I feel like I’ve been spinning my wheels a bit on this game. It can be hard to find out what quests you can access. There’s no real place you’re “supposed” to go; you just have to blunder around until you can find something. As I mentioned in the last post, you can’t freely travel. You can only go to spots on the world map that you’ve heard about, and you can’t travel between regions without paying for ships to take you there. This is particularly troublesome when it comes to equipment — shops have very limited inventories, and it can be weak or strong stuff. So it’s easy to get stuck in a place where everything is way too expensive.
Money is very limited in the beginning so I haven’t bought much yet. I’ve been trying to get some spears and bows so that I can have 6 people (2 per row) all able to attack. The only magic I’ve bought are two basic heal spells.
The way your characters advance doesn’t make much sense to me. The only clear aspect is that if you attack with a weapon, you will eventually level up the weapon, which gives you special attacks with it. Am I right that the weapon levels are tied to individual weapons, and not to weapon types? Maybe I’m wrong about that. In any case, beyond the weapon levels, advancement seems totally random. I had one character at the back of the formation, guarding every time, and she got gains in all of the stats.
So last time I had just finished my first quest, defeating a cultist group under Merubiru. After this, I didn’t see any other quests in the area so I tried taking ships around to various places. It took a few tries because several of the ships took me nowhere interesting.
|This jungle area had really strong dinosaur monsters|
|Spread out a little, maybe?|
The other characters have no real character or backstory, they just give you a little line or two about who they are, and then they join.
I now have Katarina, Grey, Albert, Shif, Jamil, and Aisha. Shif and Albert come with swords; Albert is weak but I stuck him up in front with Shif and Grey. Katarina now has a spear so she’s in the middle part, and Aisha and Jamil are in the back until I can find a place that sells bows.
After I finished this quest, it was time to look around again for something else to do. Although the Crystal City continent had a number of towns, I couldn’t find any quests, so I once again headed out on ship, where I found West End. Here I got a magician to replace Jamil, and was able to buy bows for Aisha and the magician. So now everyone can attack, at least.
West End is a very annoying town, though. There are all these thugs and kids wandering around who accost you, wasting your time. I ventured under the sewers where I found a catacombs with a number of graves. After fighting a bunch of dead spirits I found a holy grail, and was told to defeat a vampire. The townspeople mentioned a vampire but I don’t know if I talked to the right person because there’s nowhere I can go on the world map related to that.
|The tombs of West End|
I’ll stop there for this post. Right now all the enemies are really easy so I imagine there will be a strength boost coming soon.
Not only are weapon levels tied to individual weapons, but if you remove and re-equip a weapon it resets to level 0. The sequels replace this awkward system with levels per weapon category like in Final Fantasy II.
Magic *is* based on categories: if you use a spell in battle, there's a chance to raise that magic category's level (which doubles as both spell power and maximum MP) The automatic growth that characters undergo while out of your party is the easiest way to level up magic (or at least to bootstrap it past the dismal single-digit level freshly-bought magic starts at) Characters in your party can only do one thing per turn (and all spells cost MP on top of that) but a character sitting in the pub with five types of magic will slowly but surely gain levels in all of them.
Growth in the primary stats (strength, vitality, etc.) is a combination of battle actions and intrinsic character traits. Your main character's traits depend on your choice of parents at the start of the game (if you picked warriors for parents you'll gain strength and vitality easily, etc.) but for everyone else they're predetermined.
The town with all the beggars and muggers and with catacombs in its sewers is actually South Estamir (南エスタミル). It's where Jamil the thief starts if you play as him. West End (ウエストエンド) is a frontier town with several pioneer villages (all tents and half-built houses) and caves/dungeons nearby; it's where Barbara, the pink haired dancer, starts her quest. The frontier is where the vampire is, too. You can't get to the frontier by ship; you have to take the フロンティアへ road from the Kujarat (クジャラート) map, the one South Estamir is on (if フロンティアへ isn't marked on the left side of that map, you might have to have Barbara in your party to make it appear)
The last boss has such high defence that only the fourth special attack of each weapon (learned at level 15, which is the maximum) can really damage him. Also, if you do a certain manifestly unwise thing in a certain quest, the last boss will be "upgraded" to a form which is supposed to be stronger but is actually glitched in a way that makes him trivial to beat if you figure out what the glitch is (but possibly unbeatable if you don't figure it out)
Thanks; I saw that road up there so I'll do that next time. You recommended only having 3 characters at a time. I thought it might be better to have 6 so that everyone's stats can be levelling up and you can do more attacks during battle…but maybe that's not the case.
The later SaGa games sure do seem to enjoy their nebulous plots. I remember feeling so lost through most of the SaGa Frontier scenarios.
The only scenario in SaGa Frontier that comes close to RS's inscrutability is Asellus's. Most of the SaGa Frontier scenarios are structured like a BioWare game: there's a linear opening, 4 or so major quests which you can do in any order, and a linear endgame once you've done all of them. Of course, even that was overwhelming to many of the influx of gamers in 1997 whose only previous RPG was the ultra-linear FF7.
First time I played I got really lost with Lute and Emelia, and didn't pick up the game again for a couple years. I suppose everyone else is linear though, or maybe it was my inexperience and youth that led me to believe I didn't know how to progress with those two. I didn't have any trouble doing so on the revisit at least. I didn't beat the game though, something during Riki's quest or possibly after all characters were completed I found myself saved right before an unwinnable battle (in my eyes) with no means of grinding. It'll be interesting to get back to that game one day.