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
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.