Let's Talk About SaGa Frontier

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Welcome to the Summer of Old JRPGs, where we're playing classic role-playing games and talking about them every week. Check out the full schedule here.


I have a confession to make: I didn't play SaGa Frontier this week.

I know, I know. I'm terrible. But over the past couple of weeks I've been playing through Final Fantasy VI in hopes of reviewing it on Kotaku—because we only cover the newest and hottest games—and then I got a review copy of Danganronpa 2, and now everything's just all over the place.

Still, this is the week to discuss SaGa Frontier, so that's what we will do. Originally released way back in 1997 for PlayStation 1, SaGa Frontier is a strange, quirky, totally unfinished game that does some things well and some other things poorly. I've played it a few times over the decades, finishing most of the seven main quests, though I've never actually beaten the game, mostly because it's so repetitive.

For those of you who haven't played the game: SaGa Frontier is divided into seven chapters, each starring a different character with his or her own story. All seven chapters are set in the same world, though, and there's a ton of crossover—as you play, you'll meet a lot of the same recruitable characters, do a lot of the same sidequests, and visit a lot of the same areas. Some of the quests—like collecting Runes and Tarot Cards—can get really, really repetitive.

Some conversation topics for you fine folks:

  • What's your favorite character storyline? I'm partial to T260G, because his quest feels much different than all of the others, and I love watching him evolve as a badass robot.
  • What do you think of the stat growth system? More or less interesting than your typical "get experience -> level up" mechanic?
  • Asellus: first lesbian character in a video game?
  • How great is the music? How is it that even the most obscure Square RPGs just have such incredible soundtracks?
  • I remember reading somewhere that Fuse was supposed to be a playable character, but he was left on the cutting room floor for budget reasons. What do you think his story would've been like?
  • How insane is it that Blue's quest just ends IN THE MIDDLE OF A BOSS FIGHT? Apparently it's symbolism for him and his party getting trapped in hell or something.
  • Have you beaten the whole game? What'd you think?

(Next up: Lunar: Eternal Blue Complete, which we'll discuss on August 15.)

Random Encounters is a weekly column dedicated to all things JRPG. It runs every Friday at 3pm ET. You can reach Jason at jason@kotaku.com or on Twitter at @jasonschreier.


Les Vegetables

I absolutely fucking love SaGa Frontier. In my mind, it was way ahead of it's time for a JRPG.

Delinear and kind of open-world before most JRPGs were trying it, no handholding, even with important story quests, and brutal consequences for being cocky or rushing into a new area unprepared—many shades of what I think make Dark Souls great.

Can't argue with it being repetitive with the side quests, but it's never affected me personally, as I'm not the type of person to try and beat a game with multiple characters before I'm done; I beat it with one and move on, coming back later with a fresh palette. Using this strategy, I eventually beat the game with all 7 characters, and my favorite by FAR has to be Red, by simple virtue of the fact that he's basically a Power Ranger/Super Sentai character, and I've always wanted an RPG like that (the upcoming power ranger sim game doesn't really count), I mean, you can't even morph in front of your party members if they're alive, because it will reveal your identity for fuck's sake! Awesome.

Anyway, I've been a stalwart defender of this game for years, and I just had to gush. I also loved the (extremely flawed) second one, and I think Romancing SaGa for the PS2 is easily one of the PS2's best, most memorable RPGs.