The Legend of Dragoon released in the year 2000, just a few months before the launch of the PS2. It was one of the last Japanese role-playing games released on the console that popularized the genre in the West. For more than twenty years, fans have been screaming out for some sort of remake or remaster of the game. This is a first party game developed and published by Sony, but it has been all but ignored by them since its release. The game can still be purchased as a PS1 classic on PS3. However, Sony has talked about shutting down the PS3 store before, so this may not be true for very long. It’s a shame that the game seems to be forgotten about by its creators because it’s a must-play for those who are into this type of game.
Sony’s Final Fantasy Killer
The one thing that truly sets The Legend of Dragoon apart from its contemporaries is the combat. In most turn-based RPGs, the player doesn’t have much agency in what happens on screen after they input commands. The Legend of Dragoon adds a combo system, called additions, which really keeps the player involved in combat. The system is based on timed button presses, similar to Super Mario RPG. When a character makes an attack with their weapon, a prompt will appear on screen showing when to time the next button press. Each successful button press will increase the combo. Successful combos will give the player Spirit Points that can be used to transform into one of the legendary Dragoons
As the story progresses, each character will gain access to a Dragoon Spirit. These Dragoon Spirits allow the characters to undergo powerful transformations. While in Dragoon form the characters stats are increased and they will have access to magic. Their attacks are also replaced with a different combo system. This is still based on timed button presses, but the prompt looks much different from the addition system. The Dragoon forms can be thought of as this game’s version of limit breaks. Extra powerful abilities with a limited number of uses that can only be used under the right circumstances.
Old School Look and Feel
The pre-rendered cutscenes in The Legend of Dragoon are easily some of the best on the console. One thing that really helps set them apart from what Final Fantasy was doing at the time is that these include really bad voice acting. However, the soundtrack to the game is pretty solid. The music of this game has more of a funk-rock feel instead of the typical sweeping orchestral soundtrack. Even though the game is very much a product of its time, it’s also unique and really stands out among all the other fantasy JRPGs on the PS1.
The Legend Lives On
The story follows Dart, a young man, on a quest for revenge against the monster that destroyed his home. This quest for revenge leads Dart into a much bigger adventure to save the entire world from an ancient threat. Some of the characters who join in on this adventure are genuinely interesting and compelling. However, there are just as many who don’t have any personality at all. The overarching story is mysterious and will keep most players engaged for the majority of its playtime. Although, towards the end of the third disc, things sort of start to fall apart.
The story of The Legend of Dragoon has about three or four major plot twists. All of these twists are revealed to the player in the same cutscene. This scene also happens towards the end of the game. Having all of these revealed at the same time and having them revealed so late in the game doesn’t give the characters, and by extension the player, enough time to process these revelations. If these twists had been revealed to the player much earlier in the story, it would have been even more compelling than it already is.
VIBE Score 7/10
The Legend of Dragoon still holds up and is a fun game to play through today. However, that has more to do with the gameplay than with the story. The addition system is strong enough that someone who doesn’t care for the story will still enjoy the game. That’s not to say the story is all bad, it just has some glaring problems that are hard to ignore. Even more than twenty years later, this game remains a must-play for JRPG fans.
32, living in Arizona with a passion for video games, music and movies.