Review by Jack Bankhead
Many Final Fantasy games are alike in story and gameplay, especially the older ones. These are mega popular, while Romancing SaGa, and the SaGa series in general, are not as popular. Romancing SaGa 2 had game ideas way ahead of its time, from 1993 with common staples of today’s games. This is impressive, but does the game hold up?
The game is presented in a 2D, retro style, with hand drawn backgrounds. It blends perfectly, and it makes the HD part of this game pop out more. The music is repetitive, there are not that many tracks. However, the tracks are catchy. I’ve personally actually hummed some of the music out loud, it is that catchy.
The story is simple, but brilliant on a JRPG level. The game starts talking about the 7 heroes that once saved the world, but are rumored to come back again. It then cuts to a bar, noisy. A bard strums his lute and it becomes quiet. He starts by asking the spirits to help him tell the story of the Kingdom of Avalon. (Homer did this in The Odyssey) It then cuts to you, the player, making the story the story of your deeds. Really freaking clever, in my book.
The first mechanic that was ahead of its time was the nonlinear structure of this game. It is NOT linear, by any means. Once past a certain point, you can go anywhere in the game without many restrictions. The only main restrictions are quests and how powerful your crew is. If you are having trouble in one area, try another! You may get some more progress.
The second mechanic ahead of its time was the choice system. It can change the outcome of the entire game and what happens. This is tied with the kingdom management, where you can choose to spend money on things for development, such as an orchard or a magic school. You can also improve these. The player may want to develop new armor, or a new weapon. To afford these, revenue must go up, and finding treasure always helps.
The third mechanic ahead of its time was permadeath. When a character dies from losing all Life Points, (not hit points) you can’t get them back. If the emperor or empress dies from battle, or the whole party dies, you must choose an heir to the throne. You then pass on abilities and attributes to that heir. Speaking of combat…
The combat is simple, you pick a command, and your characters perform that command. It’s the strategy involved that actually matters. Slaying a monster that is very strong first may keep you alive from strong attacks, but be barraged by little attacks. Or, you can take out many monsters in one or two turns, so that you don’t have to deal with them later.
The problem comes in here. The game is brilliant, to me. I grew up on JRPG’s, especially the classics. The problems such as getting trapped by enemies, no handholding, and stuff like that don’t bother me as much. It may turn off other players, and not enjoy this at all. Although a great game with mechanics ahead of its time, it is still trapped in the 90’s. I recommend it to those who have played these types of games and enjoyed it. I don’t to anyone else.
Very Recommended/Not Recommended
Based on your tastes
Reviewed on Nintendo Switch, not provided by Square Enix