quare Enix continues its nostalgia crusade by revitalizing increasingly niche series. This time we are honored with the remaster of SaGa Frontier – the first part of the Frontier dilogy with the original PlayStation . The games of this franchise continue to come out, and the father of the series, Akitoshi Kawazu, is still an employee of the company, which is a phenomenon in itself, considering how many old series have sunk into oblivion or are simply forgotten, and the developers have retired.
SaGa Frontier Remastered from the very beginning does not stand on ceremony with the player and takes him into his cold embrace. In a good way, but know right away that you will have to get used to local tough, by today’s standards, rules, there is more than enough challenge here.
The game is permeated through and through with original ideas, but let’s make our way through each aspect in order. At launch, you will be greeted by the title screen, where you will need to choose one of seven protagonists. The eighth, secret character, will open after passing any of the heroes presented.
Each character harbors a unique story, gameplay and choices. As conceived, the project is closest to Octopath Traveler and Trials of Mana – with some differences.
Accordingly, each branch of the plot narrative contains a set of scenarios that you go through with the selected hero in a certain order, based on what decisions you make in the course of their passage. This applies to literally all actions – which parts of the locations and in what order you visit, which NPCs you communicate with and which answer options you choose if necessary. Further more.
Within the framework of the condition “to fulfill the final goal of the scenario” you are free to explore the locations presented as you like. Even within a tight framework, the authors were able to convey the spirit of adventure and finds – turning the other way, you can stumble upon, for example, an ancient tomb with cool artifacts and an optional boss. And if you talk to an extravagant-looking girl, it turns out that you have common goals, and you will receive a replenishment to the party. The whole game is built in a similar way, so you should be as attentive and inquisitive as possible, since the locations themselves are quite compact – you will not get lost, but at the same time there is where to turn around.
As you may have guessed, the storylines of the heroes intersect many times and find a point of contact in the story of Detective Fuse, who is able to recruit all the characters into the party, provided that the necessary requirements are met. In turn, the endings also depend on what and how you did it. This information is directly or indirectly mentioned not only in the dialogues, but also in the passage log in the game menu.
Of course, you will have to get to the bottom of something yourself, but the game will hint at this. For example, whether or not to save someone, get or develop the necessary skills, and much more.
Thus, a system called “free scripting” is implemented. In some way, albeit with the stipulated restrictions, you yourself are the director of the fate of your charges. This is one of the most non-linear JRPGs in the history of the genre.
SaGa Frontier has a whole potpourri of settings. Of course, given the presence of spacecraft, robots, blasters, aliens, advanced technology and other things, science fiction is at the forefront. But besides this, there are features of the modern world, gothic fairy tales, mysticism and fantasy. It’s amazing how such an eclectic cocktail goes to the game. This is expressed both in gameplay elements, such as the presence of laser cannons and magic in the vicinity of katanas and martial arts, and in regions of the world. You breathe a fresh breeze in the picturesque island town of Oumi, and then make your way through the smoke of the Garbage, making a passing stop at the ghostly Japanese castle Wakatu in search of the secret seal. You never know where evil fate will take you, but that’s the whole point.
The brave assistant ship mechanic Red lives a double life. The vengeful superhero Alkaiser lurks behind the facade of an ordinary hard worker. Since he needs to keep the secret of his personality, then reincarnation is available only when the party members are blinded, dead or are robots. In this form, he receives significantly enhanced characteristics and new skills, including heroic techniques, available only to Red.
As a human, he can equip all types of armor, weapons, accessories, and eight combat skills. You are free to put any learned skills into empty slots, which can be differentiated into physical and magical ones. For the establishment of skills of one type, you get a discount to the cost of using them in battle. It is measured in weapon points. There are also hit points – not to be confused with the classic health points. If health decreases to zero, then the character falls unconscious, and it is possible to return him to the system if you use any healing item or spell – there are no resurrecting things here. So if the hit points run out, the hero will not be able to take part in battles until he regains them out of combat or with a special item. It is important to send the characters to the bench on time in an additional party, the number of which, as well as the active one,
A TOTALLY UNFORGETTABLE JRPG EPIC THAT HASN’T BEEN SURPASSED IN PLACES BY ANY OTHER GAME.
To perform advanced techniques, you need to learn them through a special mechanic called “Flicker”. It is important to remember that you can only learn a new technique if there is at least one free slot in the skill list. The discovery of certain skills is arbitrary. The exception is spells that need to be bought in settlement shops and which can be equipped only if the hero has a special gift for the use of one or another school of magic. Some of the talents are innate, and some you will acquire along the way.
Combo attacks are reminiscent of the combined attacks of the heroes from the Persona series, but are one of the most important mechanics here. Combo is the cornerstone of defeating bosses. They significantly increase the damage done and the chance of a debuff being applied. In light of the fact that blind grind here leads to the opposite effect, because you will only strengthen enemies and increase the total number of hit points for bosses, combo bundles become the number one weapon against them.
They are performed by combat skills, played in a certain order and provided that the enemy does not interrupt you or you disrupt the order using healing magic or a thing. The search for the best bundles for specific enemies, as well as monitoring the availability of the required number of weapon points, is valued here much higher than the constant destruction of the same enemies.
All opponents are visible on location maps, and the battle begins when it touches a silhouette on a separate screen in turn-based mode. All teams in skirmishes are a reflection of the weapons you have equipped, their combat skills and corresponding spells, as well as items that will have to be set separately. The full set of items available is only available with a backpack, which is best for a tank character with high defense and health.
Although there is no pumping in the usual sense, and you get many bonuses to characteristics through an impressive arsenal of equipment and buffs, heroes can earn an increase in attributes at the end of battles. This directly correlates with the effectiveness in battle – how many points of damage or healing were made and what skills the hero used. Preference is given to those that cost the resources.
At first glance, it might seem that the game relies too much on the grind given the amount of room for growth, but the opposite is true. Killing the same weak enemies all the time is not an option. The developers break the pattern somewhat in this regard, because in fact, you raise heroes from scratch and get equipment for them from scratch. However, in fact, the SaGa Frontier encourages you to think outside the box. As you may have guessed, the local protagonists have different races, where each has its own pros and cons. Accordingly, the authors spur interest in experimenting and creating a party that suits your preferences and playing style.
As mentioned above, the most powerful weapon will be the most effective individual skills and combo attacks. The number of possible options is huge and really amazing. Micromanagement in terms of training specific heroes with its own customizable perks and equipment turns the game into a kind of constructor for a moment. Create a team of battle mages, melee and ranged warriors or jack of all trades – the choice is yours. The ability to put on different types of equipment and train your pets in other types of attacks only enhances the variability of the gameplay.
Continuing our acquaintance with the protagonists, we turn to a girl named Asellus. She is half mystic and half human. If we draw analogies, then mystics are vampires who live apart according to their principles and master magic.
She wakes up in a Castlevania-style setting, surrounded by coffins and mysterious gadgets in a huge, gloomy castle. As it turned out, she was on the verge of death and received a blood transfusion from the lord of the estate, inheriting the powers of the mystics, such as immortality and the gift of charm of others.
“Am I a man or a mystic”, “Whose side of the barricades should I take?”, “Is it possible to escape from evil fate”? – In search of answers to questions, Asselus will visit many regions. You will have to make an inevitable choice that will lead to one or another outcome.
In the original version of SaGa Frontier, a number of scripts and lines were missing, but in the remaster, the authors returned all the content to its place, like scenes in a biolaboratory, and now it is easier for players to understand Asselus’ motivation and make an informed choice in the end.
In contrast to people, mystics are able to absorb and acquire the skills of defeated monsters, using special types of weapons and spells. But, alas, they cannot learn new skills for swords, firearms and martial arts.
Wizard Rouge possesses remarkable magical talents and exclusive, together with another magician, spatial magic, which is quite a powerful help in battles. Another magician, Blue, turns out to be not a bastard and sets off on a protracted journey to study all schools of magic. Of course, they are both powerful sorcerers for a reason, and during the passage of the scenarios you will discover the shocking truth, where in the end you will have to decide to make a difficult choice.
Blue is quite an interesting protagonist, from a distance he seems to be a real villain because of his final goal and a very rude, detached character. At the same time, it sometimes comes to the comical, if you read the dialogues with the rest of the characters. In terms of gameplay, it is also unique. This is due to the fact that there are opposing schools of magic in the game, and you cannot simultaneously own, say, a school of light and darkness – one cancels the other. However, Blue can master everyone at once. In addition, he is the only one capable of teleporting to previously visited places.
Atmosphere – it envelops and absorbs
Classic – never out of date
A sea of fun
Lots of loot
Fireballs and curses
I want to hear this soundtrack to the holes
Puzzles, puzzles, riddles
Giant robots, again
A well-known developer – we love and respect him
Twisted plot – impossible to come off
Aliens from neighboring galaxies
Vampires, zombies, devils
sex friendly – girls like
Replayability – it can be played and replayed for many years
Subtitles for the deaf and dumb
The visual overview is based on the main features of the game and is in addition to the main overview.
The only monster in our gang that takes a human form in the game, Ricky, goes in search of powerful rings in order to revive his fading home of the Lummox animals. The story, although the most linear of all the ones presented, is quite emotional and is a kind of story about the formation of a personality and growing up.
Playing for him is quite difficult at first, since you are literally a goal like a falcon. Only accessories are allowed to equip, no armor and weapons. So no fighting skills and attribute growth – only what you can absorb after defeating other monsters. One skill from one monster, like all other representatives of this race. At the same time, having absorbed the soul of an adversary, your ward changes shape, which is reflected in the model in battle and its characteristics.
The good news is that almost immediately you will acquire allies of other races, among which there will be very strong comrades. I recommend the local samurai Gena, he is a very strong swordsman with cool martial arts skills, a real killing machine.
Bard Lute is perhaps the most commonplace of all protagonists. But at the same time, the most, that neither is, a jack of all trades, who is good at wielding any attacks or magic, from him you can blind a fighter who has all the desired skills for attack, defense and support. As an adventurer at heart, he goes where his eyes will look, and as a result, he encounters the killer of his father and a powerful group, where some details of the global plan concerning the central storyline are revealed. On his way he meets all the characters.
Model Emelia begins in prison, where she ends up on charges of murdering her lover. During her story, she meets knowledgeable informants and learns that she was set up by members of the dangerous Trinity organization. What sets it apart from the rest of the human race is the possibility of class change. Carried out when changing the costume in the style of Final Fantasy X-2 orbs . Not only her model is changing, but also characteristics with skills. Moreover, military-style clothing accelerates the acquisition of skills for firearms, and a wrestler suit – of martial arts.
The story about the fur by the name of the T260G model immediately throws it out of the fire and into the fire, demonstrating the galactic mix. As a result, our brave robot turns out to be buried in the Landfill (with a capital letter, like last time, since this is the name of the city – Scrapyard) for many years, until it is dug up by young technicians in one of the regions. He has a rather entertaining story, where people interfere, and the outcome is reminiscent of games in the Phantasy Star series. The most juice in it is a cool battle with the final villain.
Mechs do not improve their parameters, following the results of battles they absorb instead the computer programs of iron opponents, which open up access to new skills. T260G, in turn, has its own feature – it is able to change the case. Each chassis changes the model and gives an increase in efficiency in the use of offensive techniques against certain races, healing and other benefits. Everything has a price, so you will need to think carefully about what mechanical parts, things and items of equipment to equip the mechs in order to get the desired build of parameters and a set of attacks.
The eighth and final character is the uncompromising detective Fuze, a real tough nut to crack. His intriguing story intersects with all the others and lifts the veil of secrecy over many of the questions that remain after completing the story for other heroes. It is intriguing for a reason, because you transfer your decisions through the transfer of the system file of the game before starting the passage. Only in its storyline is it possible to bring together all the playable characters, both major and minor. (All details about the adventures of the robot are prohibited by the embargo, so I will omit the details).
Of course, you will be challenged by a whole lot of bosses. Although they are repeated in places due to the structure of the narrative, there will not be a feeling that there are very few of them, and even more so that they are weak. In addition to a large pool of health, everyone has their own unique aces up their sleeve, and you will have to familiarize yourself with both attack patterns and weaknesses. Sometimes you are amazed at the epic nature of the battles – these are large interesting-looking models of bosses, and their animations themselves, and a battle melody, and even unexpected moments. So, in a battle with one of them, the place of the battle will change right in the middle of the field, and the other will need to be entertained by a sophisticated method.
The openness of the game turns it in some places into an analogue of Souls , where you can stumble upon a powerful enemy, having died the death of the brave. Fortunately, they are given to save almost at any time, except for the places provided for by the plot. But that’s not all – the remaster now has the option to escape from the battle with 100% probability. Naturally, you won’t be able to hide from the bosses. Therefore, it is worth coming prepared and fully armed.
Scenarios for each of the heroes are not only arcs of intertwining stories and combat challenges, but also unique gameplay solutions. So, at one moment you will have to solve a series of puzzles with mirrors, at another – use infrared glasses, and at the third – surf the vastness of cyberspace to eliminate bugs in order to get into the system.
Speaking of other innovations, it was important to expand the explanations for all skills and items. In the old version, all the effects and bonuses were not indicated, and there was also no information about the effect of the applied items during the battle, which, you see, is critical for playing with an abundance of objects and techniques. There is also a brief summary that summarizes all the mechanics and features of the gameplay. Also, adjustments were made to some skills and capabilities, and a number of techniques were renamed to better convey the meaning of their actions.
It is impossible to express the amount of gratitude to the developers for such comfort as the ability to speed up both the animation of battles and the movement of characters. Options are available in 2 and 3 times, and are configured separately for each aspect. This is a great time saver.
Interestingly, the game was graphically transformed using AI upscaling, which gave an absolutely amazing result. Bright colors, neat models of characters and objects in the background, great fighting animations. Believe me, given the diverse bestiary to match the settings of the locations and the many types of attacks, watching the effects and movements is a real extravaganza. I’m not afraid to say that, with the exception of AAA titles, this is one of the most entertaining JRPGs. It is as if you feel the heaviness of the blows, coupled with the powerful soundtrack. Otherwise, we have traditional 2D, flavored with pre-rendered backdrops, which are now adjusted to a widescreen display scale of 16 by 9. Each screen is like an art form, be it a multi-story casino, dense jungle, a futuristic city in the sky or a magical kingdom.
All the overall gloss is spoiled by the ridiculous interface with huge frames and wretched fonts, as if they came from a cheap mobile game. One gets the impression that the developers simply copied the shell from the mobile version without bothering to adequately implement it on consoles and PCs.
Kenji Ito , the composer of the game, seemed to be possessed by a demon while creating the soundtrack. The musical accompaniment changes as dramatically as what is happening on the screen, striving to suddenly plunge a melodic knife into the back of an unsuspecting gamer, only enhancing the effect of presence and involvement in the events. Music sometimes anticipates the future, but this is more a plus than a minus, because it makes you concentrate in anticipation of tragedy or fun.
Taking into account the combined hodgepodge of settings, the composer tried to find a key for each. In all regions, you will feel the enveloping accompaniment, whether it is a lounge in a harbor town, a brisk battle march in the jungle or a tense melody in ancient ruins. I would like to separately praise the theme that sounds at the start of each story and sets in the right way. She is mysterious, depressing and bewitching – igniting the imagination with epic adventures ahead. The presence of as many as five battle tunes and unique themes of boss battles for each of the heroes is also pleasing – the most intense and long-lasting compositions.
Amazingly, due to the intervention of the father of the series, the quality of this reissue turned out to be even better than the remasters of such pillars of the genre from Square Enix as Final Fantasy VII , VIII and IX .
A totally unforgettable JRPG epic that hasn’t been surpassed in places by any other game. Unique characters and situations, non-linear narrative structure, deep combat system and an atmosphere of endless adventure will not leave anyone indifferent. Technically, we have before us one of the best remasters of Square Enix, where the authors have improved everything possible with love and awe, brought back the original ideas and released it to all popular platforms