Weaving a Beautiful and Complex Harmony – Playstation 2 – Romancing SaGa: Minstrel Song – 2005

TitlesRomancing SaGa: Minstrel Song
Playstation 2
Square Enix
Genre: Role-Playing
2005

The SaGa series is a lot like the Final Fantasy series in a number of ways. This should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the golden era of Squaresoft and its catalog given the series’ roots being marketed at first as Final Fantasy Legend on the Game Boy. When game designer Akitoshi Kawazu joined Square and helped in the development in the first two Final Fantasy titles, he may not have specifically known that he was going to end up in charge of directing another one of the company’s longest running series when he was made the director of the Legend series.

Romancing SaGa hit the Super Famicom back in 1992, creating a niche in the role-playing genre that was off-beat enough to stall the series from reaching US shores under this name and with its current mechanics until five years later with SaGa Frontier. After the relative success of that game and its sequel, the company got to work on bridging into the next generation of gaming on the Playstation 2 with two more SaGa titles under the banner- Unlimited SaGa and a title simply known as Romancing SaGa.

Being familiar with the infamous reputation of Unlimited SaGa, I recently decided to turn my attention to Romancing SaGa (with the silent subtitle of Minstrel Song, I assume to discern just a bit further between the PS2 version and the original) as it’s been sitting in my collection for some time. The first time I attempted the game, I was lost. I hadn’t gotten the first idea of how to proceed even having been a fan of SaGa Frontier at the time. I’ve grown a bit since then and have had a lot of exposure to the series; I can’t even begin to describe how excited I am for the release of Romancing SaGa 3 coming to us soon. In my excitement and with new information under my belt regarding how to proceed with the series, I decided to give Romancing SaGa: Minstrel Song another whirl. Continue reading

Case Study in Fading Magic – Nintendo Entertainment System – Hydlide – 1989

Hydlide1Hydlide
Nintendo Entertainment System
T&E Soft Incorporated/FCI
Genre: Action RPG
1989

Tracing any genre back to its roots is difficult, though you can usually find a batch of games that are clear frontrunners in innovation.  Mechanically speaking, there are a lot of games that owe their predecessors for concepts that were not quite perfect when they appeared but have since been worked to impressive precision.  For better or worse, Hydlide was one of those frontrunners.

Originally released in 1984 for computers in Japan, the game worked to present a fantasy role-playing game like no other, though it was joined by Falcom’s Dragon Slayer series at about the same time.  Both are action RPGs and while Dragon Slayer still comes up pretty frequently in my studies on video games and history, I’d only heard of Hydlide in passing once or twice before I found a complete-in-box version at my local gaming store.

There had to be some reason that I had heard so much about one series and not the other, I figured.  Looking into FCI, the publisher, I noticed that they had some hand in helping the Ultima and Advanced Dungeons & Dragons games make it over this way, and I’ve enjoyed what I played of those.

Let me recount my journey for you, then, of how I felt about Hydlide on its own merits, historically and playing through it in the year 2018.

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Fire Emblem – An Overview – Part 5

Shield of Seals

It’s been a while since I added to this overview, but Nintendo keeps adding to the Fire Emblem franchise- so eventually I knew I would have to expand on the original overview series I had started!

In this fifth entry to the Fire Emblem overview, I cover four games.

Okay, technically.  Three of the games are part of one narrative, covering the Fates trilogy with Conquest, Birthright, and Revelation.  The second entry  after the jump elucidates on Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia, which was not only a remake of one of my personal favorites in the series but was also my pick for top game of 2017.

With the Fire Emblem series growing in popularity outside of Japan (and a slew of spiritual sequels, spinoffs, and other iterations appearing in every corner of the gaming world), this overview will probably be perpetually growing as times allows- which works because I honestly adore the series and researching it has been immensely interesting.
If you’d like to go back to the beginning of the series overview and Famicom days, feel free to look into the first part of the overview here.  Otherwise, kick back and check out my bird’s eye view into the gears of the remaining 3DS entries of the Fire Emblem series!

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Seiken Densetsu and the Potential Move West

Secret of Mana Remake Official

There’s been some buzz lately regarding the remake of Secret of Mana coming to the Playstation 4, Playstation Vita and Steam.  Hitting shelves on February 15th- which I feel like will be the longest two and a half weeks of my life- the game is the second in the Seiken Densetsu series to receive the HD remake treatment.  The first, Adventures of Mana, was an update of the originator of the series which was released in the US as Final Fantasy Adventure.  Adventures was well-received for the most part, so it’s no surprise to see Secret of Mana given the same treatment considering that it has already seen some re-releases on mobile devices and the Wii Virtual Console.

Fans of the Seiken Densetsu series have had a few questions regarding how the property is being handled, however, both of which have been alluded to in articles popping up over the past day or two.

The first- and frankly most egregious- is why the Switch has been overlooked for the HD remake of Secret of Mana.  Seeing as how the game has been a Nintendo mainstay in a number of fashions, most recently on the Super Nintendo Mini that released last year, it was a strange choice not to choose the Switch as a launch platform for the game.

The second issue has to do with the Seiken Densetsu Collection that released in Japan back in June of 2017.  I watched a trailer with dubious optimism as it played through previews of Final Fantasy AdventureSecret of Mana, and the as-of-yet released in the United States title, Seiken Densetsu 3.  While a fan translation has been available for some time for the third entry of the series, there has been no motion to localize the game for audiences in our hemisphere.  Given the popularity of the original two entries, it left fans scratching their heads as to why Square Enix wouldn’t work toward releasing the trilogy here, as well.

Addressing both of these issues, the company has now said that they have heard the voices of their fans and that they are considering both options, though nothing is being planned at the moment.  Given the recent practices of Square, I’d place a fairly large wager that the remake of Secret of Mana will make its way to the Switch.  It would be tough to justify not doing so, especially given the number of ports the system is already receiving.

I’m a little less hopeful for the Seiken Densetsu Collection unfortunately.  I’m not sure Square Enix is interested in making an entire translation for the third entry of the series and with Secret of Mana releasing shortly, they may already be satisfied with whatever the result is of this endeavor.  There may be a possibility of another remake, though that’s complete speculation on my part.

If you’d like to read the original article I’ve referenced, it’s short but it’s right here at RPGSite.com.

If you’d like a look at Secret of Mana before it’s HD release on February 15th, I’ve also reviewed it here.

Do you have any thoughts or predictions regarding the upcoming release or any future the Mana series may have in the future?  Let me know in the comments!