FLAP AWAYI am never going to play Legend of Legaia again.

Before Even Worse Streams, if you had asked me for a list of favorite RPGs for the Playstation (1), I have no doubt that Legend of Legaia would be on the list. In fact, a number of familiar games from this site would have been on there: Final Fantasy 7, Final Fantasy 8, Chrono Cross, Xenogears, Wild Arms (1 & 2), and Legend of Legaia all would have ranked. Hell, if you caught me on a particularly generous day, I may have ranked Legend of Legaia as my favorite PSX RPG. I admit, it would be something of a spice pick for trying to look more interesting than someone that would automatically pick a Squaresoft offering, but my memories of Legend of Legaia definitely fall on the fond side of things.

And, as has been mentioned as far back as the Xenogears stream, Legend of Legaia had been on my mind a lot as of 2020 thanks to the obvious apocalyptic parallels. Legaia is a world menaced by the Mist, and every community must learn how to deal with this new, invasive catastrophe. Earth as of 2020 is menaced by COVID, and every community must learn how to deal with this new, invasive catastrophe. Whether it be towns that learn to quarantine properly or those that seem to recklessly believe everything will be alright without doing a damn thing, there were several reminders of this 1998 videogame during the height of the ‘rona over twenty years after its release. And, as an avid videogame nerd, that kind of nonsense gets me anxious to replay a relevant game (well… replay said game after my mind has finally reckoned with the new normal enough to think about entertainment choices, at least). Thanks to COVID, I wanted Legend of Legaia back in my disc drive.

And… uh… I never want to do that again.

GET EMDid the math with these video files sitting here: this Even Worse Presentation has been 20 hours and 7 minutes of Legend of Legaia. I did not play the game at all “off the clock” save to dodge that one glitch and level up my team via massive cheating. And, oh yeah, that massive cheating knocked a lot of hours off the ol’ timer, as there was never a point in the stream where my fighters needed to train or otherwise waste time on a villain that was difficult to overcome. And that’s important, because it is estimated that we spent approximately nineteen hours of that twenty-hour runtime complaining about how the game was too damn slow.

To a degree, this is expected of older RPGs. Final Fantasy 7 pretty well defined the genre for multiple generations of hardware, but it still has been given multiple “boosts” in its modern reissues. Things were already better than the bad old days of Beyond the Beyond by the time the likes of Legend of Legaia was hitting the system, but this was still an era where the concept of a “run button” seemed new and novel. And, let’s be honest here, so much of older RPGs was filler with no real explanation or justification. Hell, that is still a problem today (one day I hope to play a Persona title that does not include 20 combined hours of recapping), but it was particularly egregious back in the late 20th Century. Do you know how many useless caves there used to be between towns? We know the humble zubat has got to live somewhere, but we could cut out about 90% of ‘em without losing anything of value…

LIZARD TAILBut much of Legend of Legaia being a waste of time is arguably the point of the game. Legend of Legaia’s big feature is that it has a combat system that is more exciting than clicking the Fight command, and you are able to choose particular body parts to target while initiating complicated martial arts. In theory, this is an answer to “boring RPG combat”, and a way to integrate not only visually interesting actions, but something approaching a fighting game-esque combo system (and that’s the entire reason you show up for fighting games!). It very well could be a “best of both genres” situation where one established gameplay style adopts the finest of another. It’s Tekken meets Final Fantasy! Unfortunately, in practice, Legend of Legaia still includes piles of useless encounters, but, thanks to this new system, they take longer. Performing a cool combo or “Miracle Art” is exciting the first time, but by about the 90th time you have roundhoused some abstract bird creature, it is getting old. And, considering this is an “old school” RPG where checkpoints are limited, you are forced to focus on every single random encounter. If you lose to a lizard nobody because you were literally punching over its head, that is just as much of a loss (and an unnecessary restart) as if you lost to the big bad of the dungeon. So not only does everything take forever, but (if you are not cheating) there is also tension in every stupid battle. This isn’t supposed to be a crossover with the horror genre, too! If you are going to demand I kill 30 random slimes on my way through a cave, at least let it be relaxing in its tedium!

None of this is bad (editor’s note: liar), it is just… not fun. It was unique and novel back in 1999, but twenty years later, it is a novelty that has crossed its expiration date. Try it once, see what is going on there, and then move your attention along to your next pursuit. Legend of Legaia was a failed experiment with a surprisingly prescient plot, but do not (literally) waste your time on it anymore. You could be doing something else with your life.

And it is a weird feeling to acknowledge that this all means I will likely never play this game again in my life.

BEAT should be happy about this oneI literally cannot conceive of a situation wherein I play Legend of Legaia ever again. I have a complete recording of myself playing the game. I have ten posts about the game, which is nine more posts than the average game gets. I have played the game alone (in the 90s) and with friends (now). I even went back and cleared out the optional content after the final stream, because I wanted a few interesting captures for this post. I am done with Legend of Legaia, and, thanks to its slowness barrier, I am extremely unlikely to ever visit the game again. I have multiple save files (created over the course of this playthrough) where I can revisit key moments in the game if I am really jonesin’ to see Sol Tower again, but playing through the whole game? Again? When I know it is going to be at least twenty hours of my life that I will never have again? I have better things to do, dammit! I should at least replay Final Fantasy Tactics first…

And, considering my own age, ever-dwindling spare time, and the fact that this only-on-Playstation release has only ever been on a crumbling PSX CD… Well, it is something to consider my own mortality in relation to a videogame I played in high school.

Said it before, I’ll say it again: I have measured my life in plastic cartridges. This is Legend of Legaia, and I can tell you with perfect clarity that I still have a save file where the three main characters are named after myself, my “high school girlfriend”, and my best friend from that specific time in my life. I remember receiving LoL as a birthday gift from my grandmother, and playing the game while listening to music from a CD that was another birthday gift. It was my “Playstation game” while the Nintendo 64 was contemporarily hosting the original Smash Bros. Blow that HORNAnd now, for better or worse, I will always remember plowing through Legaia with my usual Greek chorus of friends commenting on the various flappings of Noa. In short, I have vivid, happy memories of Legend of Legaia. The least I could do is play the game some more!

And… I’ll never do that again. I know in my heart that I will never play through the whole of Legend of Legaia again.

… On the other hand…

I never expected to play through Legend of Legaia again with friends. I never expected to stream Legend of Legaia for an audience. And I certainly never expected to revisit the game decades later due to a worldwide plague that dominated everyone’s life. None of those things were envisaged, and everything about what prompted this playthrough of Legend of Legaia made my memories of the game better. Sure, I am less likely to play the game again thanks to being reminded that an RPG from twenty years ago might be a bear to actually play. But actively playing it with my friends? That shared experience? A memory I will always cherish. … Or at least tolerate.

So this may be the epitaph for one of my favorite Playstation RPGs. Or this may be something I reread when I gear up for playing Legend of Legaia again in some situation I could never fathom. Whatever the future holds, I will embrace it like a Ra-Seru clinging to an orphan princess…

And now it is time to move on to… Street Fighter 6? Let’s keep those fighting combos going…

That's all folks

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