Romancing SaGa 2 Remastered (PS4, Vita, Switch, Xbox One, PC)

Back when the Super Nintendo was hot, I was a teenager and was big into RPGs, mostly the ones from Squaresoft (now Square Enix).  I couldn’t get enough of them.  So it killed me when I’d see images of Super Famicom (Japanese SNES) RPGs in Nintendo Power magazine that would never see the light of day over in the US.  One of those was the Romancing SaGa series.  But now there is a remastered version of Romancing SaGa 2 that you can download on most US home consoles and handhelds (reviewed on PS4 here).  So was it worth the wait, or should it have stayed in Japan?  Read on to find out!

The story goes that there were seven heroes who saved the land in the past.  But the legend says they’ll return when evil comes back.  But when the seven heroes do return, they’re all monsters!  You play as the emperor (or empress) of Avalon, and you must avenge your heirs, defeat the seven heroes, and save the world in the process.  At first glance, you might mistake this for a Final Fantasy game.  You walk around 2-D towns and dungeons, gathering clues and finding items to help you on your quest.  Even the turn-based battles are the same, but with a few key differences.  You can put your party in different formations that you learn, each with different advantages and weaknesses.  But if you run into a monster at full speed (enemies are now visible), it might break your formation, so be careful.  Leveling up is a bit different, too.  You level up your skills separately by using them in battle.  If this sounds like how things were in Final Fantasy 2, you’re right!  In fact, the guy who directed that game also did the SaGa titles!  You also start each battle with full hit points, even if you die, which is good since the fights are more challenging.  But you still have to be careful because when you do die, you lose life points.  And when they’re all gone, you’ll lose that hero for good and have to go get a new one.

But what happens when your lead character dies, or everyone in your party is wiped out?  Well, in that case, you’ll choose an heir to the throne, and then play as them. You’ll inherit some of the previous character’s power, but you’ll still have to get a full party of soldiers from around the castle to tackle whatever dungeon you last failed on.  Luckily since there is no world map, just areas to go to, you can hop and bop around fairly quickly.  The remastered version touches up the graphics a bit, and maybe the sound as well.  But they still use the same SNES sprites and enemies, so it still has that classic feel.  Even so, I would’ve liked to have been able to play the original game, just because I really like SNES visuals.  The remastered game also adds new character classes, dungeons, and even a New Game+ mode.  You can choose to not have the new features, too, if you want the total traditional experience.

The problems I had with the game aren’t necessarily the game’s fault. It’s just a matter of how games were back then, and how they are now.  This game just drops you right into the action, and doesn’t hold your hand at all.  Which is fine, as I think many games today do too much of that.  But the thing is that games back then came with instruction booklets, and this is a downloadable title only.  And I couldn’t find any sort of digital manual in the maze of PS4 menus for this game.  So rules about how life points work and such, I either had to figure out on my own or view an online guide.  Luckily there are plenty of those, but I shouldn’t have to do that.  Also I thought it was a pain in the butt to have to build up a new main character and party every time I died.  Luckily you can save at any time, and have multiple save files, but ultimately the gameplay quirks just weren’t for me.  Even though I was mad as a kid when I couldn’t play a Japan-only RPG that Square didn’t release here, usually they did that for a good reason.  But if you enjoy classic yet obtuse RPGs, you may want to check this one out anyway.

Kid Factor:

Romancing SaGa 2 Remastered is rated T for Teen with ESRB descriptors of Violence, Blood, Sexual Themes, Partial Nudity, Drug Reference, and Use of Alcohol.  Due to the classic RPG nature, violence is very minimal.  You can buy items in the game that make reference to alcohol, and most of the other descriptors show up in text only, or sprites of the monsters.  But it’s really no worse than a Final Fantasy game from that era.  But the biggest reasons why this game is best for older players are the high challenge level and reading skill required.

One Response to “Romancing SaGa 2 Remastered (PS4, Vita, Switch, Xbox One, PC)”

  1. Doesn’t hold your hand for sure. I played it today and had to figure things out as I went along. I didn’t know about life points until you mentioned them in your review. I’m not sure how formations benefit you either, or how you build a new party. They give you one at the start, so I never had to do it myself. It’s fun though. I’ll figure it all out eventually.

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