Video Game: Makai Toshi SaGa
aka: Sa Ga 1
The first game in the SaGa
series, released in 1989 for the Game Boy
. It was released in North America as The Final Fantasy Legend
and received a remake on the WonderSwan
Color in 2001. An English fan translation for the WonderSwan version can be found here
The tower at the center of the world is said to be connected to paradise. Long ago it was sealed off due to the hordes of monsters ushering from it. Dreaming of a life in paradise, many have challenged the secrets of the tower, but no one knows what became of them. A party of adventurers formed from humans, ESP-using mutants, and monsters now challenges The Tower. Their journey will take them through four worlds and pit them against Ashura and his four fiends.
This game contains examples of:
- Abnormal Ammo: Rocks. Contrary to popular belief, that is an accurate translationnote , and it's not a mistranslation of "rocket".
- Affably Evil: The big man himself, God.
- Artistic License – Economics: HP600 potions cost 5000GP, and will boost your max HP by a random amount from 5 to 20 points as long as your maximum HP is under 600. For that same price you could buy 50 HP200 potions which will still boost your maximum HP by one point apiece even if your maximum HP exceeds 200.
- Badass Biker: So-Cho. Better still, he lends you his Cool Bike.
- Blessed with Suck: Among the possibilities that can come up with Mutants for a new power is a vulnerability to an element (or all of them).
- "Blind Idiot" Translation: It's not that bad, if a little stilted and lacking some of the subtleties of the original Japanese. But then you have items like "Balkan" (Vulcan) and "Catcraw" (Cat Claw). The ending credits are also completely missing from the NA version.
- Something was definitely lost in translation during the final meeting with the Creator. For some reason, your character is offended at being offered exactly what s/he was expecting as a reward for having climbed the tower, and decide that punching out the offender is the only option.
- It seems as though the characters took offense at not what was offered, but how. The Creator put a lot of people — and entire civilizations — through a lot of pain, only as a mere test for those who would climb the tower in the original NA release, and as entertainment in the remake (see For The Evulz below).
- It's also a result of Nintendo of America's censorship policies at the time — they couldn't refer to the Creator as God, which stripped away the Rage Against the Heavens logic behind the final battle.
- To someone more secular, it felt more like Meta Fiction: imagine if "the Creator" refers to the lead programmer of the little cartridge you're playing, and the characters scream, "You put us through all of that just for fun? Die, you bastard!"
- Broken Bridge: The party must obtain the Sphere in each world to proceed further into the Tower.
- Bubbly Clouds: The Sky World.
- Cain and Abel: The Sky World resistance leader has twin daughters. One is part of the resistance and the other works for Byak-ko. The latter is brought around by her sister's noble sacrifice.
- The Cameo: Some graphics are reused from Final Fantasy I, such as the "Machine" miniboss, whose depiction matches WarMECH in the original Final Fantasy (in the Japanese versions of both games, this enemy is called "Death Machine"). Additionally, high-tier monsters include the Four Fiends from the same game (Kraken, Lich, Lilith, and Tiamat).
- Chekhov's Gunman: The man in the black hat.
- Contractual Boss Immunity: Subverted. Nearly every boss prior to the very endgame is susceptible to being instantly killed by petrification — and in the original Game Boy version, the final boss can be one-hit killed by a chainsaw due to a glitch.
- Cool Boat: How about a sailing island?
- Cosmic Plaything: The Creator fashioned humanity, the Tower and Ashura entirely for his own amusement. The party is naturally less than pleased at this revelation.
- Cut-and-Paste Environments: Practically every map in the game, from the world map to the area maps, seems extraordinarily monotonous and rectangular.
- In the Wonderswan remake, the environments and battle backgrounds are now fully colored, with the designers going into enough detail to actually show crosswalks and road signs in the Ruins.
- Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: The final boss is essentially God, or else a super-powered entity who created everything.
- Dirty Coward: King Shield's treacherous steward.
- Disc One Final Dungeon: Arguably, the whole Tower; Ashura seems by all accounts to be the final boss, but after you defeat him at the top of the Tower, your party falls back to Base Town and must enter a new version of the Tower that serves as the Very Definitely Final Dungeon.
- Disc One Nuke: You can take a monster PC and, with a little work, take them to Rank 13 before even leaving the first world. For comparison, there are only 14 ranks, the last of which only appears in The Very Definitely Final Dungeon.
- Due to their rampant growth potential, mutants can easily become these without too much effort, as well. As for humans, it's not really possible to really cheese them too early on without some serious cash grinding.
- Empty Room Psych: The game is loaded with these, to the point that players are usually surprised to actually occasionally find something in them.
- Evil Chancellor: While the title is different, the disagreeable King Shield's steward definitely falls under this, as you return just after he kills the king.
- Evil Tower of Ominousness: The Tower around which the game revolves.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: The places you visit in the World of Ruins are based on their real-world counterparts in Tokyo. The town in the southwest is implied to be Shibuya. The skyscraper district is Shinjuku, though only mentioned by name in the original Japanese version. Ameyoko is a traditional-style shopping street just as it is portrayed in game. Akiba, where you can find the ROM, is a famous electronics district. Their locations on the map are roughly the same as in Real Life.
- For the Evulz: The reason the final boss, God, created Big Bad Ashura.
God: You've come at last. Congratulations. You are the first to complete this game.
Char #1: Game?
God: This game, with it's splendid story, which I created!
Char #2: What do you mean?
God: I had become bored with a peaceful world. So, I conjured Ashura.
Char #4: What were you thinking!
God: Ashura threw the world into chaos in a most entertaining way. But after that brief moment, he too, began to bore me.
Char #3: And so, the game?
God: Yes! Quite so!! I wanted a hero to strike down the devil!
Leader: Everything that happened was part of the plot you wrote.
God: You are quick to understand. There were many who could not become heroes and disappeared. I found it thrilling; the spectacle of tiny beings, burdened by their own mortal fate, desperately fighting to survive. I want to express my gratitude for moving me so! Whatever you desire, I will grant your wishes.
Char #2: We didn't come through all that for your sake! How dare you treat us, and everybody, like toys!
God: Is something wrong with that? I created all those things.
Char #1: We are not 'things'!
God: Picking a fight with God.... You are such persistently entertaining people! You intend to do this, no matter what? This is the destiny of every living thing.... Very well. Let the power of God be thoroughly burnt into your vision before you die!
Creator: Congratulations! I've been waiting for you. You are the first to finish the game.
Char #1: Game?
Creator: Yes, it's a game I created.
Char #2: What do you mean?
Creator: People did not know what courage and determination meant. So, I created Ashura to see what people would do.
Char #4: You are crazy!
Creator: Ashura tested all of you.
Char #2: So it was a game?
Creator: That's right. I wanted to see a hero defeat this evil.
Char #1: We were all pieces of your design!
Creator: You understand well. Many have failed the test, but it was refreshing to see courage in the face of danger. I want to reward you for your accomplishment. I will grant you a wish.
Char #2: We didn't do it for a reward. Besides, you used us!
Creator: What's wrong with that? I created everything.
Char #1: We are not things!
Creator: How amusing... You are trying to pick a fight with me! Are you sure? It's the destiny of mortals... Very well. Remember the greatness of my power!
- Four Is Death: Ashura's four fiends, who are based on the Chinese Ssu-Ling.
- Gainax Ending: Your mileage may vary; whether it's this or beautifully simple depends on your point of view.
- God Is Affably Evil: The Creator.
- The Guards Must Be Crazy: Tossing you into an unguarded jail without even bothering to strip you of your munitions (which by this point in the game should be rather copious) is par for the course, but extra bonus points for the fact that your daring jailbreak consists of nonchalantly bending the bars of your cell and strolling away as if nothing had happened.
- Harmful to Minors: You come across a handful of corpses which are identified as children. Their father didn't fare much better. The contents of his journal and the subsequent soundtrack are rather scary, especially for a Nintendo game of the time.
We barely made it to this shelter. We've run out of food and water, so we won't last much longer. Ken and Yuki, forgive me for leaving you. Akira, take care of your brothers. Creator, please look after the children.
- The last sentence is particularly hard-hitting, as the Creator created Asura, the threat they're fleeing from.
- The dead children are still explicitly dead in the US release, which is surprising considering the sheer amount of censorship going on at the time.
- Healing Spring: Scattered throughout the tower; they'll restore your HP. Sometimes subverted; some of them are fake and will do nothing. Also, once you get to Paradise, there is an orb there that will restore your HP.
- Hopeless Boss Fight: Su-Zaku will randomly attack you on his world's overworld, but you can't defeat or even damage him until you assemble the machine to destroy his force field. (Technically, you can defeat him using the saw glitch, a character with the Revenge Sword and high HP, or by simply raising your stats enough to damage him in spite of his sky-high defense, but it doesn't affect anything - he'll keep appearing anyway.)
- Interspecies Romance: The King of Armor and his... Slime. Later in the game it's revealed they've conceived a child. Yay?
- And let's not forget the frog that was trying to get in her pants, too. Maybe he was French?
- This seems to be true of the Sa Ga games in general, given that civilized Monsters are considered to have the same degree of personage as Humans or Mutants / Mystics.
- It's All Upstairs from Here: The plot revolves around a tower.
- Karl Marx Hates Your Guts: And how! Selling a pristine weapon gets you half of its buying price. If the weapon is used, its value decreases exponentially with the number of uses. For example, a weapon with 49 remaining uses out of 50 sells for about 12% of its buying price.
- Killed Off for Real: Jeanne and So-Cho. Can technically happen to any fallen party member aside from the protagonist, as you can have them replaced with new characters at the guild.
- La Résistance: The Sky World has one of these against Byak-Ko, complete with (badly translated) French names.
- Lethal Joke Character: The Darkrose has low agility and mana compared to other late-game monster forms, but it has an attack (called "Drink") that bypasses the enemy's defense stat, making it one of the few monsters that's able to significantly damage the final boss.
- Locomotive Level: The final part of the World of Ruins. You walk through a subway train and fight Su-Zaku on the roof of it.
- Luck-Based Mission: Mutants are essentially walking random number gods, far moreso in this game before the mechanics were somewhat refined in the sequel. Your game experience can very widely depending on how their growth pans out, and what you end up with can range anywhere from a Disc One Nuke to The Load.
- Also, the final boss can randomly reset his hit point total to max whenever he wants. Needless to say, this can get annoying.
- Magikarp Power: Humans. They lag behind in stats until that sweet spot in the game where money over flows. At that point they can chug potions to max their stats.
- The Man Behind the Man: The Creator is this to Ashura.
- Match Maker Quest: Your party's first quest is to get the King of Armor together with the girl he loves, the "most beautiful girl in the village". Luckily, it's as simple as killing the bandit who was trying to coerce the girl into marrying him.
- Money Sink: Characters who die in battle stay dead, unless they are resurrected at the Life House (one can be found in every town). Reviving a character is itself expensive, and this can compound if they keep dying and lose all of their hearts. To wit, every character starts with three hearts, and they lose one every time they die. Losing all of them means that the character will be completely unable to fight unless you purchase a heart for them. A single heart is one of the most expensive items to purchase in the game, and if your leading party member (who you chose at the beginning of the game) loses all of their hearts, then this can be problematic. This can be mitigated for your other party members by picking new ones at a guild, but every new party member you get starts off weaker compared to your party at the moment.
- Never Say "Die": Averted, surprisingly for a Nintendo title of the time. Characters who lose all their HP are starkly put in 'dead' status. Not to mention the completely out of the blue roomful of explicitly dead children near the end of the game.
- Nice Hat: One recurring character is identifiable solely by his incredibly awesome black silk hat.
- Number of the Beast: Several monster types have 666 hit points maximum, including Boneking, Demoking, Tiamat, and some others.
- Obvious Beta: The game engine had a lot of rough edges. One of the most annoying was that it didn't bother to notify you if your mutant gained or changed powers at the end of a battle, or if they gained max hit points or stats. Save Scumming becomes something of a requirement, especially in the late game, as each victory in battle runs you the risk of losing your fancy kill-beam attack. Fortunately, this is one of the many issues that were ironed out in the sequel.
- Ominous Floating Castle: Byak-Ko has one.
- The Power of Love: The secret to obtaining the true White Sphere.
- Plot Coupon: The Spheres.
- Point of No Return: Paradise. There are no stairs to go back to the tower, though you can bypass this with a Door item, or a mutant with Teleport.
- Save Scumming: The only surefire way to hold on to mutant abilities and get the most out of stat raising potions. The good news is that saving and reloading are both incredily fast and easy to do. The bad news is that there's only one save slot, which may lead to problems if you're not careful.
- Shout-Out: The World of Ruins seems to be a reference to the "Neotokyo" genre, particularly to the film AKIRA. The game itself seems heavily inspired by the tabletop RPG Gamma World.
- The in-game animation for the Saw weapon/ability in the WonderSwan remake, where it shows a vertical slash bisecting the target. This is a reference to the final boss's death animation, where he is bisected and splits apart.
- Soft Reset: The inclusion of this feature is notable mainly because of the sheer amount of Save Scumming one tends to do in this game.
- Stupid Sacrifice: When the party is stopped by a lethal energy barrier, So-Cho wades through the barrier and switches it off. Although there may not have been a better way, he certainly didn't give anyone a chance to think of one.
- A Taste of Power: The King Sword can one-hit any enemy with a weakness, the King Armor provides +20 to defense and immunity to all elements, and the King Shield gives the whole party an elemental barrier. You get all of these in the first world, likely within the first half hour of the game. Of course, you don't get to keep them - to get the Black Sphere and enter the Tower you have to return them to the Statue of Hero.
- Underwater Base: Sei-Ryu's underwater castle.
- Vice City: The first town you visit in the World of Ruin features a biker gang in a pub, and someone outside tells you not to go there. The position on the map implies that it's Shibuya.
- Wave Motion Gun: The Hyper Cannon — in fact, it's actually called a Wave Motion Gun in the Japanese version.
- We Can Rule Together: Ashura makes this offer when you finally reach him.
- What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Subverted. Glaringly non-human monsters (including, like, tigers and scorpions — not anthromorphic ones, mind, regular ones) are treated like ordinary humans and will wander around towns talking to you.