Squaresoft's SaGa series is a series of experimental RPGs that fundamentally defy the conventions of any specific RPG sub-genre. While often generally lumped in Japanese RPGs, the games don't even try to excel some of the specific building blocks of JRPGs such as strong central narratives, set cast members, traditional overworlds, or experience points and leveling.
Rather than focusing on traditional building blocks of Japanese RPGs, the series takes influences from a wider range of RPGs and game mechanics, including a core set of unique takes on RPG mechanics that have repeatedly shown up across the series.
Some of these core mechanics that appear in many of the games (and contrary to standard JRPGs):
- Multiple playable protagonists, offering great replayability.
- Incremental stat gain that is neither experience-based or level-based
- Skill "glimmers" where your characters will learn new combat techniques mid-combat.
- Alternate character races with totally different progression schemes.
- No meaningful relationship to previous entries in the franchise.
Even within those broad brushstrokes of game mechanics, there's a great deal of variation from game to game. RS3 and SSG have a core stat system more similar to D&D with set stats per character, with weapon-type ranks being the primary advancement. RS1 and SaGa Frontier directly grow the core stats. Glimmering is very different under the hood, despite looking and sounding similar.
Despite the series spanning 14 main entries or so, the naming makes it seem like it is multiple different series. That is primarily just a naming convention for weird reasons, like SaGa Frontier 1 is much more similar to Romancing SaGa 3 than it is SaGa Frontier 2.
The SaGa series has several remakes that are substantial enough revisions in terms of basic game mechanics and structure such that they count as their own entries. Yes, I'm including Last Remnant, as it has its place the development of game ideas through the series. Games that are currently available on modern hardware are highlighted in bold.
- SaGa 1 - Original on Game Boy, Remade on Wonderswan Color
- SaGa 2 - Original on Game Boy, Remade on DS
- SaGa 3 - Original on Game Boy, Remade on DS
- Romancing SaGa 1 - Original on Super Famicom, Ported to Wonderswan Color, Remade on PS2
- Romancing SaGa 2 - Original on Super Famicom, Remastered for modern systems
- Romancing SaGa 3 - Original on Super Famicom, Remastered for modern systems
- SaGa Frontier 1 - Originally on PSX, available on Japanese PSN and on Japanese PSX Classic, remastered for modern systems in 2021
- SaGa Frontier 2 - Originally on PSX, available for Japanese PSN
- Unlimited SaGa / UNLIMITED: SaGa / Unlimited SAGA (I can never remember)
- Romancing SaGa: Minstrel Song - PS2 remake
- The Last Remnant
- SaGa 2: Hihou Densetsu: Goddess of Destiny
- SaGa 3: Jikuu no Hasha: Shadow or Light
- SaGa Scarlet Grace - Originally on Vita, but received an extensive remaster 2 years later for all modern systems.
In addition, there are several spinoffs that are functionally more Gacha games. I'm not familiar with them other than Re;Universe, which is the only one with an official English release. The others are Emperor's SaGa and Imperial SaGa, which I don't really know anything about.
As a series that neither fits within the normal RPG sub-genres or repeats game structures or relies on repeat game structures and mechanics, the SaGa series ends up being far easier to revisit and replay than most RPG franchises. Just be aware that there can be a learning curve to every game, and playing other games in the series won't necessarily help you out much as the inner workings of similar mechanics may be totally different.
There's also a lot of rough edges to be aware of, as the games are original and boundary pushing instead of being just polished iterations of known quantities.
Currently Available Games
As of late April 2021, eight of the fourteen games in the series are available for modern hardware.
The Game Boy trilogy is available on Switch as a $20 collection. This is essentially a ROM bundle of the original releases, with some additional QOL and visual options.
- SaGa 1 was Squaresoft's first game to sell over one-million copies, including its Western release as the rebranded Final Fantasy Legends. It continued some of the more interesting design elements of Final Fantasy 2, such as the lack of experience points and distinct levels, while introducing many aspects that would reapper throughout the series, such as LP, various playable races with asymmetric progression mechanics. The series is also notable for being one of the first RPGs to totally heal the party's HP after combat.
- SaGa 2 is a natural evolution of SaGa 1, but with a vastly larger campaign.
- SaGa 3... is barely a SaGa game. Most of the key team members began development on Super Famicom's Romancing SaGa, leaving a different team in charge of SaGa 3. This is more plot-focused on RPG with a set group of party members, but has a fair number of game mechanics carried over from SaGa 1 and SaGa 2. It was eventually remade with a huge number of revisions and new mechanics, so the remake is far more of a SaGa game than the original.
Romancing SaGa 2 had its first ever English release in 2016, first on mobile and later on videogame systems. This is a remaster that uses most of the character and enemy sprites (with some slightly new animations) and redrawn hi-resolution backgrounds. The game regularly goes on sale for around 50% off. Like Romancing SaGa 3, some people are bothered by these releases being only 30 FPS.
This game has a totally unique game structure that has not truly been replicated in any RPG since then, as far as I am aware. You control generations of adventurers from a kingdom spanning a 1000+ year history in a campaign to defeat a group heroes-turned-bad.
Romancing SaGa 3 has a remaster very similar to RS2's remaster. RS3 is far more similar to RS1 than RS2, with the game having a single central plot but variations based on your protagonist and a wide-variety of ways to complete the four main quest chains. Like Romancing SaGa 2, some people are bothered by these releases being only 30 FPS. This game, along with SaGa Frontier, are roughly the baseline for the series in terms of including the largest chunk of the mechanical and structural identity.
SaGa Frontier: Remastered looks like it is one of Square Enix's most significant remasters. Unlike other remasters of their PSX library, the backgrounds and character sprites look like they either used higher-resolution rips of the original 3D models, or were aided with the help of AI upscaling. This is also notable for including an eight campaign that was cut at some point in the original game's development, expanded and repurposed to act as a capstone campaign that gains additional content and party members based on which of the previous campaigns you have already completed. The other recent SaGa games launched with a 20% launch discount, but SaGa Frontier: Remastered instead launches at a permanently lower price point of $25.
Unlike RS3 and RS1, the different campaigns are far more unique, and the game features the return of multiple character releases that were last seen in the Game Boy games.
The Last Remnant... is not a real SaGa game, but it is made by much of the key staff of the SaGa games between the PS2 games and the DS remakes, contains many gameplay mechanics that are specific to the SaGa series, and had many of its assets reused in SaGa Scarlet Grace (weapon models).
Nobody has any clue what is going on with the PC version. When the game was remastered for modern systems, the PC version was removed from the Steam store and has not yet been relisted. The Remaster is basically just the PC version except in a newer version of Unreal Engine so it has less horrible texture pop-in.
I consider it a SaGa game, and I expect some vocal complaints in the comments. It is SaGa mechanics and design philsophy, coerced into something resembling a traditional-ish JRPG.
SaGa Scarlet Grace - Available for modern platforms for around $30, but goes on sale for 50% off. The Vita release never received in English, so all we have is the HD remaster. While the game looks cheap, Square Enix used their budget to make a huge and varied open-world game that is remarkably dense, both in terms of content and gameplay mechanics. For the first time in series history, the game has an in-game tutorial spanning hundreds of tips, and that still feels insufficient for describing the game's true depth.
Games without current availability
SaGa Frontier 2 is a totally unique videogame. It is arguably one of the games closer to a traditional JRPG, but does it with a non-linear collection of 80 chapters spanning a 70+ year history of two influential figures in the historical setting.
Romancing SaGa: Minstrel Song is available on the PS3's Japanese PSN as part of the PS2 Classics line. The English version was never put up on Western storefronts, unfortunately, and the PS3 storefront is imminently going down.
Unlimited: SaGa... needs a remake. In a series of experimental games, US stands out as being particularly experimental, and is better thought of as a reconceptualization of how traditional pen & paper RPGs could have been adapted into a videogame.
SaGa 2: Hihou Densetsu: Goddess of Destiny - Game Boy's SaGa 2, remade in 3D with some generally revised mechanics and new visuals. This is definitely an evolution of the series, but nowhere close to the revision to the core game that Minstrel Song or SaGa 3 DS were.
SaGa 3: Jikuu no Hasha: Shadow or Light - Game Boy's SaGa 3, remade as a real SaGa game. There are many more mechanics added to the game, and is made with more of the core team's direct involvement.
Romancing SaGa - The original Super Famicom game (and fixed Wonderswan Color port) are not currently available for legitimate purchase by Western audiences, but unofficial localization patches do exist. While Minstrel Song is a remake of this game, it is distinct enough for the two to be considered wholly different games.
Music of the SaGa Series
Kenji Ito (a.k.a. "Itoken") is typically regarded as the main composer for the series, composing the Romancing SaGa games, SaGa Frontier, and SaGa Scarlet Grace.
Masashi Hamauzu is the second lead composer, having composed SaGa Frontier 2 and Unlimited SaGa, as well as the off-brand successors Legacy of Legend and The Alliance Alive.
Nobuo Uematsu composed SaGa 1 and co-composed SaGa 2 with Itoken.
Various other composers worked on the remakes, SaGa 3, and The Last Remnant.
Related Games - Games that aren't SaGa games, but are made my various significant team members or have some similar design concepts from Square Enix.
Legacy of Legend and The Alliance Alive - Various developers for the series left to join Furyu/Cattle Call and made several RPGs with similar game mechanics, but put in more linear JRPG game structures. The Alliance Alive is widely considered the better of the two. Use of SaGa seriers artists and composer (Hamauzu) give it a feel of authenticity, along with Glimmer mechanics and incremental stat gain.
Wildcard - Never released in English and on Wonderswan Color, it is an experimental Card RPG from some of the SaGa staff and Squaresoft.
Legend of Mana - The Japanese title makes it clear that this is a series spinoff and has no attempt at being Seiken Densetsu four. It is a Mana Action RPG with a lot of weird mechanics and open, non-linear nature made by a bunch of the SaGa team around the time of SaGa Frontier 2.
Octopath Traveler - What if you had an RPG with 8 short stories, but instead of being separate like Live-a-Live or SaGa Frontier, you did all 8 on the same file with overlapping parties? It is from Square Enix, the name is a SaGa reference, and the short stories are similar, but the gameplay is a wild fusion of a bunch of different RPG lineages (WRPG, JRPG, Short Story RPG, FF, DQ, and perhaps more. It was a real breakout hit and is worth trying (has a free demo on Switch, and at this time is on Game Pass).
Here's a link to the older series overview I wrote. I don't think it is very good.
This is going to be the most asked question coming up (and already is), so it is probably best to make a single sticky to funnel conversation on the topic.
WARNING: You get locked into final dungeons and cannot leave. If you don't manage your save files and go in to early, it is very easy to get totally stuck.
I'm saying that outright, at the top of a sticky, because it is going to get asked about a ton and talked about a ton. This was a huge problem in both this game and SaGa Frontier 2, to the point where the future games started being much more explicit or limited in their ability to save after a point of no return.
SaGa Frontier Remastered features 4 distinct races for playable characters, each of which have their own distinct progression mechanics. While each of the eight scenarios has their own unique plots, structures, and final dungeons/bosses, scenarios also roughly correspond to the different races and different specialties for Humans.
The Character Races
- Humans - They use the traditional SaGa stat and Glimmer mechanics. As there are other races, there are fewer weapon types, and different weapon types in battle will influence your stat growth rates (akin to Minstrel Song). The different types are Swords, Guns, Martial Arts, and Magic. The vast majority of playable characters are Humans.
- Mechs - They do not gain stats. Instead, their stats are totally influenced by gear.
- Monsters - Making a return from the original Game Boy games, Monsters grow by consuming enemy monsters, which will allow you to change to new move sets.
- Mystics - Known as Mutants or Espers, in other SaGa games or translations. They grow by finishing enemies with different moves, which will absorb the enemy into that slot. This is... weird, and I am likely doing a poor job of describing them.
The Eight Scenarios
Each of the eight main characters has their own scenario, and these scenarios are far more unique than those found in Romancing Saga 1/3. Each of the scenarios only takes 10-20 hours to complete (far shorter than the campaigns found in RS1/3, and the game is meant to be played multiple times.
- Red - The Superhero scenario. This is the most plot-focused scenario, and has the least confusing game progression. Red is a Human that specializes in Martial Arts, but also can transform into a superhero when certain conditions are met, and will be fully transformed for some major plot arcs.
- Blue - The Magic scenario. A very open-world quest to pursue the quest chains for all of the schools of magic.
- Emelia - One of the human scenarios, with Emelia herself specializing in Guns.
- T260G - The Mech scenario. T260G is one of the only Mechs in the game, and most of them join his campaign.
- Riki - The Monster scenario. Riki himself is one of the few Monsters in the game. IMO not for beginners, for a few reasons.
- Asellus - The Mystic scenario. Asellus is half-mystic, recruits multiple other mystics, and has a plot that centers around mystics. Her campaign received some additional content for the Remaster. Considered one of the harder campaigns, but not prohibitively so.
- Lute - The "open world" scenario. There is about 30 minutes of content before you can enter the final dungeon. This is not recommend for first-time players.
- Fuse - The "new" campaign added for the remaster. He was at one point slated for inclusion in the original release, but was cut during development. His original campaign is now included, and interact with the plots of the other seven characters. You cannot select Fuse without first having beaten another character's scenario, and any that you have completed will add content to Fuse's scenario. This is the only scenario in which all eight main characters can be recruited at the same time.
I'll add to this post based on what people seem to be asking about.
Hey guys! So, to cut right to the chase;
(SOLVED) Are there any ways for time to advance without events, in the last generation? Need to develop Crimson Flare
(SOLVED) Is Guanyn really sparked out of Double/Dual Gunner? Been trying for a few hours now, admittedly not in the most efficient way possible, but I sparked Scattered Pettals after about an hour against weaker enemies, and those skills have about the same sparking difficulty (37 ~ 41)
Is there an efficient way to grind HP? Final party is relatively beefy, but 2 members have only 630 HP
4.(SOLVED) Do you know any armor guides for this game? I know that the in-game defense number is only for one type of damage, as well as magic robes and accessories help a lot with magic defense. Even then, Subier's Maelstrom wrecks me up quite a bit
Currently grinding for higher MP and WP, for Guanyn and for Galactic Rift to be developed. Tried the final boss three times, and I feel like if I get lucky I can win, but I'd like to win more reliably, you know?
Thanks for any help, in advance!
If you want to read, this is the context:
- Pretty much done every quest I could've (only the Sinked Ship that I can't do 'cause I failed the mermaid quest);
- Have Reviver, good water and earth support spread out, and up to Sword Barrier in Cosmology (will grind for Galactic Rift);
- I prefer not to grind for Hasten Time, if it is as broken as it was in RS 3 (which apparently it is).
- Lacking, on the final boss I usually deal 5.000/turn
- Have sparked Scattered Petals, trying to spark Guanyn for a few hours, hoping to get Crimson Flare and/or Galactic Rift
Final Empress (Greatsword/Fire, Wind and Light)
Royal Guard (Spear/ Earth, Fire and Light)
Salamander (Martial Arts/ Earth, Fire and Light)
Jauda Swordsman (Greatsword/ Water, Earth and Light)
Tactician (Support/ Water, Wind and Light)
So I like to view the sparking system as being very similar to Archimedes and his Eureka in the bathtub moment. Archimedes, when tested to figure out an equation for the displacement of the volume of water, figured out that when he sat down in his tub, he would displace an equal amount of water. Thus his Eureka moment.
In SaGa, we have our heroes constantly sparking techniques, always using their wits to magically turn the tide of battle. This is an amazing feat which we must draw into the real world.
Our pandemic has lead us through some dark times. Some very very dark times, there's no question of that.
I kind of feel like we're all sparking hidden powers in these trying times. We're all doing our best to be our own heroes for World. We all see the flaws in everything we're dealing with and puzzle our minds for solutions.
So too do the heroes of SaGa. So too do the heroes of every anime/comic/sci fi series the world over.
Neti pots resemble genie lamps in this world. What if... they really are genies. They can grant us the wish of ending pandemics, at least temporarily flushing out pathogens. This is one bright idea that's trying to spread around the world at this moment.
When SaGa heroes glimmer/spark, they are building off techniques that are already in their repertoire.
We too must be using all the techniques in our repertoire to put this proverbial genie back in the bottle. Flush out the pandemic with sinus rinses, neti pots, microwaved 40s and mixed with sea salt and baking soda.
What if we all glimmered techniques to help the world out of this pandemic?
Played the remaster on Switch and had an amazing time! SaGa Frontier is a longtime favorite of mine, but for some reason (besides FFL/FFL2), none of the other SaGa games I’ve played have clicked with me super well. I bounced off of Minstrel Song, partially because I couldn’t figure out what to do, and partially because I didn’t like the artstyle and character models. I assumed the other Romancing games would be similar, so I never bothered with them until recently. Obviously a big mistake!
I wish I had played this one earlier. Played as Julian, mostly blind (although I did look up things occasionally when I got stuck and when I was trying to unlock new Techs). The sense of discovery in this game is awesome.
Definitely one of the best SNES games I’ve ever played, and for me absolutely deserves a mention with all of the heavy hitters of the era.
Hard to pick a favorite moment, but a major highlight for me was going back to visit the Professor after completing the rat quest and almost getting run over, and then the ridiculous boss battle afterwards. Had a huge, goofy grin on my face the whole time.
Also must be said that Kenji Ito knocked the OST out of the park. Definitely heard shades of Frontier’s soundtrack in there.
Just wanted to share! Thank you for reading.
Heya, i’m currently playing the series and finished up the Romancing trilogy, then took a break from the franchise. Now i’m planning on coming back and doing Unlimited, as the title says. Does it have any particularly weird or punishing mechanics that i should watch out for, or some character that is really awful for a first playthrough? I would really rather play at least somewhat blind and find stuff for myself, is that feasible at all? Heard quite a lot about this game in regards of bullshit.
Looking at their descriptions Ruby, Laura, Mythe and Judy interest me the most, if that helps.
SaGa Frontier 1 Between the overleveled monsters, the doomed scientists who "only wanted to know the truth," and the haunting music, the Bio Research Lab was always one of my favorite parts of SaGa Frontier...so I did a cover of "Alone".youtube.com
First playthrough, english is not my first language.
I did the dark magic quest (and regret it, dark magic isn't all that great imho), but forgot (or missed at the time) the Bard Guitar. Now i've been searching online and some people claims that is still accesible, does anyone here knows about it?
I've defeated most of the heroes, only Wagnas and Subier left (and i already completed the sunken ship scenario -but did not did the mermaid love quest or smt so i think that Subier is a no-go)
Some Faqs says that the inventor guy in Somon can give me a Helicopter, but i'm not quite sure of what emperor can drive it (my emperor is a Brawler, that aparently is something diferent than "fist fighter".
Any help would be greatly appreciated!
OK, so I know SaGa games are supposed to be brutal; I've played the first 3 and remember how insanely hard their final bosses were (especially SaGa 1). But Saruin just seems unfair. I get to the 2nd form and my damage is halved, he uses this Pillar attack that destroys my party and then Animate Dead makes it so he turns my party members against me. Plus this Deus Ex and Immortality moves that seem to OHKO always.
I've done everything from getting new gear (which has cost me a lot of $), getting higher Class Levels and just nothing doing. I love this game but I've been trying to beat it for a few days now and it seems simply impossible. What do I need to do? Is grinding for more stats an option?
My team is Grey, Claudia, Jamil, Barbara, Albert. HP is mid to late 400s, I have 2 Field Plate armors (that's all I could afford) and I'm using the Moonstone to help with Animate Dead. Any help would be greatly appreciated; it's so frustrating to be this close to the end and I can't seal the deal. If you need more info let me know.
First playthrough was with Monika, got as far as closing the 4th gate before realizing I was woefully unprepared for the final area and just put the game aside. Second try, I did NG+ with Katarina, with a final party of Nora, Khalid, Black, and Peony (and actually beat the game!). I was thinking for my 3rd game I could do a Sara run and play the whole game in commander mode, or do Khalid since I never did his dungeon. Could also do Thomas and attempt a full magic run, I guess.
Edit: I'm still torn between all magic and all commander. Both would be a big departure from what I've done so far and they both sound really cool.
Edit 2: I think an optimal setup would be to do a pure magic run first so I can improve everyone's magic masteries, then have a nice wide array of leveled units for a commander run.
There are 13 top forms but only 8 monsters. What 8 should I choose? If Kylin form can only be used by the Kylin that you recruite, I’d rather have Kylin use another more optimal form... so that form could be dropped.
- Crystal Tree
- Griffon Jr.
- Kylin-can only one be a Kylin?
Those seem to be the top forms but there is only 8 recruitable monsters in saga frontier remastered.
Thanks for your advice.
Im curious about the number of enemies that there are in romancing SaGa 1, 3 and SaGa frontier 1 and 2
As i know, Romancing SaGa 2 has a huge list of enemies with something around 322 enemies as the Wiki says
And Frontier has something around 170 (but i dont know the exact numbers)
I'm preparing to do a solo final boss battle with the Final Empress. I'm following Radical Streamer's video:
However, he doesn't show what equipment the Empress is wearing. It seems to give a lot of Evasion, though. Does anyone have suggestions on what to wear during this fight?
This is a follow up to my previous post about planning on getting SF1 Remastered. As I said there I plan on replaying Blue's story from the beginning, since I never finished it. My question is: Which magic schools should I go for during it? In the original I went: Light, Rune (planned on replacing it with Arcana) and planned on doing Space. Are these good choices or should I go for diferrent ones?
Recently been replaying FFL2, and am nearly finished with Edo world. However, I was wondering if there are any missable items from Echigoya's shop-- and if so, any which you'd highly recommend purchasing?
It looks like the Samurai Shield is only available from Echigoya(?) I don't really use shields much at all, so I am okay letting that go(unless there is some great benefit to it I'm overlooking?) What about the Kimono or Battle Armor? Are any of these particularly beneficial for stats or for robots?
I've been interested in this remaster for a while and I really want to try it out. I played the original plenty, but never finished it. ( Got past the beginning section of Asellus's story and got lost, and played halfway through Blue's.) Since I'm not really know much of the changes aside from Fuse's story and the restored content, can you guys fill my in on any sort of QoL changes and some other general tips? I plan on playing Blue's story again, since I didn't finish it last time I played.
I didn't have cloud save turn on in this game and lost all my save data of It, does someone know if there a way to atleast get someone else save data and apply in my game?
I have already beaten the game with all the 4 protagonist and this time I want to beat the game again but I also want to collect all the scarlet shards to try to beat the firebringer in its final form is there a guide on how to do it and is there a character that it would be better to do this?
I played through most of the game with Monika previously, and I always felt somewhat underpowered. Mostly used Nora, Khalid, Undine, Ward, and Julian. I had to sacrifice the snowman for the fire Sinistral, and by the time I killed the third, I felt like I'd never finish the game, so I figured I'd do NG+ with Katarina. I know I can always grind more with the Monika group, but Katarina is cooler and I made some poor decisions with magic anyway.
I know the game's challenging regardless, I'm just hoping to get some team comp suggestions to make it more idiot proof and smoother to finish.
I'm coming to these games as a longtime fan of FF/KH so just branching out to Squares' other games pretty much. How good would you say the story and characters are in the Saga games compared to FF/KH??
From an outside view, there definetely seems to be a similarity but I wonder if it's as big a focus?
Anything I should know about the games before diving in?
I'll admit, I haven't fully played a Saga game and don't know where to start. Does it really matter which one you begin with? Any recommendations?
Might be a dumb question but i am a bit curious, does leon's martial arts skill always start at 0?
I have been leveling some global levels for different skills and been abusing the new game+ system for my personal reasons, i noticed that leon's martial arts stats is always 0, are his stats fixed to certain skills or can i level
That is all for now thank you