Romancing SaGa was released in 1992 from Square on the SNES. I actually managed to kill the first boss in Albert’s scenario, so I thought I’d put up some screenshots to give my readers a feel for how the game looks and the issues I’m having.
Albert wakes up in bed, and is asked to take care of some monsters in the cave to the east. I picked a right handed Magic Knight (father and mother) for my Albert, and he had 40 HP. He started with a sword, a knife, and 4 castings of a Light spell. His sister, Diana, had a sword and about 70 HP, and the two guards with him had HP in the 40’s. One had a knife, and the other had a knife and a bow.
Outside, it was pretty easy to get down to the cave without any major fights, but inside the cave you’re highly unlikely to get to the boss without at least four fights. One of the monsters mixed in the random groups included a fat pale troll that seemed to be almost impossible to kill. Fleeing battle isn’t too bad, but I couldn’t find any way other than Albert’s medicine to heal. If you didn’t know the right path through the cave, you could probably get into an unwinnable situation. The boss of the cave did about 50 HP damage with his fire magic, and Albert only had 45 HP when I got to the boss. Everyone with 1 HP in the screenshot above died during the boss fight.
I tried Gray’s story. He has a simple stealth mission, but the difficulty curve, again, is pretty rough. I tried to max out Willpower on Gray, to make a more fighter / paladin like build. You’re supposed to avoid the dinosaurs in his area, so you can only fight the wolves and birds that are in the area. These do between a tenth to a third of the health of him and his companions if they’re a more dangerous grouping. Dinosaurs kill you as soon as you get into battle with them (Three hits of 100+ damage, and practically no chance to flee the battle before they start hitting.)
Unfortunately, getting through the dinosaurs to advance the plot is almost entirely up to luck. Basically, you can only pass dinosaurs quickly on the left or right, or slowly if you are behind them. Passing from the front, or taking too long while beside one will get you into a fight. You need to head through a U shaped passage while dodging about twenty or so dinosaurs to get to where the egg is hidden.
Of course, making Albert a mage type of character isn’t a great idea. And dodging enemies gets easier with time. What’s the game like, ignoring those issues? The music is gorgeous and the graphics have a lot of nice details. For example, when Albert’s fleeing his castle while it is under attack, his running animation is much faster than normal. People have fighting / casting sprites in battle, and while they’re not super detailed, you can tell the difference between Gray’s mage and Diana. Ironically enough, the idea of creating your own hero and visible monsters would’ve been seen as a great game in 1992. However, I doubt that people would’ve gotten past the flaws in Romancing SaGa if it had been released in the US.