I remember playing the original SaGa Frontier on the original Playstation. You know, the grey rectangle console? It was in the late 90s and SaGa Frontier was one of the my first RPGs (next to Wild Arms, Suikoden, FFVII and Beyond the Beyond). Hell, it was a time when Square Enix was still called Squaresoft! I’d never have reckoned I’d be playing SaGa Frontier Remastered later on.
I also distinctly remember not liking the game much.
The game’s uneven difficulty, its threadbare plot and its open nature really threw young me off.
Now, more than 2 decades later, I’m reunited with the game, with PS4 review code thanks to Square Enix Asia! You guys are awesome!
Is it worth playing now?
What is SaGa Frontier Remastered?
SaGa Frontier Remastered is a single player JRPG from the late 90s. It was original released on the Playstation by Squaresoft and is part of the Romancing SaGa series.
SaGa Frontier was a unique game for its time. It boasted a handful of playable characters with their own individual stories, an open-ended storyline (you don’t have to play the characters in order) and a primitive (but cool for its time) cause and effect gameplay style that impacted the game’s story (and other playable characters) depending on your choices in-game.
It’s amazing how time can make you reevaluate a game.
When I first played SaGa Frontier, I hated it with a passion. Its experimental features didn’t sit right with me. I preferred my RPGs linear (at that time), with handholding and SaGa Frontier wasn’t having any of it. It was something new and different, a unique breed of RPG that tried to upend conventions…and it’s something I appreciate more now.
To be honest though, SaGa Frontier hasn’t changed much mechanically.
The battle system’s still the same; turn-based, as was the norm with JRPGs at the time. Nothing revolutionary there. Though each main character has a somewhat different style of battle, the basic nature is still the same. The gameplay’s also unchanged; you control a character and then move around the maps trying to trigger the next plot point. Again, like most normal RPGs.
While SaGa Frontier does give you a bit of freedom on how you go about doing the quests (most characters have access to areas that have nothing to do with their main quest), it’s still not as open as today’s RPGs. In fact, I’d have preferred if the Remastered version of the game had more guidance on this. You’re still able to get lost, wasting hours if you do the wrong dungeons.
Thankfully some of the new features implemented in the Remastered version helps.
There’s now a Quick Save function, which lets you save anywhere in the game.
Death comes pretty easily in SaGa Frontier Remastered (the enemies hit hard and don’t let up) so it’s a really handy feature. Battles also now load much, much faster than on the Playstation and its slooooooooooooooooooow disc drive. It makes fighting a much more enjoyable affair as you’re not waiting around for the game to load! The game’s difficulty still remains though as does the low frame rate and stuttering found in battles. I don’t know why these aren’t fixed in the Remaster though.
I also really (reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeally) love the new Double Speed feature that makes everything more twice as fast. It makes everything faster, which cuts down on a ton of wasted time!
Another awesome new feature is that there’s an extra playable character (Fuse) now. Once you finish one of the game’s main stories, you’ll unlock the new character for play. Fuse’s storyline is pretty much all new. He was supposed to be included in the original game but time and budgetary concerns meant that his story was left unfinished and cut from from game.
Now he’s reintegrated into the main game and with that, comes a whole new storyline and music from series composer, Kenji Ito. He’s where the bulk of the new stuff comes from, which is awesome and also a bit disappointing for fans who were hoping for major gameplay tweaks or additions to the other characters.
As a remaster, SaGa Frontier Remastered holds up better than most games.
Due to it using sprites and pre-rendered backgrounds, there’s a more discernable difference to the naked eye than a remaster of a 3D title. The character sprites are all nicely done, but I think the enemy sprites (especially when zoomed in during battles) could use more work. They tend to lose detail, making the enemies look blurry during fights. Higher detailed sprites would’ve been much better.
Speaking of higher quality, the backgrounds aren’t as impressive too. In fact, in battles, they can get downright blurry. It’s pretty bad and reminds me of the crappy prerendered backgrounds in old school Playstation games like Resident Evil or Legend of Dragoon.
The Bottom Line.
SaGa Frontier Remastered is the definitive edition of the game. It improves on the original while adding in new content that fits right into the game. The new additions (especially Quick Saving and Double Speed) make the game a much more enjoyable experience, smoothing over most issues that were present in the original.
Despite that, not everything is rosy. While the visuals have been updated, the pre-rendered backgrounds still look incredibly dated. That’s not really Square Enix’s fault though…To make them look modern, you’d probably have to redo everything. That defeats the purpose of this being a remaster (which just enhances assets).
Overlook that though and what remains is a damn good JRPG that was ahead of its time.
Here’s hoping Square Enix keeps on remastering its own games because I’d kill for Parasite Eve (its sequel) and Brave Fencer Musashi remasters!
SaGa Frontier Remastered makes a decent game great with its new additions.
- Double Speed and Quick Save features.
- Tons of gameplay and content to play.
- Quick loading.
- Great looking sprites.
- Backgrounds still look meh.
- Can get lost easily.
- Generic battle system.