Dragon Valor

   Many years ago, in the heyday of the Super Nintendo, quality action RPGs were almost as common as popular sports games. Gamers didn't even clamor all that much for the next Zelda installment, as they had a healthy number of lesser-known titles to keep their appetites satisfied. Things have changed, though, as action/RPG juggernaut Quintet abandoned the US market completely, leaving the genre almost solely represented by the Seiken Densetsu series and a few lesser-known titles. Luckily, another development powerhouse -- Namco -- is planning to join the genre in fine style with Dragon Valor, loosely based on the company's 1984 title Dragonbuster.

 TGS footage
Ryuu! Get you!

   Currently known in RPG circles for their anime-style "Tales of..." series, Namco is now seeking to make a serious splash in action RPG circles. Though Dragon Valor still features hit points and levels, it slants decidedly towards "action" than "RPG"; the Tokyo Game Show demo featured a mostly side-scrolling perspective and plenty of treacherous jumps for the hero, Kurovisu, to clear. Kurovisu also battled a number of enemies with a standard sword slash and a Zelda-esque charged-up slice. Defeating enemies often yields money or items; these goods are stored in a sub-screen for later use.

   Primary amongst gameplay features will be a multi-generation character system reminiscent of Phantasy Star III, with the hero's chosen bride affecting what descendant the player will take the role of next. One-on-one confrontations with dragons also play a central role; each dragon represents a different element (fire, ice, etc.) and requires a different magical sword to defeat. Thus, the hero will need to roam the fully-polygonal world and search out the new blades before each major battle.

   When Dragon Valor was first announced, Namco PR stole a page from Yu Suzuki's book and confidently stated that "every year there is one game that everyone in the industry talks about... [we] think in 1999, Dragon Valor will be that game." Heady talk, but this is a genre with plenty of room left for gameplay innovation, especially if the title doesn't try to follow in the exact footsteps of Zelda. Dragon Valor is currently set for a December 1999 release in Japan, with a domestic release confirmed for sometime in 2000.

Preview by Ed McGlothlin, GIA.
Additions by Fritz Fraundorf, GIA.
Dragon Valor
Developer Namco
Publisher Namco
Genre Action RPG
Medium CD (2)
Platform PlayStation
Release Date  12.02.99
Dragon Valor flying to North America
23 Japanese screen shots
2 scenes / 4 portraits
TGS booth