LifeisXbox’s SaGa Frontier Remastered review | I often find it difficult to judge remasters of games. On the one hand, they want to stay faithful to their source material, but on the other, that can often weigh them down with outdated conventions and mechanics. So by what merit do you judge a remaster? The freshening up of the audio and visuals? The implementation of cut or bonus content? Today we’re looking at SaGa Frontier Remastered, developed way back in 1997 by Square, they and Bullets both worked to bring you this remaster today. Square Enix also published the game.
We played SaGa Frontier Remastered for 12 hours on Steam. This game is also available on Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4, IOS and Android.
What we liked!
- Combat | Starting right off with the star of the game, as you’ll be doing a lot of it in SaGa Frontier Remastered. Like most RPGs of its era, combat happens on a turn based system. It looks very simple on the surface, but once you delve deeper into it you will soon discover that it already has many ideas and conventions we see in games today. For example, when you fight unarmed, you start learning new skills in that field through repeated use. A couple of punches and it’ll soon dawn on you that you can kick opponents. Then soon after that you can slide into them, and so on. This essentially means you can build any organic character the way you want, if you work hard enough on them. Besides skills, you will also increase your characters stats this way. Take a lot of damage, HP and vitality up. Use a lot of point costing skills, how about an increase to that point cap? So we now have a system that will let you grow your characters in a really organic fashion, especially for when the original SaGa Frontier was made, now how do we spice it up? Let’s add a variety of crazy yet believable combos. While I haven’t been able to figure out how to reliably get them to activate, once out of combat you can see a small list of frequent and recently used combos, which is great for when you forgot to look at the title of that one kickass super move.
- Exploration | While SaGa Frontier Remastered is a rather linear experience , there’s a moment in each of the stories where you’re let off the rails of the main story and are allowed to pursue a rather large number of optional side quests for each of the eight protagonists. These aren’t highlighted in any way however, so search high and low if you want to find them. And trust me, SaGa’s Frontier and its many regions are chock full of nooks and crannies to check out. Go down a manhole cover in Koorong to fight monsters in the sewers, or stumble upon the hidden entrance of a BlackX base behind a wall scroll. It’s positively charming. Returning to places you passed by earlier in the story often reveals they are way more expansive than your story visit made them out to be. So I mentioned “regions” earlier. This is about how a locale is called a region, and traveling between them happens via these spacecraft like vessels. They are only never explicitly called that. Being shown in this blue void I assume it’s left to the imagination whether you’re in the sky or space.
- Visuals | This being a remaster, the graphics are obviously one of the stars of the show. SaGa Frontier Remastered utilises a similar style as contemporaries such as Final Fantasy VII or the Super Mario RPG. In the splendor that is Full HD, what used to be sprites are now nicely drawn images of the characters, facing one whichever of the six cardinal-ish directions you point it in. The world itself is made up of flat images at an angle that makes it appear as three dimensional as possible. This sometimes makes it difficult to maneuver around certain corners or around stairs. The combat is where you’ll find the third dimension however, as it takes place on a three dimensional disk which will move about whenever you or your enemies make their moves.
- Audio | I would like to start this segment by thanking the composer of the SaGa series, Kenji Ito. Itoken (that’s his nickname) has worked on both the SaGa and Mana series soundtracks, and what a delight they are to listen to. Unshackled from their 16 bit roots, current day sound systems allow these tracks to reach their full potential. And just like SaGa Frontier Remastered’s wide variety of locations, it has ample tracks to match them. Catch some jazzy funk on the streets of Koorong, elegant orchestral tones in the hallways of the luxury liner Cygnus, a futuristic beat at HQ, Pep up with Alkaisers theme or cower at the ominous tones of the Dark Labyrinth. I have never grown even slightly tired of the myriad of tracks in SaGa Frontier Remastered, and that is a feat all on its own. Included in the remaster is a player to be accessed from the main menu that lets you listen to all the tracks at your leisure.
- Story | SaGa Frontier Remastered is somewhat of a first to me in terms of story. Rather than one overarching storyline, introducing and gathering all of the main cast, it is a collection of short stories with a protagonist EACH! To the eagle eyed among you, or those who played this original, you may notice that where there used to be seven, there are now eight playable protagonists, and thus stories. This alone would be plenty of character development each right? Luckily it’s not left at that. Many of the protagonists and supporting characters either make cameos, or play significant roles in one another’s stories. This allows you to play them in a myriad of ways across the stories, trying different styles for each. It also allows for some neat insights in their motives and character, showing sides you might not have seen when they themselves were the stars of the show. You still have to find and recruit them however…
- New Content | SaGa Frontier Remastered apparently also sees a lot of content that was either cut from the original, or hidden in its files. Having spent the majority of my time on Red’s scenario, I haven’t to my knowledge witnessed any of it. From what I could gather through some google-fu, I assume most of this is present in the now more fleshed out story of Lute and the scenario of Fuse. The latter of which received a story all of his own for this remaster.
- Guidance | Not going to beat around the bush on this one, I felt very lost for most of the time. I started on Red’s story, which is very linear for the majority, but without any prompt on where I need to be to further the story, SaGa Frontier Remastered leaves you to figure it out on your own mostly. There is a menu option that tells you what the objective of the chapter is, and once I found out about it finding my bearings was a lot easier. I know this is a reMASTER instead of a remake, but this is definitely something that would have been a welcome addition for the first chapter or two of any story.
What we disliked
- Nothing | I have no strong dislikes for SaGa Frontier Remastered.
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