Legaia 2: Duel Saga- Staff Retroview  

Punch Sideiron
by Mike "JuMeSyn" Moehnke

Click here for game information
20-40 Hours
+ Entertaining combat
+ Absorbing side content
+ Nice use of cooking
- Not much to the story
- Lugubriously paced
Click here for scoring definitions 

   Successful games warrant sequels, and Legend of Legaia garnered enough sales to bankroll one. Sony passed on the localization when a follow-up was made, letting Eidos swoop in to give a pretty good translation when the game crossed the Pacific in 2002. Legaia 2: Duel Saga sold in pitifully low quantities, enough to close the door thereafter to any possibility of the franchise being revived. Legaia 2 certainly isn't a transcendently superior RPG that deserves an immediate reappraisal, but neither is it worthy of the memory hole down which it seems to have fallen in popular consciousness.

   Set in the same world as the first game but not directly related to it, Legaia 2's tale finds a young man named Lang going through unexceptional coming of age hijinks in the service of his home town. His idyllic existence comes to an end when a mysterious man with astonishing power arrives to seize the town's Aqualith, a device that supplies it with never-ending fresh water. Lang gets the job of tracking the Aqualith down, and during the journey to do so he encounters several allies. In order to have a chance at beating the villains, Lang will also have to rouse the Origin within his body, a separate consciousness inside all Mystics that grants great power. Mystics are rare people and frequently the target of persecution, which is how the antagonist seeks to remake the world according to his desires.

   Legaia 2 tosses out clichés frequently in its narrative without bothering to make them distinct, notably the now-evil disciple of an old master and a villain who ignores opportunities to eliminate his opposition before it is strong enough to put up a fight. It attempts to introduce a unique element by having the primary players suffer discrimination for possessing distinctive markings indicating the presence of Origins within their bodies, but that gets underdeveloped and ignored by the end. What strengths it possesses in the field of narrative come from some diverting episodes along the way and amusing vignettes that have nothing to do with the overarching world-saving motif. Legaia 2 will win no awards for sparking interest in its plot, but the fun moments along the way make it easy to accommodate, such as a man hopelessly in love with his pet gorilla. A nice touch is borrowed from the Grandia series, letting the characters chat with each other about things both serious and silly.

   Combat in Legaia 2 borrows quite a bit from its predecessor. The proceedings are random and turn-based, but instead of single attacks the characters are able to chain multiple blows together. This is done by the player selecting from one of the four cardinal directions, and the chosen sequence is then performed as a combo. Simply attacking with random blows is doable, but some of them produce special moves that do a better job in combat, and can then be called up for viewing in battle so that memorization is unnecessary. Changes from the first game include being notified when characters have gained an additional move slot in battle, very powerful arts that make protagonists act simultaneously, and a greater selection of enemies that cannot be hit from certain directions. Some of the later opponents in Legaia 2 are dangerous enough that making them die with the greatest possible speed is recommended, though healing supplies are so easily obtained that complete destruction is a rare problem. The magic system of Legend of Legaia has been axed, and the protagonists now simply learn spells by leveling their Origins instead of from killing certain kinds of enemies, though this removes a lot of the frustration the former game possessed.

Okay, I can handle almost anything, but your breath is positively wretched! Okay, I can handle almost anything, but your breath is positively wretched!

   Dungeon exploration is a little more involved in Legaia 2 thanks to the Origins. Each has a field effect, allowing the developers to create some puzzles that mostly stay interesting without taxing the mind. They also provide good reason to return to old dungeons, since several good finds are inaccessible until later party members are acquired. As the dungeons are otherwise unexceptional, the Origins make them more memorable.

   A couple of interesting features outside of battle are item combination and cooking. Combining items is theoretically a great way of putting old equipment to use in gaining new and better kit, but it doesn't always work that way due to the variable returns. Accessory combination is unusual in that it justifies quite a bit of effort, as the abilities obtained from fused accessories are often superb. There is no way to select exactly which skills are obtained by fusing accessories, and getting all the skills of one requires fighting multiple opponents until its unique experience meter is filled. As undesirable skills are also present, and it can take a significant time investment to fully empower accessories, these are bothersome issues. On the other hand, cooking supplies characters with benefits that last for a certain number of battles and are an excellent substitute for grinding. The game grants a large variety of recipes with easily-obtained ingredients, and the menus are worth frequent experimentation.

   Legaia 2 features another interesting quirk in its inventory system, which is a weight requirement for each character. Protagonists can use any combination of their available equipment until it exceeds their weight limit. This is occasionally annoying but often a boon, allowing players to shift equipment lineups as needed. The tradeoff is an inability to buy something and instantly equip it, mandating frequent trips to the menu after a shopping expedition.

   Like Legend of Legaia, this game is not paced well for those with little patience. Combat can take quite a long time when one is selecting each attack direction out of a dozen, and plot events take their good sweet time in coming after the first third of the game. Though not quite as omnipresent as in its predecessor, Legaia 2 sports plenty of little load times that add up to a noticeable chunk of the thirty to thirty-five hours spent playing. Patience is a requirement for anyone interested.

A female dressed somewhat sensibly for cold weather?  That A female dressed somewhat sensibly for cold weather? That's one thing not often seen.

   At least plenty of side content exists, some of it more interesting than the main storyline. A guild that offers a variety of missions becomes available midway through the game, and the tangents on which it will send the party are definitely worth experiencing. They not only offer an excellent means of accruing cash, but also put the spotlight on otherwise ignored facets of the game's world. These are welcome touches, but not quite to the point that they make up for the dearth of information supplied elsewhere.

   Most of Legaia 2 uses text alone, but boss battles sometimes feature short voiced scenes. The voices in combat are a mixed lot but never unacceptable, though the level of emotion demanded sometimes seems to escape those acting for the antagonists. As for the music, it is often quite atmospheric and enjoyable. Its relative failing is being unmemorable on the whole, though the villain's theme is catchy. Legaia 2's visuals are a dramatic improvement from the first game's, and even look okay in the present. Little touches from Legend of Legaia such as seeing different equipment alter the look of the characters are unfortunately gone even if the whole package represents the PS2 better than the first game did the PS1.

   Legaia 2: Duel Saga is barely remembered nowadays, and those who do recall the title seem to regard it as a monumental letdown from the original. I certainly didn't find a game that blew me away, but neither can I understand the loathing this title has garnered. Since the plot doesn't do much I can understand being disinterested on that basis, but it does a few interesting things that could stand to be revisited by current developers. The early PS2 RPG library was already getting a flood of titles, and this one seems to have gotten lost in the deluge.

Review Archives

© 1998-2017 RPGamer All Rights Reserved
Privacy Policy