In 2000, Sony's SCEI unit released The Legend of Dragoon - a game that received mixed reviews at the start, but sold well in the US and eventually gathered a strong following as one of the more underrated RPGs of the PlayStation era.
The story followed Dart, a young man seeking out the Black Monster that slew his family and destroyed his hometown. Eventually, he finds himself caught up in a greater struggle. At the risk of spoiling some of the story, Dart eventually meets up with several companions, and they become Dragoons - powerful warriors with the ability to use elementally-charged powers drawn from dragons.
The Legend of Dragoon had a few perceived issues (as I'll discuss later), but that didn't stop it from being a great game. For whatever reason, Sony never produced a continuation or sequel, leaving fans of the game without any further chance to explore the characters, world, or artifacts of the continent of Endiness.
This is a game that needs a sequel for a couple of reasons, the first of which is that the world that the developers created had a rich sense of history and depth. This game tells a generational story, and this sense of legacy (combined with a beautifully detailed world with myriad races and magics) would make a great platform for future development. In terms of gameplay, there's still something to be said for story-driven, traditional RPG play, even in today's world of action/adventure role-playing and Westernized RPGs. While we don't need to fall into some of the RPG patterns that are no longer necessary (such as save points and/or random encounters), there are many RPG fans who want that traditional, explorational sense of a classically-styled RPG. Not to mention, LoD had a highly regarded soundtrack that added drama to the atmosphere. A great traditional RPG can tell a compelling story from start to finish, and allows players to immerse themselves in a greater world. A sequel to The Legend of Dragoon, with the right touches, could certainly appeal to those looking for that type of game.
What should a great sequel to The Legend of Dragoon contain? Well, the best sequels raise the stakes, emotionally as well as in terms of storytelling. The easiest sequel would really be a prequel to the first story and a retelling of the lives of the previous wielders of the Dragoon Spirits. But those people who played the original game already know how that story ends, and those characters have already been explored.
And as for a direct sequel with Dart, Shana, and rest of the companions from the first game? Despite the strong story, I don't know if anyone is really demanding a direct sequel. There's always room for fresh new characters, and the story of Dart's party came to a satisfying conclusion. No, what players could benefit from most is a story that takes place perhaps 200 or 500 years down the line, where we see what became of the Dragoon Spirits after this most recent threat had passed. The developer could take the great, colorful world of Endiness crafted in the original game, and involve fascinating new Dragoon characters and a vicious new threat.
When playing the role of sequel planners, what else should be modified? Firstly, it feels that in some ways, random encounters have run their course. Anything that allows the player to have more control over what and when they fight should be applauded. Plenty of recent RPGs allow players to avoid combat, keeping them from being slaves to constant battles if they become burned out on that particular aspect of the gameplay. Shifting to avoidable encounters (along with eliminating save points) can keep modern players from looking at the game as a relic, and having non-necessary issues slow the game down.
In the original game, Dragoon transformations were cool-looking, but ultimately not the game-changing moves that they were made out to be. Making the transformations something beyond visual spectacles, something that changes the pace and the texture of combat, would be a huge benefit. A two-tiered battle system, allowing for new skills and animations, could keep battles fresh and strategic. And within that battle system, the Additions combat system could be modified to keep battle engaging, but a little less draining. I fully appreciate having an active component to the battle system, but the frequency and difficulty of Additions tended to wear players down and put off newcomers.
If these few items would be taken into consideration, I'm certain that Sony would have another gem of a game on their hands. And considering the graphical and sonic leaps and bounds that come with developing on the mighty PS3 rather than the original PlayStation, the already expressive continent of Endiness could have a fantastic look and sound. Both visually and story-wise, you could have content rivaling the best parts of Final Fantasy XIII, except with gameplay people enjoy and full-world exploration.
There's still a market for traditional RPGs with terrific story and comfortable gameplay. For whatever reason, The Legend of Dragoon's colorful IP has been sitting, waiting for its time to come. That time should be now, and like Dart and his companions, someone should be willing to heed the call to battle, and grasp for glory.