Romancing SaGa 3 (ロマンシング サ・ガ3), released 11/11/1995, developed and released by Square
This is the sixth SaGa game and the last one for the Super Famicom. My experience so far with the SaGa series has been rocky. I found RS1 to have some good concepts but overall seemed sloppy and unbalanced, and I was not able to finish it. RS2 was bold in its attempt to introduce radical new systems and a new way of playing an RPG, and while I enjoyed it to a certain extent, I thought the game was way too difficult. I managed to get to the final dungeon but I was unwilling to do the grinding necessary to win.
I will have to wait until I finish or abandon this one to be sure, but it does seem like this game is not as difficult and easier to play than the other ones. Basically the designers took some aspects of the RS2 battle system and went back to the RS1 style that is closer to a normal RPG. The designer evidently wanted the player to have to balance the usual RPG combat with business trading elements and a war combat simulation, but the latter two were essentially relegated to minigames and the focus is on the RPG play (although the business minigame is the best way to get money).
As in RS1, the game begins with you picking a character, and you do a small event connected to that character. I chose Katarina, a 24-year old noblewoman.
The graphics are overall excellent, which is probably to be expected from a late 1995 game by Square. Katarina has to deal with a potential coup in the kingdom, which turns out to be headed by a demon. Once that’s dealt with her family heirloom sword gets stolen. She cuts her hair and changes to adventurer’s gear to go out and find it.
At this point you are left basically to yourself to go out and find things to do. You can open up new areas by either hearing about them from people in towns, or taking a ship to a new place. There are basically no leads on finding the sword. Based on the opening narration and something we hear early on in Lance village, it looks like the overall quest is going to depend on sealing four Abyss Gates to stop some evil from entering the world, but there isn’t much in the way of clues to pursue that either.
So as in RS1, your basic task is to go around, collect information, and find things to do. Fortunately you don’t have to repeatedly pay transport costs the way you did in RS1, so it’s more forgiving in being able to travel around. The difficulty of the monsters is less variable than in RS1 and the fixed battles tend to be fixed in difficulty also. So some of the early game is finding out what you can do now and what you may have to put off until later.
The system is very similar to RS2. Each character has a skill level with each weapon, although they got rid of the confusing “tech points” system of RS2. After a battle you can get a bonus HP, a tech point, or a skill level in a weapon (which I think increases damage). You can “spark” new techs by doing a basic attack with a weapon — you have to have a sufficient skill level, and the enemies have to be high enough level for it to work. Once that happens, if you use the tech in battle enough times it will become “mastered” and then anyone can equip it.
There is also magic which you have to buy from people in towns.
Also like RS2 you have formations you can set that give various bonuses, although if you get attacked from behind or hit an enemy while running it will break the formation. Finally, you can have 6 characters and if you put your main character in the 6th position you enter “commander mode” where you give AI commands to the other people, they regain HP and heal status effects between turns.
Finally as in RS2 each person has HP and LP. HP are fully restored after each battle. If you get to 0 HP, or if you get hit when you are already at 0 HP, you lose an LP. If the main character hits 0 LP it’s game over, and if any other character hits 0 LP they are gone for good. However, you can restore everyone’s LP simply by resting at an inn.
At first I tried to find things myself without a walkthrough but I immediately got stuck — you can save anywhere and I got in this mission where you get put in a cave to deal with the monsters, but they shut you in so the monster will take you as a sacrifice. The boss is this horde of rats above, which slaughtered my party several times, and you can’t escape from the cave. So I went back to a previous save before I entered.
It turns out what you are supposed to do is run from the boss fight (which normally is not allowed), then go back to the beginning of the cave which will activate an event that lets you go — I’m not sure how you’re supposed to figure this out.
The party members I have there are ones I just happened upon in towns.
Anyway that’s an introduction to the game. Money is very hard to get; I think you are supposed to do the business sidequest minigame but I haven’t found out how to activate it yet. The monsters give almost no money as drops.
I’m not going to do regular updates during the Christmas holidays. I have a filler post scheduled for next Saturday, and I most likely will not have an update the 31st, but I’ll be back on the 7th by which time I probably will have finished RS3 and be playing Dragon Quest VI.