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SaGa Frontier

Publisher: Square Developer: Square
Reviewer: Patrick Gann Released: 03/24/98
Gameplay: 90% Control: N/A
Graphics: 80% Sound/Music: 80%
Story: 75% Overall: 75%


SaGa Frontier has been labeled as a horrible game done entirely incorrectly, and not worth any amount of money at all. Unlike everyone else in the world, I managed to beat the game with all 7 characters (NOT cheating) and view the secret ending. With this extra time put into the game, I must say that...Well...It doesn't make that much of a difference. The game is still shoddy and you really have to TRY to get into it to like it.

The reason why this game was going to be good was its "non-linearity" feature, which became a larger feature with every SaGa game to date. However, most people say that it was non-linearity done wrong. I disagree, and I must say that I enjoyed putting 70 hours into this game. Hehehe.

When you start the game, you see a brief almost FMV-ish screen with the title moving around. Then you have to choose between 1 of 7 different characters. Here's the rundown on each.

Blue - A magician who has unrivaled powers and has a sole mission to one day face his equal in battle, Rouge.

Red - A human who was given superpowers by his dad's friend (very Sci-Fi) to help save the world from some corrupt company.

Riki - A monster from a dying world, he is the only one that can save it by wishing on magical rings. But are his best allies really his worst enemies?

Emelia - A model who was framed for killing her husband and ends up with a group of underground people who once again are stopping another corrupt company.

Asellus - A girl who is hit by a carriage on the way to Red's Dad's house and then taken to a bizarre new world, while she discovers the new powers that someone implanted her with.

T260G - A robot who is found in the town of Junk, he seeks his origin and why he ended up in this town.

Lute - A pansy bard who happens to have a cool deceased dad which drags Lute into a conflict that could be solved in 10 minutes if only he weren't so weak to begin with.

Now that we've gone over all these basic character plots, let's do story. With the exception of Lute (Sweet mother of pearl, I HATE Lute) I enjoyed all of the quests as far as story goes. Asellus has 3 possible endings, depending on how you play the game and what you do in one certain situation. Emelia has 2, a strange one and an even stranger one. Character development throughout this game is at an all time low, with few scenes showing any personality. This hurts the story, but the general plots usually have great twists throughout them. I'd spoil them, but...Ah, what do you care? You're never gonna play the game!

SPOILER AHEAD, HIGHLIGHT TO READ

Here's an example basic plot. Blue is a trained magician who seeks to battle some guy named Rouge. When you do this battle, it doesn't matter who wins. Whoever wins is who you become. In the battle, they merge together because they were originally torn apart by a magical school to see if they had enough magical power to bring themselves together again. After merging, the credits flash by and you'd think everything's over. Oh no. You may now finally return to the town whence you came from. When you get there, it ends up that all the demons of hell took over the town because a magician opened some portal to Hell. They tell you that only you can save the world. On your way to Hell, you see what was going on in the magical school. They were cloning all kinds of "magically gifted" babies. Blue/Rouge resolves to save the world for these magicians and for magic itself. You go to Hell (Which is disguised as heaven, cool concept) and fight through a ton of demons. The ending is the only drawback, in which you just finish when you beat the last boss. Whatever sound was going at the time lingers as the screen fades to gray and says "The End". That part sucks, but the rest was cool!

END SPOILER

Enough with story, let's get to the REALLY good part. Gameplay. There are so many GOOD aspects to the gameplay in this game. We'll start with battles. Battles are not random encounters, all the enemies show up on the screen and they are sometimes remarkably easy to dodge. However, most of the time, they are hard to dodge. Inside a battle, there are TONS of cool moves that are unique to many characters. Oh, we'll get to characters after the battles then. Anyway, in battles, you can do COMBINATIONS. These combos aren't ANYTHING like Chrono Trigger's combos where it's all set and defined. You just have to have your 5 characters (That's right, 5 characters in a battle) set up moves that might go together, and then combos just happen. There are set lists somewhere for every combo known to man, but basically, it's fun to just randomly get them. In one quest with Riki, you HAVE to do combos to complete a battle. Very clever.

The characters in the game make for excellent gameplay. There's a cast of maybe 40 or 50 characters, each with some tie-in to other characters (Though sometimes you can't get characters on your team when you'd think the character you're playing as should go with the other person). Ranging from a drunk guy with a steel pipe to a little blob of jelly, these characters each have places in your party (you can collect up to 15 characters each time through) and each can come in handy with enough levels worked up. That brings us to the reason why the gameplay doesn't get 100%. You have to work up WAY too many levels to succeed in this game. I mean, more than Final Fantasy 1 level uppage. More than 3/4 of the time you spend on each character will be strictly working up levels. That's about 45 hours. Ugh.

Another minor problem with gameplay is knowing where to go. Sometimes you have absolutely no idea where to go or what to do, so you just wander around the world. Oh, there's no WORLD MAP in this game, you just take airplanes from town to town. Blue has a magical little device that lets him go to places on his own, but everyone else has to take airplanes.

Graphics. I love the graphics in this game. The backgrounds are all pre-rendered and very cool. The lighting effects are incredibly well done. The characters on the screen are 2D sprites, and I think that they all look very nice. Also, in battle, some of the battle attacks are truly well done as for graphics.

On to the music. I enjoyed the music in this game. Many of the songs are definitely NOT your traditional VG music, but they start to grow on ya about the 5th character through. When you reached the sewers of Koorong, you knew what it was going to play. There are a couple sad dramatic songs and you HAVE to love those. And the last battle themes...Magnifique. Every single character has a great last boss fight with GREAT last boss music. T260G's last battle is all techno, whereas Emelia's is dramatic. Basically, I really liked the music in this game...MUCH more than Legend of Legaia's. :P

That's about all I have to say. The game was doomed to failure in most people's opinion, but I still stand by it. I'd still own the game if it hadn't gotten a big scratch through it. However, I decided to trade it in with a bunch of other games for FF8 because of the scratch. I guess that shows its real worth right there. :)

Patrick Gann

Even though the graphics are pretty good, the sprite characters seem like they were pasted on to the pre-rendered backgrounds.

The 7 unique adventures was a good concept but it ultimately fell apart because of their similarity.







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