Review by Demonic Gerbil
"Final Fantasy Legend, the beginning of a SaGa"
An offshoot of the Final Fantasy series, Final Fantasy Legend, or as it's known in Japan, SaGa, is an RPG based on the mechanics of Final Fantasy 2 on the NES.
As you would expect for an old Gameboy game, the graphics are simple greyscale, but this helps the game to stay visually clean and simple. No garish palette to mar the eyes here.
I remember back when I first got my Gameboy in... 1993 or so. I wanted all the Final Fantasy Legend games, but alas I couldn't find any of them. Fast-forward to the modern era, and I finally got the chance to try it. It took a day of feverish playing, and FAQ skimming, to beat it.
In Final Fantasy Legend your party can consist of three different kinds of characters: Humans, Mutants, and Monsters. Humans get stronger by using items from the store and equipping equipment. Mutants get stronger by fighting enemies, and learn new powers constantly. Monsters change from one form to another based on what enemy monster's it eats.
This variety is pretty fun and allows for not only a diverse party lineup of abilities, but many different approaches to the game. For example, I started out with a Mutant Female for my main character, then took two Humans and a Monster. I fought a ton of battles in the first area and following the advice in one of the FAQs here at GameFAQs got my Monster up to Warrior. It took a while, but it was worth it because it gave me a powerful ally early in the game.
Battles play out similarly to what you'd expect of early Final Fantasy games. You select your actions, the computer figures out who goes when, and then if the target of the action dies before it can be completed it misses. It's primitive, but effective. And once you get the hang of it, you can fight through most battles in no time at all.
One thing that continually baffled me was my Mutant's powers. I couldn't really find the rhyme or reason behind why I learned what I did. But trying out new abilities on a regular basis for the first half of the game was pretty fun in and of itself.
The fight up the tower to the last boss was quite grueling. I was pleasantly surprised by the difficulty level I encountered there, even with my powerful party. It was tough enough that I had to resort to the cheap way of killing the last boss because I had exhausted all of my supplies getting to him.
This is definitely a fun time, though it lacks the polish of more modern RPGs. It's nice to see where things started.
Final Fantasy Legend is a simple RPG, with the expected controls. There isn't enough variety in enemies, and the dungeons are sometimes pointless in their complexity. But the very different characters and play styles that come out of that help bolster the score. Still above average even today. An easy way to see how powerful a weapon, armor, or spell is would have been welcome, but trial and error helps there.
To be honest, I'm not quite sure just why the intrepid heroes are climbing up this tower. But I guess it doesn't really matter too much. The item puzzle in the second world is an annoyance too, but I suppose this isn't the best place to put that tidbit.
Considering the era and the limitations of the hardware, the graphics are adequate. The character sprites are nice, though with very little animation. Likewise some of the monsters look pretty neat.
I had to kill the sound. That simple.
I'm not sure I'd want to play through the entire game again, but I found myself wondering how other kinds of parties would fare in the game as I played through it. And once I beat it, I had to go try some of the more eccentric possibilities: 4 humans, 4 monsters, 4 mutants. They each make for very different experiences.
I have no clue where you'd buy this game these days. Hopefully Square-Enix will re-release it on the GBA or DS some day. It deserves wider play.
As I've said, this is a primitive RPG. It's mechanics, interface, graphics, and sound are all indicative of its age. But melded to the mechanical structure is one of the earliest examples of characters with such diverse ways of growth. The overall experience is fun, if a little frustrating at times. Give it a shot. Just mute it before you start playing.
Reviewer's Rating: 2.5 - Playable
Originally Posted: 05/30/06
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