Relying on who (and the place) you ask, SaGa Frontier is both a little-known cult traditional JRPG or a best-selling constructing block of a well-known franchise. It is partaking, it is advanced, 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 collection, 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 avoid wasting earlier than wiping once more. I might pause to modify over to the household laptop, wanting 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 pals 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 acquired a 3rd copy of the sport off eBay (my authentic copy lengthy since scratched to hell, the second by accident shattered). The sport introduced me pleasure, however the precariousness of the getting old tech frightened me. If this disc turned unusable, too, what number of have been left on the earth?
Considerations about restricted availability resonated with the SaGa workforce. “We’ve obtained quite a lot 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’s 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 at all times be unfinished. The collection creator didn’t share the identical complacency. “This was a chance that we created ourselves,” says Akitoshi Kawazu, the SaGa collection’ normal director. “For rather less than 10 years now, Producer Ichikawa and I’ve labored on varied initiatives to reboot the SaGa collection. I’m very happy we have been in a position to get to this stage because of this work.”
SaGa Frontier Remastered features a main graphical overhaul in addition to beforehand lower content material and QoL changes—all superb updates for SaGa followers. However SFR continues to be punishing in the way in which solely a traditional JRPG will be. You did not deliver the suitable characters to the suitable room to spark the suitable dialogue throughout the first fifteen minutes of the sport? Effectively, you will 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 methods. However once more, each a part of play is touched by inscrutability, that sense you might be lacking one thing.
You may create hard-hitting combos by enjoying round together with your characters, however the guidelines governing these combos will not be defined within the sport. That is how SFR will be flashy and enjoyable whereas concurrently being a fully bewildering expertise.
Although the mechanics may 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 may take heed to the soundtrack from a media library on the principle menu.)
The fight system is equally putting. 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 lively participant in a real battle. This system helped the sport age gracefully and added visible complexity that’s merely enjoyable to have a look at.