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Old 09-20-2003, 04:50 AM   #287
Icarus4578
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A Shattered Land...

The Legend of Heroes ~ Dragon Slayer - TurboGrafx16 CD - Rating 7
If you play any new RPG that comes through the gates, you'll notice how much time is spent wading through cinematics and text. That's because pretty much every RPG company has adopted the 'more is better' attitude, even if 'more' doesn't actually involve such things as substance, fascinating characters, and holding interest. The result is often dozens of hours sitting through character development and plot twists which don't mean Jack because the characters are often incredibly dull and any attempt to drag out their 'development' is a waste of time. I cannot think of an RPG this generation with characters and a story that I actually cared about.
Instead of pretending to be some epic RPG, Falcom/Hudson Soft simply took a working formula and harnessed the CD format for voice acting and CD-quality audio. I'm all for it. Falcom does everything from a gamer's point-of-view; everything's brief and to the point - fast paced role playing gaming goodness, because Falcom cares. My kind of RPG company. The kind that won't force me to sit through an hour of dialogue but instead wants to tell a story and not sacrifice the gameplay at its expense.
Let me break down the story up to the near-end of Chapter 1 so that I don't ruin the whole thing (Dragon Slayer is divided into six Chapters as is always shown at the top of the screen).
In the center of the world of Isrenasa lies the kingdom of Farlayne, ruled by King Corwin, who was honest and compassionate to all of his happy, free subjects. On the night of the seventh moon, the once tranquil capital of Farlayne, Castle Sylvan, fell under attack by monsters. What seemed like a hopeless situation was conquered by dawn, for the people of Sylvan were victorious. However, King Corwin was dead, and a dark age would soon overcome the kingdom...
The King's trusted adviser Baron Drax told the people that with his departing words King Corwin had handed the leadership to him. He was supposed to rule until the true heir to the throne Prince Logan's sixteenth birthday had expired. Logan spent those ten years in the town of Exile on the secluded Isle of Glen where he was being raised by a good man named Elias.
"A fine morning to you m'lord!" Elias spoke to the not-fully-awake Logan. "Good morning Elias." countered the groggy Logan. Elias begins to preach, "Aaah my dear Prince Logan. I understand from the gate guards that you're still indulging in slime-bashing. I hardly think that such a childish pastime befits one who is destined to inherit the throne in just two mar months. Now, as I've said time and time again, the future is shaped by knowledge!..."
After Elias finishes his reprimanding (all done with voice acting), you take control of Logan for the first time. The screen is laid out similar to Ultima games in that there is the main screen which takes up most of the screen and on the right side are slots for every character's name, HP, MP, LV and EXP. The first thing you'll notice is how tiny all the characters are. Needless to say, Falcom wasn't counting on graphics to sell this game. Certainly, this game is the anti-thesis of the more recent RPGs in that it favors substance over style, though that's not to say it doesn't have any style. In fact, the characters and story have something clearly lacking from all the newer RPGs - personality. You can pull up an options window by pressing II which includes spells, items, equipment, options, etc. You'll be pleased to know that you can save anywhere, anytime. You have a ton of options all for the purpose of your convenience such as the ability to turn narration on/off, turn on or off a point distributor (when you level-up you can distribute the points automatically or manually), alter character and message speed, etc. Despite its graphical shortcomings, the gameplay structure is very well furbished to suit the gamer's needs. I like the fast pace to everything; you can run around and talk to everybody in the town of Exile in a minute or less.
Eventually, your friend helps you make a quiet escape out of town so you can wander the field and--what else?-- indulge in slime bashing! You can select at anytime whether you want the battle music to be CD quality which takes an extra second to load or PSG (Program Sound Generated) which is system generated music but loads battles up without the second interruption. Take your pick. Battling is EXTREMELY fast and pretty fun. In fact, aside from in a few other RPGs like Final Fantasy VII, I've rarely had so much fun beating the crap out of enemies! For the beginning fights all I had to do was put button I on rapid fire and hold down the button. Viola! I win easy! A battle with four slimes takes about 7-8 seconds, no joke. The battles are done from a first-person perspective a-la Dragon Quest games only there's no animation. Then again, if there was animation it would only slow down the pace of the game. In many other RPGs when you gain level you don't really notice too much of a difference, but in this game you notice it, believe me. :bigsmile: Don't think the game is going to remain easy, though. You'll find out sooner rather than later that this game presents some big challenges. I should also mention the magic system. Magic is equipped by obtaining scrolls, of which each character can hold a maximum of seven spells at any given time.
Back to the story. Eventually, Exile falls under attack by monsters. Coincidence? Elias and the rest stay behind to fend off the monsters while Logan escapes for Sylvan to ask Baron Drax for his aid in the matter. "I'll be back Elias.... I'll be back."
When Logan arrives at Sylvan he winds up being captured by the guards and brought before Drax who proceeds to tell him about how he staged the attack on Exile just like he staged the attack on Sylvan all those years ago so that he could kill King Corwin and install himself as ruler. Drax informs Logan that soon he will join the dearly departed! Drax speaking to Logan (voice acting) - "Departed. Expired. Passed away. Take your pick." But first Logan must become a prisoner so that Drax can force Logan's mother Sylvia to marry him and thus be coronated king.
Help arrives in Ethan, a monk and member of the resistance which is comprised of those that want to rid the land of Baron Drax's tyranny. He helps Logan to safety and they both agree to head towards the town of Revere to meet up with Aryn, the leader of the resistance, so they can come up with a plan to counterattack the redoubtable Drax and his army. To quote Ethan, "We've gotta kick his darkness 'til it turns daylight." Once you arrive at Revere, you meet Aryn and Sonia, who've got a plan worked out. Drax has prisoners working The Pits, forced into slave labor. The plan is to free them so the resistance is strong enough for a full scale attack on Drax and his army. (To the uninformed, if this section of the plot sounds familiar, it should... Final Fantasy III ripped it off.)
I could go on and give a detailed account of everything else that happens in Chapter 1, let alone the game, but I won't ruin it. Wanna know the kicker? All the cinemas, leveling-up, voice acting, wandering around, etc. I've explained up to this point... equates to the first hour of the game. "No way!" you're probably thinking, "All of that in just one hour!?" I know how just that opening sequence would easily take up three to four hours in any newer RPG because they've gotta try and be all dramatic and cinematic but just wind up wasting time.
The music is outstanding and even though the amount of music tracks is somewhat limited at around 20 what's there is certain to please. This is Falcom y'know, makers of Ys games. And anybody that is into their RPG soundtracks should know Ys by now. That's their reputation. The sound effects are weak, 8-bit-ish stuff, but you won't care. The music is composed by Sound Team JDK.
In its entirety, Dragon Slayer lasts a good 20 or so hours. There's quite a bit of humor in the game, such as the parts where one of the party members is being a pick pocket. The voice acting is great because of how cheesy it is. This game doesn't take itself too seriously, but is dramatic wherever needed be. If you own a TurboGrafx CD system or TurboDuo please buy this game. It's kinda short and a bit linear, but RPGs like this are a rarity these days. I've also got The Legend of Heroes II ~ Dragon Slayer, which is an import title (also available on Super Famicom and other import platforms), but I've never been through it. I think I'll give it a shot. Dragon Slayer is 1990 all the way which means you get to play it whilce you pay attention to it. You're not paying to watch a movie.
The Legend of Heroes ~ Dragon Slayer was also released on the Super Famicom/Mega Drive in Japan, 1991. The third and fourth in the series also came out for multiple platforms/PC in Japan.

Here's a gallery of photos from the opening cinema ~ http://www.pcenginefx.com/TS/gallery...layer_gam.html
The US box cover artwork (front/back) ~ http://www.workingdesigns.com/museum...gon_slayer.htm
The Falcom homepage in Japan/Dragon Slayer section ~ http://www.falcom.co.jp/title/heroes.html
Great RPG site with lots of rare import-only titles (and no, there are no ROMs here) ~ http://hyrulec.cherryroms.com/rpgs.html
The Falcom CD catalog ~ http://www.gmronline.com/falcom/albums/series_loh.html
Wanna listen to samples of great RPG soundtracks for virtually every game you can think of (including reviews)? This is for you ~ http://www.rpgfan.com/soundtracks1.html
Screenshots and artwork of Legend of Heroes ~ Dragon Slayer III which looks quite a bit better than part one. Then again, it's shown on PC here ~ http://www.rpgamer.com/games/other/pc/loh3/loh3.html

:cool guy:

Last edited by Icarus4578; 04-02-2004 at 05:43 AM.
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