Part 1: Episode 1: Into the Storm
Well it's good to see Legend of Dragoon wastes no time at all burning down a village. We haven't even met a character yet and their home town is probably already ashes.
Grunts on some sort of weird lizard horses come barreling through town. Aim in their not-middle-ages must be much better than in our world. No way in hell would I ride into town with fireballs dropping.
They are thorough. And we can no see this ain't no podunk starting town. There are a lot of soon to be dead people living here.
A heavily armored soldier rides into a group of soldier and dismounts.
Soldier: "Great Commander, this way."
Horns? Check. Black armor? Check. Faceless oppressor? Check. I think we may be dealing with an evil empire here.
Commander: "So, this is her."
She looks kind of dead. The commander suddenly regrets not telling his troopers to fire a BIT more selectively.
The camera cuts dramatically to the moon which is certainly not important at all while a grunt hands the commander a small glowing orb.
As he holds it over her had a beam shoots out and lights up her face. I'm pretty sure this beam gives her brain cancer and is why she is so useless in combat for half the game.
Commander: "Hmm, indeed. Put her in custody."
The commander makes a turn and dramatically flourishes his cape before walking towards a mysterious man in a hooded cloak.
Commander: "Is this really necessary?
"It is his his majesty, Emperor Doel's command, to take that girl into custody."
And I thought I loved commas.
Commander: "Who is she?"
"That is not your concern."
After work they're going to the no exposed faces allowed bar.
With the kidnapping and pillaging over with, our friendly neighborhood mooks head out of town.
Not too far from here is someone way cooler than any person in this scene could ever hope to be.
A woman with an incredibly short skirt and one hooker boot contemplates the wisdom of her mountain climbing gear as a huge beast climbs out of the forest.
"The Green Tusked Dragon, Feyrbrand."
Not to be shown up, our mysterious woman leaps off a sheer cliff into the forest not to be seen for
Meanwhile our noble protagonist Dart is sitting on a rock reading the newspaper. The most heroic of introductions. Real men aren't even literate.
"Hmm, 'Chance of war more likely'. I hope it's just a rumor."
Shit, son, you shouldn't be worried. You are already wearing more armor than 95% of JRPG heroes. Unfortunately trouble is looking for you. Off screen he hears a commotion and goes to check it out.
It seems our raiders form last night decided to take a stroll through Dart's neck of the woods.
Soldier: "Who are you!?"
Soldier 2: "Are you a mercenary of Basil?"
Dart decides he's had enough sass from some lowly grunt and declares it stabbing o' clock.
Soldier: "What are you doing!? Are you drawing your sword against us!?"
Our plans of murdering two guys left behind by their squad are rudely interrupted by another roar in the forest.
Soldier 2: "Wh, What is!?"
The grunts declare discretion the better part of valor and book it the hell out of here.
"What the heck is this!? Argh!! I gotta do something or I'll be killed!!"
Dart gets batted back and forth like a cat toy a few times before following their example. And swiftly falling on his ass.
"What a monster! It's coming! Urgh!!"
He makes up for his disgrace by doing a few random flips and barrel rolls while hauling ass away from Feyrbrand. But not nearly fast enough to avoid being an afternoon snack.
Luckily for him the most badass person in the game just happens to be falling off a cliff into his neighborhood. With one hand she grabs what is probably well over 200 pounds of fighter and armor and leaps 15 feet behind a rock.
"Who are you!?"
"(Shhh. If you don't want to die.)"
Well, that dragon is either really stupid or easily bored. After about 5 seconds of fruitless searching it heads off to greener pastures.
"Thank you for saving me. What the heck was that!?"
"It's a Dragon."
"A dragon!? What's that doing here.?"
"But it's strange. That village could've been easily destroyed without a Dragon."
"The village...? Are you talking about Seles!? Then those soldiers were!?"
"There won't be anything left by now."
"Seles is my village!!"
Well, at least we know whose home village was vaporized.
As Dart hauls ass up the hill a stone on the woman's chest begins to glow.
Oh my god...!? That man must be...? No. There is no way.
Unfortunately for Dart's mad rush, Seles is still the same smoldering ruin we left a few hours ago.
"Oh no!! My god!! Where is everybody!?
Villager: "You didn't get enough killing!?"
Soldier of Imperial Sandora: "Hee hee hee!! It may be enough if I kill you."
Another soldier decides he hasn't hit his evil quota today and also kicks him.
Soldier of Imperial Sandora 2: "Oh, a mercenary? Isn't it a little late for you to show up?"
"Shut up!! What are you doing here!?"
Soldier of Imperial Sandora 2: "Can't you see? We're gonna occupy this area, and these worms were in our way."
"Occupy!? Were you sent by the Imperial Army?"
Soldier of Imperial Sandora 2: "Even if we were, it's none of your business. You're gonna die soon!!"
Hell yeah, time for our first battle.
Now we'll get to see a taste of what makes Legend of Dragoon one of the more unique combat systems of the PS1 era. In combat everybody except one character attacks with Additions. After you choose your attack a square will show up in the center of the screen with an indicator spiraling towards the center. If you hit it at the right time you'll string together additional hits depending on which addition you are using. If you fail it cuts off early and you don't do nearly as much damage. And some bosses will beat the crap out of you when you screw up.
Right now Dart has a whopping one: Double Slash. As expected he'll make two hits when you do it successfully. The early additions are bog simple and I'm only missing because the timing is a bit different than when I was playing it on my PSP. Some of the later ones have up to 7 extra hits and move a hell of a lot faster or with weird timing. In a few minutes a guy will conveniently show up to give a quick tutorial on it in a bit more detail.
These guys have two attacks, each really crappy. They can either throw a knife at you for about 1 damage or stab you for 3. Even at at our staggering 30 HP that's not very dangerous. Despite me screwing up 2/3 additions these clowns are dead in no time flat.
Goon pounding complete Dart goes to check in the villager they were beating on.
Villager: "Are...are you...really...Dart?"
"Yes! It's me! Why is Seles under attack!?"
Villager: "War... Imperial Sandora...attacked us..."
"What about the truce!?"
Villager: "Yeah. Suddenly... I didn't imagine...they could come to...such an outlying area."
"If only I had come back sooner!"
Villager: "There is something, you have to do... Shana. Rescue Shana, only...you can......"
The villager choose that time to keel over and die. A man only has so many ellipses to use in his life. It is important to know when to use them. Now was that time. Unfortunately he miscalculated and ran out before he actually told us anything about this Shana girl.
"What about Shana!? Hey!! Wait!!"
Now that we have control again we can pick up the healing item above us and hit up the save point.
With that tantalizing hint Dart heads further into the village for a bit more info and spots a not quite as dead man on the ground.
"!? Hang on! Ahh...."
Plos: "That voice, is that you Dart?"
Dart gives Plos a hand up and drags him over to a wall so he can bleed in a more comfortable position.
"It's just a light wound."
Plos: "I guess, I was lucky. But look at this village. If only you came back earlier..."
I mean, one level 1 could totally tack on a 20 soldiers, several fireball launching catapults, a dude in huge armor, and whoever that robed jerk was.
Way to be a dick Plos. Just cause a guy likes to read the newspaper in the forest it doesn't mean its his fault when his village gets burned down. If you wanted your village to stay in one piece you shouldn't have lived in an RPG.
Plos: "It's about Shana, too."
"What's wrong with Shana?"
Plos: "She was taken away. It seems Shana was their primary purpose."
"Do you know where they went?"
Plos: "I...don't know."
God, Plos. Way to continue being a sack of shit. Luckily for us a bad guy that likes to talk too much rolls up up with two grunts.
"I'm gonna make him talk!"
Commander: "Besting a private is no reason to be confident."
"Where did you take Shana?"
Commander: "Shana.... Don't worry about her. She must be receiving the courtesies of Hellena Prison by now."
Commander: "Surprised, huh? We specifically invited only that woman."
"You must be kidding!? You attacked the village only to kidnap Shana!?"
Commander: "Exactly, but don't worry. I will let you follow them. Although not to Hellena! To 'Hell'!"
You just KNOW this guy is thinking "God I'm so clever. I can't wait to tell the boys that one back at the pub."
We can tell this guy was not exactly chosen for his brains. Luckily we have everything we need out of him and are free to smear those brains across the village.
Battle 2 has us facing against 3 guys this time. It looks a lot worse than it is though. At the start the commander only hits for 3 damage just like the grunts. The other trick is once we kill one of his peons the other one gets the hell out of dodge.
After his grunts our gone he, uh, I have no idea. Who the hell says "How cheeky of you?" Either way he's actually quite a bit more dangerous now. And will probably actually cause you to block.
Blocking in this game is a hell of a lot more useful than most RPGs. All incoming damage is halved, all statuses are prevented from sticking, and as a cherry on top you get 10% of your HP back.
He now knows how to make energy lines pop out of the ground and stab us for about 6 damage. This is kind of a pain because if you are a cheapskate like me and hate using potions he'll hit you for the same amount as you heal unless you get two back to back turns. He can also now throw magic attacks at you. These are really about the same strength as his melee though. When you get him below half he'll heal for 4 damage which is really a waste of a turn because you hit for 5 and get more attacks in than him.
After a few more block/attacks our commander is added to the pile of corpses in town. As a reward we get our first level up and our first new addition, Volcano. I'm going to choose not to use it for now though. Each addition has five levels. Every 20 uses it levels up. When it levels the move will do a bit more damage and gain a bit more SP once we actually have some Dragoons. To get each character's final addition you need all the previous ones mastered. So I'll just finish out Double Slash on these scrubs instead of having to grind it out later vs. some real enemies.
Plos: "Dart, you are going to go rescue Shana, aren't you? I won't stop you, but be careful. Your journey is not yet over, is it?"
Plos: "You can count on us about Seles. There should be enough people who can still move."
"Thank you. When I settle everything, I'll be back. With Shana."
We can run inside the door next to Plos and a few kids will rush out the door to attack him. Dart briefly considers murdering them decides just to tell them who he is and to help clean up around the village.
There are a few more villagers around town but most of them don't have much interesting to say. One lady says they couldn't get help because there is a guardian in the Limestone Cave. Nothing will come of THAT of course. Then there is this poor bastard.
Sorry dude. Dart is getting all the ladies in this story.
Now over in the top left is the first of MANY MANY easily missed items that can prevent you from doing some extra stuff. Hit X on this gravestone and we'll get our first piece of stardust! Once we get to a town that isn't a pile of rubble we'll run into a woman that will take these from us and give us an item for every 10. Once we get all 50 we'll get an item needed to fight a hidden boss.
We have one more stop before heading out of the village. If you've been flailing around like an idiot with the additions up to this point he's very important to talk to since he'll tell you how to suck slightly less.
Tasman: "You...you are Dart!"
http://lpix.org/306808/dart.jpg "You are safe!!"
Tasman: "I taught you how to use the sword. I won't be killed so easily. But, we were outnumbered. I couldn't stop them all by myself. You already heard about Shana?"
http://lpix.org/306808/dart.jpg "I am...heading to Hellena."
Tasman: Then have a match with me before you go. I want to see if you have the ability to rescue Shana.
Last time an old guy offered to teach me something in a PS1 RPG the main character got punched in the balls. I'm not sure if I'm willing to take that risk.
http://lpix.org/306808/dart.jpg "Yes, Master. Please."
Tasman: "Then show your true power! Don't even think about being easy on me because of my injury! Shall we begin?"
I just have the video up for this, because its a lot easier to see in motion than screen shots. The big thing it shows us new is counter-attacks. Right now since Double Slash only has one extra hit it can't be countered. Volcano has 3 though and enemies will occasionally decide to screw with you during an attack sequence. They'll have a little graphic flare on them and the addition square will turn red. Now you'll have to hit O instead of X or else it goes something like this:
Not only will your addition be screwed up you'll also take some damage. Hopefully this will be the last you'll see of me getting launched across the screen for a while.
Shockingly he never shows up again. Not a secret enemy, doesn't give us our father's heirloom sword. Just poofs into nothingness.
Bonus! Dart Concept Art