|Editor Rating:||7/10, based on 2 reviews|
|User Rating:||8.0/10 - 1 vote|
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Dragon Valor, loosely based on the old arcade game Dragonbuster, seems to avoid categorization. Strength and defense statistics, along with magic and the medieval setting, create an RPG feel to a certain extent, but the gameplay is firmly action-based: You duck, jump, run and (of course) attack your way through the scrolling platform levels. Defending is simple enough--don't hit a button, and you automatically block. The stripped-down statistics system is pretty plain too: hit points, magic points, strength and defense. Defeated enemies leave booty behind, money or items you can use to boost your stats, or recover your magic and hit points. Dragon Valor mixes elements from a number of genres, but in the end feels like a hack-and-slash platformer more than anything else.
The plot follows a family of dragon hunters. The main character, Clovis (yup, that's really his name and no, he doesn't live in a trailer) is understandably upset when his sister is murdered by a dragon. Bent on revenge, he sets out to kill as many of the big lizards as he can find.
But fighting dragons isn't the only kind of action he's looking for. During his travels, Clovis meets a pair of ladies, and you get to choose which one he will marry. Your decision affects the next chapter of the game, where Clovis' son carries on his father's quest for vengeance against those overgrown lizards (see sidebar for more details).
The dragons appear in amazing detail during the introductory FMV, and some of the spell effects (especially invisibility) are truly impressive. Unfortunately, most of the graphics seem pretty dull for a modern PlayStation title. The lack of camera control also gave us a few problems in the previewable version--it's tough to jump around on 3D platforms without it.
Still, there's a surprising lack of action RPGs for Sony's system--just Vagrant Story, Alundra and...not much else worth mentioning. Dragon Valor does introduce a few intriguing new elements; whether or not it has the overall gameplay to back them up remains to be seen.
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With all the attention Namco's fighting games have been getting recently, one might forget the fact that they actually make games other than fighters and racers. A far cry from Soul Calibur, the upcoming Dragon Valor is reminiscent of Square's 1998 action-RPG Brave Fencer Musashiden.
The branching story line tells the tale of Clovis, a man on a quest to avenge the loss of his sister and hometown to Rage, the dragon. For the duration of the first chapter, you assume the role of Clovis. Depending on your actions here, you'll meet up with one of two women. After this chapter, you control your son (whose name depends on who you marry), who was the result of the aforementioned meeting. The abilities of your son as well as the dragons you encounter during the game depend on how well you performed as Clovis.
The basic gameplay can be best described as a combination of Brave Fencer Musashiden and Zelda 64. Within the many dungeons are puzzles that must be solved in order to progress. Most of these puzzles are fairly simple and involve moving large blocks over switches to open gates. Clovis and Clovis, Jr. have a variety of physical sword attacks, including a three-hit combo, a dashing thrust and a Zelda-esque charged swirl attack.
Upon defeating boss characters, you acquire colored books granting you eight different forms of magic: heal, fire, thunder, ice, defense, stealth, vortex and mine. When enemies expire, they leave behind money called Val. You can use the Val you collect to purchase and sell items, MP or HP in various shops throughout the game.
The biggest difficulty gamers will have to overcome is the camera system. While not a completely static camera, you can't control the angle at which you view the action. This could lead to missing important power-ups and Val or being unable to see an incoming enemy attack (missing platforms and plunging into the lava below is also a bit frustrating). Dragon Valor has already been released in Japan, and is set for a May release in the U.S. If you've been looking for a Zelda-type game on the PS and weren't satisfied with Legacy of Kain, Dragon Valor may be worth checking out.