Also On: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Square Enix
The SaGa series is a long and storied RPG franchise that has been released on many generations of consoles. Not all of them have made it to the North American market though and despite the name Romancing SaGa 2, this is actually the 5th title in the series. Seasoned game designer Akitoshi Kawazu was fresh off making the first two Final Fantasy games for the original Famicom, and was then asked to create a new game for Nintendo?s new handheld console, the Game Boy. The first game, released in Japan as Makai Toshi Sa-Ga did make it to the North American market as Final Fantasy Legend, and a new series was born.
Romancing SaGa 2 was originally released on the Super Famicom in December of 1993, this title did things that no other title at the time did, and few still do. Our story begins many years ago when the world was in peril. Only one thing was known about that time, seven heroes stepped forward, risked their lives, and saved the world. Now those seven heroes are back, but this time, they are not here to save the world.
Character progression in the game was unique for its time. Characters would equip several different weapons, from ranged to melee. As players used the weapons to attack there would be a chance of learning a special ability for that weapon. If you learned it the first use of the ability would be free, subsequent uses would cost skill points. Fights are your classic JRPG faire, the screen is split into two sides, left side are monsters, right side are your characters. At the start of a round, attacks, skills and abilities are chosen to be used during the current round. Then both sides attack and the round starts over again if anyone is still standing.
Fights in Romancing SaGa 2 can get confusing very quickly, as stats for characters are only shown in between rounds, before selecting what abilities are going to be used. There is not an easy way to keep track if a character is going to die during a round until that round ends and hit points are displayed again. A second annoyance with the game is that there is no instruction manual. So trying to figure out what skill points go to which weapon, or what LP means is difficult until something bad happen. (LP stands for Life Points if you were wondering) All characters are healed when the fight is done, if a character is felled, their LP drops by one. When LP reaches zero, that character is dead permanently. Also at the end of a fight there is a chance that a characters HP, or TP will increase.
The story in Romancing SaGa 2 is more unique than most, taking place over the course of 400 years. Because of this, the characters that players start with are long dead once the game ends. Not to worry they have a generation system in place to keep the skills learned by the lead character. At the end of every generation, a player will have the option to pick an heir and once this happens, all skills, abilities and spells are then passed on to that character and gameplay continues.
At the beginning of Romancing SaGa 2, players are given the option of using the original graphics or the updated look. Once a choice has been made it cannot be changed. The juxtaposition of high res backgrounds and pixelated characters can be jarring at first but once you are used to it, it serves as a great reminder of where the game came from and where games have been going to.
Another item that would have helped a lot with a manual is the explanation of why all gold earned is put into the kingdom treasury instead of your coffers. As gold is earned, the kingdom gets it all. Where do you get money for stuff you ask? Easy… everyone gives you things for free! But gold from the kingdom must be used to improve the town so that new items purchased from the stores. Unfortunately, the game really does a poor job of explaining the different systems in the game.
The seven bosses in Romancing SaGa 2 are all unique and can be taken in any order. As the game progresses and the seven are slowly defeated, the rest of them get a little more powerful and have different abilities as you beat them in a different order. This does give the game a little bit of replayability.
Overall Romancing SaGa 2 was a good game for its time, though the lack of an instruction manual for this version really hurts the enjoyment of it. After all the pros and cons are factored in, it really boils down to a very mediocre RPG.
Note: Square Enix provided us with a Romancing SaGa 2 Switch code for review purposes.