SaGa Frontier is a traditional-style RPG by Squaresoft, released in Japan in July 1997 for the Sony PlayStation 1. In North America, it was released in March 1998. The game takes place in a science fantasy universe called "The Regions", a group of worlds with varying degrees of culture, unique races, technology, and magic. Select one of seven protagonists, each with his or her storyline and goal. The biggest feature is a “Free Scenario System” which offers a large amount of non-linear gameplay.
It can be misleading that SaGa Frontier seems like a standalone game. But yet, it belongs to a long series! The first three SaGa games were released in North America on Game Boy Classic as Final Fantasy 1-3. SaGa 4-6 were Japan-only releases on the Super Nintendo as Romancing SaGa 1-3. Although they never left Japan, fan translations are available (Romancing SaGa 3 is shrined on this site). North America did eventually get official releases of the Romancing SaGa games in the 2010s as remastered versions.
The SaGa games have always been about selecting your characters and exploring an open world. The selectable protagonists consist of a swordsman, a supermodel, a robot, a monster, a mystic, a wizard, or a bard. Depending on who you select determines which characters are recruitable throughout the game. SaGa Frontier takes the SaGa legacy to a new level by offering tons of side-quests, tons of recruitable characters, many new worlds to explore, and a robust battle system with hundreds of attacks and magic to learn.
In April 2021, Square-Enix released the remastered version of SaGa Frontier! It was released for Switch, PlayStation 4, Steam, iOS, and Android. Upon looking at the official trailer, the first thing you'll notice is the gorgeous high-resolution graphics. They expanded Asellus' scenario with several new cutscenes, which were cut from the original game (perhaps due to time constraints?).
“Fuse” is now a main character! He's a detective who appeared in multiple quests in the original game. The Fuse scenario features great new tracks from Kenji Ito, and is full of new content. Several of the protagonists play a role in his scenario where you get to learn more about them.
Lastly, the remaster offers some convenient features we're used to with video game emulators. You can toggle a fast-forward! What's interesting about it is there's a different fast-forward toggle for during battles and outside of battles. It defaults to double-speed, but you can increase it further to triple-speed. This is a much-welcomed feature for a game that requires lots of grinding. They also added a quick save feature that can be executed with a button shortcut.
The battle system is a big part of SaGa Frontier. It's quite robust. Any character can be 'trained' to specialize in a type of weapon or magic. For example, if you're always having a character use a sword, their strength is going to grow and they're going to learn new sword skills. Similarly, if you always have a character cast magic, their intelligence will grow and they're going to learn new spells (after you obtain the 'gift' of a type of magic). Weapon skills consume WP (weapon points) and magic consumes JP (job points).
SaGa Frontier carries over the 'Glitter' system from the Romancing SaGa games. During battle seemingly at random, a character will learn a new weapon skill. You'll see a lightbulb appear over their head and they'll execute the new attack.
Characters level up differently than in a traditional RPG. Instead of a batch level-up with all stats gaining a few points, in every battle a random stat will increase. As I mentioned above, their stats will grow depending on if you focus the character on physical attacks or magic.
HP is always restored after every battle. Curing items & spells also act as a revival for fallen characters. There's a catch, though - characters also have LP (life points). If a slain character is attacked, they lose a life point. Some enemy attacks take away 1 LP. LP can only be restored at an inn. LP is fixed and doesn't grow.
SaGa Frontier also carries over the combo attack system from the Romancing SaGa games. Although with the Romancing SaGa games, it was tricky finding combo attacks because your characters needed a specific set of skills. A walkthrough was often required to help you find them. However, with SaGa Frontier they allow any attack to be a part of a combo attack! You'll often find them by accident simply by using the same sequence of attacks.
The game uses an interesting challenge system where you're continually fighting stronger enemies as your battle party grows stronger. If you take the time to grind in a dungeon for a few hours, you'll be seeing new, stronger monsters every 30-some minutes. It's not an unfair system; the game is still relatively easy. Some boss battles will catch you off guard and require grinding or different strategies.
I love SaGa Frontier! I find it so entertaining and addicting. My favorite part is building up your battle party. It's the highlight of the game because the storylines are not as detailed as other Square games.
I don't find the scarce stories a bad thing either. SaGa Frontier is for people who want a battle-focused RPG. And when I say 'scarce stories' I don't mean to say characters exchange just a few lines of dialogue and call it a day. Every protagonist does have a solid story. It's just not on the deep character-building level of a traditional Final Fantasy.
The soundtrack has a unique style to it. The dramatic synth-orchestrated jazzy tunes are relaxing. Boss battles blast those synth trumpets. Over the years, there's been a few tracks that I casually listen to.
I've come across some harsh reviews for SaGa Frontier. This is one of those games that you'll love or hate; it's not for everyone. As for me, it's a dear favorite and part of my fond memories of gaming on the PlayStation 1. It's one of those beloved classics that I've come back to many times. Once you get used to its gameplay, it can be mindless and relaxing to play.
Oh man, I love the Remaster! If you're a fan of SaGa Frontier, the remaster is a real treat. It's amazing to see the graphics in HD. There's so much added detail. It's almost a surreal experience. My favorite feature is the fast-forward toggle. We're not kids anymore and don't have all the time in the world to level-grind our parties. The Remaster is totally worth it. I especially love the Switch version for its portability to play the game on the go.
When starting a new game (with any character), there's a certain set of common to-dos and staple side-quests. I've listed these steps below. You can use it with any character at the point when you're free to roam any world.
Koorong is your critical go-to spot. It's the place where you can easily travel to different parts of the SaGa Frontier universe.
To quickly recruit characters, hop on over to the Pub of "Scrap". Once inside, talk to all the people watching the show. Depending on which protagonist you chose, some will join you and some will not. Gen (the guy sitting in the lower-left corner) sometimes only joins after you talk to the skeleton in Koorong and begin the Arcane quest (one of the cards is in Wakatu, where Gen is from).
Go to Luminous. Rouge (Blue's twin brother!) might there in the lobby. If he is, he'll join you. Proceed into Luminous to gain the gift of Light magic by going through the (very easy) Maze of Light. Now the characters you want to learn magic will eventually learn some powerful spells. Also, buy your magic-users Sun Ray, Starlight Heal, and Flash Fire.
Go to Shrike and enter the lower-left temple. Once inside, go to the left and through the first door to make your way into a room where you'll see a cool guy wearing shades. That's Rofus. Talk to him and he may join you. Now wander around this temple and collect its treasures. Then wander around the temple in the upper-right of Shrike for more treasures. The treasures from these two temples will be good enough to put together a pretty good beginning battle party. Then proceed with the Rune and Arcane quests.
The “Gold Ingot Trick” is a well-known trick from SaGa Frontier, used for quick money-raising. It is the best way for raising money in the game, as the money dropped from enemies is very low, and there are only two shops in the entire game that buy things, but they only buy specific items. This "exploit" is a result of an oversight by the game developers who were trying to make a system where the price of the Gold Ingots would be based on supply and demand.
How to do it: