believe and the ghosts come back after you defeat them? My memories a bit fuzzy on it because it has been years since I picked up this game. The last time I played it was way back in Middle School.


02/28/2013 at 10:05 PM

That was one of the most annoying sections of the whole game. That, and the desert part with the sand traps. If you want to give it another try, TruWorthy is currently doing a Let's Play for LoD.

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