"My poor, underrated baby..."

Intro
One of the first games Square announced when they began development for PlayStation was a continuation to their SaGa franchise entitled SaGa Frontier. The screens and the non-playable demo made this game look like it was going to be one epic RPG. People seemed to expect quite a bit from this game. However, upon release, it drew up mixed reviews left and right. Some magazines and websites praised it for being different, other slaughtered it for the same reason. One of the major complaints was the lack of building storyline. In my opinion, this is a fun RPG, even if it does lack a bit in story development. I like it mainly for it's non-linear gameplay and all the way you can build up your party to become extremely powerful.

The Characters and Their Agendas
In SaGa Frontier, you get a choice of 7 different characters, each out to take care of different bits of business of their own. They are:

Blue- A magician who is sent by his home town to seek out the various magics of the world to defeat his twin brother, Rouge (which is Frech for Red).

Emelia- A woman is framed for the murder of her fiance. Emelia seeks revenge on the suspect while running away from the law and seeking out a way to clear her name.

T260G- A mec who was restored and, consequently, forgot his original mission. He goes on a journey to rediscover what his mission was.

Riki- A member of a race of monster called Lumox. Riki is commissioned with the duty to restore his homeworld, which is dying. To do so, he must find some ancient rings.

Red- A man with the ability to become a superhero known as Alkaiser who is on a mission to destroy the group who killed his father.

Asellus- A woman who was turned into a half-mystic (what were called ''mutants'' in early SaGa games) after nearly getting killed. She is now in great pondering as to her the true nature of herself.

Lute- A minstrel who sets off on an adventure, decided to go wherever he may roam (has the worst scenario in the game).

Gameplay: Environment
There is no world map in this RPG, unlike others. Instead, you have to take certain modes of transportation between each area. Some levels can only be reached by certain areas or cities. There are tons of different towns and cities in the game, each with its own basic purpose and areas. Not all areas are incorporated into all scenarios, but some scenarios do require you to go through most of the areas. The only true ''world map'' you get are in cities that are too large to be put in several connected screens, so you have to a map screen that can take you to different areas within the city.

Some areas have enemies lurking about. You can actually see your enemies before encountering them, which means you can avoid battle although it's extremely tough to dodge the enemies when they just charge right at you.

Gameplay: Battle
In battle, you get up to five characters on the screen. The battles are round-based rather than active time like Final Fantasy or Chrono Trigger. At the beginning of each round you choose what you want your characters to do. There are many different types of attacks to choose from. You get basic attacks, but they don't do hardly anything. You do, however, get special attacks for different types of weapons (bare fists, swords, small guns, heavy guns, and missiles). Each attack using what are called WP which focuses more on physical attack points. Separate from WP is JP (same has MP in other RPG's), which are your magic points. The magic system in this is nothing remarkable.

Some attacks and spells can be used together to make hit combos. The hit combos can do tons of damage, especially once you get up there in the numbers. Seldom do you ever see a 5-hit combo, but it can be done.

Magic
The magic system is something different. There are basically several different disciplines of magic, each with its own opposite discipline (i.e. Light magic and Shadow magic, Space magic and Time magic). You can master each discipline. However, if you master one discipline, you cannot master its opposite unless you abandon the discipline you have already mastered. You can still buy magic of that opposite discipline, but you cannot learn any new spells from it unless it is mastered.

Hidden Characters Galore!
One thing I really liked about this game was all the hidden characters you can gain in it. Some of them are extremely powerful and others are almost pointlessly weak. Each character seems to be a unique archetype, from the drunken swordsman Genn down to the phoenix Suzaku.

Game Elements
The graphics were okay. I didn't like the animation, though. I also felt that this game needed more FMV's. The ones they gave were just a quick still screen of an anime rendition of different characters in the game. Nothing really big. I felt the textures of the graphics were good, though. Just too bad a lot of the enemies in the game almost seem to be doing a goofy dance due to the poor animation.

The sounds weren't too bad. The soundtrack was well composed. There were a few songs on the soundtrack I could honestly due without such as the uninspiring battle music. The sound effects ranged from fairly good to utterly annoying at times.

The controls, as they should for almost any RPG like this, seemed to work fine. A bit overresponsive at times, though. This can be a problem especially when you're trying to avoid being attacked.

The gameplay is pretty fun, especially considering how I love RPG's that aren't very linear. This one has a lot of side quests which can be quite fun to do. Some of the stories could've used some real work (like Lute's or Blue's). Others had an interesting atmosphere about them (like Asellus').

FINAL JUDGMENT
Graphics: Not bad, but slightly marred by bad animation 7/10
Sounds: A good soundtrack with a mixed bag for sound effects 7/10
Control: Work very well with a slight overresponsiveness that doesn't affect it too much 9/10
Plot/Storyline: How 'bout I break this one down:
Blue: 4/10
Lute: 1/10
Asellus: 8/10
Red: 7/10
Riki: 7/10
T260G: 7/10
Emelia: 7/10
Gamplay: Slightly addictive with some small flaws. In short, it is fun to play! 8/10
All Together: 8/10

Perks
*Interesting gameplay idea
*Loads of different characters
*Combos!
*Nice lighting effects
*Non-linear

Downers
*So-so animation
*Don't expect any epic stories
*Lute's Scenario
*Lacking a world map

Recommendations
RPG fans should give this one a try (um... rent) before actually owning this game. If you don't like RPG's, then this game will only torture you.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 02/20/01, Updated 09/24/01


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