RPG Review #80: Legend of Legaia

NuMetalManiak As usual, on a multiple of 10 we play another RPG that is well known to PSX junkies who have been checking these things out every now and then. This time it's Prokion's Legend of Legaia, an often forgotten classic. While well-received, this game doesn't hold a candle to the much popular RPGs of its era, but it was certainly a difficult one. Oh, and speaking of which, a new thing for these reviews now. I will put up the difficulty rankings of the Playstation RPGs, which I get on GameFAQs, and will compare them to the game I'm reviewing.

83rd hardest, out of 158 RPGs in this genre. This puts it above Xenogears and the majority of games, but it is behind Valkyrie Profile, a bunch of Digimon World games, and Star Ocean 2.

Gameplay: The overall course of gameplay in Legend of Legaia remains standard to other RPGs, until you get to the battle system. This system is known as "Tactical Arts" and it is a turn-based combat RPG with a twist. Selecting battle can have you doing any number of things, while items and magic are pretty self-explanatory, fighting and spiriting isn't. Fighting in this game has you inputing any of the directional arrows, in order to string a combo of attacks. The right combinations create what are known as Arts, which are of course special fighting moves. There is a limit though, and that is the AP bar. Arts use up the AP bar, and you need enough or the Art cannot be performed. This is where the Spirit command comes into play. It's essentially the Defend command, so you halve the damage done to you, but it also increases the AP gauge by about 32 and also increases the command string, allowing players to string bigger combos.

Magic in this game is done via three different commands for the three characters, but they all function the same and use up the same MP stat. The problem is actually getting magic in the first place. To do so, a character must kill a Seru monster, and do so in a way that the monster actually gets up and its power ends up absorbed. This is a rather interesting, yet actually frustrating tactic of getting magic. And the magic in this game is actually a summon. Expect rather long fights if you plan on getting all the Seru magic like I did. Oh, and speaking of, this game actually has two types of monsters. You will know if it is a Seru monster because it has an element next to the name, otherwise it is normal enemy.

With these things, Legaia's combat system can actually become quite boring. Battles are often long lasting, especially boss battles, due to the need for spiriting then attacking, or trying to get magic, or just simply using it because the animations are slow and unskippable. Then again, given its position by GameFAQs players on the difficulty scale, the gameplay can get pretty rough. Outside of battle, not much to note, standard towns, shops, even standard minigames. I almost want to say it's a full disappointment, giving how long everything takes here. Grade: B-

Characters: Vahn: Our blue-haired, silent protagonist from the nation of Rim Elm. He is chosen by a Ra-Seru known as Meta, a fire elemental, for the journey ahead. His overall abilities are well-rounded
Noa: A feral kid who apparently was raised by a wolf/Seru, Terra, of the wind element. For a time she is a silent protagonist too, but when she meets Vahn she talks, A LOT. Has a terrible past. Highest agility and longest action bar, but lowest strength and magic.
Gala: Also known as Master Teacher, he is a Biron monk and a fistfighter. As rough and tough as he is, he is surprisingly intelligent, but has a very small action bar. He comes into contact with Ozma, a thunder elemental.

That's the three main characters and their Ra-Seru which join them. The game actually has quite a few memorable characters to it too, many villains, a few allies, but the meat of this game is in the plot, urgh. Grade: B

Plot: Did I say meat? I mean it. Storyline-wise, this game IS NOT for the faint of heart, or the squeamish. The premise of this game's plot is similar to a robotic apocalypse, except the Seru aren't necessarily what I would call robots. They are more like alien beings that can be used as specialized tools for...basically anything from flight to enhanced combat. This harmony ends up turning nightmarish once something known as the Mist shows up, which turn the Seru evil. And when an evil Seru fuses with a human, it effectively zombifies them.

Vahn lives in a village named Rim Elm, having a crippled father Val, a little sister Nene, and a childhood romance interest in Mei. The boy is 14, coming of age to be a hunter, although he is not allowed to get into the Mist for the obvious reason stated in the previous paragraph. Well, the Mist does reach Rim Elm after their wall gets torn down, and Seru end up attacking the town. Vahn finds something in the Genesis Tree (an important plot element) and meets the Ra-Seru Meta, which helps him on his journey. Vahn makes the Genesis Tree grow saving Rim Elm for now, and sets off to Drake Castle, also engulfed in the Mist.

Meanwhile gameplay switches over to Noa, who is raised in a cave with Terra. The two fight their way out of the mist and to Mt. Rikuroa. Vahn also heads in that direction and the two meet up at the Genesis Tree at the summit. Terra reveals herself as a wind Ra-Seru and joins Noa, and the growing of the Genesis Tree brings the members of Drake Castle back to life. The two head out for Biron Monastery, meeting Gala and Songi. Gala agrees to help while Songi does his own thing. The thing with Gala and Songi is that they're rivals. Gala gets to be Master Teacher, and is like Sonic in color, while Songi is more like Shadow. Yeah, used that for a reference. While Gala gets into contact with Ozma, a thunder Ra-seru, the Mist reaches Biron Monastery and it is apparently Songi's doing. A Genesis Tree later makes things right again. On to the Mist Generator, one of the reasons Mist shows up in the game, and defeating a certain Zeto basically frees this entire region of Mist.

A lot happens in the next area, the Sebucus islands. Freeing one town has the three labelled as heroes, and there's another derelict town where most of the inhabitants have sought shelter underground from the Mist. Things are problematic there. In a dream, a certain person named Hari wanted to contact the three heroes, and the meeting is brief, as Hari apparently dies from an earthquake caused by Xain (one of the tougher bosses). Another town has the first contact with a Sim-Seru, a much nastier version of a Seru, attached as a sombrero on a ruler, who, oh my gosh, is actually sacrificing women to a gargantuan demonic Seru. Although he is cured of this by the heroes, his actions are things he laments. Later on, the final Mist Generator is taken down in this area, after defeating a fat guy named Dohati.

The next area is reached by way of flying Seru car or something, a warzone between two areas, Conkram (Noa's hometown) and Sol (a gigantic tower which is basically the Gold Saucer in the game). An old warrior named Gaza is outright senile and fights the group twice, the second time demonically possessed in one of the harder boss fights. When things are looking fine, we learn more on the science of things as well as the home of the Seru, Uru Mais, where we see Tieg, an all-being of sorts. Uru Mais does get destroyed by that demonic Seru named Juggernaut, and then there's also the matter of the other giant Seru, Kora, which has frozen Genesis Trees in a nearby town. There's also this group of idiots known as the Delilas family attacking the group. But things always have to be made right again. At another mountain, we meet the Soren, these people who use Seru as wings to fly around (they generally are smart enough to avoid Mist). They help the group out in destroying the Floating Castle, which spews Mist under the command of a woman named Zora. Interestingly enough, it's Songi who reveals it was all a trap, he kills Zora and the Mist Generator, causing it all to plummet, but the heroes end up saved anyways.

The Soren help take the group to Conkram, and lo and behold, this right here is outright TERRIFYING. The whole town is under one giant Sim-Seru, lots of nasty shapeshifting design, inhabitants that were devoured, crying out for pain. I heard this game was compared to Silent Hill in terms of its absolute horror. The whole setting of Conkram proves that. Noa's parents, Queen Minea and King Nebular are here, revealing it is the work of Jette, a scientist, and Cort, who is Noa's brother. The group journeys to the past, and the true origins of the Mist are revealed as a weapon they tried to use against Sol gone horribly wrong. While defeating a Rogue Seru, they ultimately end up at Jette's absolute fortress, defeating him and Cort. The worst part? All of Conkram ceases to exist, meaning Noa's parents are pretty much gone forever.

And the worst is yet to come. While it seems all epilogue-y after destroying that final Mist Generator at Jette's fortress, there's still one more villain hanging around. Songi. He sics Juggernaut on Vahn's hometown Rim Elm, giving it the same fate Conkram had, and also goes to the Seru-kai to kill the main Genesis Tree. The party has to stop him there, and Hari appears from beyond the grave giving the most energy he can to keep the Genesis Tree alive long enough so the heroes can keep their Ra-Seru alive. Into the heart of the last dungeon, ALMOST LITERALLY since we are going through Juggernaut's innards, the final boss is discovered to be a mutated Cort. At the end of it all, the Ra-Seru make a sacrifice, effectively ridding themselves as well as the rest of the Seru all to get rid of this abomination and return the people of Rim Elm to what they should be. And after all that nightmare that went on, there's still multiple ways to end it. Regardless, this plot is outright terrifying when you enter certain locales. Maybe that's why this game is a cult hit. Grade: A

Music: The battle themes are pretty good, as are several other ones. Nothing really grating at all and fun to listen to. Grade: B+

Overall Grade: B

Maybe for its time it would have been excellent, but it never really was popular to begin with. Luckily, the game isn't bad. The gameplay can be rough, and long, but it's got an interesting, actually, HORRIFYING story to compensate for its faults.