5 Things That Make The Legend of Dragoon Unforgettable.
The Legend of dragoon first released in Japan in December of 1999. The game then received a translation and localisation for the North American Markets on December 22nd 2000. This was at the time the only first party JRPG developed by Sony Computer Entertainment for the PlayStation 1. The development span of Legend of Dragoon lasted 3 ½ years beginning in 1996 with a development cost of around 16 Million dollars. As of 2007 the game has sold over 900,000 copies in North America with an additional 200,000 sales in Japan. The game shortly after went on to spawn a 1 issue Manga series that unfortunately was never translated into English.
The Legend of Dragoon unfortunately despite selling almost a million copies has mostly fallen into obscurity over the tests of time. To this day should one delve into the deeper corners of the internet one can easily find several LOD fan communities full diehard fans that chatter about about one day getting either a Sequel, Prequel or even a Remake or HD Remaster. Some fans have even gone as far as starting petitions demanding Sony resurrect this long forgotten IP in some shape or manner. Even GamesRadar voted The Legend of Dragoon as the number one video game series with untapped franchise potential.
The Legend of dragoon sadly received mediocre reviews at launch and sold somewhat abysmally in japan. It also came out near the end of the PlayStation 1`s lifespan and the graphics seemed already a few years dated upon release. However, with long term sales continuing all the way into 2007 and then the game re releasing for the PlayStation 3 Store and actually being a top seller really goes to show that people still love the game and that there truly is something special about this one hit wonder from the PlayStation 1! So why is The Legend of Dragoon worth remembering after all these years you ask? Stay tuned to find out!
1. The Legend of Dragoon Story.
The opening begins with a young warrior being relentlessly chased through the woods by a gigantic Dragon! The young warrior is then saved at the last minute by a woman in black armour. She doesn’t say much and quickly rushes off. So the young warrior finish his trip eager to return home. Upon arriving he discovers that his village has been attacked and lay in ruins. He speaks with the survivors and is informed that his childhood friend was taken by an evil empire. He then sets off on a journey to rescue his friend. Most would assume this would establish the overall story however you would be sadly mistaken. The game keeps you thinking that the story is all about a civil war raging between a kingdom divided but it quickly becomes much more as a conspiracy reveals itself to the cast and player. The true objective in the game is slowly revealed to you over the course of the first 30 or so hours of gameplay. Then in one pivotal moment everything is revealed to the player. Lore is revealed spanning over 10,000 years, multiple generations, and multiple dynasties come and go but the one true evil of the land of Endiness. This one true evil spans history and time, and it’s up to the cast of The Legend of Dragoon to silence it once and for all!
2. The Legend of Dragoon Combat System.
The Legend of Dragoon is by far a risk taker in terms of pushing the envelope of the standard JRPG combat system. The game was an early adopter of quick time events. When a player commands a character to attack an enemy the game prompts you to press the action button at a precise moment to link your attack to another attack to combine them into what’s called an addition. This may not sound like much but it definitely makes battles a little more challenging as well as a little more involved. Magic is also handled differently in this JRPG compared to others in that rather than characters learning spells over time, spells are cast by finding items throughout the game. These items are consumable items and when used can actually be charged by mashing the X button as quickly as possible.
Most JRPGs allow the player to summon massive mythical beings into battles typically referred to as summon magic or something of the sort. In the Legend of Dragoon each character receives what’s known as a ‘’Dragoon Stone’’ these stones allow their wielders to transform into a Dragoon Warrior through harnessing the power of a ‘’Dragon Spirit’’ which resides within said ‘’Dragoon Stone’’. When a character goes through a transformation they have access to Magic Spells, extremely powerful additions and when levelled properly they can even summon their respective Dragoon Spirit to aid in battle.
3. The Legend of Dragoon Voice Acting.
There are a handful of PlayStation 1 games that include voice acting but there aren’t a whole lot of JRPGs that include it. Some of these titles include games like Metal Gear Solid that totally nailed it, one thing helping this is that the game is rather short with a rather limited map, no offense to Metal Gear. JRPGs back then were an entirely different story due to the insurmountable amount of overall data packed into each disc. There are a few honorable mentions of JRPGs from the time period that included voice acting some of which are Thousand Arms, Final Fantasy VIII and IX to name a few. The legend of Dragoon uses voice acting for both battles as well as cutscenes and a few songs which for its time is a pretty remarkable feat of logistics even if there are occasional moments in which the voice acting is a tad lacking in quality. The fact that it even exists at all is an amazing added bonus.
The Legend of Dragoon is a beautiful blend of both Western RPGs and Japanese RPGs mixed into one. This makes it a great gateway game into the RPG genre as a whole. It has a beautifully composed soundtrack full of vibrant original arrangements. The game features some of the best pre-rendered backgrounds from that console generation as well. The game features heart-wrenching deaths of a few characters that impact the story just as significantly as everyone’s favourite flower girl from the slums. Around its initial release countless media sources labelled The Legend of Dragoon as the ‘’Final Fantasy 7 Killer’’. The game featured Voice Acting while Final Fantasy 7. The Legend of Dragoon was 4 discs worth of content while Final Fantasy 7 only had 3. Sprites from Final Fantasy 7 resembled horrifying Lego Block people while The Legend of Dragoons sprites were clearly much more fleshed out. The English translation also was much less riddled with typos when compared to Final Fantasy 7.
There was just one problem, The Legend of Dragoon released too late and at the time of released looked years dated when compared to other games on the Sony PlayStation in the year 2000. While it may not have dethroned Cloud and the rest of Avalanche that doesnt mean its not an great underrated experience that rivals any JRPG of the era.
5. The Legend of Dragoon Originality.
Despite all the comparisons to Final Fantasy The Legend of Dragoon is by no means a clone nor does it take any inspiration from the juggernaut series. During my very own playthrough I personally scrutinised each bit of story, lore, and character looking for an inclination of the game taking inspiration from other games and I couldn’t find a thing. The Legend of Dragoon is a breath of fresh air for any JRPG enthusiast weather it be the fresh take on turn based combat utilising things such as Quick Time Events or the ability for your characters to transform into Dragoons. The game takes a step back from the Steampunk Esque fad of late 90s RPGs and puts the player back out into the wilderness with sword and shield in hand. It even manages this feat without making it feel like you’re playing something solely inspired by Dungeons and Dragons. There’s few games that walk the narrow path between Western RPG and Japanese RPG.
The Legend of Dragoon was a one hit wonder on the Sony PlayStation. It appears to be long forgotten by Sony which is terrible as it’s such a great experience. Sales were through the roof in the United States but sold underwhelmingly in Japan. Back when I was a kid every kid in town who owned a PlayStation 1 always had a copy of Tomb Raider, Spyro, Crash Bandicoot and The Legend of Dragoon.
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