Relying on who (and the place) you ask, SaGa Frontier is both a little-known cult basic JRPG or a best-selling constructing block of a well-known franchise. It is partaking, it is complicated, it is repetitive. Now it is remastered, 24 years after the unique launch.
“We would like extra avid gamers, particularly these from the West, to play video games from the SaGa sequence, which has a protracted historical past in Japan,” says Hiroyuki Miura, the producer of SaGa Frontier Remastered.
I performed SaGa Frontier as a clumsy, angsty teen within the late ’90s. I spent hours leveling up my characters, then getting mad at myself for failing to save lots of earlier than wiping once more. I would pause to modify over to the household pc, trying up sport suggestions and painstakingly detailed walkthroughs on old-school boards. My devotion to the sport was amplified by the truth that none of my associates had heard about it. It was my sport.
Because the years handed, I periodically returned to the world of SaGa Frontier. I took my empty PlayStation to school and purchased a 3rd copy of the sport off eBay (my authentic copy lengthy since scratched to hell, the second by chance shattered). The sport introduced me pleasure, however the precariousness of the getting older tech anxious me. If this disc turned unusable, too, what number of have been left on the earth?
Issues about restricted availability resonated with the SaGa workforce. “We’ve obtained a number of requests from gamers asking to have the ability to play these video games once more. We really feel that you will need to fulfill these requests,” says Miura. “These plans can solely be carried out if there may be demand from the gamers, so we’re very grateful to have the ability to launch this sport worldwide this time round.”
Earlier than the remaster, followers made peace with the truth that some components of the sport would all the time be unfinished. The sequence creator didn’t share the identical complacency. “This was a possibility that we created ourselves,” says Akitoshi Kawazu, the SaGa sequence’ normal director. “For rather less than 10 years now, Producer Ichikawa and I’ve labored on numerous initiatives to reboot the SaGa sequence. I’m very glad we have been capable of get to this stage on account of this work.”
SaGa Frontier Remastered features a main graphical overhaul in addition to beforehand minimize content material and QoL changes—all wonderful updates for SaGa followers. However SFR continues to be punishing in the best way solely a basic JRPG might be. You did not carry the fitting characters to the fitting room to spark the fitting dialogue inside the first fifteen minutes of the sport? Nicely, you may by no means obtain a secret character three hours later, then.
The arcane sport structure is a trademark of Kawazu, who pushes the boundaries of storytelling and gameplay to authentic, typically incomprehensible ranges. And it is within the title: SaGa Frontier was actually uncharted territory of gaming, with free-roam areas, level-scaling monsters, and assault combo techniques. However once more, each a part of play is touched by inscrutability, that sense you might be lacking one thing.
You possibly can create hard-hitting combos by taking part in round together with your characters, however the guidelines governing these combos usually are not defined within the sport. That is how SFR might be flashy and enjoyable whereas concurrently being a fully bewildering expertise.
Although the mechanics could be baffling, the visible and aural dimensions are dazzling. Operating round city entails a tiny sprite sprinting over a painted background. Settings vary from the neon grime of Koorong to whimsical, Wonderland-esque Devin and the Gothic rose-glow of Facinaturu. Every Area has its personal distinctive musical theme from famend composer Kenji Ito, lo-fi beats looping endlessly like a pixelated Escher portray. (One other plus of the remaster: You possibly can hearken to the soundtrack from a media library on the primary menu.)
The fight system is equally placing. In the event you throw an enemy into the air for a Rising Nova assault, your perspective shifts with the sprite’s movement. The view feels natural, such as you’re an energetic participant in a real battle. This method helped the sport age gracefully and added visible complexity that’s merely enjoyable to take a look at.