Another week has flown by, so it's time to talk about what I've been playing. This past week I got knee deep into SaGa!
I grabbed three SaGa games: this one, Saga Frontier, and Scarlet Graces, but I'm saving those two for now. I started with Romancing SaGa 3 since I was told that this was a good starting point for people unfamiliar with SaGa, which is very true in my case - I was a Final Fantasy lover for most of my childhood.
SaGa 3 has been delightful so far! I'm playing the Remaster from 2019, but it still very much feels like an SNES game. I actually love how crunchy the character sprites are next to the redone environments. Something about it just makes me chuckle. I picked Princess Monika and after a short section I was let off the reigns.
I've been trying to not look up much for this game, to capture Kawazu's vision, and it's mostly worked, except for when I couldn't figure out why my party's formation kept breaking when touching enemy symbols. Turns out it's because I was running, not walking, into encounters. This is exactly what I expected from the SaGa team when it came to mechanical obfuscation, and it did not disappoint. There's probably more under the hood I have no idea about - I've chanced upon discussions of "Greed Values" and "Monster Infestation numbers," but I am simply pretending that I do not see it.
What I do see has been extremely impressive so far. It's pretty mind-blowing to me that the SNES had an open-world JRPG like this. It's been a ton of fun talking to townsfolk to learn about other towns, dungeons, or story vignettes that I can then explore to collect gear, money, and new party members. My understanding is that Kawazu is a big D&D fan, and it shows in the design structure here. I know I'm supposed to be closing all the Abyss Gates or whatever, but I'm much more interested in helping the masked vigilante Robin clear out villains in the town he watches over, or helping a (self-proclaimed) beautiful scientist take care of a very pesky rat problem. There are tons of variables and choices to make that I'm surprised they were able to fit all of it in an SNES cartridge.
If Final Fantasy was the game I needed as a kid, Romancing SaGa is the game I need now. This is because it's the inverse of FF when it comes to the Gameplay:Plot ratio. SaGa is probably 80% combat and it pops the hell off. There are no traditional levels in SaGa - using a weapon makes you better with it, and most battles lead to stat increases in HP, SP, etc. The harder an enemy is, the more likely your party will "spark" techniques with the weapon they're using.
I have to say: nothing has lit up (heh) the serotonin in my brain quite as much as sparking has. Rather than having trash mob encounters feel like busy work, I now approach them with eager anticipation. Will this fight be the one to give Nora a new axe ability? Will Ward level up his talent with a broadsword further with this boss? The constant feedback is goopy as hell, so I've enjoyed my time fighting enemies, even if I accidentally stumble across a giant fish that wipes my party out in two hits - save often!
The only issues I have with the game are related to the port: the UI has that usual gross, mobile game veneer that Square Enix remasters tend to have, and the text can't be quickly advanced, which is quite annoying. Battles can feel a little slow too. Thankfully these issues can be fixed with mods, but it means that I don't play the game on my Deck as much as I normally would, so progress is a little slow. Overall though, Romancing SaGa 3 has been fantastic, which makes me very excited for the rest of the series.
That's all for now! Have you played anything from the SaGa series? What else have you played this week? Let me know here or on cohost!