Written by: Seth Budrik
Edited by: Shania Kuo
The original Sony PlayStation (PS1 for short) is a system known for its stellar gaming library, especially regarding its RPG titles. While games like Final Fantasy VII, Xenogears, and Star Ocean not only put the genre on the map but also the PS1, they were far from the only RPGs on the console. After the success of Final Fantasy VII, the RPG genre exploded on the PS1, and many RPGs grew to have their own individual cult followings. One such game is Legend of the Dragoon, which I love and is my favorite game of all time.
When I was about 10 years old, I got the game as a belated birthday/Christmas gift from my mother, who, at the time, did not have custody of me and my sister. At first, it really confused me. I thought it looked dumb and didn’t play it for over a year. This was partially because the only time I had access to anything I could play it on was at my grandparent’s house, and this was only every other weekend after church. But honestly, it was mostly because it did not look ‘cool’ to me at first. Eventually, I gave it a shot and was instantly in love. I played the Pokemon games before and loved them, of course, but this was entirely different. As the main character, Dart, (who, at the time I thought was really cool and bad-ass looking) I went on an epic quest to save his childhood friend/love interest, Shana, became best bros with a knight named Lavitz, learned under the mysterious and alluring Rose, saved a kingdom from civil war, solved the mystery of The Black Beast, went to the moon, and even fulfilled an ancient prophecy and saved the world. Not to mention me and my party could, of course, turn into the legendary warriors known as Dragoons (roll credits). As a kid, this kind of story had me absolutely awe-struck with how wild and different it was from everything I had seen or heard about. It made me hunger for more, leading me to play other games like The World Ends With You (Nintendo DS), the Persona franchise, the Fire Emblem franchise, the Final Fantasy franchise, and many other games within the RPG genre. My love for RPGs started here, as well as my love for good stories.
Nostalgia factor aside, does this game still hold up over 20 years? As someone who replayed it recently, I can confidently say the gameplay still holds up. Not only does it have a unique combat system, but you also have the ability to transform into the legendary Dragoon warriors which on top of them being really cool, they do increase damage as well. This, along with the amazing soundtrack that I STILL consider as one of the best soundtracks of all time, makes the game a lot of fun to play. However, the story and characters after a recent replay were not super engaging to me. Remember, this was my first RPG that wasn’t Pokemon, and I didn’t watch too much anime at the time (I can trace my love for anime to roughly around this time), so all these tropes and archetypes that are everywhere in Japanese media were incredibly new to me when I first played it, which is why I thought they were good. I recently replayed the game, and I found myself unimpressed with the story and I found most of the characters that aren’t named Lavitz to be boring and kinda flat.
As a whole, while the game is far from perfect and not really considered one of the best RPGs for the PS1, it still has a special place in my heart and is still one of my favorite games of all time. With a remake reportedly being in the works, I definitely recommend checking out this game, either when the remake eventually comes out, or through emulation. You could also pony up the 60-100 dollars needed for the game, but I don’t expect anyone to do so unless they are a bit of a collector as well.
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