Monday, December 3, 2012

SaGa II Review

Game Boy title SaGa 2, released to the U.S. as Final Fantasy Legend II, combines a simple, sequential plot with surprisingly addictive gameplay mechanics.

The Story

Your father has been away on a journey for years, so you and three friends leave home to find out what's become of him and his quest to gather MAGI, pieces of the statue that forms the fabled goddess Isis.

Your journey consists of traveling from one world to the next, gathering MAGI, and defeating the hostile god of that world. Most worlds have few details and are relevant to the story only once or twice. Aesthetically, the geography looks cheap and slapped-together compared to the lovingly-formed contours of, say, Dragon Quest I's Alefgard.

The four player characters say very little, and so don't have much character development. The enemy gods have distinct personalities, and one in particular has a hand in multiple worlds. In some worlds you'll help people along the way and see their stories play out, but the character who ties everything together is your dad: learning about his journey, and getting the chance to fight alongside him.

The Gameplay

The versatile mechanics of character stat progression and weapon types make this game stand out; they're the reason that SaGa 2 is among my most-played Game Boy titles.

Player characters are chosen from four races: human, mutant, robot, and monster. The race determines how the character progresses, not in a predetermined path, but on an open framework of progression.

Nearly everything used in battle has a charge consumed on use, and so must be either recharged or replaced. This makes resource management vital. Weapons and items are scarcely explained in game. A weapon might seem useless at first compared to things of similar cost, and yet be powerful if applied correctly. I recommend keeping a guide or search engine handy to look things up if you're not sure.