The SaGa series has seen quite the resurgence over the last few years, with titles like Romancing SaGa 2, Romancing SaGa 3, and SaGa Frontier getting modern releases to help bring the RPG titles into the limelight. Romancing SaGa -Minstrel Song- is the latest entry to be revived, though it’s an interesting one since it’s a remastered release of a PlayStation 2 game that was already a remake of the original Romancing SaGa on the SNES.
Confused? Yeah, it’s a tricky one, but at least the RPG goodness of the game has stood the test of time and ensured that the game will still be appreciated by fans of the genre today.
Check out some screenshots down below:
The SaGa series has always been open in its approach to storytelling and player freedom, and Romancing Saga -Minstrel Song- Remastered is no different. Players will choose a protagonist from a selection of eight varied characters made up of different classes and then set them out on a grand adventure, all whilst deciding where they go, what quests they complete, and how they ultimately approach the final showdown with the big baddie. They’ll get to meet different characters along the way that help build up their party, whilst the character choice at the start of the game will determine how the story is initially told. Each character has their own prologue that emphasises how they found their place in the world, so there’s always something fresh to see for those who give the game multiple playthroughs.
On paper, it sounds pretty straightforward, but it’s actually a bit more complex when playing. Romancing Saga -Minstrel Song- Remastered isn’t always forthcoming with detail relating to its mechanics and Free Scenario concept, so players will have to spend a fair bit of time figuring out how to approach the adventure and what quests to undertake. Whilst it isn’t too overwhelming in design (especially compared to more modern open-world titles), the sense of freedom offered does feel unconventional by JRPG standards and brings with it a learning curve that won’t feel familiar for newbies of the genre. Things like limited-time quests and an ever-growing Event Rank (which affects the different occurrences of the game) can definitely feel off-putting when you’re getting to grips with the game, so don’t be surprised if you find yourself struggling a little during your early hours playing.
However, once you get used to the flow of the game and things click into place, the journey becomes mighty satisfying. The freedom given to players helps give the adventure a personal touch not seen in more linear JRPGs, whilst meeting different characters or triggering different events and quests based upon your Event Rank gives the game an extra sense of unpredictability per each playthrough. It’s a rich and rewarding experience, and whilst the learning curve is steep, the process is worthwhile. I will give you some advice, though: follow a guide for your first playthrough as a character, if only to get to grips with how Romancing Saga -Minstrel Song- Remastered works.
“Things like new characters, events, weapons, and bosses flesh out the experience, whilst an improved fast-travel system, auto-saving, x2 and x3 speeds of play, and the fancy HD visuals go a long way in making the game more enjoyable to play.”
Whilst the general gameplay flow is unconventional in itself, Romancing Saga -Minstrel Song- Remastered’s battling also plays by different rules. In some ways, it’s your typical turn-based RPG, with players battling it out with an array of enemies, utilising the strengths of each party member, and performing skills to get the upper-hand. However, you don’t earn experience points or level up; instead, your party will learn new abilities and improve their stats randomly after winning battles. You can spend the jewels you collect to make some upgrades, but for the most part, it’s random.
Again, this unconventional approach might feel jarring for some, but I found it exciting and added more strategic elements to Romancing Saga -Minstrel Song- Remastered. Sure, it’d be nice to know when you’re levelling up or focus on unlocking specific skills, but the unpredictability forces players to experiment and try something a little bit different when battling. The combat itself is fun too, with the more traditional elements of battling complementing the unpredictable nature of your party’s growth.
That being said, there were SOME frustrating things about battling. Your weapons can break, for example, which is something I hate in RPGs. Who wants to be stuck without their favourite weapon in the middle of a dungeon? Not me. There can also be some nasty difficulty spikes, which feels extra harsh given that your party members have limited Life Points which go down each time they get knocked out. If they run out of Life Points? They’ll be removed from your party. Fortunately, it is possible to recover Life Points at an inn, but there’s nothing more frustrating than getting caught out by a particularly vicious group of enemies and having your whole party taken away from you. Oh, and there’s also a Battle Rank which increases with each victory you earn, which makes enemies more dangerous when higher. This probably won’t bother a lot of players and is a fair approach to combat, but I’m not a fan of scaling enemies in RPGs so figured it was worth moaning about here.
Check out some screenshots down below:
It’s all part of the learning curve I’ve mentioned, with Romancing Saga -Minstrel Song- Remastered certainly not a hand-holding RPG. Those flaws don’t stop it from offering a fun adventure though, whilst this remastered release also brings with it some additions and improvements that returning players will appreciate. Things like new characters, events, weapons, and bosses flesh out the experience, whilst an improved fast-travel system, auto-saving, x2 and x3 speeds of play, and the fancy HD visuals go a long way in making the game more enjoyable to play. Those speed boost options might not seem like a big deal to most, but they make additional playthroughs as the other characters a lot more streamlined and easier to manage.
Romancing SaGa -Minstrel Song- Review
Romancing Saga -Minstrel Song- Remastered is an unconventional RPG that’s fun to play, even if it has a bit of a steep learning curve. There are a lot of neat little systems at play that can make the game feel a little overwhelming during the early hours, but after a bit of practice (and maybe after reading an online guide), it becomes a lot easier to embrace them and play the way that YOU want to. It’s certainly different to the norm, but hey, what else would you expect from the SaGa series?
It might be a bit too intimidating for newbies to the genre, but RPG aficionadas will definitely appreciate Romancing Saga -Minstrel Song- Remastered’s unique approach. It has certainly stood the test of time, whilst the new additions ensure it’s worth re-visiting if you’ve experienced the adventure before.
Developer: Square Enix, Bullets
Publisher: Square Enix
Platform(s): PlayStation 5 (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, PC