Legend of Legaia - Staff Retroview  

A New Legend
by Derek 'Roku' Cavin

40-75 Hours


Rating definitions 

   Despite being often overlooked, Legend of Legaia is a great game that can compete with some of the best. Featuring several unique systems, it manages to put a good spin on RPGs. Three heroes use powers given to them in order to heal the genesis trees and save the world from a mist that creates monsters. There are plenty of interesting areas, rivals, and plot twists along the way. There's a pretty good deal of humor as well. To test your skill, there is also a battle arena with lots of fun prizes, though the challenge is the best part. There's even a giant arcade with fun games like "Baka Fighter." Though this may be a fairly obscure title, it's worth checking out if you get the chance.

   Oddly enough, Legend of Legaia bases its battle system not on a system created in an RPG, but on one creating in a fighting game. You perform several hit combos and can even chain abilities together creating some ultra-powerful combos. Though it may seem very odd, it works surprisingly well and keeps battles interesting. There is no longer a generic "Attack" command, you must select which part of your body to attack with and which part of your enemy's body to attack. Due to this addition you have high and low defense and must balance your armor carefully to avoid leaving a weakness. All spells are summons and are handled the same way as spells are in most other RPGs with one exception. As you use spells repeatedly you can level them up increasing not only power, but often adding special effects as well. The defense command has been replaced with spirit which not only decreases damage from the next attack, but also increases the amount of hits your next attack can use and recovers some lost stamina. In other words, it is actually incredibly useful in this game and can often be the key to winning battles. There are items as well, but none are especially unique. Another nice addition is you can use almost any weapon even if its not your specialty. It will simply decrease the number of hits you can do in a combo with it. While this isn't major and almost pointless to take advantage of, it is a nice detail and makes a lot more sense than a mage who can't hold a knife for some weird reason. You can't equip your other party member's armor though (that makes more sense though since you have different body sizes and one of your members is a girl).

What RPG would be complete without a floating castle? What RPG would be complete without a floating castle?

   If you don't figure out combos on your own, most of the time someone will teach them to you. You really only need a few basic combos to get through most of the game since normal enemies aren't very difficult. Bosses are a different story and are much much harder. As long as have healing spells on a decent level and are careful, they aren't too bad, though there are some exceptions. As long as you use spirit effectively and pay attention to boss attack patterns, you shouldn't have too hard of a time. Overall, the game has a bit of a challenge, but I wouldn't even quite classify it as moderate. I'd say it's easy-medium though a few bosses lean a little more to the hard side.

   The interface is quite well-done, though there isn't really anything special or remarkable about it. The battle interface is quite nicely done in order to save as much time as possible, but it would have been nice if you could save more than one combo as there are some parts of the game where you will have to switch your techniques a lot based on stamina. That's only a minor complaint though and it only slows down the game a little. I'd much rather have this battle system and one saved combo slot than a tradition battle system. Nice interface overall.

   There is a large variety of music in Legaia. Most of it is pretty well done and fits the environment well. Some areas get close to being repetitive, but luckily there is a lot of environment rotation so no background theme gets annoying. There are some really good themes too that are quite exciting such as the boss music and the theme they play when you attack a generator. These themes really enhance the scene.

Baka! Baka!

   Legaia also features visuals that rival Final Fantasy VII's. While it can't quite compete as far as FMVs go, the beautiful 3D landscapes, characters, monsters, and summon more than make up for it. I thought it was quite impressive how they could make so many cool-looking attacks while retaining a somewhat cartoonish feel to the game. Everything is very well-animated as well. Friends and foes alike have a wide range of things they can do in full 3D. Unfortunately there are a lot of re-used/re-colored enemies, but they are animated so well and the rest of the game is so good it helps make up for it.

   There is a lot of originality in Legaia. The fighting game based combo system is certainly unique for an RPG. The spirit ability is a million times more useful than the defense ability in most other RPGs and actually adds another layer of strategy to the battles system. This is also one of the first games where you can level up your spells as well as yourself. There are some interesting new status effects such as rot which I haven't seen in any other games. The story is surprisingly original as well.

   Legaia's story is surprisingly impressive. Although it begins in much the same way as in most RPGs, the story is fairly original and quite interesting. There are only a few characters, but each of them has a lot of character development. There are plenty of twists and turns and even some false endings. I was quite happy when I discovered that the game wasn't really over as I was having so much fun. I couldn't help but get caught up in the story as well.

   While I seem to recall a few minor mistakes, overall the localization for Legaia is very well done. With a few exceptions the game has good spelling and grammer. As with most games that have good localization, there is little to discuss as it all blends in quite well. There is a massive amount of dialog in the game and I'm quite impressed that they did such a good job for such an obscure title.

   With all the crazy arts, leveling up spells, and false endings, Legend of Legaia seems to go on forever. If you dare complete all of the sidequests and fight the optional bosses you can except a massive playtime as well. Even if you rush through the game, you're looking at around a solid 40 hours of playtime. If you complete all of the side events, you'll probably nearly double that. The game is quite good though so the time flies by. In fact, when I finally reached the true ending I was a little sad that it was over.

   By the time I reached the end of the game, I almost couldn't believe it was over. Legaia has a certain charm that made me even consider replaying the game a few times. There are multiple endings and it's a great game overall so there's nothing really stopping you from playing it again. As an added bonus, if you wrote down your arts from the first time through, it will make the second time through go a little faster or it will leave more time to learn even more arts.

   Despite this being a rather obscure title, it's definitely worth your time. Legaia really has it all since every aspect of it is above average. There are a lot of things that they could have done to make it better, but overall this is a really great game. I don't hesitate at all to give it an eight out of ten. I highly recommend it.

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