Know Your Role # 6-Legend Of Dragoon

Without getting too sentimental, there is something about The Retro Junkies Network, especially this niche I seem to have found here on Retro Obscura, that is nearly enduring past the point of a writer’s sanity. Why? Why continue to do work for these outlets for no pay and smaller audiences than one would get elsewhere? The answer, while multi-faceted, all falls under one common thing, and that is the belief that someone, somewhere, wants to read what I am writing. I am provided with an empty chalkboard, an empty dry erase board, a blank canvas, and what I create, in my own little hues and tones is something not only am I proud of, I know so many are grateful that I provide, free of charge, with nothing but an endless supply of Rob Luther jokes and a clue about gaming. Not a bad gig, eh?

Not quite as good as a gig like this. Not everyone can be 90s hit band, The Exits.
Not quite as good as a gig like this. Not everyone can be 90s hit band, The Exits.

Today here on Know Your Role, we take a look at Legend of Dragoon, which, if nothing else, raises two very important questions in regards to Playstation entries of originally established or at least similar named titles, which are not limited to the following:

1)If you add the word legend to it, does it automatically make the game a bonafide Hall Of Famer?

Pretty much answers that question..I think.
Pretty much answers that question..I think.

2)Does adding an extra letter to a word like “dragon” automatically make the game more fierce?

As fierce as this shoe, girlfriend!
As fierce as this shoe, girlfriend!
Copyright Aaron Hickman..forever.
Copyright Aaron Hickman..forever.

Sound:8
I want to apologize ahead of time to those of you who are truly enamored with this game, and not because I am going to go full on Atari Man Genesis Style Hate Train on this game, far from it, but there’s something you have to keep in mind when I sit down to play these games. Yes, I do largely base my reviews on what it is I experience, but I also do research, I also read other reviews, from honest people, from people who favor the game, and those who blindly hate on it, just so I know what it is I am possibly walking into before I hit the power button, so elements of those reviews do play a role in how I approach a game, while not ultimately deciding how I actually feel about it. Now by this time in the vast universe that is RPGs, they truly could do no wrong, and Sony, wanting to hop on board that gravy train themselves, dug right into creating Legend Of Dragoon. The problems hate filled reviewers expressed on this title I will share briefly at points, but truly only if I agreed with them. In the case of Legend Of Dragoon’s soundtrack, I consider it a mixed bag. There are some well composed songs, and then there are songs where I felt they just locked someone in a room with nothing to eat but Skittles and the most expensive Casio keyboard for the time. The main problem Legend Of Dragoon faced from the start was that everyone was going to compare it to all the other great and established RPGs of the time, and while I don’t feel in any aspect they came close, what was given, beginning with the soundtrack, was more than a valiant effort.

Graphics: 8
Graphically, Legend Of Dragoon is like the halfway point between the blocky, spiky haired looks of Final Fantasy VII and the more textured, smooth style of Final Fantasy VIII, which isn’t the best compliment. Yes, the FMV scenes are some of the most out of this world breathtaking spectacles you will see on the original Playstation, but perhaps more so than any other game of the time, Legend Of Dragoon relies too heavily on it, perhaps to hide the fact that for all the big budget touting and Square envying, all the bells and whistles doesn’t discern from the fact that your basic meat and potatoes graphics of an RPG are not very good. Whereas in other RPGs of the time that create character designs that are distinct and memorable, Legend Of Dragoon makes the gamer scratch their heads as to why the only true distinct portion of each character is the color of their clothing (more on this a bit later.) Because Legend Of Dragoon is nearly devoid of magic spells, what you see in those rare moments they are used is nothing to “ooh” and “ahh” about at all, which is disappointing to say the very least. This is yet another moment where Sony tries so hard to keep up with the Joneses, and yet falls short yet again.

Gameplay: 7
When I look at gameplay in an RPG, I look at a few different things, from the storyline, to the characters, and of course, the menu systems and any other spices developers throw in there to somehow make the game different than any other RPG on the market. Legend Of Dragoon, sadly, at its core, is what many reviewers, including myself, would have to call a Power Rangers RPG, without the actual Power Rangers, a sentai, for you Japanese scholars out there. This is used whenever something like this has a highly predictable storyline and characters that are so trite, including a leader clad all in red, that you’re nearly waiting for a poorly dubbed Rita Repulsa to hop out of an intergalactic garbage can and declare war on Angel Grove. Now if you like the Power Rangers, you’ll have no issue with that remark, but if you’re Sony and you’re trying to get a piece of the RPG pie, this is not the way to go. No one could come close to what Square was creating at the time, and in truth, nobody but Sony themselves asked them to even try, but to draw a Retro Junkies comparison, RPGs were so hot at the time, it was like everyone in the world was wearing this, all year round, and it was on sale at every store.

And this is why Rob Luther will NEVER be elected President, kids.
And this is why Rob Luther will NEVER be elected President, kids.

So if you’re Sony, and everyone is “making flannel”, then of course, you make flannel. The problem is, what if you’re a company known more for, oh I don’t know, paisley shirts? You’re not going to make as good of flannel when you make it. It isn’t going to keep people as warm, it isn’t going to look as odd next to camo print, and of course, it isn’t going to have The Rob Luther seal of approval, so good for you, Sony, trying to be the 1980s Tengen version of flannel making! Ok, so maybe that isn’t the best way to describe it, but in truth, other than the Additional system, Legend Of Dragoon does NOT set itself apart from the pack, and even worse, relies WAY too much on defending, which is like handing a kid something like this..

I had no idea the shrunken Blues Brothers promoted this.
I had no idea the shrunken Blues Brothers promoted this.

..and telling them they can only water the house plants. This was Sony’s first attempt at an RPG for the time, so yeah, can we cut them some slack? Certainly. We cannot, however, excuse the fact that when it comes to trying to beat the “jocks” on the RPG wrestling team, they were about as successful as Landon Long avoiding a Semi-Annual Chicken Biscuit Sale at Bojangles.

Somewhere, Landon is channeling his inner Liam Neeson. I will find you, and I will eat you.
Somewhere, Landon is channeling his inner Liam Neeson. I will find you, and I will eat you.

Overall: 7
Is Legend Of Dragoon a terrible game? Not at all. Does it come close to the greats of the RPGs that are always brought up time and time again? Again, not at all. What Legend Of Dragoon truly is would be Sony’s attempt at cashing in on the RPG craze at the time, and while technologically they were definitely right for the job, with some breathtaking FMV visuals, but when it comes to the core elements that keep gamers coming back to RPGs, I feel Sony did an average job at best. Legend Of Dragoon’s reception, to this day, is a mixed bag. Some gamers appreciated the change of pace from the traditional RPG fare, with the additional system, emphasis on defending, and less on magic. That being said, I still feel that Legend Of Dragoon is like today’s Burger King. I give the company props for trying something new with hot dogs, but please, somebody remind these guys quick that they’re more famous (or infamous, depending on your taste buds) for burgers. When you have high standards for RPGs like I do, it is hard, very hard, not to see Legend Of Dragoon as an average RPG at best, with baseless characters who don’t invoke strong emotions, and a heavy reliance on flashy visuals only one single trick up Sony’s sleeve to discern from the countless RPGs that already were and were to come.

A hearty golf clap to Sony for the attempt, but remember kids, paisley is paisley, and well..

..yep.
..yep.

Next time on Know Your Role we venture into the world of the game known as..Tales Of Phantasia!
Until then, don’t let the winter doldrums get you down, and be sure to know your role!

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