Dragon Valor Preview

Dragon Valor's Clovis is ready to lay the smack down on a few low-talent dragons. They killed his sister and burned his village, and now it's payback time. Hack-and-slash action, Zelda-style puzzles, and 3D visuals abound in this hands-on alternative to traditional RPGs.

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Not since the days of Guardian Heroes has a decent hack-and-slash-style action-RPG been readily available. Sure, Alundra was wicked cool and all, but it lacked the big swords, big dragons, and big sweaty action that hard-core action fans crave. With its October release of Dragon Valor, Namco hopes to reverse this trend, delivering a game that is rife with 3D side-scrolling dragon-slaying action.

The game begins with a gorgeous motion-captured FMV sequence highlighting the sheer splendor of the dragons you'll face, not to mention their bone-rending ferocity. It is in this sequence that you'll learn the plot of the game: the plight of the almighty Clovis. It seems a few dragons came to Clovis' village to tear up shop one day, and the local hero couldn't stand up to their omnipotent might. Clovis' sister was slain, and now Clovis is one rabidly angry wanna-be hero. With revenge in his heart and some sissy soul-sucker dragons to fight, Clovis ventures forth, starting the game's main adventure.

Dragon Valor is a 3D side-scrolling action-platformer with RPG elements - frantic yet complex, for short. You begin the game's first chapter with Clovis progressing through a number of environments and Zelda-inspired puzzles en route to the chapter's boss. Along the way you'll encounter numerous enemies, and you can battle them with your overly gargantuan sword or with the magic spells you've acquired. Defeat them and they'll leave behind different items: health items, magic spells, and power-ups. You can duck, block, run, jump, attack, and cast spells to defeat the bad guys and acquire power-ups to boost your hit points, magic points, strength, and defense statistics.

Though the game packs the standard anime-style polygon-rendered visuals that you have become accustomed to on the PlayStation, it does have one unique trait that sets it apart from the rest of the pack: marriage. At the end of the first chapter, Clovis will fall in love with two ladies, one of whom he can choose to marry. Your choice will affect not only the boss and level design of the next chapter but the hero as well, as Clovis' offspring will then continue his father's quest, taking possession of his stash of booty and weapons. Later on, at the end of the next chapter, Clovis' son will be faced with the same decision, and so on, making Dragon Valor's quest span multiple lifetimes in addition to multiple levels.

Make no mistake, Dragon Valor isn't vying for the RPG mega-kudos that SquareSoft's Final Fantasy IX will no doubt receive when it is released. Instead, Dragon Valor is a game for action lovers, a game that wraps its story elements around hands-on exploration and battling. It may only offer a limited menu of cheeseburger, Pepsi, and fries, but borrowing from Zelda, Guardian Heroes, and Alundra makes the meal one that many gamers will enjoy. The game itself will hit stores this October, just in time to let techie-fanatics take advantage of the PS2's texture-smoothing capabilities.

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