xyzzysqrl: (Play with me.)
[personal profile] xyzzysqrl
This isn't exactly a new recordkeeping tag. I've marked things "ONGOING" before, but often that's gameplay mods or MMOs, things it would be infeasible to actually mark COMPLETE or INCOMPLETE. Most games don't have the scope for that. There's no ambiguity, I know if I put in the time and effort and patience I am capable of either beating them or deciding they aren't for me.

SaGa isn't like that.

This is a modern-day port of a 20+ year old JRPG that's so complex and cryptic I'm scraping random tidbits of data off ancient GameFAQs threads and new reddit posts and stuff just to survive. "Oh by the way", a guy called Dickelheimer Jones posted eight years ago, "If your archers are wearing gloves their accuracy massively drops." I read this and I gawk and facepalm because of course that makes sense, of course, and I unequip the giant heavy gauntlets off my archer and she starts nailing shots again.

The entire game is like this but in long-form. It's like Ultima or Phantasie or The Magic Candle, the really old-school RPG series that were actively player-hostile as a paean to the twin gods of Discovery and Sadism. You're dropped into a large and unforgiving world and, after a bit of setup, simply left to go discover what your purpose in it is.

For guidance you have the knowledge that you rule an Empire and can bring other countries into it by solving their problems, and you have a list of names you want dead, Kill Bill style. The names on your list are the Seven Heroes of legend, who once saved the world in a time of need but returned different and wrong. They need to die, and you need to figure out how you kill legends with hit-all attacks that can wipe your entire party in a single round, or mind control powers, or just the power of being a JRPG Swordsman At Level 99.

It's cool though. Death is not the end. As the Emperor, your noble line is strong and you can use the magic of Inheritance to pass everything you've learned down to the next schlub in line. Will that be a fighter, mage, thief? An amazon warrior? How about a moleman from the earth's core, or a lowly shepard? While you can work through the Empire's stockpile of potential heirs with relative carelessness if you need to (because adventurers are disposable as long as the Empire itself thrives) you WILL someday reach the Final Emperor/Empress and it will be time for the final confrontations. Hope you leveled correctly.

Because, this being a SaGa game, it is entirely possible to reach that point and be literally incapable of defeating the last boss. (Happily, the new port includes a new game plus usable anytime. Throw your godlike equipment back into the past for a second try.)

It sounds like I'm describing a bad game, but it's not. It's a sadistic and twisted game, it requires dedication in a way games don't anymore. The SaGa series has always been like this, because its director (Akitoshi Kawazu) makes video games for exactly one person (Akitoshi Kawazu) and he likes his games hard and simulationist and extremely plot-lean. He makes these frustrating choices on purpose and every one of them is planned and thought out to its conclusion.

To me that's not bad game design so much as MEAN game design. I respect the hell out of it, though. And I'm enough of a masochist to be in here, plugging away.

That said, if I do nothing but play Romancing SaGa 2 for the next month (and I could, in fact, do nothing but play RS2 for the next month) I will go bugfuck crazy and start eating the curtains and drawing boss strategies on the walls in black marker. I gotta divert and play other things to give my brain a bit of decompression time.

So it's not abandoned and it's not complete, hell it may never be complete because I am NOT good with character builds and RS2 allegedly has one of the hardest end boss battles in all JRPGdom.

Ongoing seems the right tag for Romancing SaGa 2.

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