History of Romancing SaGa
The SaGa series has had an interesting journey in Western culture. The games saw great success in Japan in the 1990’s but was only visible to the western world through the Final Fantasy Legend games for the Game Boy or the SaGa Frontier games on the Sony Playstation. Romancing SaGa had three entries in the series for the Super Famicon but outside of Japan only Romancing SaGa saw a remake for the PS2. Squaresoft saw great success with Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy and Secret of Mana and were quite strategic in the decision of which versions of those games to localize. At the time, Romancing SaGa and Unlimited SaGa were not well received by western culture that Squaresoft chose not to localize the rest of the series.
The Plot of Romancing SaGa
Romancing SaGa 2 has a deep history where seven heroes that rose to defeat monsters and saved the world. After protecting the world, they vanished without a trace. There is continued legend and folklore that they will return one day when they are most needed. Whenever, the world was in turmoil their legend would be remembered but quickly forgotten in times of peace and prosperity.
You begin the game by taking on the role of Leon, who that needs to provide training and education to his sons Victor and Gerard. Gerard has a strong academic background and training and Leon wants to provide Gerard with well rounded training by taking him out on combat training. While on these training exercises Avalon, the capital of the empire, is attacked by one of the seven legendary heroes of lore, and Leon must set out to get revenge for his empire.
The game has a unique system by having you go through Leon’s campaign of getting revenge on the legendary heroes that destroyed his empire, but throughout the quest you quickly realize that one generation will not be enough to accomplish this goal. You go through objectives and goals and as you reach these, it will culminate into choosing a successor to continue in your journey to get revenge. Once you move onto the next generation, you maintain the progress you have accomplished in rebuilding the empire as well as all the research you have invested in.
The battle system has some reminiscence of Final Fantasy and any other Square Enix JRPG with some twists. First, you have to build up your weapon skill by using the weapon throughout battle to gain proficiency with the weapon. This becomes an interesting training factor because you can equip two weapons and choose the right weapon for the specific monster you need to attack.
Second, your characters have Life Points (LPs) and each time a character dies in battle they lose an LP. Once a characters LP is used up in battle you must find a replacement for that soldier, or in the case of a main character you will be accelerated to the next generation. This mechanic makes for a unique part of the game that allows for humongous cast of support characters to choose from.
Thirdly, you can set your party into a formation. This differs dramatically from Final Fantasy where formations was which position in the line and whether your character was in the front or back. Instead, you get to pick very strategic formations such as Imperial Cross, Imperial Arrow and Mu Palisade just to name a few.
Next, you don’t have a preset range of skills instead as you level and grow your characters, they randomly learn skills in combat and you have to pick and choose which skills you want to keep and which you don’t, a la Final Fantasy Legends.
Finally, the leveling doesn’t behave like traditional RPGs. You gain what are called Tech Points and after you accrue enough of them you unlock weapon and stat upgrades. The game isn’t designed for you to grind your characters to make the game easier, because as you grind them out the Seven Heroes will grow stronger in parallel to the strength of your characters. This really forces you to strategize and manage your battles carefully.
Graphics & Sound
The graphics and sound go right back to the Super Famicon days and nothing here will surprise you. The sprites are sharp and have a variety of colors to them. However, it is quite obvious that the port was made directly from the mobile versions and the windows are big and take up a good portion of the screen, and minimal effort was made with the translation to optimize it for the Nintendo Switch.
Romancing SaGa 2 brings nostalgia to the forefront with this game style and cast of characters. The game follows a very typical story arc found in almost every JRPG but adds a lot of unique game mechanics to make it stand apart from all the other games that have been released by Square Enix. This is definitely a worthwhile pick up if you enjoyed a lot of those traditional JRPGs and just get through some of the shortcomings from the lackluster port. Overall the game has a 7.5/10.