DragonForce, for the Sega Saturn

Presentation

Very basic. Menus and various other screens lack flair. The cutscenes are told through simple text, often with a small character portrait in the frame. During a major scene, background anime images are shown. There isn't much else worth noting here.

Graphics

Pretty decent. Nothing amazing for the most part, except for the battles. The game can have 200 units on screen, fighting all at once. The frame rate will hardly ever stutter during even the most intense matches. Saturn's 2D abilities truely shine with this game. Honestly though, the sprites are all uniform per unit, and they have very limited animations. I can't deny that it still looks amazing seeing them all fight.

Sound

Just decent. Sound effects are sparse, but serve a purpose. None of the music has caught my attention, but it hasn't annoyed me either. You will probably want to listen to your own music after 10 hours.

Gameplay

A Strategy RPG like nothing I've ever played before. First things first, you'll need to throw out what you think you know about the genre. That Final Fantasy Tactics turn-based stuff does not apply here. This game focuses on two things:

  1. Taking over the country, castle by castle, to gain power.
  2. Maintaing your army, meeting their needs, and making strategic use of their numbers.

Due to it's originality, the learning curve may be steep. You start by picking your ruler, of which there are 8 (Supposedly 2 are unlockable). Each ruler has a unique story campaign with alliances and enemies, and their own section of the country under their rule. You then go forth from there, gaining as much power over the land as possible.

Unit management consists of caring for your multiple generals. You can speak to them all to get an idea of what they expect from you. If you don't treat them right, they will join another army and possibly fight you later on. You are constantly leveling up your generals and yourself (The rulers can do battle personally, but their loss equals a game over). You also can find special equipment for your generals by searching the newly acquired castles. Enemy generals that you capture can be converted to your cause, and sometimes you will find generals in the castles you steal who will then join you. Castles also serve a varying degree of defense for you, depending on their structual condition.

Battles consist of two generals fighting, each with an army of up to 100 units. You select your formation and strategy, and go from there. You can change up strategy in mid-battle for devestating results. Generals can also wield special moves that have a variety of uses, like slaughtering a large portion of the enemy's army, depending on position. It's all about timing. If all units are dead on both sides, the two generals must duel. However you and the enemy have the option to retreat at any time during battles. There are sometimes punishments for cowardly acts though.

The game can last 40-60 hours per campaign, and there are 8 campaigns. You will probably not be motivated enough to play through on a second campaign, but even then, this is a lengthy game.

Overall

I didn't find this game to be as amazing as most reviews said. The unique combat system will draw in most players, but besides that feature, I don't see much reason to actually play this game through to the end. I played for about 35 hours total, and according to a FAQ, I was close to the end. Sometimes it was fun, sometimes it was just a chore. After a while, the battles become boring due to the lack of strategy. You can win nearly all fights by forcing the enemy to huddle together, and then bombing them with your general's special move.

The game has it's moments, but I would not suggest buying it for anything above the $15 point. The experience is highly forgettable.

6.5 out of 10

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