Dragon Force is one of those rare games that demands countless hours of attention, hours that pass by unnoticed as day turns into night, and night back into day. In fact, this game alone makes the Sega Saturn worth purchasing.
Translated for American audiences by Working Designs, this strategy/RPG hybrid is constructed roughly along the same lines as the SNES title Ogre Battle. In Dragon Force, players find themselves in the magical land of Legendra, where they choose to lead one of eight different provinces in a united effort against the common threat of the "god of destruction," Madruk. Players command armies composed of either soldier, samurai, archer, mage, harpy, dragon, or zombie forces in an effort to capture enemy castles and leaders. But acquiring land and accumulating power isn't the only game in town: Players must also protect their territory and fend off the advances of the evil dark god.
Large scale battles often show the weakness of an RPG, but in Dragon Force they're among the best moments. Gamers send forces of up to four generals (who, in turn, command up to 100 troops) out into the world to raid castles or take on roving bands of enemies. The castles themselves contain as many as ten generals and their respective minions. That's good news for the player - though even better news is that enemy castles aren't often so heavily fortified. On the battlefield, fights are fought between two generals and their corresponding forces. The troops face off against each other while the generals fling their various spells from opposite sides of the combat zone. The carnage continues until either the enemy general is overwhelmed, or only the two generals are left - in which case a duel decides the melee. Happily, all forces throughout Legendra can be seen on the map simultaneously, cutting out the annoying "walk-a-few-steps-until-attacked" device that occurs entirely too often in most RPGs.
Dragon Force balances role-playing and strategy elements perfectly, intermittently directing the war of the land through storyline segments. And the ending is a stunning and climactic spectacle to behold. The game also offers a great deal of replayability, since storylines differ, depending on which of the eight main leaders is chosen (each storyline takes roughly 40-50 hours to play through successfully). Admittedly, gamers may be considerably less motivated to set aside another large chunk of time after winning as the first character...but the play is addictive enough that they'll probably be dragged back for another go-around.