Dragon Valor - Staff Retroview  

Mindless Dragon Slaying
by Derek 'Roku' Cavin

5-10 Hours


Rating definitions 

   A quest for revenge eventually leads to a fight between Dragon Valors and Dragons that lasts several generations. Dragon Valor is a somewhat unique action RPG that allows players to select who the main character will marry, and thus slightly effect the outcome of the story. Despite the fact that the path can branch, there are only a handful of possibilities. Sadly, this ends up being yet another game that could have been quite good, but fails to live up to its potential.

   As this is an action RPG, the battle system is the game's primary focus. The current main character, whoever it may be, has a large variety of skills such as an upward slash, thrust, and stomp. By gathering items and money, it's possible to purchase special items that will give power to the character's descendants as well as his or herself. These, along with bonuses attained for defeating a certain number of enemies with physical attacks or magic, can lead to a bit of customization. It's also possible to collect magic tomes along the way and gain access to several spells. While this battle system may seem very good at first glance, the implementation is poor. Despite the large arsenal of abilities, battles are still generally hack and slash. Even characters that put all of their effort into magic will find that the average spell is usually too expensive to use for anything except healing. To make matters worse, each enemy has a very distinct attack pattern. If the player doesn't know the attack pattern very well, they will often find themselves attacking the enemy while it is invincible. As enemies sometimes seem to randomly become invincible, this can easily lead to frustration.

Dragons are cool Dragons are cool

   Hitting an invincible enemy at a bad time will leave the main character open to counterattack. Until the player becomes familiar with an enemy's pattern, especially a boss's, they can be very difficult to beat for this reason. On the other hand, once an enemy's pattern has been discovered, it's easy to defeat them and even certain midbosses without taking a hit.

   As one would except or hope from an action RPG, the controls are responsive and generally quite good. The main menu interface is also quite good as anything the player wishes to know can be looked up with ease. The localization, on the other hand, isn't very impressive at all. There is little dialogue, so it wouldn't have been difficult to improve translation a bit.

   Dragon Valor is an action RPG so it is little surprise that the story is a bit lacking. It's possible to branch the story out depending on how the player builds the family tree, but there aren't very many choices and the story is far from epic no matter what the player chooses.

Should've healed instead Should've healed instead

   The story may not be impressive, but the way the story is told is fairly original. The ability to choose how the family tree grows, even with the limited selection, is interesting especially with certain special hand-me-down items. The story itself is nothing new though. The battle system does have a few interesting abilities such as the double backflip and has a large use invincibility that hasn't been seen before.

   Despite fact that the game can be played several times with different family trees, each gameplay is very short. It usually takes only an hour or two per generation for a grand total of five to ten hours. As there really aren't any sidequests or optional areas, it all depends on how much time players want to waste leveling up. Though it only takes five to ten hours, the family tree system offers a bit of replay value for those that enjoy this game.

   Like most other aspects of the game, the soundtrack isn't anything special. Not even the boss tracks stand out in the slightest. The sound effects serve their purpose, but are also unmemorable. Nothing becomes repetitive, but the music and sound are still average overall.

   The visuals aren't incredibly impressive either, but they are much better than the music and sound. Each character enemy receives a large, slightly detailed 3D model. The resolution is poor and most appear blocky, but the visuals are still pretty good for an original Playstation game.

   Despite the interesting family tree system and large array of combat abilities, Dragon Valor isn't very good. Story isn't as important in an action RPG, but the gameplay doesn't make up for it in this case as the invincibility problem takes most of the fun out of combat. Overall, it could have been much better, but poor implementation makes Dragon Valor a below average game.

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