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Videogame Review: Romancing Saga (for PlayStation 2)

Romancing Saga... that name felt so familiar, yet I couldn't quite place it. I thought about looking it up online, but decided against it because I had no idea what to expect from the game and figured I'd be able to form a more honest opinion about the game if I entered into it with no preconceived expectations. So as soon as it arrived I popped the disc into my PlayStation and got started... er... well, I mean after I bypassed the multiple layers of security they had around the box so that I could actually open the dang thing and take the disc out. Anyway, once it was in the system and powered up, I got to playing... er... well, I mean after all the company logos and such. But eventually I made it through and actually started a game.

The first thing you do is pick your character. You get to choose from eight different individuals, four males and four female, each unique in their own way. For the boys, there's Albert the nobleman (or more properly, nobleman's son), Jamil the thief, Hawke the pirate, and Gray the mysterious adventurer. For the girls, we have Aisha the nomad, Claudia the ranger, Sif the warrior, and Barbara the dancer. Each character has a short back story, and I do mean short. Too short to really get excited about any of the characters, in fact, so I just went ahead and picked Gray since that was the name of the main character in Growlanser III. After that you get to pick your character's name and class, and then you input your name and gender (which doesn't affect the character).

Now's it's time to adventure! Well, in the town, at least. But hey, it's a start. And lucky me, I start off with two traveling companions! So I walk around, talk to people, and discover that although this is a three dimensional environment, I have no control over the camera, nor does the camera seem to have any AI to make it turn around when I start walking back toward the screen. Well, this sucks. Makes it kind of hard to see where you're going. Anyway, talking to the townsfolk didn't provide much info at all, and without cash I can't really buy anything, so I guess it's time to head out of the town and see what lies ahead. The exit wasn't too hard to find as the town was small and a pointer comes up whenever you get near a spot that goes to another screen. It will also display the name of wherever the path leads if you know what it is, otherwise it just puts a bunch of question marks.

Romancing Saga Once outside I see plains. Lots of plains. And holes. Lots of holes. I was half expecting to see Shia LaBeouf there. Anyway, since I couldn't see anything but plains and holes in the plains, I decided to wander into the first hole. Inside was a cave. So I proceeded forward and encountered a dinosaur creature. Once we touched, battle ensued. The battle menu was pretty easy to figure out, just select the action you want to perform for each of your characters and then start the battle. My characters' strikes didn't seem to take much damage away from the creature, then his first attack killed one of my guys. Hm, I don't like the looks of this. So I tried another round, and again my strikes did very little while his took out another one of my guys. For the third round, I choose to retreat, and I was successful. But once outside of the battle, I was still located right next to the dinosaur, and so we touched again and went back into battle... where I died.

Romancing Saga Luckily I had saved before hand, but I didn't go back there again. I tried some more holes, all of which seemed to hold those powerful dinosaur creatures, though it isn't too hard to sneak around them. Well anyway, all those caves just kept popping me up at a different location in the fields, so I was basically getting nowhere fast... uh, slow. Then I realized that I just actually just select another town on the map and I'd be transported there. Cool! New townsfolk! But now the two people in my party decided to cut out. I could have choose to go with one or the other, but I decided to go it alone so I could explore this new town I just got to. Then, before I knew it, I had picked up two new partners... I just talked to them like anyone else and all of a sudden they decided to join me, for no apparent reason at all. Okay....

Romancing Saga So with my new team, I continue around the town, talking to all the people I can. Some people won't talk to you, and they can be easily identified by walking right through them like ghosts or something. When I finished talking to everyone in the town, what I had to show for it was a map of the town and a new area that I could wander into for battling. How come nobody's giving me any kind of useful information? So I headed to another town. I explored town after town, and wandered around their sewers and other such dungeons, and no matter what I did I just couldn't figure out what I was supposed to be doing... and then it hit me like a ton of bricks! I know why the title Romancing Saga sounded so familiar!

Romancing Saga Saga Frontier. Back in the days of the original Sony PlayStation, my friend had this game, and he said that it was extremely boring. But I was starved for an RPG at the time, so I offered to buy the game off him for $20, which was cheap for any PlayStation game at that time. He tried to warn me, and alas, I should have listened. At the time, I felt that even an RPG with a crappy story could tide me over... but what I didn't expect was an RPG with NO story. Go ahead, just wander around, town to town, fighting creatures along the way. Why? No reason, just because you have absolutely nothing better to do with your time. I bet the developers thought hey, lets do something unique, lets give players a world without a plot, that way they can make up their own stories.

I don't know about you, but for me the worst part of any RPG is when you have to take time out from your adventure to fight meaningless battles in order to increase your levels. Well, this game basically takes that part, and runs with it. It gives you a world where you can run around and fight all the meaningless battles you want. And along your journey, you eventually cross paths with the other characters in the game. Of course, this doesn't really do anything for you since you have no objective, but I guess it could be considered kind of cool. Oh, there was this one time that I thought I was going to be given a task to perform when this guy came up and asked me to look after this girl while he went to work, but then when I agreed all that happened was that she became a member of my part.

The graphics aren't bad, though I've seen much better. The sound is pretty good and plays well to the atmosphere. There is a lot of customization you can do with training, proficiencies, selecting classes, and forging weapons. The hit-point system is kind of weird, as you have both HP, or hit-points, and LP, or life points. After each battle your hit-points will be completely restored, while stay at an inn is required to restore your life points. There are various ways to loose life points, but the most common is being hit in battle when your HP has already dropped to zero. Of course, to me, none of this matters at all since I could find no reason to actually enjoy the game.

Romancing Saga was released by SQUARE-ENIX for the PlayStation 2. To learn more, check out the official website for Romancing Saga.

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