Sitting on a wooden porch in eastern Pennsylvania, flipping through the manual of The Final Fantasy Legend I noticed the first character had been named Eric. “Hey, that's my name!” my astute young mind realized as I continued to pour over the booklet. I had just received the game, although I couldn't tell you if it was an occasion or had I saved up my cash and picked it up at one of the “strange” stores near my grandparents’ home. I couldn't wait to play, but the batteries had to be saved for the 3 hour car-ride home. My next memory of the game is the sheer terror of running from some terrifying bird-beast and escaping through the sewers. I didn’t take a chainsaw to God^H^H^HCreator’s face until late in my college years, sitting on a mattress in an apartment in Rochester, NY.
This play through took me 8:28, roughly the same amount of time as the Tokyo to Honolulu flight that it was allegedly designed for. I love that little bit of trivia, since one could just say it was supposed to be a “roughly 9 hour RPG” but that bizarre specificity sums up the whole SaGa series beautifully, and right from the first game, to boot.
I decided to go two Humans, a Mutant, and a Monster for this play through. The cover seems to recommend a second monster instead of a second Human, but I didn’t want to be that reliant on meat droppings. With the use of a guide I was able to find myself a fairly good monster early on, and this helped to get my stat-boosting potion dependent Humans (Is this some sort of drug metaphor that ) and my randomly changing Mutant to a respectable level just by playing normally. A little bit of grinding can go a long way.
As it is with most replays, I found myself marveling at the little details I had forgotten. Mainly the tiny worlds found during the climb between the main areas. Although it took little effort on my part to drain the flooded world and give that precious water to the drought facing world below, it was these little moments that stuck out to me the most this time.
By getting a powerful Monster at the start of the game and only upgrading it as better meats became available as I progressed, I found myself only with two main “pain points” in the game. First was getting the necessary meat at the start of the game. Not so much a challenge but rather a luck-based grind, and then in the final dungeon where every other step seemed to be a painful encounter.
Lots of saving and resetting got me through that, and since I was powerful enough to take out the “final” boss (The aforementioned saw-to-the-face-of-The-Creator tactics meant a practically free win as soon as the penultimate boss was handled.) all I had to do was take a step or two, save and then reset if a battle was too hard.
And this is where I an unsure what I feel about the ability to save anywhere. Was this part of the plan when designing the game? Players could just save and skip battles if they wanted to - the bosses would serve as the choke-points to see if too much skipping had been performed - or was the idea for the players to battle through all these tough fights with constantly dwindling resources?
Because the limited inventory - and two monsters would have limited it even further - was what I found that to be the real challenge of Makaitoushi SaGa. Between weapons having limited uses and a small item bag for the entire party that you couldn’t fit a stack of 99 Potions in, making it through.
As the first game I beat this year, and one step towards completing the whole SaGa series before SaGa Scarlet Grace hits, I feel a rejuvenated love for the RPG genre as a whole.