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   Legaia: Duel Saga - Reader Retroview  

Not as good as the original, but still fun
by CortSether

Click here for game information
PLATFORM
PS2
BATTLE SYSTEM
4
INTERACTION
3
ORIGINALITY
2
STORY
2
MUSIC & SOUND
4
VISUALS
3
CHALLENGE
Hard
COMPLETION TIME
40-70 hours
OVERALL
3.0/5
Click here for scoring definitions 

   Being an ever loyal super fan of the original Legaia, which was greatness at its best in an RPG, I was ecstatic when a friend of mine gave me a gaming magazine and said "Hey look, they're making a second Legaia game." Because I talked so much about the game, she figured I'd be more than happy to here it. And I sure was. As soon as I could I went to the nearest Gamestop and paid the 50 bucks. I grew more and more excited watching the opening video for Legaia 2, and in the beginning of the game I actually liked it, seeing as how Lang reminded me so much of Vahn from the first Legaia. However, as I progressed and eventually gained my full cast of 5 characters, I realized that Legaia: Duel Saga was not going to have the charm and magic that the original had.

   Legaia is famous for its TAS system, and Duel Saga brings it back with a few changes. Like before, you have your Up, Down, Left, Right, buttons that you mix together so you can find certain combos. This time however, your maximum slot on your art meter is 14, instead of 9 like in the previous Legaia. 'Spirit' is missing in this title. In the original using Spirit would raise your defense, increase your art gauge, and gain attack power. Now in the absence of this, you can choose to guard, which lets you block or take less damage, and you have certain moves which gain attack power automatically. You have your Normal Arts, Super Arts, Hyper Arts, Variable Arts, and Mystic Arts. Variable Arts and Mystic Arts are new to the Legaia series. Each character can learn 2 variable arts, and when put in the bar with another character, the two characters will combine their attacks on one enemy to finish it off. The animations are very well done for variables and the best arts in the game. However, Variable arts are way too overpowered and make the game easy during certain fights. Mystic Arts are the equivalent of Mircale Arts from the previous, in the fact that they are the most energy consuming and most powerful arts. To do a mystic art, you need to have more than half of your mp, less than half of your maximum health, and full attack power. With the mystic art, your mystic, who is basically your magic in the game, will attack the enemy at the same time as you, doing incredible damage. However, the mystic arts are somewhat dull for the most part. Another addition is that now once you have discovered an art, you can just scroll your arrow next to the name on the list, press x, and the moves will pop in your box, so you don't have to press as many buttons or accidentally mess up on one. However cool the TAS system is this time, the one from before is still better though. The art moves and animations were far more exciting looking than before and involved the hands, legs, and Ra-seru. High and Low in Duel Saga means a high slash or a low slash with your weapon and legs are never used in kicking. Even with Kazan who only uses his fists. Enemies are also very hard. Regular enemies are tough, and many times you can be killed during an ambush without you even having the chance to recover. This can be annoying in cases, but hardcore RPGers will love this. Enemies now have an HP bar so you can see how much life they have left; unlike the original where you just had to guess or have a feeling of when they were going to die. Every character in your party (save Ayne) has an Origin to use as magic, which takes place of the Ra-Seru from the previous title. The Origins have their own personalities as well as the Seru, yet the spells used are pretty dull and not too flashy, also take up a butt load of MP. In the previous Legaia, you could absorb monsters and summon them for a special move, which would have a status effect if at least at level 3(you could level them up the more they are summoned) and you could also get the Ra-Seru's ultimate spells and some other hidden spells. In Duel Saga it is sadly limited and you only get the 4 summon spells for each character, which you gain after your Origin, gains the appropriate level. Some Origin summons look nice, yet some others could have definitely used more work. The great thing about the battle system is that using different items that increase stats in battle can now customize weapons and armor. Cooking is also a new option by buying ingredients from stores and mixing them a certain way. Having your party eat at the campfire will cause different status effects depending on what was eaten, such as causing an increase in strength and a decrease in speed while eating a curry. This makes gameplay very fun. Dungeons and caves are so windy and filled with multiple dead ends that it begins to seriously piss you off. It wouldn't be so bad if there were more save points so you can heal your characters, but the enemies are so darn tough that you can be at the end of a long and grueling maze finally, only to be ambushed and killed before you know it and have to start the whole dang thing all over again. AHHH! I guess the dungeons were longer to make up for the absence of an actual world map, but it is just terribly frustrating. The world map in the original Legaia was humongous and fun to explore. Unfortunately, the map in Duel Saga just requires you to select the location and then you are there automatically. The great thing about the battle system is that using different items that increase stats in battle can now customize weapons and armor. Cooking is also a new option by buying ingredients from stores and mixing them a certain way. Having your party eat at the campfire will cause different status effects depending on what was eaten, such as causing an increase in strength and a decrease in speed while eating a curry. This makes gameplay very fun. This is about all about the battle system, now lets discuss the character interaction.

This has gotta hurt... This has gotta hurt...

   There is a fair amount of interaction in the game. The cast of characters is unique and the characters fill their purpose for a love or hate relationship. I found myself attached with three of my party and even one or two of the villains, which is surprising. With the exception of a few terrible characters, most of the personalities are rather enjoyable to watch. There are multitudes of townspeople to talk to and extra scenes to discover outside of the main story. The main story has some ok character interaction, but nothing too special. The dialogue isnít terribly exciting and sometimes more feels like it should be said at times. Letís get to the music.

   The music and sound is great because of the inclusion of tracks from the original Legaia. It was a great move to bring back Michiru Oshima to do music for the game. However, the entirely new songs are nothing special and will be forgotten in not too long. I felt that the music could have used some more work. The sound effects are good as far as spells and attacks go. The voice acting is unbearable, though. You may want to turn off the sound during battle after playing so much do to the highly annoying voice acting in the game. But music is not the only thing that makes a good RPG, letís take a look at the story.

   So the story is basically this, you are a boy named Lang who was adopted by the head of a mercenary group that protects your village of Nohl from nearby monsters. As luck would have it, as soon as you are recruited into the fighting force, a man called "Gold Eyes" comes and beats the heck out of you after telling you that he is after your village crystal called the "Aqualith" and going to use it as part of his plan to create a new world for a race of people called "Mystics", who are distinguished by a large tattoo somewhere on their body. The Aqualith is a levitating crystal that pours a never-ending supply of water into your village lake, and apparently its useful for this guyís takeover of the world. Those who played the first might think this guy was kind of a rip-off of Songi from the original, and he kind of is. Except Songi was way cooler. Anyway, you set off on your quest to get your crystal back and keep your village alive. However, because of certain events, Lang finds himself in a much more serious situation. Along the way he learns of the Mystics and partners with a mute girl named Maya, a warrior called Kazan, a blonde pirate named Sharon, and a giant named Ayne. The story is very linear and pretty much everything is foreshadowed before it happens. If this were made a few years before its released, the story would have been deemed pretty good, however it feels like something that has been done on many occasions. The developers didn't seem like they wanted to waste time thinking up something completely original. The story isnít the only thing that takes a back seat. Sadly the graphics, while not terrible, are not spectacular either.

I thought it was going to be summer... I thought it was going to be summer...

   The graphics in Legaia are done very well in some aspects, and mediocre in others. Some environments are incredibly detailed and look nice enough to just sit around and appreciate the scenery. Yet the character animations are many times stiff and none to spectacular. Also dungeon environments, which there are a lot of, look very plain, which becomes a problem after seeing them so many times. It would have been nice if the developers had put more detail into the visuals, especially while coming out at around the same time as Final Fantasy X.

   Duel Saga happens to be a pretty challenging game. Quite frequently your party will be ambushed and killed before you have a chance to attack, and every enemy has numerous status effects that it will almost always inflict on you, which is the biggest pain just to deal with. Bosses are hard at some parts and easy at others. The addition of Variable Arts make bosses easy as pie in many cases just because of the incredibly unfair amount of damage they do. Duel Saga is not for the average gamer and should be played by more experienced players of the genre.

   Duel Saga takes around 40 to 70 hours to beat if you wanted to find everything and play through. Overall it is an average length RPG with not too many secrets to keep the time factor up.

   After the first play through, Legaia:Duel Saga does not have too much to offer. However, I keep finding myself coming back to this game to play it for no reason do to some of the unique characters. Yet only hardcore fans of the RPG genre would really consider playing this game again. The original Legaia remains my number one favorite game. Duel Saga does not have as high a throne, yet it still remains an overall enjoyable RPG experience with the good things slightly outweighing the bad.

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