Dragon View

A warrior in training named Alex, from the village of Rysis, relishes every minute he spends with his girlfriend, Katarina. One evening, Alex gives her a pendant passed down through his family for several generations. This evening, however, will be the last they will spend together before turbulent events forever change their lives. The Super NES action RPG Dragon View, produced by French developer Infogrames and published in both Japan and America by Kemco, is the sequel to Drakkhen, and bears significant changes and improvements from its predecessor, although some aspects do leave room for improvement.

Like its predecessor, Dragon View has a real-time battle system, although this time around, the player’s involvement is far greater. The player solely controls the protagonist, Alex, throughout the course of the game, as he fights through side-scrolling dungeons and occasionally “encounter fogs” on the overworld. Alex has two main weapons: a sword and a sort of axe-boomerang called a Hauza. The sword has a short-range of attack, while the Hauza has a long range. Alex can attack normally with them, although he can gain special attacks for both weapons that chip off part of his HP.

No RPG, of course, would be complete without some sort of magic system, and Alex can gain three elemental rings, each with up to three acquirable levels of attack, and which consume a certain part of his MP depending upon the magic level he uses. In addition to upgradable magic levels, players can also find upgrades for Alex’s weapons, armor, HP, and MP. He does, however, gain experience and levels for killing enemies, and a few levels, I should mention, can *really* make a difference against enemies at times. Although most battles are basically bang-fests, a few enemies can easily kill Alex, so it’s usually a good idea to keep off their X-axes (dungeons are side-scrollers, as I’ve said) when fighting.

Dragon View’s difficulty ranges from easy to medium, depending upon how high Alex’s levels are and how many upgrades the player has found. That the game makes players traverse dungeons without any save points and dumps them back to the title screen when they die also make the game “harder,” but making RPGs more difficult through cheap mechanisms, in this reviewer’s opinion, is never a good idea. Still, Dragon View’s battle system is perhaps the game’s high point.

The interface is cleaner than it was in Drakkhen, with a tidy menu system (albeit without item descriptions), maps for the 3-D overworld, and a few warp points and optional areas, although it’s plain annoying to spend a long time in dungeons without being able to save the game. This wouldn’t have been an issue if the game were nicer to players when they died, although getting killed after spending up to an hour exploring a dungeon can easily result in a broken controller. The translation does contain some errors, yet is still legible, and overall, interaction in Dragon View is certainly functional.

Dragon View was one of the only RPGs in its time to combine side-scrolling dungeon exploration and combat, as well as 3-D world exploration (although this was present in Drakkhen), and even today remains a unique experience.

The story is probably the weakest part of the game, holding to the somewhat-stereotypical concept of rescuing a kidnapped girl. The game script, I should mention, is in prose (i.e. with “you said,” “he said,” etc.), which is a bit unnecessary, since the characters are right there on the screen. There are maybe one or two twists, a slight bit of background, and minor links to Drakkhen, although there’s little excuse for the sporadic nature of the plot.

The music could’ve been better, as well. There are a few decent pieces, such as the Ice Fortress and Desert themes, although their instrumentation can easily get on your nerves. Sound effects are okay, though, and in the end, the aurals are middling at best.

The visuals could’ve been better, as well, being a mild improvement over those in Drakkhen. Some of the town and dungeon scenery looks alright, although character models are a bit on the pixelated side. The monsters probably look better, even if many are basically palette swaps. The 3-D overworld isn’t entirely pretty, either, although this is, after all a 16-bit game. In the end, Dragon View doesn’t have the best visuals on the Super NES nor does it have the worst.

Finally, Dragon View is fairly short, with playing time clocking in to around eight to fifteen hours, with the few extra areas boosting playing time. Ultimately, Dragon View, while much better than its predecessor, does leave something to desire, especially with regards to its storyline. Nonetheless, the game has a few things going for it, and might just be a look from RPGamers who can look past the light story.

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