Review By: Jared Black
When the term quality is brought up among a group
of roleplaying fans, almost instantly the name "Square" follows it. Square
has had a long history of releasing top notch games around the world, and
for them, quality is the norm. Unfortunately for us (and me since I bought
the game), SaGa Frontier isn't the norm.
The premise is actually quite good. Choose from
one of seven scenarios, each of which promise 15-30 hours of solid gameplay.
The only problem is--each scenario is so weak in itself that they're all
boring. Pick any of the seven scenarios, and almost immediately, you're thrown
into the game with little to no backstory. Essentially, you're totally lost
at the start. This wouldn't be so bad if the characters actually gave you
clues as to what to do, but usually they don't. It's extremely frustrating
to play through an entire building of tough baddies, only to find out that
it has nothing to do with this scenario. All of the cities are accessible
at once, and since you aren't even given a hint about where to go most of
the time, you spend countless hours wandering. Character dialog lacks any
real emotion as well, and the whole thing just comes across as stale. Square's
Free Scenario System was a good idea, but it was terribly executed.
Let's move on to the actual gameplay. The battle
system is a lot like the Final Fantasy series (with a few slight differences).
One annoying thing is that you have to have an item equipped (yes, even Cures
and such) before you can use it. There is a thing that lets ONE character
use non-equipped items, but overall this really sucks. The screen is isometric,
but it changes to a 3D view for battles. One good thing I did like about
this game is that you can see enemies on screen and actually avoid them,
rather than the "random attack" approach of most RPGs.
The graphics in this game are terrible by today's
standards. All the characters have cutesy rainbow colored boxes that appear
over their heads after a battle, indicating what they received in terms of
experience. The characters consist of sprites, which are only adequately
animated. The backdrops are once again pre-rendered ala FFVII, but they lack
the detail and beauty that Square's masterpiece was. Overall, only average
in the eye candy department.
The sounds and music are a bright spot. I liked
the music a lot, and it tends to work well with the overall mood of a particular
area. The sound effects are above average, but could've used some improvement.
Overall, a good job in the audio department.
Overall, this game just isn't worth a purchase. Square
tried something different in making an almost totally non-linear RPG, but
in the end, this also proves to be the game's downfall. A sense of flow and
storyline never really develops, and the overall bland presentation of the
game really detracts from the whole experience. There are much better RPGs
on the PSX, so only buy this one if you've played and beaten them all (yes,
even Beyond the Beyond is better than this drivel).