There are some decent ideas behind the combat, though even they end up contributing to the imbalanced battles. If you're familiar with Final Fantasy VII's materia system, you'll find it easy to understand Dragoneer's Aria's lusces, which represent spells. Characters can freely switch out lusces, and you can equip as many of them as there are slots in your accessories. Lusces level up separately from characters, so as you use them, you level up the spells associated with them. Then you have the energy bar, which is not a protein-filled snack, but rather a mana gauge that slowly fills as you perform standard attacks. Each spell level uses the equivalent amount of mana, so a level-three spell uses three mana points, which translates to 300 energy. There are also superpowered spells called dragon skills attached to the dragon orbs you collect from the elemental dragons.
These things are fine on their own, but they're not balanced properly, and eventually you'll find that your standard attacks get the job done better than casting spells. If you have a choice between using your sword and doing 1000 damage, and casting a fire spell that does 500 damage and spends a mana point, why would you cast the spell? Furthermore, if a more powerful dragon skill does more damage and costs less mana, why would you use a standard spell? All you can do is level the spell up so that it becomes more effective, which just means more grinding. If you want to balance things out a bit more, you can also earn energy by guarding. Guarding brings up a minigame where you match a spinning icon to blue crystals arranged in a circle. But considering the ridiculous length of the battles, why would you stretch things out even more by guarding, when you can speed things along by attacking? You can try the game's simple crafting system when the battles take their toll on you, but it doesn't help ease the tedium.
It also doesn't help that Dragoneer's Aria looks as poor as it plays. The towering cityscapes look impressive, but most of the game simply looks bland, and in some cases, downright ugly. Polygons have noticeable seams between them, textures are flat and unsightly, and the second-rate art direction doesn't help matters. The soundtrack isn't memorable, but it's nice, and the voice acting is uneven, ranging from bad to good, depending on which character is speaking.
The PSP features a number of good RPGs from which to choose, so there's absolutely no reason to waste money on this dud. It certainly can't be saved by its lame ad hoc multiplayer, which earns you some goodies you can't get in the single-player game, but can't make playing it any more enjoyable. In short, save your pennies and spend them on something that you'll get actual pleasure from.