Legend of Legaia
Reviewed: 03/18/2005


In 1998, Contrail, Prokion, and Sony got together to give the RPG crowd Legend of Legaia. Said crowd had been growing rapidly, thanks to games like Final Fantasy VII attracting droves of genre-newcomers. Legaia would appeal to this newly-enlarged audience with 3D graphics, but more so with its unique battle system. The companies’ efforts translated into an RPG that certainly isn’t among the PlayStation’s elite, but still enjoyable.

Starting with the game’s highlight feature–its battle system–Legend of Legaia feels different than most any RPG on the original PlayStation. The system is somewhat similar to that of Xenogears, but even that is a very distant relationship. Players start the battle by, as is common, selecting commands for each character. The twist in Legaia is that regular attacks are entered with a series of directional button-pushes. The up arrow is a high attack, the down arrow a low attack, etc. Certain combinations will form special attacks called “arts.” Learning New Arts and blending the specials together in nice combos to get the most out of an attack is a quest that will last almost the entire game.

Screen Shot
Fire-based special attack

But what won’t last the entire game is the fun the battles produce. For about the first 15-20 hours or so, the fighting is great. But then (or perhaps earlier) the player notices these battles take a long time. The process of winning a fight can be fun to watch, but takes a ridiculous amount of time.

This is partly due to the magic system, though. When a character defeats an enemy, a special (and living) piece of their equipment might absorb that enemy as a summon spell. While this makes for a very cool and fairly unique magic system, some of the spells are really long. This doesn’t bode well when you consider the game takes a few seconds to stop and stare at someone when they just finished an attack.

Speaking of slow-moving, we come to the story. The premise of the game is that an evil mist is ruining the world and turning people into monsters called “seru.” To make a long story short (and the length happens to be its primary downfall), special “Ra-seru” can protect people that wear it from the mist. Three of such pieces choose Vahn, Noa, and Gala to lead the fight against this mist and the monsters it’s making. This is done by finding dead “Genesis Trees” and using the Ra-seru to revive them. There’s obviously a little more to it, but I’m not here to tell you the story–just tell you that it starts out mildly interesting and stays at that same level all game long…never really gripping you.

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The graphics look much nicer than this on your TV. Sorry.

One reason that the story doesn’t do much for the game is that we don’t know very much about the characters. There is some hard-fact-type information given and we see glimpses of their pasts, but nothing about them really helps the player get to know these people until too late in the game. Up to that point, the players are just playing because they know that’s the only way to see the end. This is too true with the main character. It’s hard to give a crap about Vahn. I personally cared more about the first town of Rim Elm more than any of the characters’ lives. Strange but true.

On the technical level, the game can compete with any other RPG on PlayStation, and even a couple of the PS2’s. The graphics are easily some of the best seen in a 32-bit RPG, when all thigns are considered. Parasite Eve had amazing CG cinemas, but the characters looked grainy and the camera could be troublesome. Final Fantasy IX had much the same problem with its grainy looks. Legend of Legaia, on the other hand, looks great in CG as well as in-game, in battle as well as outside of battle; the grain is kept to a minimum. Sorry the screenshots here don’t do much for it, though. It’s much better on your TV.

The music is just as good. It has a great sound to it and doesn’t get bothersome. The town themes are especially nice. There are certainly no flaws in the graphics or sound.

Screen Shot
Vahn uses another special

There is, however, a bit of flaw in the gameplay. The game’s dungeon areas use little imagination. The puzzles are very simple and the layouts are just a series of straight paths. With the good looks that Legend of Legaia shows, it would have been nice to see a bit more eye candy while exploring. On this same note, there aren’t many hidden treasures to find. Chests are usually just placed out in the open, or at the end of a dead-end path: Very unimaginative. At least the very fun mini games in the tower-type city of Sol can provide hours of entertainment. Sol is comparable to FF7’s Gold Saucer, as it has some story purposes, but can be revisited to play mini games such as slot machines and other neat time-consumers.

Legend of Legaia provides an overall average-grade RPG experience. It does have an attraction in its battle system, but after a while, going through the long process of choosing long attacks that will take a long time to execute gets tiresome. Likewise, near the end of the game, the player could think it’s over up to 3 different times. When one certain battle ends, the player had every reason to think the game is over…but it isn’t. Then, the very next boss fight, this happens again. But no no, some plot element has not been resolved for a reason that is just now becoming known! …And yet another “final” fight ensues. The strengths mentioned in this review balance out these weaknesses, but can’t overpower them enough to really make the game shine. It’s okay, but not great.

-Heath Hindman

Score Breakdown
Below Average
Out of 10
See our Review Criteria
Gameplay Average
Story Bad
Graphics Excellent
Sound/Music Great
Replay Value Horrible
The Verdict: 4