In recent years the SaGa series of games have been getting remastered, giving new generations of JRPG fans a chance to see just how unique some of these titles were when they originally released in the 90s. The latest game to be remastered is more than just a simple visual upgrade however as Square Enix’s work with SaGa Frontier Remastered goes beyond a fresh coat of paint. With the addition of new story content as well as some quality of life improvements, is this remake worth it for both newcomers and even those who played the original 1998 release?
Unlike a standard JRPG, players are immediately given the choice to select from seven different characters to serve as their protagonist with each one of them having a different storyline from one another. This unique approach allows players to witness a number of different storylines all at once, though the actual length and quality of each one can vary wildly especially due to the game’s heavy focus on player freedom and the fact that some characters’ stories simply aren’t as strongly written as others. These stories explore things such as revenge, destiny, one’s place in the world, and more with more than a few storylines ending up quite impressive.
That being said, there are more than a few occasions where players will either feel completely lost given the way the story is presented or miss out on certain side-events entirely due to the aforementioned focus on player freedom. SaGa Frontier Remastered focuses heavily on presenting a “Free-Form Scenario” where players are mostly given free reign of where to go and what they wish to do. The core story for most characters are fairly easy to follow, and the game even gives players an in-game hint as to their journey so far but it is entirely possible that a player may end up locking themselves out of a side-quest filled with rewards or extra recruitable characters simply by performing an extra activity or even leveling a skill too much. It is also worth noting that there are multiple points of no return with no advanced notice as well as choices that will affect certain characters’ endings so players will want to play cautiously.
One thing that is rather interesting is that players will often find other main characters while playing through a separate character’s storyline. Occasionally these are brief appearances while other times they may be able to join the player’s party entirely. This can lead to points where a party is absolutely packed with characters but only feature a handful that actually interact with the story as a whole.
As for one of the biggest improvements to SaGa Frontier Remastered, players will find that not only have there been a number of scenes added to a few characters’ storylines but, once certain conditions are met, a brand-new playable character Fuse, who was previously cut from the game, will be unlocked. It is worth noting that Fuse’s storyline is easily the most interesting and worthwhile of the bunch though players will want to wait as long as possible to play through it as his story provides extra context and new perspectives on many storylines.
As usual with Square Enix’s remasters, SaGa Frontier Remastered has seen a number of quality of life improvements. These come in the form of an improved user interface that makes it a bit easier to navigate through the menu system, the aforementioned Story Chart to keep track of your character’s story progress, as well as a New Game+ mode that is a major improvement as it allows players to start new playthroughs and choose what they want to carry over, such as items, techniques, and more.
The company has also added in the ability to set the game’s world speed and battle speed to either 2x or 3x as fast as normal which can be a bit risky when it comes to navigating the world as most enemies respawn or are so tightly packed that players can quickly find themselves overwhelmed but in battle it is a major improvement primarily thanks to the sheer amount of fights most players will be getting into and how lengthy some attack skills can be. Finally, and perhaps most importantly given Saga Frontier’s difficulty spikes and lack of warning if the player wanders somewhere enemies can one shot their team, a highly frequent auto-save system.
Battles in SaGa Frontier Remastered are another unique part of the game as it may look simple but is far more complex than it initially appears. Characters are not given any actual levels and instead gain stat points at the end of battle, improving their combat power over time while the more players battle. Players are encouraged to grind standard battles, as utilizing various weapon skills can trigger a “glimmer” that unlocks new skills, they will find that random enemies in dungeons will grow alongside the player’s team to match their abilities. This means that players will need to think on their feet and learn how to properly create “combo” attack skills with their party to best annihilate foes while trying to stay alive at the same time since the enemy can and will do the same and more than a few times even simple weak enemies can annihilate a party member in an unforgiving round of combat.
The only actual fights that do seem to feature set enemy strength are boss battles, making for some rather interesting scenes where either a boss will destroy the player’s party in a few moves or be overwhelmingly destroyed since the player spent too much time fighting against constantly respawning and nigh-unavoidable enemies. That being said, it is possible to run from most fights should they become too annoying to deal with.
Visuals & Audio
SaGa Frontier Remastered has been given a significant visual upgrade over its original release and it appears that the development team did their best to try and keep some of the nostalgic look of the original game while bringing it a bit closer to today’s standards. Character models are smoothed out and unique with plenty of flashy techniques while the backgrounds players battle against and explore feature tons of variety. The monsters that players fight are a bit of a mixed bag however as some have seen a nice improvement while other enemy models still look rather rough, creating an unsettling looking mix during some of the bigger fights.
The soundtrack for the game still features the same classic music as before and it is great to say that there are even some new music tracks that have been added into the game to fit into the brand new content that is on offer in this remaster.
SaGa Frontier Remastered is easily the best way to experience this classic RPG but it also continues to suffer from the same design decisions of the past that made it both unique but also off-putting for some. With great quality of life improvements and brand new content, longtime fans will easily want to dive back into this RPG but the ambitious “Free Scenario” aspect of the story that can easily leave some left wandering aimlessly or missing content alongside wild difficulty spikes may turn others away.
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