About the Site
“It reminds me of things… And it makes me forget about things.”
This shrine was created in September 2015, and extensively revamped in August 2022. A documentation of its creation process can be found at Song Cradle, the network’s repository. The previous layout can be viewed at Memory Prison.
There are a hundred paths through the world that are easier than loving. But who wants easier?Mary Oliver, from: March
I first played The Legend of Dragoon over the new year between 2010 and 2011. Rose became my favourite video game character right away, and the game itself one of my favourite JRPGs (yes, despite all the raging). For years afterwards, perhaps even before I started or resumed shrine-making, I wished to create a shrine in honour of Rose, but never felt like replaying the game.
More importantly, I wasn’t sure whether I’d be able to do them — and my love for them — justice. All my shrines up to Valkyrie were created because I liked a certain subject and knew I had something original or substantial to say, their concept clear from the very start. With Rose, I couldn’t tell upfront whether I had anything like that to offer — and in retrospect, perhaps that didn’t even matter. In the end, this is my first shrine to a subject I passionately love first and foremost, and the thinking and structuring came afterwards.
The thoroughness of this shrine and the degree of attention it pays to the characters not Rose are heavily motivated by how much I love the game in relation to how much I never want to play it again. I envisioned the shrine as a personal substitute for the game so that I could reexperience its story at any time in the future, painlessly so. Now, what I love most about The Legend of Dragoon aside from Rose is the way it concerns itself with how legends and myths are born, passed down and develop, each version with its own twists, focus and omissions. I love how they are always present in the collective consciousness of Endiness’ people, yet never completely true, how they have gone on to become part of the world’s creation story, history and religion, and even the way elements are gradually forgotten. I wanted to preserve this sense of mystery and gradual uncovering of the truth on this shrine, for the visitors, yes, but even more so for my future self, hence the chosen structure. Specifically with regard to the character studies, I also wanted to compensate for the lack of dedicated content in the form of fansites and shrines in the present.
For the record, a recap of how this project went down:
- To make this shrine, I played the game for a second time in September 2015, investing apprxoimately 40 hours even though I really didn’t want to replay it as I remembered all the elements that I loathe about its time-consuming and repetitive gameplay (see my review).
- It wasn’t until I was 36 hours into the game that I discovered you can change camera angles in battles, which would have helped with some screenshots.
- I finished the game within one week — the week the new university semester started again no less. I fell in love with all the elements I used to love all over again, and emerged with severely reinforced dislike for the elements that used to annoy me.
- I lied: I didn’t actually finish the game this time around. I had run Meru and Rose in my final party (
“I’m shrining Rose, so she’d better be in the endgame party!!”) even though Rose is a below-average party member by the end of the game, and does not make for the best late-game combo with Meru as they’re both frail. The final dungeon takes forever, there are twelve bosses within, and the four or five final bosses are fought in a row, no saving in between. I was out of recovery items, didn’t run the only character capable of resurrecting other members, and died by the hands of the final boss in its final form after an hour of punching its face. Needless to say, I decided to do my sanity a favour and ragequit.
- I revisited the game about two months later, still writing on the shrine, to finish my work, as I had yet to take screencaps of Rose’s later spells as well as screencaps of the ending FMV. I backtracked to the shop to stock up on resurrection items, spent another hour on the final boss with the same party (I’m sure I used this setup the first time around as well, and I love this party!), but different itemization, and defeated the boss easily. Turns out my screencaps of the ending FMV are of lower quality than the ones I faked via YouTube screenshots.
- Bottom line: If all of this isn’t love, I don’t know what is.
To think that if it hadn’t been for the BAB Challenge, I never would have mustered up the courage!
Valkyrie won Amassment’s Shrine Spotlight in September 2016!
Valkyrie’s thouroughness was heavily motivated by the desire to record all of my thoughts on the game in one place so that
I wouldn’t have to play it ever again I’d be able to revisit my memories anytime. For lack of a better spot, here are some spoiler-free notes unrelated to Rose.
- Favourite character: Naturally, my favourite is Rose — followed immediately by Miranda and Shirley. In fact, Miranda may be the most complex character in the game after Rose (or even more so?), and the only thing I wish I had done differently with this project is: I should have gathered material and recorded thoughts to make a Miranda shrine right afterwards. Their relationship page truly covers a lot, but still not all there is to say!
I must add that I am quite impressed with Meru’s writing. She’s got quite the big role compared to characters of her type in other JRPGs. (Say, Yuffie or Rikku from Final Fantasy VII and X respectively. Curiously, their character arcs tend to revolve around their village, which is always a minority of some kind…)
And like everyone else, I adore Lavitz. The pacing and tools used to characterize him are amazing, including intermissions during the journey, statements by NPCs in his city as well as optional dialogues with NPCs along the way, the many mentions and interactions with his mother above all. Rarely have I seen such strong characterization and relationship development in such little time in the early game.
The character I most would love to know more about is Damia.
- Favourite party member: Meru for her unparalleled speed, high magic stat, status ailment recovery and healing and the versatility that the combination of all that brings. Utility speed demons are my favourite kind of JRPG party members!
- Favourite Dragoon armour: Shana’s White-Silver Dragoon — beautiful.
- Favourite locations: For fields/dungeons, Temple of Shirley due to its design and colour scheme (Bronze Lake in Final Fantasy XIV heavily reminds me of it). For cities, Bale the Capital City and Furni the Water City. Their designs are amazing, with screens and buildings all linked by water, and the way you need to navigate the city on water in order to discover all the hidden Stardust. Such unexpected depth for a PS1 JRPG, and the pre-rendered backgrounds of that era make it all the more special!
- Favourite segments: Rose- and story-centric scenes aside, my favourite parts of the game are the Dragoon Tower sidequest and the hour spent on board of the Queen Fury. Both times that I played the game, I insisted on spending all that time doing nothing to advance the game just so I could run back and forth on the ship to speak to each party member with each controllable character. This being the only instance you get to run around as each party member, the optional dialogues are marvellous in how much they add. As I consider information and characterization the best kind of reward, this kind of optional depth is exactly what I’m looking for in JRPGs.
- New Game Thoughts: I have no desire to see a new game, least of all an unplanned sequel. The Legend of Dragoon manages to wrap up neatly, and stands so strong on its own. The seemingly common reflexive desire — among gamers in particular — for another entry or a sequel upon falling in love with something is bewildering, to say the least. Not all beautiful things need to or should go on forever (see: the poison that is media franchises nowadays, and characters who live on forever as watered-down versions of themselves because fans and companies refuse to let them rest in peace). There’s beauty in reexperiencing, and there are many more beautiful games and narratives waiting to be discovered.
In capable hands, I would appreciate a full-scale remake (not a reboot though), perhaps even a prequel. Alas, I have very little faith in the gaming industry as of 2022. My modest wish is for a remaster/low-scale remake with added functionality on par of PS1 Final Fantasy remasters (speed- and power-ups, skip options, or even story mode), coupled with a new localization. At the very least, there should be more ports for better availability, so that many more people get the chance to experience this gem.