If you ever asked me what my favorite mythological creatures were, they would have to be dragons. Large, fearsome, deadly, one of the ultimate beings that usually take an army, or a small group of incredibly powerful heroes, to earn a victory. Even better, they could fly, and usually made for the hardest of boss fights in games, like Maleficent in the Kingdom Hearts series, or some of the dragons in the Dragon Age series. Those fights, while frustrating at times, look and felt epic, and were some of my favorite boss fights. Maybe not of God of War epic, but still extremely satisfying.
Unfortunately, games that center around dragons, well, they tend be extremely weak. Case in point: Dragoneer’s Aria. Why? Let me explain in just a few simple words: this game commits the worst sin of all, in that it is a boring chore. Time to find out why!
First, the story is very weak and generic. The dragons of the elements are in trouble at the rise of this dark dragon called Nidhogg, and it apparently infects other Dragoons, causing them to target the other dragon gods and kill them. Sounds a bit familiar, doesn’t it? Yes, part of this rips of Chrono Cross, since that game has dragons of each element, were gods, and you to fight them to gain relics to progress through the game; I can’t say anymore because of spoilers. But overall, the story is pretty weak and boring, and graphics don’t really help. They aren’t god awful for a PSP, but it looks boring when the game moves to a cut-scene.
Combine that with cliché, generic, and otherwise boring characters, the plot can’t really be moved to well. Cliché characters can be memorable in games, yes, but they need a very strong story to carry them, and perhaps turn out some traits that are rarely seen, or make them really stand out, thus not making them that cliché to begin with. That is how other characters can become legends and can warrant people wanting another game like this. Well, no one is crying out for this game to get a sequel. In fact, the character design may be the only noticeable thing about them, and that’s only because the main hero, Valen, looks like a women, when he is a guy! This is reminding me too much of Larsa in Final Fantasy XII. Difference there? Final Fantasy XII didn’t bore me!
Next is gameplay, in which things are only made worse. The dragon gods here though do manage to help the characters the more you visit, and you gain their abilities as dragon skills. By using these repeatedly, you can gain more attack power and level them up, as well as level up your own characters as well. Combat takes place with up to four people, and you start out with two characters. From their, you can create accessories, which tends to be boring, equip new gear, etc. There are also magic attacks, but they are useless since your Dragon skills will be absolutely devastating in comparison, no matter who you control. And I also say this because magic attacks are weak, and cost the same as Dragon skills to execute. The exception might be healing magic. Good news is that by perform skills, you can also create combos, though these tend to be lackluster in terms of visuals.
The magic system is perhaps the most unique thing about this game. You see, magic has to be stored, and consumes units, and you have a very small amount, meaning you can’t spam skills. Your team has to work together, and use magic wisely, otherwise they’ll quickly fall against the enemy, or just run out of magic frequently. This system would be better if it actually made sense, like if they all gained magic only through a single artifact, and it had to affect them all, not just one because they all had to draw from it. Here, it affects everyone together with no real explanation, and that bothers me. And you can use magic without the aid of dragons, so it makes it even more confusing.
And how does it all hold up. Well, the game isn’t that difficult to be honest, lacking challenge. Levels, while sometimes big, are boring and left with very little to offer. Boss fights can vary in difficulty, if only because if you level up your Dragon skills, they shouldn’t last too long either. And I didn’t get far enough to see any more differences, since the game bored me to such a point, I could not take playing it anymore. The soundtrack too only helps with this. While not noticeably terrible, that’s the problem: it is not memorable! It just shows how boring this game really is!
As such, don’t bother getting this game. It may seem interesting, but what you are going to get is just boredom. Buy BlazBlue or another PSP game. I only had two days of that, and that game is leagues better than Dragoneer’s Aria!