Legend of Legaia
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Contrail was an RPG developer most gamers have likely never heard of, although they helped develop some PlayStation titles including Wild Arms 2 (in association with Media.Vision), Alundra 2 (its predecessor developed by Matrix Software), and Legend of Legaia, which is in many aspects an average game but does have some positive aspects.

Some of the aforementioned positive aspects are in the game’s battles, which the player randomly encounters. If the enemy doesn’t ambush the player, fights begin with the player able to input commands for each of the three playable characters, including attacking, using magic, defending with the Spirit command, or using items. The entire party can also attempt to escape from the enemy, an option that, as usual, doesn’t work all the time.

Unlike most other role-playing games, Legaia puts an interesting twist on normal attacks, giving each character a gauge in which they can combine upper attacks, lower attacks, left-arm attacks, and right-arm attacks. These gauges gradually lengthen as characters level, allowing them to chain more attacks, with players sometimes able to come across different kinds of Arts that consume a certain amount of AP, which characters can increase through the Spirit option, which also briefly reduces defense and lengthens their command slots until they attack.

Legaia further puts a twist on magic, with each character not acquiring spells through leveling, but rather through killing special enemies that may or may not grant them new spells, somewhat similar to Blue Magic in the Final Fantasy games. Spells consume MP, and using them frequently will level them occasionally, with a maximum level of nine for each spell. Although spells and their users are of various elements, they don’t seem to make much difference in battle, with an unfortunate lack of scan magic.

Perhaps the biggest issue in combat is that battles even with a small number of enemies frequently take longer than they need to, with characters not stopping the execution of their attacks when they’ve completely depleted a foe’s HP, along with lengthy, unskippable animations for spells, and boss fights in particular seeming to take forever. It’s also difficult to come across new Arts without using a guide, and although the game has an option to allow the characters to automatically choose their directions of attacks, this option does a terrible job discovering new moves. In the end, the battle system has some positive aspects, but plenty of negative ones as well.

The controls have things going for them, as well, such as a general easy menu system, easy shopping, and town, overworld, and dungeon navigation, although walking on the overworld is fairly sluggish. In those instances, however, the player can use Doors of Wind to teleport among visited towns, not to mention Doors of Light to exit dungeons. There is also the possibility of reaching a point in the game where the player cannot advance past story dialogue, if playing on a PlayStation 3 (which this reviewer did), thus making the game unplayable on the system, and there’s occasional poor direction on how to advance the game. In the end, interaction is slightly above average, but full of flaws.

The story in Legaia is actually pretty good, building on Christian mythos with some twists and plentiful originality such as the Seru and the mist, and the main characters have backstory of sorts. The localization is also legible, in spite of some errors, and ultimately, the plot is a main draw to the game, in spite of the aforementioned poor direction at times.

Some of the music in the game is pretty good, such as a few forest themes and the title screen theme, although some tracks are a bit forgettable and ambient. Voice acting left in Japanese is also present in battles, which is pretty good in spite of some rare mispronunciation of English words. Ultimately, a decent-sounding game.

The field and overworld graphics are pretty blocky with pixelated texturing, although the battle visuals are much better, with smooth animation and attack effects, not to mention different equipment affecting each character’s appearance.

Finally, the game is fairly lengthy, taking somewhere from thirty-five to forty-five hours to complete, with few sidequests and little replayability. In the end, Legend of Legaia is a fairly middling titles, with most of its aspects such as combat slightly exceeding mediocrity, although it does definitely have some things going for it such as its story. In spite of its flaws the game would receive a single sequel on the PlayStation 2, Legaia 2: Duel Saga, which would be it for the franchise.

This review is based on an incomplete playthrough of the game on the PlayStation 3, on which the game can be unbeatable, although the reviewer has beaten the game in the past.

The Good:
+Battle system has plenty variety.
+Good plot.
+Some nice music.

The Bad:
-Long battles, particularly against bosses.
-Unbeatable on a PlayStation 3.
-Little replay value.

The Bottom Line:
An okay game if you can play it on a PlayStation 2 or earlier.

Score Breakdown:
Platform: PlayStation
Game Mechanics: 6/10
Controls: 6/10
Story: 8/10
Music/Sound: 7/10
Graphics: 5/10
Localization: 7/10
Lasting Appeal: 4/10
Difficulty:
Playing Time: 35-45 Hours

Overall: 6/10

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