Games as Lit. 101 – Literary Analysis: The Legend of Dragoon



hello I'm the game professor and welcome to games as litt 101 I haven't had much opportunity to talk about it on this show so far but I love Japanese RPGs the epic stories large casts of relatable characters gorgeous soundtracks vibrant worlds in the 60 our stories packed with plot twists subplots and all sorts of thematic exploration I mean obviously not every entry in the genre is good but there are a few things I love more than an excellent JRPG that said these games are incredibly long and packed to the brim with story content so I actually currently have a policy not to analyze them until I have enough patreon support to justify the sheer amount of time and effort that goes into making these analyses for a game this long that said I made that decision because the first patreon request I got was for the classic ps1 RPG The Legend of Dragoon this is a game I've actually bought a long time ago but it joined my long long backlog and sat on my shelf until I got this request I've since edited my patreon rewards to reflect the amount of work I'll need to put in but this request was still made first and I'm finally making good on it The Legend of Dragoon is an RPG developed in-house by Sony Computer Entertainment they've kind of cornered the market on JRPGs at the time with the exclusivity of Final Fantasy that their console not to mention all the other classic Japanese RPGs on that system but I get the feeling they wanted to get in on that action after Final Fantasy 7 proved to be such a monstrous hit so in December of 1999 The Legend of Dragoon released in Japan with an English localization hitting America and Europe over the next year or so the game was launched to a mixed but fairly positive critical reception but over time it gained something of a lesser-known cult classic status from a dedicated following and it's pretty well beloved even today now this web series is about the game's story so I'm not going to be talking too much about the gameplay but I should mention it because it's one of the reasons people enjoy this game as much as they do The Legend of Dragoon like a lot of good J RPG battle systems takes a traditional turn-based concept and then adds a few unique mechanics here and there to give it a life of its own when you attack in the Legend of Dragoon you don't just choose the menu option and watch it happen you need to time a button press to make the attack stronger each button press you make in the sequence the character attacks again increasing damage and giving you more SP so you can more quickly transform into your powerful Dragoon form as you perform these combos perfectly you unlock more complex and difficult ones that do more damage and acquire more SP it's a neat way to make attacking more interesting and it helps set the game apart from its competitors now I have my ups and downs of the gameplay but I'm not actually going to talk about that anymore after this unless it relates into the story somehow remember these analyses are not reviews I'm not here to describe the game to you and tell you whether it's good or bad or anything like that we're talking about the story and what it means so to that end I'll only really be talking about the gameplay in the future if it relates to how the story is told now then on to the good stuff the Legend of Dragoon is actually pretty matically similar to some other games we've covered on this show notably in that it's about moving forward and accepting change but the unique spin in this case is that it's actually talking about a pretty specific scenario surrounding this concept of change The Legend of Dragoon is about being able to recognize when things aren't as you thought they were perhaps as you wanted them to be or maybe changed from the way you once knew them and being able to adjust accordingly instead of sticking blindly to your outdated perceptions as is befitting of such a concept the game has themes varying from racism to religion to coming-of-age and a variety of other things now the presentation in the story of the game is far far from perfect but it does have a pretty impressive degree of narrative cohesion and that makes it pretty easy for us to connect everything in with a central idea so we're going to do something a little different this time around this game is really really long and a whole lot of things happen in it so if I were to summarize the plot the way I normally do in these analyses we would be here for hours just with me expositing the story to you we don't need that so instead I'm going to give a very very very simplified overview of the basic plot of The Legend of Dragoon before going into more detail on each of the playable characters and then wrapping it all up and tying all to the games established thematic core as always this is a full story analysis it's going to contain a whole lot of spoilers and obviously a summary and analysis can't carry the same emotional weight as the original game so I recommend as I always do that you play the game before watching this video in addition this game is huge significantly bigger than anything I've analyzed before so this might be a little confusing if you haven't played it but I guess we'll find out before we get to the summary though there is one very important thing we need to talk about localization in the early days of gaming many beloved games were coming out of Japan but the industry wasn't the business giant it is now localizing the games was often a secondary priority so not much money or effort was really put into the process the result was a lot of errors many of which are famously comical and this wasn't just a problem with little low-budget Japanese games either even Final Fantasy 7 probably the most culturally significant JRPG excluding the original Final Fantasy had its share of errors along with serious naming mistakes and just generally poor translation the result is quite simply that we can't really judge the writing of these games the story yes and the presentation definitely but the dialogue and such has been filtered through some pretty bad translation the writing in this game could have been of Shakespearean levels of quality for all I know but instead America got this so a lot of the dialogue in this game even oftentimes the good stuff is going to be kind of awkwardly worded and occasionally even kind of confusing but I'm going to overlook that because if I get caught up in how this game is saying things instead of what it's trying to say I'm just gonna get distracted from what the store is attempting to communicate and aside from that it's it's not really fair to judge this game's storytelling based on some people who didn't actually know how to write it all well enough in English so that out of the way let's go ahead and get this summary dart is a young man who left his home village years ago to hunt for a monster who destroyed his original hometown and killed his parents when he was young when he returns to the village where he grew up he finds that Shana his childhood sweetheart has been captured by the sand or an empire for unknown reasons and goes off to rescue her he saves her with the help of Labatt's a knight of Basel and they end up embroiled in the war between basil and sand Dora along with a mysterious woman named Rose who has a draconic soul gem that allows her to transform into a winged form known as a dragoon she awakens this power in dart as well and over the course of the game all the playable characters get their own recruit and spirit the sandor enforces capture albert king of basel and when the party goes to rescue him they cross a man named Lloyd who takes the moon gem one of three sacred moon objects from Albert before killing Labatt's King Albert joins a party in lavitus place and once they wrap up the war we get a whole bunch of backstory the world was created by the gods so ax and the divine tree was left to give birth to the species over time it gave birth to many different species each more complex and powerful than the last but the 108 species the final one was stopped before it could manifest because it was supposed to destroy the world but 11,000 years ago the dragon campaign was fought a war between humanity and the winged leagues the species that came after them and used their flight and other magic to suppress humanity during the fighting the container for the 108 species soul was broken and every 108 years that soul possesses the body of a human child revealed in this case to be Shona Lloyd works for a man named Zeke later revealed to be roses lover in the war 11,000 years ago at Dartz father far later the black monster that destroyed arts village was actually rose who did so in an attempt to kill the moon child but mistakenly killed Shauna's twin sister she didn't know she had instead of Shona herself she kidnapped Shona in order to use her soul to awaken the 108 species in the game needs to stop him before he unleashes it and destroys the world Zeke turns out to be possessed by the spirit of Malvo froma the leader of the winged Lee's 11,000 years ago Andros reunites with Zeke himself and they sacrificed themselves to deliver the blow – Babu promise saving the woman alright that was a lot it all was good it was probably kind of confusing believe it or not probably only a little more confusing than the game itself it's a lot of crazy stuff in there but uh all we really had to do was get the basic plot out there and now we can talk in more detail about the characters the backstory and what it all means and hopefully this should start to make a little more sense it's kind of unfortunate that this is the best way to do this but it really is Shawna is one of the least remarkable characters in this story and dart despite being the protagonist only fares a little bit better than that but together they're actually one of its more interesting parts Shawna is Dartz love interest which is very easy to predict but the romance in this game it unfolds over the first two discs and then continues on after that and it's one of the more believable romances I've seen in a Japanese RPG and what's more the specifics of it play pretty well into the overall themes of the game I mentioned earlier after the destruction of meet the village where he was born dirts grew up in Seles along with Shana but as he grew older he grew more and more Restless about the black monster and eventually left sillas and Shana behind to pursue it by the time the game starts he's actually been gone for years and both he and Shana have changed in his absence I said earlier that this game is about the necessity of recognizing and accepting change and that's exactly the challenge that these two characters face dart still sees Shana kind of like a little sister in need of protection but Shana felt abandoned when dart left and she spent all those years trying to become more independent as a result if dart wasn't going to be there for her then she couldn't count on anyone to be but when he returned dart didn't really realize anything had changed he just saw the same girl he knew when he left Shana does have some trust issues at the beginning which basically just results in her trying a little too hard to be self-reliant instead of trusting anyone else to have her back but ultimately that that can solved a little too quickly to be of all that much consequence darts inability to see her for who she is though for who she's grown into that continues to matter see over time as they grow closer together dart still remains kind of distant part of this is because he still sees Shana as the little girl he has to protect like when they were children but part of it is also that he still plans on pursuing the black monster once all of this is done there's a great scene where Labatt's who tends to play the old wise man roll takes dart aside and talks to him about Shana and he has some pretty good stuff to say again weird wording because of the localization but he just hit the nail on the head here darts been regarding Shana as a little girl he protected as a kid instead of a grown woman who can make her own decisions and take care of herself I mean she's basically useless in battle but I'm gonna pass that off as a minor little narrative inconsistency annoying but not debilitating to the point and the best part is it actually does take them a while to get together and their relationship is developed over way too many small scenes for me to go over in any detail here but it also doesn't drag it out until the end of the game dart and Shana actually get together in a genuinely adorable scene at the end of disc two halfway through this 50 hour game so we get to see a bit of their relationship in the story itself most games don't like dealing with that I know I'm not going into too much detail about how the relationship develops over time or anything but this romance forms over the course of the first two discs of the game it's a four disc game and about a fifty hour RPG so I think it'd be wasting both of our time for me to go into every little detail of every little scene over the course of the first twenty five hours of gameplay the most important thing to note about this romance for the sake of this analysis is that it's based on a genuinely interesting central conflict the difficulty in seeing each other as they are instead of how they once knew each other and that contributes to the overall theme of the game unfortunately Shana is kidnapped by Zeke soon after that so well the bid we got what their relationship was really nice we only get so much more of their development together after they actually get together Shana does have more going on namely that she's the moon child and thus contains the soul of the creature that will if it were unites with its body and the world but she doesn't know about that before the reveal and after it we barely see any more of her so it's not really relevant to her character so at this point I'll transition to just talking about Dartz character arc from that point forward darn actually has one other major element of his character that's important to the overarching story and its major themes and that's the black monster to an extent he had to overcome his obsession with it in order to be with Shana in the first place since being with her essentially means that he's not just going to go running after the black monster again once all this is done but of course that's not the last we hear about it either I'll go over all this a bit more detail when we talk about rose but as you may recall from that rushed synopsis earlier Rose was the black monster this reveal comes at the end of disc three so the two are friends by this point and dart obviously feels betrayed by this and has a really hard time accepting that Rose could naturally he's pretty okay with it yeah this is one of the biggest areas where the game's story is better than the way it tells that story unfortunately it's very important the darts character that he forgive rose that he looked at who she is now instead of blaming her for things that she did in the past that's basically the whole point of this story but he barely even struggles to do it they have a brief sword fight more to get his aggression out than an actual attempt at killing her and then there's a pretty great scene actually where Rose tells dart to kill her since that was what he wanted to do all along but he refuses and he's just kind of okay with her after that and this is one of my major struggles with this game personally it has a lot of interesting character stuff and oftentimes even has a good deal of depth behind it but it rarely actually dives into it all which when you think about it is actually kind of the opposite problem that more JRPGs have here we have one brief scene that touches on so many issues darts been spending three-fourths of the game learning to let go of his vengeful obsession with the black monster so he's in a better position to be able to maturely handle the situation than he would have been at the beginning of the game there's even a scene in disc 3 before the big reveal where Rose asked what he'll do now if he ends up finding the black monster and dart says he isn't sure anymore he's slowly but surely becoming wiser but finding out that Rose a woman he's fought beside and befriended over that same period of time is the one who killed his parents and destroyed his village leaving him an orphan that has to be difficult he's been fighting between his own desire to move past that obsession his friendship with Rose and feelings of guilt and betrayal this reveal would bring up and instead we get one really short scene where dart doesn't even seem to take issue with it very much what's going on here with the characters is great and the outcome is believable that's how it should go but the scene where it all comes to a head is far too simple to adequately address everything that's going on and that things all the time in this game we'll go over some more examples in this analysis though this is probably the one that suffers the most for it anyway that's really the extent of any significant character development for dart from this point on he basically just becomes your typical hero who constantly insists on saving the love interest even when it seems impossible and he doesn't really grow anymore past this he and Shana live happily ever after at the end and that's nice so darts formative character arc is in learning to recognize change in his childhood friend and build a relationship with her with who she is now and in turn to accept ROS for who she is now instead of defining her based on her past transgressions Shana aside from some brief character development in the beginning is basically here for the sake of supporting that character arc which is why we haven't talked about her as much so you can see how the protagonist character arc plays into the theme of recognizing and accepting change and working to make the present as good as it can be instead of dwelling on how you think things should have been so now let's go ahead and talk about the second most important character of the game ROS Rose is kind of a difficult character to talk about in detail because most of what makes her interesting happen literally thousands of years before this game takes place and we don't find out about any of it until about halfway through so you know let's start by going into a little more detail on the events of the Dragon King 11,000 years before the events of the game the 107 species the winged Lee's ruled over humanity and it wasn't a very good rule humans 106 species learn to harness the power of dragons which came right before them in order to fight back and eventually overthrew the language Rose was one of the dragoons who fought in this war with Zeke her lover it was long fought and ultimately Rose was the only survivor but in the course of the final battle the artifact the wind Lee's had created to house the soul of the 108 species was shattered the body was still separated from it held in the sky as the moon that never sets but the soul manifested in a child every 108 years and Rose took it upon herself as the last surviving Dragoon to kill the child that it would possess before it could find its way to the body so Rose lost everything that was important to her and then spent the last 11,000 years on a lonely horrible mission with the weight of the world on her shoulders the only one who could bear that burden she's the closest thing in this game to your stereotypical brooding hero she's cold calculating and practical but ultimately she's also sad and broken underneath it all the key to understanding Rose is understanding that the last 11,000 years have had her doing some pretty terrible but very necessary things she feels shame for what she's done when she allows herself to but she also knows that they were important and had to happen and this taints her view of herself when Rose was young she had a strong sense of purpose stemming from two primary sources the dragon campaign and her fiance Zeke the wigglies were pretty awful toward humanity since they were the newest and most advanced species they thought that gave them the right to rule over humankind and it wasn't pretty it's kind of like how we look back on World War 2 there was a very clear enemy and they were very clearly in the wrong she was fighting for good unquestionably and that gave her purpose and on a more personal level she got fulfillment from her relationship with Zig she felt as though she was contributing to a worthwhile cause and she was personally valued by someone she loved but of course the trouble with basing yourself esteem on outward things is that if those things are taken away you have no more support when the clarity of fighting an evil enemy was over Andros thought her fiance dead she had no more support as she did necessary but very horrible things and she was forced to see herself only based on these things she had to do she had become a monster and she knew it would Rose needs to overcome over the course of this game is her guilt-ridden perception of herself not to say it's entirely without marriage she has plenty of blood on her hands however necessary it may have been but much like dark she needs to forgive herself and move on in the face of a new and better opportunity working with dart and company is a return to what she once knew a just cause an evil enemy and support from people close to her and it changes her put in a new situation she learns to be the person she used to be again rather than the person she's had to be for the last 11,000 years despair is a rather strong emotion once in its grips it can be quite difficult to get back out Rose had more than sufficient reason to end up drowning in it and it's actually really impressive that she managed to hold on for these 11,000 years and continue doing what she was doing in the face of it all but now she's no longer alone and she no longer needs to be doing the horrible things she had to do there's a better way with her friends by her side and she recognizes this and allows herself to change in response to it the final battle of the game ends with her and Zeke giving their lives to destroy Mel boof Rama for good and honestly I'm kind of mixed on my opinion of this ending for Rose on one hand it's the heroic sacrifice that allows the two lovers to be together again in the afterlife and all that and God knows Rose had a long and difficult enough life to deserve the rest but at the same time it seems a shame that it would happen so soon after she learns to live again especially since in all honesty the necessity of the sacrifice seems a little forced making it obvious that it really only happened so Rose and Zeke could be together in death but still it probably doesn't come across too well in an analysis video like this but grows is one of the more interesting characters to watch as the game goes on and she develops and grows and feels some of her wounds and her character arc is pretty solid and contributes quite well to the game's overall themes laughs it's as a soldier in the service of King Albert and he's basically the wise old man of the group he's not that old but he plays the role anyway he doesn't really have much of a character arc he gives a ton of great advice and dies at the end of the first disc to move the plot forward and motivate the characters so you know wise old me despite Labatt's is relative simplicity as a character he is pretty definitely my favorite character in this game which actually made his death one of the more emotional moments of it for me but we are going to talk about that more detail of me Labatt's is defining quality is loyalty he's endlessly loyal to King Albert he's similarly loyal to dark after they spend time fighting at each other's side and getting the little bromance going and he even not only gives his life trying to save Albert but actually ends up later on giving his soul to let the party into the final dungeon in fact well he's generally far more wise and level-headed than anyone else in the game his loyalty supersedes even that when he hears that Albert has been captured hasha literally needs to punch him into unconsciousness to keep him from rushing into a situation that he couldn't handle and he rushes to his death because Lloyd hurt King Albert when he got the moon gem and when you go to the capital of Basel you end up spending half the time in the city visiting his mother who he loves very much overall he's certainly the least flawed of this cast of characters which could be boring but actually works out pretty well he's only in the first fourth of the game or so so obviously there's not as much time and he doesn't need to have as much development as the other characters do and he does have an interesting bit of character development near the beginning and for that matter his death itself is very influential on the characters for basically the rest of the game the only real character development Labatt's gets is when he confronts Graham the man who betrayed and murdered his father though really this exchange is more interesting for gram than Labatt's it's basically the typical exchange where Labatt's comes to understand the person who wronged him but of course the person is still terrible and fights him and Labatt's defeats him and gains inner peace from the proceedings and a dragon spirit so that's me but more interesting is Graham's story itself he recounts that when he fought by the side of lab as his father he was always lagging behind him a bit in power normally this is where jealousy would drive him to murder in a story like this but actually this story takes a bit of a different twist it was fear fear that Graham would never be truly great that he'd always be in someone else's shadow that he had plateaued in his power and no matter how hard he tried he would always be insufficient so he sought the power of the Dragoon spirit and killed lavitus father to get it I really like this idea for a character but of course it's all explained in this one exchange that's pretty brief and it's all stated in a very simple and concise manner which again not normal for Japanese RPGs I'm still not really sure if the writers here were lazy or just really concise and wanted to let us infer things but most of what I just explained was not even explicitly said in this scene anyway Levitz is my favorite character in the game because he's a very stable and comforting presence among the group but ultimately he's not the most complex he's the obi-wan to darts Luke Skywalker and well this makes his death pretty powerful it's unfortunately undercut by the fact that the developers apparently wanted to play it safe and not let the story affect the gameplay too much Labatt's is immediately replaced in the party by King Albert who will the same weapon carries over the exact same stats as Labatt's down to the amount of experience and even the amount of addition uses the story loses a character but the gameplay loses absolutely nothing I'm not going to bring this up again because it's an unfair comparison and Legend of Dragoon does have an identity of its own but it's obvious that it takes a lot of inspiration from Final Fantasy 7 which also killed a beloved character at the end of its first disc and all fairness basically every Japanese RPG since Final Fantasy 7 in one way or another takes a level of inspiration from Final Fantasy 7 but in any case I don't think Dragoon really understands what made that death so powerful someday I'll analyze Final Fantasy 7 and go into more detail but for now and without spoilers the one thing I'll point out is that Albert immediately replacing Labatt's cheapens his death it keeps the impact squarely in the realm of the story and doesn't affect us on any practical level part of the brilliance of how this was handled in Final Fantasy 7 is that once that character died they were gone they had an entirely unique weapon class their own set of Limit Breaks they were their own unique character and a third of the way through the game they simply were no more we weren't only affected emotionally by the death of a beloved character we were affected practically by the loss of a teammate as well and that kind of blending of narrative and gameplay worked to great effect but when we just immediately get a replacement functionally identical in every way we don't feel the loss as much and it loses much of the impact the narrative can pack an emotional punch but when it could also use our interaction to make it stronger this really just seems like a missed opportunity to me I do feel kind of sad that I don't have all that much to say about Labatt's because like I said favorite character but there's just not much to say he's just too perfect to lend himself to much discussion which of course is why he's awesome Paschal is a martial arts master dark meets at a fighting competition he goes with the party because he's been searching for his daughter for over 20 years and figures the party's important mission can be a good break from that search while still taking him around the world enough to possibly run into her if Albert is the replacement for Labatt's mechanically then hash hole is the replacement for him in the story to an extent hash hole is the oldest character in the party aside from Rose of course he has plenty of wise things to say and is generally more level-headed than everyone else similar to Labatt's but he is a bit more of a complex character his family is tasked with passing on the tradition of a unique fighting style and he made the classic parent mistake of pushing his daughter too hard in the direction he wanted her to go so hard in fact that she accidentally killed another student while training under him that was the last straw for her she never wanted to learn how to harm others anyway and now she actually had killed someone with it and she ran away that was the last time he ever saw her now we don't actually learn those details until late in the story so for most of the game hash was just a wise old man who's pretty powerful in battle and he only really comes to terms with his own mistakes right near the end of the game but his arc also fits quite well into the game's overall theme of accepting change he had a certain expectation for his family a plan about how things would work out and it didn't he tried to force it any way to push the martial-arts techniques onto his daughter but his unwillingness to accept that she didn't want that ended up getting someone else killed and scarring his daughter emotionally to the point where she ran away his inability to recognize when his plans had to give way to his daughter's desires for her own life and her happiness resulted in him losing her so obviously he fits into the overall themes of the story pretty well but he also has one other major thing going for him and that would be dart it's implied actually quite subtly that hassles daughter is actually darts mother on one hand this adds an extra layer of tragedy the hash holes mistake since she was killed when the black monster destroyed neat and he'll never get to see her again but the silver lining is that Paschal has a grandson and is dedicated to seeing him through this trial in a way dart represents a chance to make up for the wrongs he's done his family it's a simple character arc but it's effective anthem play appropriate mehru is a common fan favorite she's endearing excitable that she has adorably clumsy animations now here's the thing about marriage she has more to her character than most but her arc is less about her and more about using her as a device to explore the game's themes of racism oh yes this game touches on racism not in any spectacular way mind you but it certainly does go there there are a few different elements of the story the tap into this topic but by far the most emphasized is in the game's exploration of Wing Lee civilization and culture Moreau joins up with the party in disc 2 for seemingly little reason aside from her curiosity she later says that she saw something in dart that people tend to follow which is certainly an element of his character so that's good enough for me but later in the game it's revealed that she's actually a winged Lee one of a small community of survivors from the dragon campaign 11,000 years ago though she and many others there weren't actually alive than themselves she chose to leave the community to see what humanity was actually like and as a result was banished from ever returning as you might expect they're not too happy to see a return either even her parents have some mixed feelings about it the winged Lee's have a racial supremacy thing going on since they were born from the divine tree after humanity and they can fly and use magic they see Humanity is a simple and barbaric race and the idea that Mara would leave the glory of their own race and culture to travel with humans is seriously frowned upon now the racism parallels here are pretty obvious but the game actually does go a bit further into the issue that I've seen most games go we get a full view of the winged Lee's racist ideology the injustice as they perpetrated on humans in the past and even the relatively casual racism that still haunts their people when the party visits the ruins of ancient Wing Lee cities they discover many disturbing things about the ancient Society well Rose already knew them but that's beside the point the wing Lee's subjugated humanity as they believed was their sacred right as the superior species and would even put races like humans and giganta's in Coliseum's to fight to the death it's like if Rome was ruled by magical flying Nazis ultimately they basically became control freaks of the highest degree they even created a magical machine to intercept Souls on their way to the afterlife so the wingless could judge them themselves and decide whether a given soul deserved heaven or hell I mean holy crap and it's implied not only that humans were never favorably judged but that the machine has still been intercepting souls in the eleven thousand years since the winged Lee civilization fell the racism of the wingless was accompanied as racism often is with the belief that they were superior not just to other races but as a whole that the world was theirs by right they sought power it didn't even make sense for them to have because they felt they had a right to it and innumerable people suffered as a result of their pride and of course having their civilization destroyed by humanity did not ease this prejudice at all now what relatively few wing Lee's remain are locked away in a secret Forest Village and most of them still harbor hatred for humans and often it's entirely irrational based on the tales of old wing Lee's since no one who actually grew up in this village has ever even met a human mehru was kicked out for even trying they've locked themselves away to stew in their ignorant hatred and the results of putting themselves in a racist echo chamber entirely separate from the people they're so harshly judging are evident but Mayor who actually sets a great example for how passed in justices are to be dealt with in the present she vehemently opposes those who ignorantly hate humanity but she also recognizes evil within humans when it pops up as obnoxiously joyful as she is she's not so naive as to see either humans or wing Lee's as the enemy but instead acknowledges the good and evil inside both of them and perhaps most difficult she feels the guilt of her people's crimes and seeks to make things right by improving modern relations with humanity there's a scene where the party discovers the old Coliseum and mayor gets genuinely upset that she's part of the legacy of the wing Lee's who would do such horrible things she doesn't brush it off as dead and gone because the effects of that injustice are still felt she genuinely feels remorse for it but of course as the group is quick to remind her those and justices are not her own and she is not defined by the sins of her forebears her sensitivity to the sins her people perpetrated in the past is commendable as is her willingness to take control of her own choices and be something better themes of racism are actually pretty common in fantasy even if it's not a perfect parallel since the races in these fantasy scenarios usually do have actual differences between them aside from just the color of their skin but it still gets the idea across quite well and this game does the topic surprising justice through its portrayal of Mary's relationship with her own people and with humanity and once again we get a major theme of the game that fits very well into its overall message everyone involved in this situation needs to accept change and let go of their old assumptions the wigglies need to recognize the validity of the other races and embrace positive change by working together with them and mara needs to recognize that the actions of her civilization were horrible and should be remembered as such but that doesn't affect her own obligations and values and she needs to continue moving forward as she sees fit as a character Mero is fairly simple she's a good-hearted descendant of a tyrannical society who fights fiercely for the Equality of species and by the end of the game that's still pretty much all she is and really it's all she needs to be she's the bridge to allow this game to tackle issues of racism and racial tensions and to that end it works pretty well this last character section I'm going to talk about the three remaining playable characters from the game that we haven't talked about yet they are all major characters so of course they're worth talking about but they also get significantly less character development than the others so they didn't really need their own full sections we'll start with Albert he's the king of Basel which itself is only half the kingdom of Serio he came into the throne when he was only six years old after his father was killed half the kingdom was his to rule and half was given to him for a dole the one sending Sandor and troops all around in the first half of the game he also knew Labatt's sense of a young age and the two were very close Albert just doesn't get much development after replacing Labatt's on the team he does have a distinct personality most notably he's the most refined and well educated character in the party and he often has knowledge of history or geography or one thing or another that helps the team figure out what it is they're supposed to do in a given situation and that's all well and good he's he's a fun character to have around but he doesn't change or develop all that much his defining element is his obligation to Sergio but since he leaves the capital to help darken company save the world this issue doesn't have a very strong presence in the game mostly it just manifests as feeling a responsibility to save the world along with a good deal of remembering how much Labatt's had inspired him Labatt's taught him how to fight and generally had a huge impact on his life and his memories stays with the game largely through Albert's presence and reminiscence he's an enjoyable character but there's just not really all that much to talk about Kangol on the other hand is a little more interesting he's a giganto one of the 97th species born of the divine tree and he's the last loving member of that race he's an interesting character in that his culture was a relatively simple one and valued strength above all else he's actually a boss early in the game but when dart defeats Emperor dole Kangol joins him since he's proven himself the strongest but that's not all there is to him heed Kangol is another character who contributes to the game's themes of racism though admittedly not nearly as much as MERIS scenario does his people were wiped out by humans but Emperor dole came along to stop it he was too late unfortunately but found Kangol and the wreckage and took him in doles kindness to coggle who would only know hatred from humanity where this was inspiring to him and Congo like Meru fights for a world where all the species are equal the unfortunate moral decline of Emperor Dole is interesting but it's not particularly relevant to what we're talking about here the important thing is that Congo followed the person who showed him the greatest strength as well as the greatest mercy but eventually Emperor doles strength and mercy turned into doing great harm to the people of sérgio instead and when he was defeated by another someone both stronger and more merciful than him Congo followed him unfortunately what little character development we get from Congo after this point mostly centers around him trying to be the strongest and to a lesser extent the rather typical theme of mercy and kindness not being a weakness but he's an enjoyable character nonetheless and finally we have Miranda probably the weakest of the game's entire cast she's the Albert de Shawna's laughs it's replacing her once she's taken out of commission and captured after the halfway point of the game and will they give her enough of her own character to distinguish her she never gets enough development to be much more than just the woman who replaced Shawna the only real insight we get into her character is shoved into the final stretch of the game where she's confronted with a vision of her abusive mother in the form of a battle and this whole situation makes me sad because lord knows we need more video games that deal with difficult subjects like this but unfortunately this just does it really really poorly it takes it from the angle that there was more to the story than she knew and for that matter more than she could have understood at the time given her young age and and that's good that that's a good approach but ultimately her mother still abandoned her and in doing so indirectly contributed to her life of poverty and the death of her father but once she finds out life wasn't easy on her mother either she kind of just lets it all go not just forgiving her but acting like she didn't even do anything wrong at all and that's not really how that works and though it fits within the overall theme of accepting change to your assumptions and acting accordingly it's just not a very well-done example that it ends up kind of problematic in the message it gives she has some interesting elements to her character but none of it gets expanded on enough for us to really care and she ends up being that the simplest of all the characters in this game by far so I just I just don't have much to say about her I and it's unfortunate and it's kind of an anticlimactic note and the character analyses on but whatever it's what we got so let's go ahead and talk about how all this fits into the story as a whole so I've spent a ton of time going over the characters but there's some stuff to gain from the overall plot of this game – and I only went over that really really really briefly early on in the analysis so I'm gonna conclude this video by going back to the plot the grand scheme of The Legend of Dragoon and talk about how it relates to the themes that we've been established as I very very briefly summarized earlier the world of The Legend of Dragoon was created by the gods so on wait a minute that God who planted a tree that would yield all the species is called Sowa who put a seed in the ground scald so oh my god and the divine tree was left on the earth to release increasingly powerful and complex life-forms over a long period of time eventually culminating in the final life horn number 108 that would destroy the world and begin it anew it is against this design and Mel booth Rama's insistence on bringing it to fruition that our heroes fight now many a JRPG ends up with the characters needing to fight a malevolent God or at least a being with near godlike powers of one kind or another that's nothing new whatsoever but the Legend of Dragoon does do something I'm not sure I've ever seen any game do before on this front you don't actually fight a malevolent God the characters are instead of fighting the systems put in place by an absent God The Legend of Dragoon is the only game I can think of that approaches its world and mythos from an explicitly deist perspective to simplify it a whole bunch deism is the religious belief that there is a creator a god but whoever they are they're absent from the world and don't involve themselves in its affairs naturally this excludes most organized religions since they tend to believe in a God who reveals themselves through a holy book and is to one extent or another still invested in what happens here now one could certainly argue that Sola is evil given their plan to make a world and populate it with 108 different species millions of lives over the course of thousands of years and then just wipe it all away at the end and destroy all of those lives yeah without soy around to defend its own actions especially it's very easy to make that argument but regardless of whether Sowa is evil or not they're not the enemy of this game they never make an appearance at all we're not fighting against soya in the Legend of Dragoon not against the god itself we're just fighting against the system's put in place at the creation of their world Mel boof Rama then seems to believe that this plan is the ultimate good and to be fair that's understandable in a sense many philosophies across history have defined morality and the purpose of humanity based on the nature of the god or gods they believed in and in that scenario it's understandable to think that the plan put into place by the Creator would be the ultimate goal of our existence and the ultimate good we should strive for but again Legend of Dragoon has one major difference between its religious situation and that of most world religions on which those philosophies have been based so ax is no longer present the concern here is not pleasing a God who's invested in your life and decisions it's simply fulfilling the vision of a creator that's no longer involved or interested in what happens this means that the entire plot of The Legend of Dragoon is in essence caused by someone prioritizing the original vision for the world over the only people to whom its fate actually matters anymore the world is full of countless lives now people trying to live their lives and protect what they love and enjoy ssoas creation The Legend of Dragoon posits that this life the complexity of everything that is flawed and beautiful to come out of the divine tree is worth more than any plan that so it could have had at the beginning of the world and that as the people whose lives are at stake the people who now live in this world and need it they have the right to deny that destiny and choose their own and this is the ultimate expression of the games major theme Mel bouff Rama's mistake was in failing or perhaps even refusing to realize that the world so accreted outgrew its original plan that the cosmic machinations of some being who clearly doesn't even care anymore are not as important as the people and the lives that have sprung up here since that plan was created and that mistake caused so much pain death and suffering The Legend of Dragoon is about the ability and indeed the necessity of recognizing change and being able to adjust your own approach to something when it becomes clear that your old assumptions are no longer valid and it expresses this in a great variety of ways it's in the whole plot with Mel booth drama trying to stick with ssoas original plan it's in all of the commentary on racism and Prejudice and long-held grudges it's in darts love for Shona roses forgiveness of herself and Mary's testimony to the wigglies about the human race and of course that's what the whole story is about about seeing when a plan is no longer as important as the people it puts at risk when a world has outgrown whatever reasons it was created and when to focus on what's important instead of blindly charging toward your original goal without consideration to how the world changes around you because things do change and sometimes we need to change with them and that's okay I do think that The Legend of Dragoon has a good number of stumbling blocks on the way to effectively communicating these ideas I dealt with some of them here but I didn't obviously go into all of my likes and dislikes about the game because this is an analysis of the story not a review but I did have a number of issues with it but even so I am genuinely impressed at how well it all came together thematically and how well everything fit I don't think it necessarily deserves to stand among the absolute best of the JRPG genre but it definitely did what it did well enough to earn the following it has thank you for joining me on this trek through a classic RPG I hope you enjoyed the video and learn something about the game and whatever your thoughts I look forward to hearing them in the comments also if you enjoyed the video I ask that you consider hitting that subscribe button down there as well as the links in the description to follow games has let 101 on Twitter and on Facebook I'll also remind you really quick that this episode was requested by a patron and if you would like to tell me to analyze a game of your choice you can click the patreon link down in the description and consider supporting the show in exchange for being able to tell me what to do next week we're addressing a major shift video games of experience since the arcade days a shift from giving the player a challenge to giving the player an experience and next month on literary analysis the votes are in I asked you which horrible game I should analyze as a celebration for reaching one of my patreon goals and you all wanted to subject me to metroid other m so all right that's what's happening next month so until then class dismissed and I was going to analyze journey next to you

28 thoughts on “Games as Lit. 101 – Literary Analysis: The Legend of Dragoon

  1. LOD 2 : story of the Dragon Campaign
    LOD 3 : story of Dart's descendants

  2. If I wanted to reach out to someone and ask about making a HD remaster or remake of Legend of Dragoon, who would I try to get in contact with? Sony?

  3. Awsome video, awsome game. I completely missed the part where winglies intercepted souls and judged them on their own. Yikes

  4. Today I said to myself "Hm, I want to see a video about Legend of Dragoon", since I was too young to understand english when I played this game… So thank you for giving me all the context of this game… Which seems cursed to me, since every damn time that I get into the 4th disk I have some kind of hardware problem. Lost my playstation, lost my memory card, lost my computer… Anyway. Great video. Just subscribed and i'm expecting a ton of great content from now on 😀

  5. "…Into the game's overall theme…" "…With the overall theme…" "…To it's overall message…"

    I DON'T CARE.

    I'm not sure if you keep bringing that up because the creator specifically states that, or that's simply your conclusion about the game, but the game is just what it is.

    If it's good it's good, if it's bad it's bad. Whether it aligns with the other is unrelated. I suppose it reinforces the point for them to be united, but I would argue it is enriching when it isn't, so no big deal.

    Criticism aside, I note that the game end goal is preventing the final being to exist, which is… Kinda unfair, to said being. I mean sure it can destroy the world, so it's dangerous, but it is not _evil_, at least not yet. It doesn't even given a chance. Merely existing is enough crime for it that fate prevents it. It's sentenced to oblivion for something it never even done. Or maybe I'm just reading it wrong?

  6. I love legend of dragoon. This video is so amazing and In depth. You got an easy sub

  7. You need to play saga frontier 2

  8. Still my favorite video in all of GAME AS LIT. I love it (and the idea behind the story).

  9. best psx game ever .. i demand a 2nd or remake HD version if not i replay it again like i do for 20 ish years

  10. Also, he didn't really talk much about Lloyd; I thought he was pretty important to the story…,

  11. "I will be giving a very very VERY brief summary of the story."
    notices the video is 48 minutes long
    Oh. Oooohhhh….that's a big story.

  12. I like what you did.. But theres nothing preventing you from doing a part II and talking about the evil-dragoons, Their powers, Characters and flaws more in depth.

  13. But King Albert's combos are faster, and thus harder to pull of than Lavit's, I also remember feeling like he did a bit more damage, but that might just have been the speed increase.

    I also always felt that the Moon Child as we see it was never Sowahs intention. Either the creature was nothing like the winglies perceived it, only intended to transform the world in some way (keep in mind the tendency of all it's hosts to be kind and generous, aside from Melbu Frahma who inherited the soul by force). Or as a sortof adversary intended by Sowah to test it's creations will to live. In other word's either it was originally intended to be a more benevolent force, that was ultimately corrupted by wingly intervention, (see the Winglies soul capturing device) or it was the ultimate test, always intended to be overcome by the other 107 species. But that's just me, I doubt the Japanese developers would have seen it that way.

  14. Im only through the plot summary, and color me impressed. Such a good summary. So brief. So nice.

  15. Love this game. Just discovered your series here and it seems like my cup of tea. I'm looking forward to seeing more of it. 🙂

  16. One of my favorite final boss battles. The story was awesome to me and still is; I feel that Drake and Shirley should of replaced Albert and Miranda. Yes, that is mostly my bias of wanting a ghost and Drakes atks in my party but I loved the snipit of story we got from them.
    But, I seriously love that every character got their own moment of spot light in the final area. Haschel and Meru are my favorite characters; but one point you missed is that each character some what repressented the element of their dragon. Dart was self consuming and as likely to destroy as to save. Miranda was really pure and shana really bright. Lavits and Albert were light and caught up with every little thing. Meru was solid at times and vapent at others (even if an act) she went with the flow and was cool. Kongol was dense. Haschel at times was flashy. Rose was Dark and caught in her own gravitose.
    I know not the best comparisons but I am sure you can see how they each were thematiclly linked to the elements of their dragoons.

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