Back in the day, Sega and Nintendo were fierce rivals, with Sega making adverts that insist that their consoles do, what Ninten-don’t. Well, Sega released the Saturn, which received a mild reception at best; but also hosts one of the rare hidden gems known as Dragon Force. And I’m not talking about the band.
Dragon Force is set in the world Legendra, which lived in an era of prosperity under the watch of the benevolent goddess Astea, until it came under siege by the evil god Madruk and his armies. To stop him, a defender came in the form of the Star dragon Harsgalt, and his chosen warriors known as the Dragon Force. Unfortunately, personal disputes amongst the Dragon Force led to their downfall and left Harsgalt to face Madruk. The two faced each other in a fight to death, and Harsgalt, unable to kill Madruk, sealed him away until eight new chosen warriors could rise to permanently defeat him.
300 years later, the seal imprisoning Madruk has weakened and two of his Dark Apostles, Scythe and Gaul, have begun working towards his release. To ensure none would stop their master, the two of them manipulate the eight nations of Legendra into warring amongst themselves. Eventually, one of the monarchs will successfully end the war, though the events of how it occurs vary depending on the monarch. Regardless, each of the monarchs will discover that they are the eight members of the Dragon Force, and that the only way they can kill Madruk is by obtaining the Dragon Power left by Harsgalt.
Despite attempts to stop them by Scythe and Gaul, whichever monarch the player controls gains the power, and then has to use it to defeat Madruk’s final apostle, a robot named Katmondo. Subsequently, Madruk’s prison continues to weaken, allowing him to release his army of dragonmen. Despite his army’s release, the Dragon Force fight their way to Madruk’s prison and find his three Dark Apostles waiting for them there. Whichever monarch that has the Dragon power leaves to face Madruk, while the remaining seven fight the Dark Apostles, and defeat them despite the three becoming even more powerful thanks to the seal on Madruk weakening. The monarch with the Dragon Power then faces and kills Madruk, finally ending his threat. Though the monarch’s generals initially lose hope of them surviving, they are saved by Astea, who leaves the world to be governed by the mortals, saying it is time for them to stand on their own. Whatever events that follow during the credits vary depending on the monarch the player uses.
Within the game, eight different storylines exist—one for each monarch. The campaigns for Goldark and Reinhart can only be accessed after the game has been completed, as they contain spoilers from the outset. Now, why is this game such a hidden gem? Well, for starters, it’s on the Sega Saturn, which is one of the few consoles I own that doesn’t get much use, since it has such a small and mediocre library. Dragon Force is a great game, has some depth, although strategies are very basic in the early game. I personally like the variation in troop types, with it being a rock, paper, scissors style match up for the troops, then taking into account the generals abilities, which can turn the tables in losing scenarios. I honestly like the simplicity the game offers, although it covers most of the bases that any good strategy game will cover. It implements a loyalty system, which is simple enough, but a little time consuming to speak with each general under your command each week. You can level generals up to increase their skills and abilities, you can award generals items and merits to increase the amount of troops they can command, which gives you an edge in battles, and with the AI also increasing in power, you need to keep on top of this during domestic turns.
A game like this is hard to describe, since its one that you can only really explain through seeing it, or playing it. In short, its a great game, not without some flaws, but for the time, it was an incredible journey that offers plenty of replay value. In other news, The Nerd Stash Twitch feed is live and hopefully this will feature at some point, so for more details, follow the link here: http://www.twitch.tv/thenerdstash
Ryan Griffiths is a British gamer, known as a bit of a lone wolf. Retro games are his passion, with newer releases not living up to his expectations. Of course there are exceptions to the rule when it comes to Dynasty Warriors & Total War games.