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SaGa Frontier: a unique role-playing game

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SaGa Frontier (no I don’t know why it’s spelled that way) is a role-playing video game that came out in Japan in 1997 and in America the following year. It’s actually one of the first RPGs I ever played, and it remains one of my all-time favorites.

The seventh game in the SaGa series, like the others this one features not a single protagonist but several that you could play as, each with his or her own quest to fulfill; it was possible to encounter the other playable characters in the course of each adventure and in some cases even recruit them for your party. After completing all 7 quests, a special section of the game was unlocked allowing you to fight the best Bosses again and to meet the game’s creators.

Before I begin describing the characters and their quests, I feel some world background is in order. I’ll try to avoid spoilers but this game is complicated and even finishing all the quests doesn’t give you all the facts (this was because the game was rushed out unfinished; there was in fact an 8th quest that was left out.) The setting is “The Regions” which are not well explained but seem to be planets in a solar system; thousand of years ago a couple of highly advanced civilizations existed there but were destroyed in a war. Their ruins and artifacts play important parts in some quests.

Each Region has its own culture (often based on one of Earth’s), level of technology, and form of magic. Of special note is that each magic type has an opposite- Light vs Shadow, that sort of thing- and it’s not possible for the same person to learn both. Also, there’s free travel via ships between the Regions (with a few exceptions.) The races the players belong to are: human, mystics (basically vampires), monsters (shapeshifters) and Mecs (robots.) Curiously, there is a trend in this game about stealing abilities from others: Monsters can do it from defeated monsters, Mystics can also absorb monsters (but only a few at a time) and Mecs can steal programs from other Mecs.

The main characters are:

Asellus, a human girl that was turned into a Half-Mystic by the Lord of the Mystics against her will. She escapes from him, only to be chased around the Regions by his minions. The player has the option of deciding if she returns to being human, becomes a full Mystic, or remains as she is (each choice leads to a different ending.) Asellus was one of the game’s favorite characters; not only was her story well written, but it featured “controversial” (for its time) elements (namely, due to having the Charm Lord’s blood in her, certain female characters were attracted to her.)

Blue is a mage sent by the Magic Kingdom (no not Disney) to learn as many types of magic as possible so he can defeat his twin brother, Rouge. There is a surprisingly good reason for this, but I don’t want to give it away. The ending is also confusing, but again, I cannot reveal it here (Google it up.)

Emelia was a human supermodel whose boyfriend was an agent of IRPO (The Inter Regional Police Organization) but she found him dead one day, killed by the masked criminal Joker (seriously!) However she got the blame and was sent to jail. Rescued by agents of the secret organization GRADIUS, she joins them as she tries to find out who is Joker and what he’s up to.

Lute is a bard who gets kicked out of his house by his mother for being lazy. He has no real quest at first, and is free for the player to use to explore the Regions with, until he finds out who killed his father; then he must find and defeat him. You can do this very quickly but you’d better save it for after you have done a lot of grinding with your party or you’ll get crushed.

Red is basically a Japanese superhero in the style of Kamen Rider. He’s a teenager whose family was killed off by the evil organization, Black X. Granted powers by another superhero, he must keep his identity secret (you cannot even transform in battle unless your party members are all unconscious!) as he investigates and destroys his enemies.

Rikki is a raccoon-like monster (his Japanese name was Coon, but you can guess why they changed it for the American release) whose native Region, Margmel, is dying. To save it, he must find six magic rings scattered across the Regions. Taking the form of a human boy (sort of) he’s helped by a Chinese-like lady in his quest.

T-260G is an ancient Mec re-built using scrap. It has forgotten its original mission, only knowing that it is urgent. At first, it lives with and protects the boy who found it, but eventually leaves and discovers its long-ago mission, which turns out to still be relevant.

Note: there’s a character named Fuse, an IRPO agent, who shows up in a few quests. He was supposed to star in the 8th quest that got canceled.

Also, do not mistake this game for its follow up SaGa Frontier II. It’s completely unrelated and in my opinion, not as good.

Recommended for: fans of RPG video games, Science Fiction, and Fantasy.

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Author: El Sijo

50 years old, male, single, from Puerto Rico.

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