Dragon Force is a real time strategy RPG for the Sega Saturn. It was developed by Sega and released in 1996 in Japan. Working Designs translated the title into English and released it to the North American market in the same year . Players can select between six different characters, each representing a different kingdom, with another two characters made available upon completion. Gameplay is divided into three parts. The first is the administrative mode, which allows the player to manage castles, generals, and prisoners. The second is the map mode, which involves moving armies around a world map, capturing castles and clashing with enemy forces. The third is the battle mode, in which the player commands a general and their army of up to one hundred troops, which can vary from basic soldiers to zombies. These battles use a "rock, paper, scissors" format that is similar to those found in strategy games such as Advance Wars. The story unfolds through animated cut scenes and has multiple endings based on the kingdom the player initially chose.
Dragon Force has appeared on many "Best of" lists and remains a highly prized game for collectors and strategy fans alike, with a cult following creating costs of up to $100 on eBay.
A sequel, Dragon Force II, was released in Japan in 1998 but was never translated. Dragon Force was re-released in Japan in 2005 as part of the Sega Ages 2500 series on the PS2.
Legendra, a bountiful and joyous land blessed by the benevolent goddess Astea, who took a special liking to the inhabitants and blessed with great prosperity. This was not unnoticed, nor especially appreciated by the evil Madruk. Madruk led demonic forces against the peaceful inhabitants, scorching the lands and destroying all that was good. The people prayed for a miracle and were delivered one: the sacred dragon god Harzgalt appeared to defend the people from Madruk's advances. Madruk and the dragon engaged in a battle that reshaped the land, and shook the heavens. Finally, the dragon sealed Madruk away using the last bit of his power and passing into obscurity himself.
Dragon Force opens with your chosen monarch meeting with their generals to see what direction their kingdom will take. Word has spread that Goldark has declared war against the rest of Legendra and that your nation has to mobilize against him, or risk being annexed by him. No one is sure what Fandaria is planning, but everyone agrees that something must be done. The game inevitably opens with your army controlling one or two castles and with gray bannered castles adjacent to yours which hold a small contingent of generals with a grudge against your monarch. Defeat them to progress to the game proper.
The Major Powers
Highland Kingdom is led by King Wein and located in the southeast corner of Legendra. The generals are mostly knights and soldiers with command of the same troops.
Monarch: Wein- As a king Wein is beloved by his kingdom and generals for his nobility and his willingness to listen to his subjects. He and Teiris have a shared past and a love that spans the land. Many of the generals throughout the game will join him willingly, having heard of his reputation for being a just leader.
The Fandaria Empire is led by the vicious Emperor Goldark. Goldark ascended to the throne by killing his brother and taking the empire by force. Fandaria is located on the northwest side of Legendra. Their initial generals are varied but are all quite powerful. Fandaria is locked at the beginning of the game and the player must complete the game as another country before unlocking Fandaria. The rest of the kingdoms despise Fandaria and no one will willingly join your empire.
Monarch: Goldark- Goldark is a ruthless king who will do anything to bring peace to the land. He murders his wicked brother, the real culprit behind declaring war on the other kingdoms, to gain the throne and steer Fandaria into a less horrible direction, but in order to do that he feels the need to unite the land under his heel. He even takes the help of demons, phantoms and dragonmen to achieve his ends.
The Palemoom Kingdom is lead by the gentle Teiris and located on the eastern side of the continent. The inhabitants of Palemoon are comprised almost entirely of elves. The initial generals are mostly magic users with a fighter and a knight mixed in to help balance the force.
Monarch: Teiris- The young Queen of Palemoon began her reign recently and has yet to prove herself. Her bubbly personality has endeared her to her more experienced generals, who are happy to help her through some of the pitfalls of royalty. She has a shared romatic past with Wein and the two seem eager to persue it again when their kingdoms make contact.
The Nation of Izumo is led by the honourable Mikhal, an expert samurai. Izumo is located to the far west of Legendra, with Fandaria to the North and Bozack to the South. Thier warriors consist of ninja and samurai generals and troops.
Monarch: Mikhal- The strong, silent, and incredibly honor-driven leader of Izumo despises the imperialistic nation of Fandaria not only because of their desire to annex Izumo, but because Mikhal suspects Goldark is responsible for killing the samurai king's father and desires revenge.
Bozack is led by the gentle beastman Gongos. The Bozack Kingdom lies within the deep forests of the South and is surrounded by the oceansto the East and West. The inhabitants of Bozack are cat-like Beastmen.
Monarch: Gongos- Gongos is a kind-hearted beastman who stands proud against many of the stereotypes held by the other kingdoms about beastmen. He constantly tries to hide this side of himself when he comes into contact with the other kingdoms, and seems to want to unite Legendra for fun.
The Kingdom of Topaz is led by the solemn and deeply religious Leon, a strict martial artist. Topaz is located within the middle of the continent, North from Tradnor and directly East from Fandaria, creating tactical disadvantages as enemies can invade from all directions. The generals of Topaz consist mostly of Monks.
Monarch: Leon- A disciplined, but very cocky, lord who rules his kingdom with an iron fist and a swollen ego. He has a great appreciation for strength, and will give his respect to any monarch who can show him excellence in combat and give him a run for his money. He winds up falling hard for the Queen of Tristan (after unmasking her and realizing she isn't a man).
The magical Kingdom of Tradnor is led by the childlike Reinhart, descendant of the war god Valhart and powerful magic user. Tradnor itself is located within the very centre of Legendra, South of Topaz. Whilst this provides them with the means to easily invade other countries, they are also sitting ducks for invaders. Tradnor's generals consist of powerful magicians and preists. Tradnor is locked at the beginning of the game and the player must complete the game as another country before unlocking Tradnor. Much of the Tradnor campaign is side-missions while waiting for Highland to unite the kingdom, and then turn over the reins of power to you.
Monarch: Reinhardt- The youthful king of Tradnor is happy-go-lucky and rather politically savvy, with forknowledge of the Dragon Force, the insignia on his hand constantly visible rather than when other members of the Force are around. He is surrounded by generals who trust him with their lives and are ready to lay them down for his safety.
The Empire of Tristan is led by Junon, the "Black Knight of Masked Death", so named by Junon's dark masked armour and deadly millitary prowess. Tristan is located to the far North of Legendra, within the snowy mountains. Tristan's generals consist of a seclection of knights and magic users, and they command Harpy troops.
Monarch: Junon- Fearing that she'll be seen as weak, the Queen of Tristran donned black plate-mail armor covered in spikes with a menacing helmet to hide her true identity. Junon is has an icy personality, and even her generals don't get very close to her. Anyone wishing to get close to her must prove themselves worthy, most likely through military might.
When two armies meet, they go to the pre-battle menu where the cpu opponent selects which general will go into battle first. Then the player is allowed to select and combat commences. The two armies advance toward one another (or one advances on the other, depending on what orders are issued) and the units clash. Battle is over when one general retreats (and is therefore unable to continue the rest of the combat and may still be captured) or runs out of HP (at which point they're either captured or, very rarely, killed.) The generals don't just stand idly by though, they can hurl spells at each other and kill the oppositions units if they get close enough.
The combat in Dragon Force revolves around unit strengths and weaknesses. Every unit is strong against some and weak against others some classes even have units they are exceptionally strong against.
Soldier- The middle-of-the-road grunts. Almost every army has at least one general that specializes in soldiers. When factoring how useful a unit is, it is wise to base your choice on what it's strong against, not only the number of units it can dominate, but also how frequently the units appear in the game. For instance: Harpies have just as many strengths and weaknesses as a Soldier, but are strong against units that appear more often.
Strong against: Beastman, Monk, Archer, Mage.
Weak Against: Calvary, Zombie, Harpy, Dragon
Equal To: Samurai
Calvary-Slighty more specialized than soldiers, calvary attack more quickly and are marginally more powerful than standard soldiers, but have weaknesses to two of the weakest units in the game.
Strong against: Soldier, Mage, Archer, Samurai
Weak Against: Harpy, Monk, Beastman, Zombie, Dragon
Monk- Overall a weak type, but is occassionally brought to prominence against very specific types of enemies.
Strong Against: Mage, Archer, Calvary
Very Strong Against: Zombie
Weak Against: Soldier, Samurai, Harpy, Dragon
Equal To: Beastman
Beastman- the wildmen of the forest could have used a bit more training it seems. Much like the monks, they are good only very specifically, but lack the monks' dominance over the undead.
Strong Against: Calvary, Archer, Mage
Weak Against: Soldier, Samurai, Harpy, Dragon, Zombie
Equal to: Monk
Archer- the archer is one of two ranged units, and therefore gains a lot of use as long as you don't advance with them. The enemy will have to endure your rain of arrows to get near enough to harm you. This almost makes up for the fact that they have almost no strengths.
Very Strong against: Harpy
Weak Against: Soldier, Calvary, Beastman, Monk, Dragon, Zombie, Samurai
Equal to: Mage
Mage- the other ranged unit in the game, magi, like their archer cousins, are limited in their strengths, but can be made useful by a strong enough general.
Strong Against: Harpy, Zombie
Weak Against: Soldier, Calvary, Beastman, Monk, Dragon, Samurai
Equal to: Archer
Samurai- Nearly identical to the soldier in terms of strengths, there is one critical difference: they are the only unit in the game are profecient against dragons.
Strong Against: Beastman, Monk, Mage, Archer
Very Strong Against: Dragon
Weak Against: Calvary, Zombie, Harpy
Equal To: Soldier
Harpy- Mythical beast-women with wings instead of arms and razor-sharp talons, the Harpy is one of the strongest units in the game and one of the reasons starting as Tristan is a good idea for beginners.
Strong Against: Soldier, Calvary, Samurai, Beastman, Monk
Weak Against: Archer, Mage, Zombie, Dragon
Zombie- Perhaps the second strongest unit in the game, the zombie has few weaknesses and often generals who command zombies have access to ressurrection spells, making an unending tide of rotting soldiers the last thing seen by the opposition.
Strong against: Soldier, Calvary, Beastman, Archer, Samurai, Harpy
Weak Against: Dragon, Monk, Mage
Dragon- The mightiest of all units have only one weakness, and it's a weakness that only Izumo can assemble in any great number.
Strong Against: Soldier, Calvary, Beastman, Archer, Monk, Mage, Zombie, Harpy
Weak Against: Samurai
Commander units in Dragon Force have only a few stats because they do very little fighting on their own, can kill any normal unit in one hit, and take a set amount of damage from attacks. However, if both sides' units are eradicated, the commanders may enter into a duel where they take turns attacking one another until one runs out of health. This is where Attack comes into play, the higher attack, the more damage done in duels. Hit points and magic points are standard RPG fare, leadership is a unique quality: the higher leadership is, the better units will perform. There is also INT, but it's more related to a commander's ability to search castles for followers and items than to any combat situation. They'll be more likely to evade attacks, even by units that have the advantage over them, and will be more likely to land strikes of their own. Commanders can also cast spells that can vary in effect from killing opposing units, damaging opposing generals, and even draining the meter that has to charge to allow spells to be cast in the first place. Most of the spells are very similar to one another and fall into these basic types: direct attack, charge attack, army attack, and energy drain.
Direct Attack- The general fires an upward arcing projectile, or leaps through the air themselves, that strikes the opposion general, but no units.
Charge Attack- The commander hurls themselves forward, or a projectile again, through the opposing ranks killing anyone in their way, and delivers a brutal combo to the opposing general.
Army Attack- A spell that strikes the army of the second unit, and can damage the general if the majority of the opposing units are near it.
Energy Drain- Either a dagger or throwing star is tossed through the enemy ranks, killing any it touches and draining the energy meter of the opposing general.
Thief: The thief has low-everything stats. Not very high attack, hit points, magic points, or leadership. They have access to spells that are good at draining opponent's spell meter, and often get a direct-attack as their final technique.
Ninja: Very similar to the thief, but with a much higher attack rating. Also instead of throwing daggers for their drain spells, they throw large shurikens.
Fighter: Very high attack and HP, and mid-range leadership, but this class has difficulty learning spells and often doesn't get secondary attacks until much later in their levels, as a result expect them to have low MP for the duration of the game as well.
Knight: High attack and high leadership, mid-range MP and HP make the knight a versatile commander.
Monk: Closer to the fighter in terms of attack and leadership, but much, much higher MP, the monk has a slew of secondary attacks that usually target the opposing commander directly.
Beastman: Much like the units that share their namesakes, the monk and beastman commanders are extremely similar, with the beast commander having slightly lower leadership. The Beastman, however, has very high HP.
Samurai: Great attack, spells that hit the entire army, and mid-range leadership make the samurai a force to be reckoned with.
Mage: High leadership becomes critical for making their ranged-attack units hit their targets before their targets can hit them, and their brutal spells will ensure that the ranks of the enemy are severely thinned by the time they reach the other side of the battlefield. However their low attack and HP make them unsuited for duels.
Dragonman: The rarest of all commanders, but brutally powerful attack, HP, MP, and even leadership make the dragonman a force to never be underestimated and always sought out, even if one commands an army of samurai.
Other commander-types appear throughout the game, but they're unique to the character they represent (such as Gaul), and thus are difficult to classify against others.
Tips and Secrets
TIP: The game becomes much easier if you counter-attack immediately following an attack on your castle. By pausing as soon as you return to the map screen following a defensive victory, you can deploy an army that will catch the remnants of the attacking force. This allows you to capture more enemy generals and avoid prolonged stalemates.
There are some what would be considered "side-quests" to be found in Dragon Force, usually by visiting the small villages scattered throughout the land and there are some castles more worth having than others.
-Crystal Castle (not to be confused with "Claystal Castle") to the west of Palemoon's capitol will always have a Dragon Crest (an item that allows one general to command dragons) when searched, so should always be occupied by a general with high INT.
Please note that none of these characters can be found or recruited when playing as Goldark/Fandaria.
VLAD & SIERRA: Dispatch your monarch alone to Fiend Tower (which lies between Highland, Tradnor & Topaz's territory, south of the destroyed castle Magicka) and you will encounter a vampire named Vlad. Defeat him and he will join you, on the condition that he be allowed to face his nemesis Ryskim later. Honor this promise when Ryskim appears, and Sierra will join you as well, break it and Vlad will permanently desert from your army.
Both command Zombie troops, while Vlad's spells are Resurrect, Mega Tornado and Ensare, while Sierra learns Trident's Daughter, Resurrect & Ensare. Sierra's resurrect spell is more effective, however.Vlad and Sierra are not available in Goldark's game. Completing this subquest as most monarchs also eventually leads to the resolution of Zanon's subplot.
VANGAL: Visiting a certain town situated on a mountain will turn up a cave with a dragonman in it. The location depends on your sovereign.
-Wein & Teiris: SouthWest-most town in Highland's territory. -Mikhal: below Danyan Castle in SouthEast Tradnor. -Leon, Gongos, Junon: town between Travan & Crystal castles(between Palemoon & Highland' territory) -Reinhart: North of Estonia castle in Fandaria.
Send your monarch to this location, and Vangal will attack, although he has no troops. Following his defeat, he will either join you(when playing as Teiris or Gongos) or depart for the time being. Several turns later, a 2nd dragonman named Zado appears and attacks your monarch's location. He has 100 Dragon troops, lots of MP and abnormally high defense, so be prepared. Defeat Zado twice and he will die.
At the domestic session following Zado's 1st attack, Vangal will return and join you(providing he hasn't already). If Zado's 2nd attack hasn't come, Vangal will automatically be pitted against him when it does, and Zado's defense will be greatly reduced. Vangal learns Stone Pedestal, Sky Driver & a high damage version of Flame Cannon, and starts with 10 Dragon troops.
HAYATE & SHIROX: Send any division/general to the town directly below Mikeral castle(the one on the border of Gongos, Mikhal & Reinhart's territory) and you'll be attacked by a ninja named Shirox. Following the next domestic scene, send your monarch to where you fought Shirox & Hayate will challenge them to a duel. Regardless of whether you win or lose, Hayate will join you. When playing as Gongos, Hayate cannot be recruited until the other monarchs return and join him.
Hayate is the game's most powerful ninja general, while Shirox is so-so. They both learn Assassin's Star & Mirage Star, while Hayate learns Cross Flash & Shirox Reptile Cannon.