Legend of Legaia - Reader Retroview  

The pinnacle of RPG’s… A Legendary Masterpiece.
by CortSether

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   In the year 1999, an extraordinary game entitled 'Legend of Legaia' was released in the United States. I am shocked and perhaps a bit sad in knowing that this superb game did not get the widespread recognition that it deserved. Being released just a few months before Final Fantasy VIII, it seems that the hype for that game caused Legaia to be overshadowed. However, Legaia is by far the better game and an RPG experience that one should not miss out on.

   The battle system in Legend of Legaia is somewhat similar to that of Xenogears, yet far more innovative. Instead of the standard 'Attack' and repeat style battle system of many other RPG's, you now have the TAS(tactical Arts System). Each one of your characters has a certain amount of art blocks and the amounts of arts you can put in your art bar are increased the more you level up. You input commands as 'Up', 'Down', 'Left', 'Right', or 'Arms' and Ra-Seru if they are equipped. The TAS is very realistic. In example, if you select 'low' in an attack against an enemy that floats, the low kick will miss completely. Yet if you select 'High' against an enemy that is low to the ground, the high kick will miss. However, your characters have a little AP bar at the bottom of the screen that fills up to 99. Each different art has a different attack power cost which you can see on your art move list once you discover it (which is half the fun). Normal arts cost the lowest AP, Hyper Arts which are learned from books cost higher AP, Super Arts(which are certain combos of 3 or more normal arts) and Miracle Arts, which cost the entire AP meter. The art moves are incredibly exciting and your characters produce a matrix type blur when doing their art moves that make them look even flashier. But that's not all; there is also the 'Spirit' option. By selecting 'Spirit' in the menu screen your character will basically power up. This increases the art meter and the amount of attacks you can do, at the same time increasing AP(attack power) which lets you do more powerful arts, and increasing defense/reducing the amount of damage taken, and increasing the probability of blocking a physical attack altogether. Throughout the game you can find or buy different weapons and armor. There is armor for the head, torso, and legs. You can also equip 3 accessories on each character which can make you quiet a power house.. There is also a magic system. Your Ra-Serus have the power to absorb other Seru that have an icon next to their name in battle. After defeating the monster there is a chance that your character will absorb the monster, therefore enabling you to summon them for a special attack in battle. The Seru can be leveled up and after a certain amount of leveling they will be able to have status effects in addition to doing damage. The first status effect happens at level 3, with a decrease of 5% in ATK, DEF, SPD, AGI, or INT, depending on what Seru you absorbed. There are 29 spells in all each with the ability to level up and the summons are very awesome looking, yet not too long that they are a pain to watch. The ultimate spells of your Ra-Seru (which are secrets on how to obtain) look incredibly awesome and better than the Final Fantasy summons. Oh, almost forgot. Each character's Ra-Seru has a certain element. Vahn's Ra-seru is 'Fire' based, Noa's Ra-Seru is 'Wind' based, and Gala's is 'Lighting/Thunder' based. The elements all come into play such as when Vahn is attacking a fire enemy, his damage will only do half that of Noa's or Gala's attack on that same enemy. While summoning Seru of an opposite element,(i.e. Vahn summoning a water seru, Noa summoning a Rock seru, etc.) you will only do 1/3 the damage. This makes battles very strategic, which is where the T in TAS comes in. The nice thing is that in battle when your characters or an enemy attacks, they will stay where they are when they attacked and not jump back into place, making battle much more fluid and realistic. Also characters will turn see-through when they are somewhat blocking another enemy, which makes it so your view isn't obstructed. It was nice that the developers thought of this. During boss fights, a unique thing is that after dealing enough damage, he/she/it will appear to be injured by limping or getting up more slowly from the ground. It really makes the game feel as if you are pummeling your opponent. Mini-games are incredibly fun and addicting as well. There is Sol Tower, where you can compete and fight monsters for cash and prizes at the Muscle Dome, play slot machines (as well as in other parts of Legaia), play an arcade game called 'Baka Fighter', compete in a dance competition at the disco club, and even be a part of a standup comedy routine once. There is also the ability to fish!!! How many RPG's can you fish? Taking a fishing rod(which there are 3, Old Rod, Deluxe Rod, and Legendary Rod) and some lure (Light, Medium, Heavy) and just relax and fish to your hearts content. Legaia is just full of entertaining minigames. There are also three secret bosses to be found in Legaia that provide an extra challenge, one being harder than the weapons in FFVII!

Genocide anyone? Genocide anyone?

   Legaia doesn't have too many characters, however the interaction between them is done well. The dialogue is interesting and the relationship between the characters is clearly developed well. Non-playable-characters each have at least 5 things to say to your party in different situations, which makes things fresh because you won't always get the same thing said to you, although it's not always the case. Seeing the characters react to their environments are nice as the emotion is shown rather well. Interaction is very nice in Legaia.

   Michiru Oshima, the composer for LoL did an excellent job overall with the game. All of the songs use many instruments, with percussion and flute/panpipes being used in many songs, making the game have a great adventure setting. Not all the songs are old style. There are quite a few techno type songs and other melody's that are dark and eerie or action packed. The boss themes in Legaia are perhaps the most exciting I have heard in any videogame to date and keep the adrenaline pumping through your veins. The music for the most part is a technical masterpiece. The forests/dungeons/towns and the last boss theme are especially nice. However, there are some songs which fall flat, most notably the main battle music, which does get somewhat boring after a few hours of listening to it. Yet in dungeons the main dungeon theme plays during battle, which helps a large amount so battles don't become a pain to listen to. I would recommend having the sound turned up loud or having some quality speakers hooked up while playing this game due to the layers of instruments in it. Some give the music lower than it should because standard speakers won't pick up all of the instruments used. The music score is excellent for the most part. Speaking of battle, the characters all have voices in mixed Japanese/English. The "voice acting" is done very well and sounds like something from a Japanese anime. The voices all suit the characters well and it is easy to believe them to have the pitch of voice. Bosses also have voices and taunts after a special attack or right after they annihilate your party. The grunts, attacks, and cries of pain are all done well and make battles just plain fun to be involved in.

   Legaia is a very original game. Besides the part of a floating castle, every aspect of the game is practically original. The story looks like a cliché 'save the world' game, but practically every RPG is save the world, so Legaia doesn't lose points for that. The concept of Genesis Trees, Mist, Seru, and the character/enemy designs, and plots in the story are very unique and an applause must be given to the developers and enemy/character designers for taking the time in making such a unique environment/story/characters/etc.

What monster lurks in those depths? What monster lurks in those depths?

   The story goes like this…God created the heavens, the earth, and the seas. After creating all things in the universe, god created humans to rule over this world. Yet, while possessing the wisdom of god, humans were physically weaker than the wild beasts, and impulsive in spirit. Many times did the humans come close to dying out forever. Concerned about the humans' future, god gave them a mighty force with which to aid them. It was the Seru. Since the dawn of human memory, known as history, humans lived together with creatures known as the Seru. The Seru lived together with humans, always obeying them, and making the humans many times stronger than before... However, that era came to an end. Appearing from out of nowhere, the Mist covered the land, bringing to an end the world of prosperous symbiosis between humans, rebelled against them. The Seru began attacking humans at will. Seru that attached themselves to humans controlled their minds and turned them into evil beasts. As if forsaken by god, human civilization collapsed. It was the twilight of humanity. Those who escaped the Mist inhabited the desolate areas and protected each other. Now, their faint hope is their only source of inspiration. The story gets much much deeper than this, and throughout the quest with Vahn and his cohorts there lies many things and many secrets to be discovered about the mists origins and exactly who started the enslavement of humanity. It is a very unique story with love, betrayal, and self-destruction that I guarantee will almost make you cry, laugh, and cheer in some parts. The only thing is, the story in Legaia is very sad. Although there are happy bits, the entire game seems to revolve around death and sadness in the lives of people. However this adds to the quality of the story and makes you emotionally attached to the game. All of the characters are memorable and will make one want to use an entire memory card to create separate save files in parts of Legaia's story so one can watch it whenever they feel like. It is superb.

   The visuals are fantastic superb, phenomenal for the most part. Outside of battle everyone looks chibi, but it makes the game feel more anime related. Some say that the characters are really blocky, however Legaia fits on entirely one disc, and of course sacrifices have to be made to make space, and the graphics in battle make up for it entirely if you are a graphics fruit. Yet the environments and backgrounds are incredibly detailed. In battle is where the graphics truly shine, though. The armor and weapons you equip are shown in PERFECT detail, and all the armor and weapons look really cool on Vahn and crew. The characters are perfectly proportioned and enemies look very nice, especially bosses. The frame rate is superb so the motions look very fluid. The backgrounds in battle are outstanding to look at. From Genesis Trees, to castle walls, to forests and dungeons, to rooms in a tower, to city buildings and even the insides of...well, that's a surprise. The point is that everything looks wonderful and crisp. However, the only downside would be during battles on the world map. The background on the world map is basically a blue sky with some blocky grey polygons and some flat golf course type grass. Other than that the visuals are astounding.

   Legend of Legaia is not a game for beginners in the RPG genre. Quite honestly, there are many bosses in the game that will tick you off and even make you put Legaia on the shelf months at a time if you are not patient and are not used to thinking in battle. It's not like a Final Fantasy where one can press attack over and over and then cure every once in a while to win. Legaia's regular enemies can put the smack down on you having many ailments they can inflict (such as poison, rot, numb, instant death, turn to stone). Bosses also deal MASSIVE damage and are unrelenting. Attacks don't work all the time as bosses have an uncanny ability to block entire combos at times. In Legaia strategy is key, yet this is a hefty meal for RPGers wanting a nice challenge in their game.

   Legaia is pretty straightforward for the most part. For those who aren't interested in side-quests or mini-games at all then Legaia can be completed in about 40 hours. However, if you want to try to do the very time consuming task of getting your party to level 99, catch all the seru and level them, get all the ultimate spells, and have fun at Sol Tower(the equivalent of the Golden Saucer form FFVII)then you are looking at over 100 solid hours of gameplay. It really is what one makes of it.

   Legend of Legaia is the definitive RPG that is almost guaranteed to bring a massive entertainment factor yet provide an enthralling and unique story that will grasp you by the heart and mind and intrigue you to the very end. This is one of the only RPG's where I was just wishing the adventure could go on forever. This rare gem of an RPG might have been overlooked due to the presence of the awaited Final Fantasy VIII, yet it a must have in any RPG gamers collection. However as a word of warning, this RPG is not for everyone. Those who dislike challenge, long battles, and an involving battle system better pass this one and stick to simpler titles. Yet those who want a completely innovative title an enthralling story, and just love the feeling of beating people into the ground and pulverizing your opponents, then Legaia is the match for you. I know it was for me.

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