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October 09, 2017 4 min read
Note: If you are wondering who the hell I am, I'm Shawn aka RGT 85 on YouTube. I do retro gaming vids, and Destructoid can use a lil retro loving, so here I am. If you like me, make sure you let people know so they don't throw me back in the dumpster they found me.
As someone who owns a massive video game collection, one area I've been focusing on lately is the Sega Saturn collecting. It was such an interesting console that wasn't a huge success in North America, but was a dominant console in Japan. Due to this, many Saturn games had very low print numbers, which makes it a tough system to collect for.
The Saturn was also one of the tightest built systems in terms of anti-piracy, and it's now just starting to make any ripples in terms of emulation. If you want to play Saturn games properly, the only way to do it is with your trusty Saturn and a copy of the game.
Due to these 2 factors, there are a ton of Saturn games I've never been able to play because in 2017 Saturn games are EXPENSIVE. Games like Panzer Dragoon Saga and Burning Rangers cost hundreds of dollars to own, and since emulation sucks, you better save up your pennies or sell some plasma if you want to play these classic games. One game that I've always fancied on the Sega Saturn however was a Working Designs RPG called Dragon Force. The thing is though, this isn't something I've wanted due to the rise of the Saturn, it's been 20 damn years of my life wanting to get my hands on this game.
Right now, Dragon Force is roughly $150 for a complete in box copy, and that's more than I'd like to spend on a single game. I always look for it at conventions, and recently let a copy slip through my hands simply because I didn't ask the vendor how much he wanted for it (I later found out that he wanted $100 for a complete copy.)
I remember the first time I heard about Dragon Force. 12-year-old RGT 85 went to a video game chain that used to exist called Microplay with a good buddy who was trading in his N64 for a Saturn. I had a Saturn myself, and for some reason him and I just loved the system because of the arcade ports like Daytona USA, Virtua Fighter 2, and Virtua Cop. While he was trading in his games, I was browsing the Saturn games and saw Dragon Force. Looking at the packaging I was blown away; there were literally hundreds of characters on-screen battling each other and it was unlike anything I had ever seen.
The price was $59.99, which I didn't have at the time because I was 12. I brought the box up to the clerk whose name was Wayne to ask him more details about the game. I knew who Wayne was, and he was a douchebag. Wayne was about 5'2, skinny as a rail, with glasses, and a long beard. He looked about 40 years old, and always gave you attitude when you spoke to him. He once made fun of me because I hadn't beaten Double Dragon. "Double Dragon? EVERYONE HAS BEATEN DOUBLE DRAGON! HAHA." (Side note, I have since beaten Double Dragon, so suck it Wayne.)
Wayne then let me know all about Dragon Force, which was a strategy RPG from the legendary Working Designs. He ranted and raved how unique the game was, and how it was one of his favorite Saturn games. I knew I wanted it and I knew I had to have it, but I never picked it up.
Video games are interesting when you are a kid, because you are always looking for the next thing to come out. Growing up my family didn't have a ton of money, so most of my game purchases were on used games or cheaper games in general. Birthdays and other holidays went by, and for some reason I never thought to ask for Dragon Force. As time went on the game, like most Saturn titles, started to rise in price.
Lady luck recently shined upon me though, and one of my amazing viewers sent me a copy of Dragon Force and Panzer Dragoon Saga that he had owned for years that were just sitting in a closet. I was blown away: two of the biggest Saturn games were now mine, in great condition, waiting to be played. Milton was the name of the viewer who sent me these games, and Milton if you are reading this: I can never thank you enough!
After 20 damn years of wanting to play Dragon Force, I finally had it. Was it worth the wait? I'd say so. The game is hard as hell, and I'm still figuring out how to recruit new troops, but it's one of the most interesting RPG's I've played. You choose from one of eight characters, each with their own storyline, and attempt to save the kingdom from evil. The battle system is unique, in which your troops just sort of do their own thing and you can tell them if you want them to be offensive or defensive. It's still quite the sight to see all these sprites on-screen battling at once, and while modern games allow for tons of characters at once, back in the 32-bit era this was an amazing sight to behold.
With eight characters to choose from, all with their own stories and paths, Dragon Force is a game that you could literally sink hundreds of hours into. It's not something I want to rush though; I've waited two decades to explore this vast world and battle against different enemy armies. Being able to persuade the enemy generals to join your team before the battle even starts gives you different options to explore. Having weekly meetings with your generals and giving awards really makes you feel like you are leading this epic army.
It's surreal to think of wanting something for literally 20 years and then finally getting it though, and that's one of the coolest things about video games: stories like this can happen at anytime. My quest for Dragon Force has had a very happy ending, and I'm glad I was able to finally experience this masterpiece in all it's glory.
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