Silva Saga

Silva Saga came out in 1992 from Seta.  It’s notable for being a very Dragon Quest like game in the look of the game, but it does feel like a very different design philosophy.  To the best of my knowledge, Minelvaton Saga, Silva Saga, and Silva Saga II are all part of the same series.

This shows the Dragon Quest like nature of the battle screens in Silva Saga.

First of all, the game is practically grind free.  You can gain a cheap strong healing spell very quickly (level 4) and you basically can progress around the entire starting continent, gaining levels about every other battle, with minimal damage.  I did a maze like dungeon to get a new mage partner, and had to only heal two different people once.  This means that the game feels pretty fast.  Since many NES rpgs are almost painfully slow at first, it’s a noticeable design choice to make the game progress so quickly.

Night falls on Silva Saga. Note the resemblances to Dragon Quest IV in the world map and your little knight-like hero.

The game itself feels pretty polished. The graphics are pleasant to the eyes, and the day/night cycle is present and pretty well done.  Interestingly enough, towns don’t seem to be affected by the cycle, since they seem to mostly run along the same no matter the hour.  This cuts down on needing to search the night and the day version of towns.  Battles have switching targets upon death (so you don’t miss attacks due to enemy death,) and the music is some really nice chip tunes.

As Yulat and Bock run toward each other in sparring like movements, Bock's stats fill the right hand spaces. This mechanic means you can quickly see how your new soldier (Bock) compares to the old one (Yulat.)

The plot itself is pretty typical so far.  The hero goes to deliver a letter and get help in his quest to be the Hero of Light.  In the process, he does a pilgrimage to talk to the gods, and picks up his final party member from the temple.  Then he needs to find a mage.  You have a strange sort of sparring as your new partner compares stats with the old partner, and then you gain a new character.

Once you know where you're going, this maze isn't too bad to explore, but it is rough on the eyes.

You do have some poor choices in the game.  For example, a cave to the north (most NES games start with you heading north) seems like a logical place to explore, but it’s actually rather difficult since it’s the exit from the starting area. Your fourth character is in a shrine that has a confusing and distinctly maze like appearance.  Despite the mess of stairs, it’s actually only three screens wide, and when your third party member leaves, he takes the shortest route out of the building.  Still, it’s not terribly pleasant on the eyes.  Since the difficulty level is so low, you actually run out of inventory space quickly, and end up having to sell or throw away items fairly often.

This locked door reminds me of Dragon Quest's key system for locking off various areas until later in the game.

I think Silva Saga is a game that would be boring to someone who doesn’t like the Dragon Quest games on the NES.  After all, the game is basically Dragon Quest, with some easier mechanics and a different design philosophy.  If you do like the Dragon Quest games, however, you get less grinding, some pretty nice music, pleasant graphics, and a new world to explore.

Notice that this quest ends with a nice hint as to what you're supposed to be doing next.


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