Reviews: Saga Frontier
Classic RPG with great gameplay, but poor story
Saga Frontier is an RPG for the PSX. It was made in '98 and while the graphics haven't aged well and the story can be confusing at times, the gameplay and battle system are as good as ever. You play as one of seven characters - Blue, Red, Emilia, Lute, Astellus, Riki, or T260 - with different stories set in the same world. Like I said before, the storyline is messed up. Apparently, Squaresoft published a book with most of the story. You heard right - a book! Fortunately, the information inside the book is readily available on Game FA Qs.com and various Saga Frontier fan sites. However, there's enough in the game to care about and there are a lot of characters, so at least one will be appealing. The character designs are gorgeous - Tomomi Kobayashi is awesome! - and the OST is pleasing. There are rarely any times I felt like putting on another song over the game's. What really makes this game is the game play and battle system. You can have fifteen characters made into three parties of five. It's actually useful to have a lot of parties, since one heals while the other battles. And instead of leveling up like in most RP Gs, characters' stats increase differently depending on their race. Humans' stats increase depending on their actions in battle - for example, a human who uses a lot of attacks will have his ATK increase, Mystics can absorb monsters and their stats will increase depending on how powerful the monster is, Monsters can absorb monsters and become more powerful monsters, and Mecs can equip items and have their stats increase depending on how good the item is. Also unlike most RP Gs, characters learn moves differently depending on their race. Humans learn physical moves in the middle of battle, Mystics and Monsters get moves from the monsters they absorb, and Mecs get moves from enemy mecs they absorb. Rating (From 1-5, with 1 being lowest and 5 highest), Gameplay 5 (Every playthrough is a different experience.), Story: 2 (A freaking book I have to pay, like, $30 for? Why, Squaresoft, whyyy~!), Graphics: 2 (The years haven't been kind to you.), Music: 5 (Not a sour note in sight.), Overall: 3
The Game Most Deserving of a Remake
Of all the games I've played, Saga Frontier is the one that I think deserves to be remade the most. After all, it was released incomplete, with one quest missing (Fuse's) due to time constraints, and some of the Main Quests (notably Lute's) felt shorter than the others. The game has other flaws, such as:
- Too much stuff (ranging from secret items and characters to whole sidequests) that had no clues as to them, making them way too easy to miss;
- Similarly, while the ability systems were interesting, they were hard to figure out (I had so much trouble figuring out the combo system I couldn't beat Rikki's next-to-last Boss, who required a "scoring" of combo points to defeat.)
- Finally, The graphics were too silly for some of the more serious quests (like Asellus'); I also had trouble making things out in the backgrounds, they were too cluttered.
- A far more varied selection of playable characters than even in other Sa Ga games (ranging from a Superhero to A Half-Vampire to a Shapeshifter to a Robot!)
- A fully realized universe that combined both high fantasy and science fiction in ways seldom seen;
- Some very good music, especially in the final Boss battles.
- Plenty of extensive sidequests that could be shared or split among the characters;
- And of course, the special reward for completing all 7 Main quests.
A Wizard's Dark Destiny
I guess "arc" is most fitting identifier here. This review is specifically about Blue's game, not the other characters. Blue's story was probably my favorite one, because of the Cain And Abel premise. While I liked it the most the execution left something to be desired. Of the ones I played through, his was also probably the easiest, because it had the least story. The intro makes it seem like there's sort of time limit to what you're doing, saying "hurry, you can't master any magic Rouge already has," but you can take all the time you want— you're never denied learning a type of magic because Rouge beat you to it. The problem with the story is that, with the exception of what you're told at the beginning of the game, and what you get just after you fight Rouge, there isn't any. Playing as Blue is little more than a 15 hour tutorial on where and how to learn magic. That said, it's somewhat justified— he finished his studies in the Magic Kingdom and isn't allowed to return, and the only people outside the kingdom who know about his quest are, himself, Rouge, and the people in his party. The only non-standard dialogue is usually him asking if the person he's asking about the gift saw Rouge yet. There is a bit of a plot twist after the fight. From the bits of characterization we get about Blue, he seems to be a cold person,or maybe just very focused on his goals. He refuses to join Red during his game because his name reminds him of his brother. All he has to say about the porno book in Shrike is "What a useless book." In combat, Blue probably has the best potential out of the seven protagonists. Although he starts off physically weak, he's the one of, if not the best caster in the game, and can easily master physical attacks as well with training. His final boss fight is fairly difficult, but doable. It can be made trivial if you use the Game Breaker "Overdrive-Stasis" trick, but without, it's just hard enough. Blue makes a very good character for beginners, since his quest is one you're likely to repeat every playthrough. If he's one of the last you play as, however, it could be extremely tedious. If you want a sandbox character, he's a good one, but if you want a real plot, Asellus, Red, or Emilia would probably be better.