Back in the form of a remastering of a classic from the 90s, SaGa Frontier Remastered is the opportunity to discover a J-RPG that offers an experience as original as it is painful, on PC, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch or mobile (iOS and Android).
For the record, SaGa is a series of Role playing game signed Square Co. and traces its origins back to 1989. It’s the Game Boy handheld console that hosts a first trilogy called The Final Fantasy Legend, the publisher wanting to harness the aura of its flagship license. After a passage in Super Nintendo With the second Romancing SaGa trilogy, it is finally on PlayStation where the series arrives in Europe with SaGa Border 2. The final episode is SaGa Scarlet Grace: Ambitions, this time on PlayStation Vita. The designer of this series is the Japanese Akitoshi Kawazu, who most recently worked – finally in 2009 – on The Last Remnant as an executive producer.
The episode that interests us today is SaGa Frontier Remastered, making a comeback as a remastering of an RPG that had some success in Japan in 1997. And if you’ve followed it correctly, this is the first time it’s released in Europe. Among the specificities of SaGa Frontier, from a series reputedly difficult and austere © Zekkangel: experience is not gained and therefore level, eight scenarios for so many characters and above all a multiplicity of possible ramifications in an artistic vagueness in terms of explanations. If you want to get lost both literally and figuratively in an RPG to the point of breaking a hose, you’ve come to the right place.
SaGa Frontier, an original J-RPG
The adventure in SaGa Frontier Remastered begins on the character selection screen, among seven proposals. Each character has its own setting, like many invitations to explore a world that mixes science fiction and fantasy. However, if Octopath Traveler -in a similar register- it spreads its stories, in this case it is a question of going through the same maps each time. To avoid indigestion, it is recommended to consume SaGa Frontier Remastered in small doses, at least story by story to avoid redundancies. Each scenario is unique and independent, with a diagram to track the progress of each protagonist.
However, it should be noted that the writing of the script is not really the main quality of SaGa Frontier, with dialogue that is sometimes a bit clunky or difficult to follow. Also, you need to settle for a few prompts to know which way to go for the rest, even if that means getting lost when multiple branches are possible. SaGa Frontier is anything but linear, and requires playing with your saved games to avoid pulling your hair out over a bad choice. A simple chat with a NPC it can deprive you of a stage. In addition to the remastered version, an additional protagonist can be accessed once the other scenarios are completed, while the New Game + system allows him to leave with equipment and attributes.
The graphics have been redesigned, switching to high definition for the occasion. Characters with features inspired by the 90s manga sail on sprites in fixed environments, with a moving camera during combat. Now smooth, the decorations can make the characters stand out a bit. However, camera movements during combat illustrate the limits of these improvements when pixel blending resurfaces in the image of a failed facelift. Personally, I regret this visual choice, with a preference for pixels more in keeping with their time and, above all, more consistent in general.
Another feature of SaGa Frontier, the lack of experience collides with the habits of role-playing games. We do not gain levels, but statistics after fights. You can randomly unlock new abilities during combat, which can be particularly unsettling. Strong point of the game, the combat system is on the other hand as classic as it is effective in turns, with a combo system when several spells of the team are assembled. Struggles like commuting can be sped up, a significant time saver seen as they are numerous. Bosses know how to be twisted, allowing for true satisfaction once defeated. Pass or break, but with the merit of being rewarding.
A true remastering?
For once, I draw a parallel with Resurrection of Ghosts’ n Goblins which recently came out of the grave and which I also tried. Even if I was not particularly convinced, the difference with SaGa Frontier Remastered is played in the absence of the will of Square enix to make an ancient game accessible to today’s players. No compromise has been sought to get the player out of this time trap, in which the player is left alone with no explanation.
SaGa Frontier Remastered is therefore a pure experience Old School, difficult and demanding. Beyond the nostalgia, this episode had its share of flaws. This propensity to lose players, with the “what the hell am I doing here?” As the only constant in this environmental mess, it makes you regret the proposed freedom. The lack of a true main frame does not allow the narrative to slip away, but instead directs the player on a meticulous search for small details.
If we can welcome the fact that a classic from our regions is finally coming out, the lack of location in French it illustrates a return without any real ambition to reach as many people as possible. The new features don’t make SaGa Frontier Remastered any more accessible, aside from backups that wouldn’t be necessary with a bit more readability and explanation. Without its original flaws, it would not have had this expectation. Thus, we advance on the SaGa frontier by dint of repetition and relentlessness, at the cost of satisfying pain primarily for adherents of masochism.
Test conducted by Agahnon on Nintendo switch from a version provided by the publisher.