- Oct 25, 2017
Over the past eight months or so I've been playing SaGa Frontier 2 on and off between major releases.
This game is really, really cool.
I've enjoyed it immensely. It's my first SaGa game. I wanted to make a LTTP to learn how other people received this game as well as to learn more about the games in the series. As I was playing it, I collected my thoughts on the game.
First off, this game is beautiful. Coming out in 1999, when tons of games were moving to 3D, the game has hand-drawn watercolor backgrounds and awesome looking sprites. The character designs are incredible. Each character has an awesome look to them, and that is a huge draw. There are toooons of characters and they all have their own unique flair to them. This was the thing that really got me through the door with this game. It reminded me a lot of Ragnarok Online, funny enough.
The Story of SaGa Frontier 2 is a really interesting concept. I love the idea of reliving a history of a world and how it changed over time, and the characters that influenced it. It follows two characters; Gustave XIII and Will Knights (and his family). Gustave's story moves at a rapid pace, explaining his backstory through cutscenes, and sparingly lets you control him. I almost saw Gustave's story as a way to introduce myself to the mechanics of the game, because in his later chapters he is extremely powerful. His plot is shrouded in mystery for me because of how rapid-fire it is. It's an interesting idea, but ultimately I wasn't able to become very attached the character initially.
The second story character is Will Knights. This story feels like the main plotline, and I really enjoy the idea of playing as Will and his descendants Rich and Ginny. This also allows you to see the waves that Gustave left in history, as his actions usually set the stage for the others, and that bridges you into the real plot.
Once again, The idea is super interesting but the execution holds it back. There are a lot of times in Gustave's story where there are HUGE time-skips, and characters that you haven't met are in your party with no context. It makes sense the more you play, but it can be strange from a storytelling standpoint and it's pretty impossible to follow along without some sort of guide. It's hard to care about such a massive cast where a ton of them are only around temporarily. I do appreciate the additions of side chapters that flesh out characters though.
This is where the game shines. I absolutely adore the battle system in this game. From what I've heard it's not as crazy unique as other SaGa games, but I still found a lot of stuff to love. Life Points (LP) are a really cool mechanic. Using them to heal to full is awesome. Initially I enjoyed the danger of enemies that would attack you to deal LP damage, but as I got further in the game it was super frustrating.
The dueling mechanic where you fight an enemy one-on-one was novel at first as well. Using that to learn skills is also a cool mechanic, but the RNG nature of it is infuriating. It took me forever to learn skills that ended up being essential like Turtle Killer and Berserk. However, using the multitude of Arts and Spells in the game is awesome. Seeing the combo attacks link up feels fantastic.
A final note on combat; the roles you can give to characters is another awesome touch. It opens up a lot of room for party compositions and strategy. Having certain characters with more balanced stats, others with aggressive or defensive stats.
The overworld mechanic and the shopkeeping is something I had a lot of trouble grasping and I still don't really get it. Crowns are the money that doesn't carry over from chapter to chapter, while Chips stays in your inventory. In order to increase the available items for Chips in shops, you need to essentially trade between locations during chapters where you have overworld freedom. When I realized what was actually happening, I was intrigued, but my game was too far gone at that point. Would love to try to get a high Chip count next time I play.
Lastly, I need to talk about the Music.
It's incredible in my opinion. My favorite RPG soundtrack of all time, which is CRAZY to me. It's very relaxed, but confident. The orchestral versions of the tracks are stellar.
I'll preview some tracks here, I think it says what it needs to say. Masashi Hamauzu is a god.
Overall, this game has left a huge impact on my heart. I can't wait to try out others in the series. I would love any suggestions on what to play next!Overworld Theme/Chapter Select: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r2xPGfED6q0&list=PL7DCAFC96D6B1FE44&index=2
Dungeon Theme: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LsdZjRXrIp4&list=PL7DCAFC96D6B1FE44&index=18
Battle Theme 3: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=65A8o7vMwVM&index=51&list=PL7DCAFC96D6B1FE44
Desert Town Vogelang: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vIc7YEq0Qas&list=PL7DCAFC96D6B1FE44&index=59