Friday, January 30, 2004

7th Saga (SNES)

Rating: 3 out of 5
Pros:Great graphics, fun to play, a couple of unique ideas Cons:Very hard game, spend lots of time leveling up, little replay value

One day my friend Josh and I had went to the local video store to find something to do. This was the first time I had ever heard of 7th Saga. We had no idea what the game was all about, but since we had no other games in mind to start with, we decided to give it a try. What did we have to lose?

I was really impressed with this game. Developed by gaming giant Enix, 7th Saga was released in 1993. The highly detailed graphics were quite good, considering this was a SNES game. Every time you get into a battle, the screen rotates and zooms in, and becomes the background for your battle. The same exact screen you were just walking on. This is rare to see in a role playing game, and was truly an innovation.

The music in the game was nice as well. The battle music is fast paced and progressive, and somehow managed to just click. The music on the over-world map is calm and peaceful, and nice to listen to. The sound effects, on the other hand, were mildly annoying at times. Too bad there was no option to disable sound effects, while leaving the music.

The storyline didn't particularly shine either, but it was still more than playable. Of all the linear games I have played in my life, this one was, by far, the worst (or best, if you like linear games). There are absolutely no side quests in this game, it's straight-forward and uncomplicated.

In the beginning of the game, evil is taking over the world. The only way to stop it, is to collect the seven runes. They, of course, are scattered throughout the land. King Lemele happens to have been training some warriors for just this occasion, so he sends them out after the runes. You get to pick which character you want to be, and at least there is a little variety here. You can be anything from a human to an elf, from a dwarf to an alien, or even a demon or a robot.

Not that choosing different characters will have any effect on the ending, or on any of the story at all for that matter. The only difference it makes, is how you have to utilize your character to win. The characters you don't pick, don't disappear into thin air though. You run into them, over and over again, throughout the game. Sometimes one may offer to travel with you on your adventure, other times, he may want to kill you and take any runes you may have collected. Then you will have to defeat him later on to get those runes back.

They are not easy to fight either. They are always on the same level as your main character, but they also have a 50% increase in stats. This means that even the wizard character Valsu will have a strong enough physical attack to hurt you pretty bad, even if you have the strongest physical character and the best armor.

The interface is really basic also. Everything is done through simple menus, much like Dragon Warrior or Ultima: Exodus for the old Nintendo. You get a turn, the enemy gets a turn, you get a turn, the enemy gets a turn... this means that using items or defending is often a waste of time. While you are using your items or defending, the enemy gets a free turn to attack you. This means he is effectively getting twice as many attacks as you, and the attacks usually do at least as much damage as you healed; and defending don't stop his attack, it just cuts it down some... which is really useless most of the time.

One of the nicest features of 7th Saga, is the crystal ball. It is a round sphere at the top of your screen, and it shows things such as monsters, towns, and runes. While it seems great, the monsters always seem to make a bee-line towards you, even through walls, so you really can't avoid them. On the other hand, it allows you to see when you are getting close to a new town, or when you are drawing near the next rune location. Monsters are depicted by little white dots, towns become white circles, and runes are red flashing circles. When you are in a dungeon, treasure chests become white circles instead of towns.

It's alright that you can't really avoid the monsters though, for you will find yourself having to fight a lot of them in 7th Saga. Be prepared to spend, literally, hours leveling up sometimes. When the game was brought to the United States from Japan, the amount of experience needed to level up was greatly increased, so the difficulty of this game is something you will probably be entirely unprepared for.

7th Saga seems to be a slow-paced game because of it. To make matters worse, the menus are used for everything. This means, you have to push the button to bring up a menu, then push it again to select "talk" to speak with one character. To open a treasure chest, you have to push a button, then select "search" and push it again. This will get pretty tedious to most players, but you get used to it.

Over all, it is a really fun game, but only if you feel like putting the time into it. If spending a few hours leveling up sounds more like a chore to you, then you will probably not get much out of this game, because you will find yourself having to do it often. On the other hand, if you can manage to get through that, you will probably like this game. The ending will probably disappoint you, but I won't say any more about that.

If you like role playing games, and don't mind spending more time leveling up than you do playing, this game is for you. If you like 7th Saga, you also might enjoy Ultima: Exodus (NES), Dragon Warrior/Dragon Quest (NES, SNES, GBA), Final Fantasy (NES, SNES, PSX, GB), or Star Ocean (SNES, PSX).

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