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Dragon Valor
Review By: Jared Black
Developer:   Namco
Publisher:   Namco
# of Players:   1
Genre:   Action/RPG
ESRB:   Teen
Date Posted:   01-02-01

In almost every way, Dragon Valor is a throwback to the old 16-bit days. Everything is boiled down to its most basic premise, whether it is graphics, sound or gameplay. That’s not to say there isn’t anything to like here, because there is.

The storyline is a simple one. You are Clovis. A fierce dragon kills your sister and thus you vow revenge. You set out to vanquish the dragon with the help of your trusty magic sword. The storyline is as simplistic (and predictable) as it sounds, but what helps to break up the monotony of the story just a bit is the fact that you will control multiple heroes in your quest. The storyline is broken up into several different chapters, and in each chapter you will control a different descendant of Clovis. So while the storyline is in itself cliché and predictable, what really matters the most in an action/RPG is how well the game plays.

Unfortunately, nowhere is this baseness more apparent than in the gameplay. This is 16-bit old-skool action/RPG gameplay to the core. Like every other action/RPG, this one is 99% action. You’ll hack ‘n slash your way from left to right (with the occasional down to up), vanquishing generic enemy after generic enemy. After clearing an area you’ll move on to another cutscene, which will serve to set up the next bit of action. The items that will assist you on your quest are broken up into two categories, consisting of those that can be inherited and those that cannot. Items that are only useable for one generation include things like chalices (raises max. HP) and Potions (restores HP and MP). Inheritable items include things like Pendants (raises max. HP value) and Rings (raises attack power). There are other aspects to the gameplay (such as puzzles), but they’re all so simplistic and basic in nature that they really aren’t worth going into detail about because they don’t add anything significant to the game.

Your actual character controls pretty well. Different simple button combinations result in 14 different types of physical attacks. In addition to these there are 8 different types of magic you can gain. These include Heal, Fire, Thunder, Stealth, Defense, Ice, Vortex and Mine. Only one type of magic can be used at once however, and whichever type of magic is active at the time can be used with the simple push of the circle button. But while the controls are easy enough to master, character movement feels a little loose. Frequently I found myself having to fight my character to get him to go to the proper place, often resulting in wayward attacks and stepping on poisonous mushrooms I tried to avoid.

The graphics are also rather simplistic. While a lot of the textures look pretty nice (especially for a PSX game), polygonal models for the most part just look wrong. Certain features are exaggerated (not in the typical anime style either) and look silly. Also, environments are pretty sparse and drab. Of course, the one thing that really shines in the graphics is what matters most: the dragons. No doubt dragon fans (yes they’re out there) will be lured to this title, and they will not doubt be thrilled when they see the incredibly details dragons in this game.

The sound is also simplistic. Not a single music piece in the game manages to rise above "appropriate"…. you’ll get your cheery music in cheery places and you’re spooky music in spooky places. The sound effects are also just "there". They do their job and nothing more. One thing I was disappointed in though is the lack of voice acting. Dragon Valor takes the "Zelda" approach of having characters occasionally shout out with joy or make other grunts and grumbles, but in a game such as this good voice acting would’ve helped to add to the drama.


-Hack ‘n slash is still fun.
-Dragon models are impressive


-The storyline is weak…. even for an action/RPG
-Character models and areas are average
-Repetitive gameplay


If you’re into side-scrolling action/RPGs and/or big dragons, you’ll no doubt enjoy Dragon Valor. Otherwise, there are too many flaws to make it a recommended purchase.

Overall Score: 6.8
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