Updated: Oct 21, 2020
Published by Squaresoft and Developed in house for the Playstation, released in March of 1998 in North America. SaGa Frontier is the 2nd game in the SaGa series to be released in the States but the first to use the actual SaGa name and in fact the 7th game released up to that point. Confused yet? Good. This is SaGa Frontier.
7 Star-Crossed interplanetary adventures in The Region, each on their own singular journey but shall their paths cross, they need but ask for aid and they will be granted additional power. Asellus, a half-mystic woman determined to escape her fate. Blue, a mage racing to become the most powerful. Emelia, an agent and former prisoner looking to clear her name. Lute, the bard in the wrong place at the wrong time. Red, the boy gifted with extraordinary powers on a quest to save his father. Riki, a monster on a quest to find mysterious rings that could save his world. Last but not least, T260G, an ancient amnesiac Mech awakened in a new era who must remember his past to complete his mission. In The Region there are a multitude of planets with recruitable heroes along the way. With 30+ characters to recruit along each main characters journey, there is no shortage of help to get the job done. Humans, Mystics, Monsters, and Mec's will each lend their unique skills to strengthen your party. Who you chose to play as and how you proceed to unravel their story is up to you. The SaGa series is know for its "Free Scenario System", giving players more freedom than they were used to by this point. Use that freedom wisely.
Somewhere caught graphically between the Playstations new era and the old 16 bit era of the SNES. This game has certain charm to it with its 2D character sprites and pre-rendered backgrounds. Sometimes chests and items can get lost in the clutter but that just adds to it's lived in world appeal. Squaresoft once again goes for that mix of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Mystical that they've enjoyed the success of for many years. Kenji Ito composes the soundtrack for this one and every bit of sound this game emits reminds me of the 16 bit era as well. The big difference of course being the CD audio quality really takes it up a notch. The OST released for this game contains 75 tracks so do yourself a favor and spend an afternoon taking it all in, it really is a treat.
The battles in this game have quite a bit of depth too them. No experience is gained and no levels are in place to help determine where you stand compared to the enemy. Instead, stats are increased based on what actions have played out and what equipment was used during those battles. Weapons, Martial Arts, and Special Skills are all increased by using those skills to defeat your enemies. You may even unlock a combination attack or two. Magic on the other hand is unlocked outside of battle by purchasing new spells at certain shops in The Region. Grinding has never been more recommended and absolutely rewarding. When playing through a characters scenario to completion, you may even discover a powered up character to recruit in the next scenario you choose to play thanks to all that effort.
SaGa Frontier is an wildly ambitious, grueling, tough as nails RPG that is well deserving of the moniker of saga. Something of a controversial game in the community. Most say they either love it or hate but I land somewhere in the middle. Never having finished it in my younger days during its initial release, I'm glad I gave it a second chance now that I'm older, wiser, and more patient. I'm not here to tell anyone if a game is good or not. The motivation is to give anyone enough information to want to try it for themselves and make up their own mind. Getting sucked into the adventure of any RPG is never a bad idea. Get lost, in a good way.
There is no shortage of SaGa series games to try out. Whether it be the Final Fantasy Legend trilogy on Game Boy (yep those are SaGa games), SaGa Frontier, or Romancing SaGa. If you're interested in this non-linear gameplay style the series backbone is developed on, give em a shot!