Do they grow in the same way that humans and espers do, or do they only gain stats and skills through mutation? I was wondering whether it's possible to "settle" on a monster form you like and stick with it for the rest of the game. I assume that's not possible, though.
As far as I know, the answers to your question is no. They gain stats and abilities only through mutation, so your monster will eventually become outdated if you don't eat new monster meat. For what it's worth, however, a new feature has been added to show you the results of eating meat if you've already obtained that monster form before. This should save you at least some trouble.
"There is nothing sad about being of a fragile race." -Diana, Legend of Mana
Okay, next question then: looking at this chart...
...it seems as though monsters are grouped by "family", and that each has five levels of strength. Are the level 5 monsters the strongest you can get? Lich, Titania, Slimegod, etc? These are the monsters we'll be finishing the game with?
The first game had six tiers, if monsters have been added, and not new families, then expect six.
However it's not so easy as just five/six tiers. In the first one, I forget what exactly controlled it in the second, your monster had a level that governed what a monster evolved into when eating what meat.
In this case it would check the evolution levels for which was highest, the meats evolution level or your monsters. Then it would check the monster it evolves into and look for that level. If it was missing it would check 1 level above, if still nothing then one level below or one more till it found one. Now the strongest tier 1 monster was Dragon with evolution level 7. So basically a tier 1 Goblin could go strait to a tier 3 Plant(Garlic) skipping both tier 1 and 2.
It was almost in impossible to evolve strait into the same monster family, you had to evolve into other forms first. Oddly it prevented you from evolving into Medusa, Shrimp, and Cactus, because of the set up. Although it is possible to reach the second to final tier monsters at the beginning of the game, you just needed to know how.
SaGa 2 is largely similar to SaGa 1, however I don't exactly know how much they fixed the monster system from 1 to 2. You also have to contend with changes they are likely to make to this remake, didn't I here something about keeping one skill from previous monster evolution.
So your choice of monster at the start determines which ones they can and can't turn into? The plot thickens!
What I'm trying to figure out here is whether or not I can guarantee ending up with the monster I want, and if that monster is actually in the top band. Say I want my monster to end up as a Slimegod; would that be considered a "final" mutation? Once it hits that form I can keep it that way forever?
No if you ate meat it should be considered top tier as your monster is top tier so it will evolve into to whatever top tier species your monsters current family + the current meat family dictate. However all top tier monsters occupy the same evolution level, so you shouldn't ever get weaker. So you can always explore what monsters you like better, assuming they don't have something else gooney like Dragon Evolution in the first game that you could only get if you eat fiend meat(The Boss Monsters).
So on that chart I linked to, any of the level 5 monsters from each family are suitable endgame evolutions?
Also, I've heard you need to eat boss meat in order to reach the highest evolution levels. So what happens if the last boss capable of dropping meat doesn't drop any? Do you miss out on the higher monster forms forever?
1) Yes Monsters like Tatania, Arachne, & Beholder are top tier monsters so they are considered final forms. However which ones are most useful would be demerited by how you use them, for example Tantania is the best magic attacker. Her attack power sucks, but it doesn't matter since her skill are all governed by mana. While her defense is in the sucky category.
2) Well in SaGa 1 you had to eat, the one of Level 2 Four Fiend meat to become a final tier monster. So you had four separate chances to eat that meat and become final tier. However from what I remember the always drop meat after you beat them. So really you could only miss out on becoming a final tier dragon Tiamat. This is because you could only become a dragon by eating fiend meat, both the original four and the level 2 repeat ones, on specific evolution forms. However I'm sure they fixed that sort of thing in two. Still you need the fiend meat* to become final tier if you didn't eat it no top tier monster. They may have fix that with bonus dungeon and regenerating boss though.
*The meat of the final few boss monsters, obviously not the SaGa2 monster called Fiend that really should have been named Imp.
Okay, thanks. That's what I had hoped. I know there's bound to be divisions within the top division, but I'm glad there are plenty of final mutations for monsters, as opposed to two or three "ultimates" or something.
"Are the level 5 monsters the strongest you can get? Lich, Titania, Slimegod, etc?"
...that will be my monster's final form. No matter what. XD