The Final Fantasy Legend (Makai Toshi SaGa) is the first game in the SaGa series, released in 1989 for the Game Boy. It received a remake on the WonderSwan Color in 2001 and was also re-released on the Nintendo Switch as part of the Compilation Rerelease Collection of SaGa: Final Fantasy Legend in 2020.
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.
While the Western release is named in reference to the deity-sawingly popular Final Fantasy name, it only does so for marketing purposes and is only very loosely connected to the Final Fantasy franchise (some recurring art elements and monsters, for example).
This game contains examples of:
- Abnormal Ammo: Rocks. Contrary to popular belief, that is a reasonable translationnote , and it's not a mistranslation or typo of "rocket".
- Angel Unaware: The old hermit living alone on an island in the Water World is heavily implied to be Ryu-O (Dragon King), the guardian of the blue orb and Sei-Ryu's Good Counterpart who he overthrew and exiled a while ago.
- 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. On the other hand, there is also the time and grind factor — whatever the choice, you can only buy eight at a time at most due to the limited inventory in storage, at least on the Game Boy version.
- Back from the Dead: The Four Fiends are resurrected by God and used to slow you down in the final dungeon. Notably, although the game doesn't tell you this, they're undead in their rematches, making them vulnerable to the Sun Sword.
- 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.
- Boss Rush: The final stretch of the game is basically this. After defeating Ashura, the Four Fiends are fought again, slightly stronger than before, before fighting the Creator.
- Broken Bridge: The party must obtain the Sphere in each world to proceed further into the Tower.
- Building of Adventure: The game takes place in a tower, though due to some reality-bending similar to Bigger on the Inside four of the levels are worlds in and of themselves. It makes sense once you learn that the tower's creator is the world's god.
- 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, 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). This was more or less the basis for the decision to call it Final Fantasy Legend in its American release.
- 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? In-universe the reason for using it instead of a regular boat is to avoid getting attacked by pirates (who will still randomly attack you anyway).
- 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: Nearly 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.
- Literally in the final dungeon, which is composed of four areas, each making you go through identical maps five times.
- Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: The final boss is God.
- 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 party member and, with a little work, take them to Rank 13 before even leaving the first world. For context, there are only 14 ranks, the last of which only becomes available during the endgame Boss Rush 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. It does become viable to max out humans' strength and agility in a reasonable amount of time by fighting Atom Crabs (which drop 400 GP/Kero each) in the underwater castle near the end of the second world though. Since you can just inspect a fake orb to get into battles repeatedly, you can basically just mash A, earning a lot of money quickly and buying stat potions with it. Those battles will help your Mutants grow quickly too.
- If you're willing to invest the time to do so, however, you can also do this easily in the first world by repeatedly fighting the enemies in King Sword's Castle, especially if you have an Esper with a Spellbook or Ability handy to one-shot entire columns of enemies at once: The Katatekas and Wererats there only give 40 kero per kill but also group up in columns of anywhere between 2 to 5 at a time, making them cannon fodder for your Espers, and even just a few fights will make up the 500 kero cost of buying the Spellbook, plus extra for levelling up your Humans — helped even moreso in the original Game Boy release by that, unlike in the second world, you'll also have the utterly overpowered Hero's Armor and Hero's Sword available to you there to help you further massacre enemies (less so in the WSC remake though, since the Hero Equipment there are Key Items and can't be equipped).
- A minor example is starting a game with a human female as the lead party member, who will have a Sabre weapon which you can sell immediately for a cash boost of 1,030 gold. This is enough money to replace the Sabre with a still-okay Rapier and outfit most of your party with some decent armor and can save some grinding at the beginning.
- Door to Before: After you defeat Sei-ryu and claim his Orb, any of the fake orbs in the room will teleport you outside if you examine them.
- 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 and steals his Shield of Hero.
- 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. Ameyokonote is a traditional-style shopping street just as it is portrayed in game. Akibanote , where the player can find the ROM, is a famous electronics district. The Tower is most likely supposed to be Tokyo Tower given its placement nearly due east of Shibuya and south-southwest of Akiba. Their locations on the map are roughly the same as in Real Life.
- For the Evulz:
God: You've come at last. Congratulations. You are the first to complete this game.
- The reason the final boss, God, created Big Bad Ashura.
Char #1: Game?
God: This game, with its 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!
Char #1: 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.
- Glass Weapon: The glass sword, an incredibly powerful weapon which breaks after a single use, although possibly due to a glitch it works as a normal sword that can't be repaired.
- Gnosticism: Only in the sense that the world is an illusion created by a Demiurge figure and the evil comes from servants created by the Demiurge.
- God Is Evil: The Creator. He created everything you encountered just to amuse himself, and is perfectly willing to see it all wiped out if it ever stops amusing him. Ashura, and through him, the Four Gods? Just a game the Creator is playing to keep himself entertained. And if people die in the process? They only existed to amuse him in the first place, what should he care?
- 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 Ashura, 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.)
- Humans Are Warriors: They're the character type you go to combat strength and lots of HP, while the elf-like Mutants are a magic-slinging Glass Cannon species.
- Infinity +1 Sword: The Glass Sword and Masamune are the most powerful weapons in the game by a huge margin, but the Glass Sword may be due to a glitch that prevents it from breaking in one use as it does in later games.
- Infinity -1 Sword: The Excalibur is given to you rather dramatically in one of the few peaceful parts of the tower, but instead of dealing massive damage it can hit groups of enemies. It's also affected by a glitch that makes it use the enemies' strength instead of yours, so it's also a lot weaker than it should be.
- In Name Only: The game is titled The Final Fantasy Legend in North America, but is actually the first game of a different series.
- Interspecies Romance: The King of Armor wants the hand of a slime girl in marriage, but she's being blackmailed by the toad leader of the bandits. Defeat the toad, and she can marry the king. Later in the game it's revealed they've conceived a child. Yay? In general, the SaGa games treat monsters as having the same degree of personage as Humans or Mutants/Mystics, so nobody treats this as odd in any way.
- Inventory Management Puzzle: With only 8 item slots per human, 4 per mutant, and 8 slots in the common inventory, it's easy to run out of item space very quickly.
- 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. Sometimes a weapon's sale price can be zero even with uses remaining.
- Compare this to the next game, where the sale price is simply prorated based on the number of remaining uses.
- 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.
- Level in the Clouds: The Sky World. You can walk on the clouds without issue, but the local transportation is airships.
- Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards: Reversed by humans (warriors) and mutants (wizards). Humans have to buy their stat ups and can't use magic, but after the first world you can easily grind for maxed stats before the second boss. On the other hand, mutants steadily grow through random stat ups, so they tend to level out compared to humans later on.
- 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 Mean And In Between: The 3 Kings of the surface world. Although they're supposedly at war for control of the world, when you meet them, King Armor just wants to marry the (slime)girl of his dreams, King Sword is an evil conqueror who wants to Take Over the World, and King Shield is an addled old zombie who seems to just want to be left alone ( and gets bumped off by his own Steward after you defeat King Sword).
- Now It's My Turn: For the first few turns of the final boss battle, the Creator won't do anything. After the party takes a few swings at the boss, the Creator's defense jumps up and the boss starts attacking for real.
- 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.
- The Wonderswan remake fixed these problems as well, for all the good this did non-Japanese speaking players.
- Ominous Floating Castle: Byak-Ko has one.
- Orcus on His Throne: Only two of the Four Fiends seem to be actively engaged in Crushing the Populace. Gen-Bu just seems to be chilling inside the Statue of Hero in case anyone tries to assemble the Hero Items and open the door to the Tower, and Sei-Ryu likewise is just hanging out in his underwater castle guarding his half of the water sphere. Byak-ko in contrast rules over his world as an absolute totalitarian dictator, while Su-Zaku flies around personally destroying everything in his world.
- Our Archons Are Different: Pop up as Ashura and his minions, who spread evil across the world and serve God.
- Plot Coupon: The Spheres.
- Plot Coupon That Does Something: The very powerful King equipment, which must be relinquished near the end of the first world.
- 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.
- Power-Up Letdown: Any of a mutant's four abilities can be changed after a battle. This change is completely random, and it's not necessarily one you want. For example, you might lose your potent healing ability in exchange for a low-powered attack ability of an element that the nearby enemies resist. Even worse are that some are full-on weaknesses that offer no strength as a counter-balance. The very definition of frustrating is to lose a sweet attack power and in its place gain a sudden vulnerability to, for example, fire attacks. As noted below, playing with a mutant in the party generally encourages regular Save Scumming.
- 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 incredibly 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.
- Signature Headgear: One recurring character is identifiable solely by his incredibly awesome black silk hat. Of course it's an awesome hat - that's God. Why would the Creator's hat not be awesome?
- 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. On top of that, the sword and shield both have unlimited durability in a game with Breakable Weapons. You get all of these pieces of gear in the first world, likely within the first half hour or so 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.
- This Isn't Heaven: Your characters' goal for climbing the Tower is ostensibly to find Paradise. As early on as the 3rd floor you can find a small mini-world made by the Creator, consisting of nothing but a tropical natural environment where there are no hostile creatures, food is abundant, and the handful of inhabitants do nothing except eat, sleep, and dream all day. Of course, this isn't the real Paradise, and with nothing to do there your group will quickly get bored and move on. Interestingly, just one floor above on the 4th floor is a second mini-world that consists of a Fire and Brimstone Hell whose inhabitants are tortured by imps all day, believing that it is a tribulation they have to endure in order to reach Paradise.
- Underwater Base: Sei-Ryu's underwater castle.
- Unstable Equilibrium: Especially prevalent at the beginning of the game. You only get around 40 Kero (money) per battle, the inn heals HP at a rate of 1 HP = 1 Kero, each party member separately, of course, and your equipment degrades almost as fast as you can buy it, leaving very little money to buy stat potions. Also a form of Early Game Hell.
- 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.
- Video-Game Lives: A rare example of an RPG using lives. Every party member starts out with three hearts, with one being consumed when revived at a house of life. If a character has no hearts when they run out of HP, you will not be able to revive them again (unless you can buy another heart for them, which costs quite a lot of Kero) and they will have to be retired.
- Villains Want Mercy: When you defeat the P-Frog who blackmailed King Armor's beloved into leaving him, he begs for his life. Character 4 responds, "You should have thought of that before the fight." Exit P-Frog.
- 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.
- You Are Who You Eat: Monsters transform this way, although the form they change to is rarely that of the monster they just ate meat from.