Today marks the 25th Anniversary of the SaGa series in the U.S. It launched in Japan on the original Game Boy as Makai Toshi SaGa in 1989, which was released a year later in the West on September 30, 1990 as The Final Fantasy Legend. Of the eleven main games in the franchise, not counting remakes, only six of them were localized. Of those six only three of them contain SaGa in the title. Introductions aside, let’s move on to what makes this series tick.
The origins of SaGa can be traced back to Final Fantasy II on the NES. One of the game’s designers, Akitoshi Kawazu, implemented a unique change to the traditional turn-based RPG mechanics of the first entry. Instead of earning experience by defeating monsters, characters’ stats would increase through usage. For example, if party members were attacked HP and defense could potentially increase. These mechanics were wiped in the next Final Fantasy, never to return. Despite this, Kawazu was given the opportunity to direct his own game, which would become a series of its own.
Kawazu has either directed, or produced nearly every game in the series. While the games may differ, it’s clear he’s had a clear vision of the series since the beginning. There tends to be an emphasis on an open world aspect where the stories take a backseat to the adventures set forth by players. With that aspect in mind most of the games either allow players to create their own parties, and or choose characters to begin the games with, offering alternate stories to a bigger whole. And of course, they’re all turn based RPGs with mechanics that, more or less, began with Final fantasy II.
It’s a complex history for a complex game series. For this writer, it’s hard to relate. For the purpose of this article, he dabbled in all of them in order to understand what this series was about. That said he’s never played any of them prior to this. Yes, it’s a dark spot on his RPG record and he’s ashamed. More details on his thoughts, along with footage from the games, can be seen with the accompanied video retrospective. For now, let’s just wish SaGa a very happy 25th Anniversary.
The SaGa Series
- The Final Fantasy Legend (Game Boy)
- The Final Fantasy Legend II (Game Boy)
- The Final Fantasy Legend III (Game Boy)
- Romancing SaGa (SNES)
- Romancing SaGa 2 (SNES)
- Romancing SaGa 3 (SNES)
- SaGa Frontier (PS1)
- SaGa Frontier 2 (PS1)
- Unlimited SaGa (PS2)
- Emperors SaGa (Mobile)
- Imperial SaGa (PC)
Special Notes: Check out the SaGa video retrospective on the accompanying YouTube Channel, ReActionExaminer.