Legend of Legaia - Reader Re-Retroview  

The Mist
by Jeremy Michael Gallen

35-45 Hours
Click here for scoring definitions 

   Since the dawn of history, humans have lived together with creatures known as the Seru, greatly advancing their civilization and making them stronger. However, out of nowhere comes a Mist that envelops the world, turning the Seru against the humans, attaching to them, and turning them into beasts. Three heroes, Vahn, Noa, and Gala, join to repel the Mist with the help of Genesis Trees around the world. Legend of Legaia, developed by Contrail, saw its North American release early in 1999, proving to be a fairly mediocre Playstation RPG.

   Battles are randomly-encountered, with the three protagonists squaring off against up to three enemies. Each character has a few commands, such as attacking, using magic, and using items, although attacks are the main driving point of combat. When choosing the attack command, each character has an attack gauge into which the player can input four different attack directions, with certain combinations of directions forming various kinds of Arts that consume AP (with a maximum of a hundred) that a character gains through using the Sprit command (also serving to defend from attacks and temporarily lengthen the attack gauge for a turn) or from taking damage.

   Each character gains magic by killing certain enemies with an elemental icon by their name, after which they have a small chance of absorbing those enemies and using them as a spell. Magic consumes MP, with repeated use of certain spells increasing their levels and effectiveness. However, the elements of spells don't seem to play much of a part in battle, seeming to do the same damage regardless of enemy, and most magic, except healing spells, tends to be useless throughout the game, with their animations in most instances being too long, anyway.

My stats never got that high... Mick Jagger's lips make an appearance

   Most battles, too, can drag on needlessly, given the long time necessary for both the player's characters and enemies to execute their commands, and the general flawed nature of the Arts system, since discovering new Arts can be fairly difficult, if not impossible in some instances, without a guide (and though there is an option in battle to automatically select attack directions, it does a fairly poor job in discovering new Arts), and defending constantly to build up AP can make battles fairly repetitive. Some bosses can be punishing, as well, and are in some instances literally walls preventing the player from advancing, with the player's levels rising slowly, as well. Overall, the battle system shows promise, but somewhat falters in execution.

   The interface is clean in most areas, with an easy menu system, controls, and shopping, though movement on the overworld is extremely slow, spacing of save points is a bit poor in some areas, and it can be easy to overlook how to advance the game if the player misses a piece of dialogue. All in all, interaction does leave some room to improvement, but isn't a terrible deterrent.

   The Arts system and the story mainly set Legaia apart from other RPGs, although the system of acquiring magic somewhat resembles blue magic from the Final Fantasy games. The story itself has many things going for it, such as interesting background involving the Seru, and some backstory for the playable characters, although most of the main plot revolves around getting rid of the Mist, and is a little on the redundant side. The script is also a bit on the unprofessional side, and overall, the plot isn't a major draw to the game nor is it a repellent.

The perfect break from saving the world Building a sand castle, or pyramid, or whatever

   The music isn't much to write home about, although there are some good tracks such as the title screen theme and some of the forest themes. Battles also heavily rely on voice clips for each playable character that the localization team left in Japanese, which isn't a bad thing given Sony's abysmal record in dubbing games for English releases. All in all, the aurals in Legaia aren't outstanding, but are far from abysmal.

   The visuals aren't perfect, either, but do have some things going for them. Some of the scenery looks fairly decent, although the character models outside of battle are on the blocky side. In battle, however, what equipment each of the player's characters is wearing changes their appearance, a rarity in RPGs. Enemies and animations in battle look decent, as well, even if somewhat choppy, and spell animations are nice, too. All in all, the graphics, while not the best on the Playstation, certainly aren't the worst.

   Finally, the game is fairly lengthy, taking somewhere from thirty-five to forty-five hours to finish, with few sidequests of which to speak. All in all, Legend of Legaia is an all-around average title, with most of its aspects such as the battle system having plenty of things going for and against them. Mainstream gamers likely aren't missing much if they don't play the game, although players interested in niche titles may wish to give it a look-see, if nothing more.

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