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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Makai Toushi Sa·Ga(魔界塔士Sa・Ga)

Makai Toushi Sa·Ga or "The Final Fantasy Legend" to the non-Jhipsters is the first game in the SaGa series and calling it Final Fantasy was a typical marketing ploy, or at least that's how I understand it with my deep in-depth 2 minute Google search knowledge.

Since I haven't played any of the other SaGa games, I'm not sure how strongly they tie together in terms of plot. Actually, I DID finish Final Fantasy Legend III as a kid and I vaguely recall something involving robots, and time travel. So I'm guessing it really doesn't matter what series it's "officially" a part of.

Since I already ruined my eyes as a kid with hours of Game Boy green screen game time sometimes with the majestic Light Boy, I decided to indulge in the fancy WonderSwan Color remake this time around.

Holy shit! Look at that kid blinding himself!

Holy shit, is that like 256 shades of green?!!
Much like Bruce Lee's last movie, I didn't expect much from a game that consists of climbing up a mysterious tower solely because it's there. However, I was pleasantly surprised at the various settings as the tower is actually connected to various worlds.

The first world at the bottom of the tower is the least interesting
Before you can even get INTO the tower, you first have to collect a number of items and do some quests such as hooking up a king with the prettiest girl in the town. Is it just me or does this girl look like some giant one-eye monster? I dunno, there's friendly monsters all over the towns so maybe she's supposed to be one of those one-eyed creatures that became the series mascot.

Maybe I'm just not understanding the pixel art here
The game system was certainly new and interesting before I got familiar with it. First of all, you will constantly run out of room in your tiny inventory. It got so bad to the point where I just stopped opening treasure chests. Humans actually have double the inventory of espers because half of an esper's inventory is filled up by abilities. The esper's abilities are also changing randomly so you just kind of use what you got if it's helpful. Or not, if it happens to be shitty abilities.

However, despite my inventory troubles, I'm glad I only had one human in my party because while they can carry more shit, you have to manually upgrade their HP, strength, and speed with items, which is a time-consuming and annoying affair. You also probably want to have one monster in your party to eat the various meat and play around with the tranformations. Don't worry which monster you pick in the beginning because they all suck. Only once you start climbing the tower do you get some decent meat to transform into useful monsters.

Oh yeah, and I almost forgot to mention that your weapons can only be used a certain number of times before they disappear. Yeeeaaaaaaahhhh.

I'm gonna need you to stock up on some Katakanas, we're running low

As for the story, I actually thought it was pretty good. It was definitely interesting how you straight up murder people and you can inspect the dead body and the game says, "he's fucking dead, dude" (paraphrasing). I'm not sure how The Final Fantasy Legend localization dealt with it but I bet Reggie wouldn't be happy with all the dead bodies.

Jim, a cold-blooded killer or valiant hero? Stay tuned!
There were some scenes that were pretty intense and overall the story was definitely more than I expected of Square's first Game Boy game. These were still the days when portables were seriously behind in horsepower compared to consoles. Yes, I know I'm playing the much later WonderSwan Color version but besides minor differences such as freakin' color, I'm guessing the plot is still largely the same.

Minor story spoilers to follow, though totally unrelated to the main plot. Stop reading here if you're highly spoiler sensitive.

One particular scene of note was the room where you can pick up the one and only nuclear bomb in the game that can only be used once. The room is actually a shelter with 3 dead kids and a dead father who left a note hoping the kids can survive with limited water and food. GOT DAYUM! Sorry (dead) dad, um... they didn't make it. Thanks for the nuke though!

Corpses of dead children, thanks Nintendo!
On a totally unrelated note, I happened to get a little bit of historical background on the bosses in this game totally randomly while playing Memories Off 2nd. I just happened to be playing this game around the same time when the teacher started explaining about the four guardian beasts: Seiryu, Suzaku, Byakko, and Genbu. Weird!

I think I can complete my college degree this way! 

Score: 2.5 oh man, watch me nuke this guy to kingdo- gaaaaah! out of 5 (10 hours to beat)

In no way would I describe Makai Toushi Sa·Ga as a great or even necessarily a good RPG. It has some weird balancing issues where most bosses can be killed in only 3-4 turns. The mechanics, while unique, are kind of clunky and restrictive (though still much better than POS Mother). There are also some gnarly puzzles that would be a total pain in the ass if I didn't just resort to a walkthrough.

In actuality, the chainsaw is a pretty shitty weapon
Still, I loved the setting and the idea of mixing swords, magic, and freaking missile launchers. It kinda reminds me of Megami Tensei II, which I also happen to be playing at the moment. (Yeah, I'm so cool.)

There's just so much satisfaction in beating the final boss with a nuclear bomb as unrealistic as that is, I'm looking forward to the next entry in this series. Overall, it's a nice little, short RPG for the old-school limited portable systems.

Oh, I will definitely see you again on the DS.
0 - Awful
1 - Bad and not worth your time
2 - Has some flaws but still enjoyable
3 - An average enjoyable experience
4 - A great game
5 - Masterpiece of a caliber only found very rarely