I Still Believe: What I’d Change In a Legend of Dragoon Remake

The fifth generation of video game consoles was a great time, with Nintendo’s Nintendo 64, Sony’s Playstation, and Sega’s Sega Saturn getting some amazing games. Many of which have become classics, others gained dedicated fanbases that love them to this day. For me, one of those games is The Legend of Dragoon (LoD). The Legend of Dragoon is a Japanese RPG released, in North America, on June 11th, 2000 for the Sony Playstation. It’s an amazing game with some amazing art design, music, and gameplay. While Final Fantasy was continuing its dominance as the premiere series of the genre and the kids at school were praising the series to the moon, I had LoD.

Throughout the years there have been several petitions and threads made by fans like me asking for a remake, or, hell, even a remaster of LoD. Remakes have been a rather big topic in the past decade or so, whether in movies, television, or video games. Some call it blasphemy to remake something that’s already good, while others say it would be nice to see things from a new, more modern perspective. Today I shall live in-between those two sides. We’re going to play the classic game of “How would you remake game X, if you had unlimited resources and full control?” Which is very fitting as I’m writing this with the game’s 22nd anniversary approaching. Now, I’m trying to live in between the two sides I mentioned by first, changing very little about the game in terms of plot, main design philosophies, and style. It would still be a turn-based JRPG at its core. Yes the graphics will be updated to modern PC/PS5/Series X technology. However, there are some things I would change about this game that I love so much, and that’s what we’re going to go over right now. These are nine things I’d change if I controlled a Legend of Dragoon remake. Not in any particular order and with some spoilers.

Dart in Divine Dragon armor

Some Design Updates and Real Time Gear
No, I’m not going back on praising LoD’s art design with this change. And I’m really not trying to do a full overhaul here. I’m only talking about very certain designs and a gear idea. First, the art design change I’m thinking of would be done to Dart’s Divine Dragon armor and some of the designs of the final boss’s forms. In the cutscenes the divine dragon armor is just bad in my eyes and some of the final boss’s forms just seem to go the path of straight up weird instead of the stylish weird most of the game’s other designs have. So allowing some talented artists to take a crack at giving these designs, and some others, a nice new look just feels like the smart thing to do. Second, it would be awesome for the gear you find/buy to be represented on the character models of your party. It can help with the feeling of progression and give some fun in the form of gear combinations.

A wild something-scary appeared

RNG Encounters Removed
Random enemy encounters were among the more divisive elements for games like this.  Though it was nice that LoD gives the player an indicator to know when an enemy encounter was imminent, we’re just going to remove them. In its place we’ll have creatures throughout the map and if you come in contact with them, an encounter will kick off. Now in the interests of fairness LoD does have areas like this throughout its campaign. However we’re going to pull the proverbial trigger and make it standard for the entire game. Of course in certain areas the population of creatures will be greater making the challenge of avoiding battles much harder. Which I think is a great way to bring a fun challenge to level traversal.

Capacity Expansions!!!
LoD by default only has a 32 item capacity. Now if you only ever got healing items this wouldn’t be too bad. But you don’t. There’s attack magic items, non-healing combat items, and even some items that work outside of combat. My main idea is to simply add the ability to upgrade your party’s item capacity. Giving you the option to be more flexible with your inventory choices.

Dart in Red-Eyed Dragoon form

Party Flexibility
Though Dart Feld is our main character in LoD, or at least the more focal character in the party, LoD rather annoyingly has him as a permanent active party character. In combat you have three characters to work with. One of them is ALWAYS Dart with VERY few exceptions. Making the options for combat down to two character slots instead of three, out of a total of seven characters by the time the party is complete. For some battles, typically boss battles, another character will be required as the battle’s narrative may be more tied to them but, even then, Dart is always there. Reducing options to one. Now, don’t get me wrong: Dart IS a good character and very likable, in my opinion. But I’m one of those folks who tries to level up the whole party as evenly as possible. This is especially relevant as, on game overs/subsequent playthroughs, you can keep characters away from some battles that you know they are weak against. And I just plain don’t want to use the “Just kill Dart” strategy, as dead characters do not receive XP. I’m not trying to remove the design choice of having certain characters be in certain fights for narrative purposes. This is all about the other encounters in the game.

Meru transforming

UI Improvements
This change refers to just one thing: dragoon level progression. Upon a character obtaining the ability to transform into a dragoon, that dragoon armor begins leveling up: obtaining more spells and the ability to maintain dragoon form for longer. The problem is you have NO IDEA how that progress is going. It literally becomes a combination of guess work or intensive number tracking to have any idea how long it will be before the next dragoon level up because there is no bar or numbers telling you this information. So we’re fixing that in my remake. There may be other issues that could use some UI improvements I’ve missed but, this is the issue that has always annoyed me the most.

Battle Results Screen

Xp Spread
This is by far the most annoying thing about the original game. All experience is divided up equally among the active party and non-active characters get 50% of that. So a battle that would give 50 xp, would give each active character 16-17 xp and non-actives would receive 8 xp. Now I know that games like this tend to be grindy affairs when it comes to leveling up characters but it was so incredibly annoying that the only reliable times my characters would level up was after boss battles. So for my remake we’re giving every active member the full amount. So as per the scenario I stated above, active members would get 50 xp with non-active members getting 25. I’m sure the issue of level balance would come up but I think raising the level cap from 60 to 100 and adjusting late-game enemy stats would likely balance things out nicely.

Additions Menu

New Additions
The interactive elements of LoD’s battle system is probably the design choice that made me fall in love with LoD’s gameplay the most. And one of those interactive elements is the Addition system. Additions are melee combos the party members can do against enemies. When you set one of your party to do a direct attack on an enemy, a timing minigame will begin. With correctly timed button presses the character will progress through the selected Addition. The number of presses depends on the Addition selected outside of battle. There’s even a chance the enemy will try to break the combo. Now the change I’d like to make with the Additions is simply to add more of them and make some tweaks to when they’re available. Two characters lag behind in terms of how many additions they’ll unlock. And one of them, Rose, seems to be stuck on her first addition long before her second unlocks. Additions become available when a character hits certain levels. This made it feel boring to use her in the active party after her initial Addition is maxed out. So we add some more and adjust some level requirements and I think that’ll do a great job giving players something new to power up and see.

Archer Additions
While we’re on the subject of Additions: the party’s archer has none. So we need to give them something. We could do multiple shots being fired at an enemy. Perhaps a minigame where the better you do the more powerful the archer’s shot will be. Visualized by the more powerful shot simply hitting a more vulnerable part of an enemy’s body. Such as the head. Perhaps even having full party addition where the archer can hit all enemies if completed successfully. Similar to the previous point, this change is all about giving the player more things to play with and enjoy during combat.

Buffing spells are good. Need more buffing spells

Dragoon Spells
When your party members become Dragoons it’s a fun time. You get Dragoon Additions, Spells, and even protection from status effects. But there are ways to make that time even better. Such as more spells and a bigger variety of them. Perhaps having spells that inflict status effects on enemies. More spells that give buffs to the party. Now ,another idea that may be fun is to have a certain number of spell slots that you fill in from a pool of spells that you unlock as your party members level up their Dragoon armor. They say, “variety is the spice of life,” so why not have that philosophy with the options the party’s Dragoon forms can use?

And there we have it. Nine changes I’d make if I had the ability to remake The Legend of Dragoon. Writing this one was a bit bittersweet, I must admit. I’ve been one of those fans who would love to see a remake of this game, but Sony must see a benefit to do it. And, well, we lost a chance to find out if there would’ve been a benefit some years ago. Though it wasn’t a very good chance I’ll admit.

If only…

Back in November, 2012, Sony released PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale. Sony’s version of Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros. Dart was set to be a DLC character added to the roster. However the game’s support was shut down before he could make his appearance. So not only did LoD fans not get to see Dart be acknowledged as a fun part of the Playstation legacy but, there was no longer any chance of his appearance bringing public awareness to the game and perhaps giving Sony an idea of whether a remake would’ve been a viable idea. All we got were some leaked renders. Oh well. A guy can still replay the original and dream right?

Til next time…

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