An omen

This morning I saw a hunk of turkey carcass laying in the street. A small team of pigeons was eagerly picking away the meat, heedless of their vaguely cannibalistic actions.

I believe the tone for the coming week has been well and truly set.

I’ve decided to carry on the grim momentum with a new vow to myself: I shall learn to enjoy the SaGa games, or I will die trying. To that end, I ordered a copy of Unlimited SaGa as soon as I got to the office. On the plus side, it was only $2.80. On the down side, I could have bought a coffee for that money, and its brief caffeine perk would probably be more happiness than any SaGa game will ever bring. But by cracky, my mind is set. At least until my short attention span shifts to something less personally harmful, anyway.

In happier news, GameSpite Issue Two is shaping up to be so freaking epic that I’m gonna have to cleave it in twain. Forsooth, verily, etc. The first half should go up Wednesday. Unless it doesn’t! Enjoy the crap shoot that is life.

37 thoughts on “An omen

  1. If you’re determined to play Unlimited Saga, I’d recommend reading Joewoof’s FAQ at GameFAQs. It’s great about explaining how the game works.

    May I recommend that you start with a different SaGa game? Frontier 2 and Romancing are much more user-friendly.

  2. You should make it a “Fun” Club game. I’ve always wanted to play it, because I WANT to enjoy it.

  3. It’s not… impossible, per say, to have fun with a SaGa game. I have, for example, derived a slight modicum of entertainment from Romancing SaGa — the trick is to find something you like, focus on that, and block all the other shit out. And I mean really block that stuff out. Repress that stuff like it was a touchy uncle. Then all you’re left with is actually a half-way enjoyable game, sort of.

  4. Rei, you mad bastard, you’re a genius.

    I kinda liked SaGa Frontier. At least up until the point I reached Emelia’s final boss after twenty hours of play time and discovered, wow, I’ve been wiped out in two turns.

  5. if you want to enjoy the saga games, why did you pick the worst one? at least start with, like, a romancing saga 3 rom or something.

  6. There has to be SOME reason Japan adores those games so much. I don’t think I want to take the time to find out, though. Finals are coming up, you see.

  7. Yeah, there couldn’t possibly be a better time to learn to love a crappy RPG than in the middle of the epic 2007 fall releases.

  8. I’ve never understood the mentality of “Japan likes (insert thing here) that the rest of the world thinks is absolute shit, so I’m going to try to like it.” It’s a noble goal to try to understand another person’s thinking process, but in cases like this…

    You know what, nevermind. Maybe Parish can become the Seanbaby of Japanese RPGs, or just Japanese games in general.

  9. Maybe your video game project can be an autobiographical RPG about your efforts to enjoy the SaGa franchise. Combat minigames, rhythm sections for making snacks to refill your hunger bar, wander around town in search of an official strategy guide or any sailors with tips on the game.

    You could call it SaGaGaGa.

  10. I enjoyed Frontier 2 when it wasn’t being obtusely difficult. The watercolor graphic style was gorgeous and the gameplay wasn’t bad, it was just woefully imbalanced in places.

  11. DNi has a point — it’s always seemed to me that one is only meant to play a small portion of any given SaGa game. (It’s just that the portion in question is going to be different for everyone.)

    There was something indefinable about the atmosphere of Frontier 1 that really really appealed to me, but I could never see myself playing it to completion.

  12. “I kinda liked SaGa Frontier. At least up until the point I reached Emelia’s final boss after twenty hours of play time and discovered, wow, I’ve been wiped out in two turns.”

    THe SaGa series isn’t shy about telling you that you’ve wasted your time.

  13. Grumf, computers make me sad. Again…

    SaGa Frontier? Not so much. Unlimited SaGa? Ugh.
    But SaGa Frontier 2? Yes, there are issues, namely that the last boss is was essentially impossible without a handy downloaded save file or a Pocketstation.
    Put aside the fact that the backgrounds are insanely beautiful, and the no-nosed sprites with a penchant for being chicken-legged are the among the most distinct and best looking of the time. Put aside the freaking amazing soundtrack. Put aside the variety and yummyness of the gameplay (ie turn based combat that’s quick and, gasp, done right, interspersed with nifty duels and strategic battles).

    It’s the scope of the story and the connections of the plethora of characters (most of whom manage to have personality, unlike so many other RPGs with large casts) which makes the game so damn good. So many games try for that whole “epic” feel. And 99% of them suck hard. RPGs with stories that are more focused (eg Vagrant Story), rare as they are, tend to fare much better. It gives the game’s world a sense of history, of depth, that I’ve yet to really experience in another title.

  14. The main reason for my interest is that as infuriating as the SaGa games are, I’m starting to see a sort of pattern in Akitoshi Kawazu’s creations. I’m not sure I like it, but I want to understand it. Hopefully this determination does not drive me mad.

    Anyway, I was thinking of starting with the FF Legend games. I hear III is super goodness!

  15. Back up for Legion, read that FAQ for UNLIMITED. It’s a dense, dense game. SaGa games are games that you play because you like to work, kind of like Harvest Moon but instead of inviting you to laugh at its darling-faced absurdity, SaGa gives you a cold stare and asks you to share with the rest of the class just what you find so god damn hilarious.
    UNLIMITED is at least more solid than Frontier, with more reason behind the nonsense. Romancing PS2 is probably the friendliest besides the GB SaGas.

  16. So, what, it’s not a confusing, badly designed, and terrible waste of time?? BUT I KID!!

  17. Playing Kawazu’s games in order to understand the man is like dating an abusive alcoholic with the hopes that you can “change him.” This can only end in a LifeTime Original Movie :(

  18. Played frontier into the ground, and beat it with five of the characters. After failing twenty times, you start to realize the flow of the game. Red was completely linear for instance, and a good first choice (thought the degree of grinding you have to do quickly becomes apparent.) Lute is the total opposite. You do one short intro quest, then you can go anywhere you want. Even unknowingly trigger the final event by talking to one unassuming npc and dooming you.

    The trick is to not accept every quest given to you as you would in traditional “safe” rpgs, because you would simply know that at any given time theres only one path to follow. This will get you killed. You have to explore every area and spot every potential quest before making an informed decision about what to do next. And grind.

  19. Actually, Legend 3 was my least enjoyed of the SaGas. Besides Final Fantasy 2 I’ve enjoyed Kawazu games much more than I should.

  20. Well, not that there’s a shortage of opinions here, but I’ve forced myself through enough of these things to have some input here. SaGa 3 (AKA Final Fantasy Legend 3) is actually a good game, if I recall properly. Constantly customizing your airship, actually having experience levels, not really having to deal much with random equipment, and there’s a plot. SaGa’s 1 and 2 are straight up dungeon crawls, not really worth mentioning.

    Can’t much speak for the Romancing SaGas, since they never made it over here.

    The Frontiers are a little odd. SaGa Frontier 1, if you can get into it, is a honestly pretty darn underrated. It has 7 legitimately different storylines (albiet they tend to involve building yourself up with the same set of dungeons), and pulls off the level-free system pretty decently. The catch is, getting into them is darn hard. Some characters have a nice introductory bit, easing you into the game, giving you some idea of the structure of the world (there’s a hub town which isn’t immediately identifiable as some people mainly), and letting you get into it (the robot and Emelia if I recall). Then there’s the characters who just toss you into the middle without a life preserver (Blue and Lute).

    SaGa Frontier 2 on the other hand is nice and linear, and the watercolored look was darn nice for the time. It’s also a lot more readily accessable. The problem though is that we’re dealing with the same level-free system, but not letting you revisit areas, so you just have to hope that by the end of the game, the stats and special moves you more or less luck into are going to be enough to get you through the obligatory totally nasty SaGa final boss… and not go insane with the weird pseudo-tactical end-game of the other plot branch that boils down to using a specific strategy AND getting lucky enough to guess which characters will be attacked in a given round and have them block/attack accordingly. So.. you get to the end and stop, basically.

    Unlimited Saga is just @#$%ing terrible. Basically, they took the worst aspects of every other game in the series and combined them… and then to make sure you really couldn’t enjoy it, they made stat growth even more random, and did this strange extra-spartan gimick with the dungeons where you’re effectively playing D&D moving minis around the board from Candy Land. Even people who have the masochistic streak it takes to enjoy this series tend to hate this one.

  21. I’m one of those freaks who loves the SaGa series, but there’s just no way to justify Unlimited SaGa. It’s the most spectacularly ill-conceived game I’ve ever played.

    Play FFLIII if you like, but if you’re trying to have a SaGa experience, you should keep in mind that it’s the least SaGa-y game in the series (and thus, to me, one of the least interesting, but that’s neither here nor there)

  22. …also, the last level in SaGa Frontier II isn’t THAT bad if you know what you’re doing. Though yeah, the final tactical battle–which I did managed to beat ha ha!–boils down mostly to luck.

  23. SF2 does indeed have the best story that weaves the various characters together. I do wish there was a little more closure and info on characters. Such as what the heck happened to Gustaf after he vanished into the doorway in his last apperance.

  24. One other thing about Unlimited Saga: start as Laura. She’s the most beginner-friendly character to play as. Which isn’t to say that she’s particularly beginner-friendly.

  25. Actually the D&D style boardgame element with strong descriptive text was my favorite part of it.

  26. You know, birds eating other birds isn’t really any more cannibalistic than us eating pigs, cows and other mammals.

  27. seriously, Romancing Saga 3 was fan translated and is the most balanced and fun of the Saga games. Plus one of the characters is a kung fu Lobster!

  28. I’m currently working on my seventh and final scenario in UNLIMITED Saga, after several years of playing on and off. I’ve probably sunk 150 hours into that game, and it’s been a joy. Screw you, conventional wisdom.

    Let me third the Joewoof FAQ (which is all gameplay mechanics, no walkthroughs) suggestion for this particular game. And maybe some maps too. I’m not normally a FAQer, but they helped me like SaGa games. It’s just that to enjoy US (which is weird even considering what series it belongs to), one must either 1) enjoy spending hours upon hours just figuring out how the game works – and some people do (hint: nothing is at all intuitive. A large chunk of what you know about RPGs does not apply.), or 2) read a guide.

    It’s really not for everyone; even with all the force of will in the world, some people simply do not have the mutation that makes some of us so well-adapted to the enjoyment of SaGa games. Best of luck and success with your noble endeavor, Mr. Parish!

  29. Let me reiterate that, as a fan of the SaGa series, *don’t* try to get into it with Unlimited SaGa! It’s the only SaGa game that even SaGa fans hate; I actually had to look at a faq to figure out how to open treasure chests in the game.

    Try one of the Frontiers, or Romancing SaGa, if you haven’t tried it. If Japanese isn’t a barrier, try Romancing SaGa 1, 2, or 3. Please. *Anything* but Unlimited SaGa!

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