Monday, June 13, 2011

SAGA FRONTIER



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SaGa Frontier
Developer - Square Product Development Division 2
Publisher - Sony Computer Entertainment
Release date – March 31, 1998

SaGa Frontier is a role-playing video game developed by Square for the PlayStation and released in Japan on July 11, 1997. The game was later published by Sony Computer Entertainment (SCEA) in North America on March 25, 1998. It is the seventh game in the SaGa series and the first to be released on the PlayStation.


Story

At the outset, the player can choose any one of seven main characters to play as, each with their own storyline:

Asellus, formerly a human girl, was run over by a carriage and given a blood transfusion by the Mystic Lord Orlouge. Chosen as the Charm Lord's heir, she is despised by human and mystic alike due to her status as the only half-Mystic in existence. She escapes Orlouge's castle with the help of the Princess White Rose. Asellus and White Rose remain on the run from Orlouge's many servants, but after White Rose sacrifices herself to save Asellus's life and freedom, Asellus decides to return and defeat Orlouge, to end the struggle once and for all. Depending on the actions the player does, there are three endings, in which she end live on as a human, half Mystic, or complete Mystic.

Blue is a young mage fresh out of magic school. His quest is to collect the "Gift" for as many magics as possible. After that he is destined to fight his twin Rouge who has gained the opposite magics. Whichever brother survives obtains the other's magic and receives the sacred "Life" magic. It is revealed they were created artificially to produce the only wizard who could master all magical powers, even the conflicting pairs, and the duel is a mere formality to establish the dominant persona. Afterwards, Blue/Rouge descends into Hell to fight the demons who attacked his home.

Emelia is a blonde ex-con and secret agent formerly working as a model. Her story began when her fiancé Ren was murdered by a mysterious villain known as the "Joker". Wrongfully accused of the crime, she was sentenced to imprisonment in Despair, where she met Annie and Liza. With their help, they complete a competition the warden created to receive a full pardon for their crimes. After their escape, Emelia was recruited by the two to join the secret organization Gradius, which was also hunting for the "Joker".

Lute is a carefree bard whose mother kicked him out of the house until Lute found a decent job. He stumbles face-first into a plot involving Trinity general Mondo and resistance leader Captain Hamilton, and the legacy of Lute's deceased father, who was betrayed and killed by Mondo.

Red is a teenage boy whose family is destroyed by the criminal syndicate called Black X. After being rescued from the same fate by the masked superhero named Alkarl, he is granted the identity of the superhero Alkaiser. After destroying several Black X bases and their main stronghold, Red stands at his father's grave, and Alkarl appears to take Red's powers away, making him a normal man again. It turns out that Alkarl was Red's father's friend, Hawk, and Red will not be able to live a "normal" life for long.

Riki (Known as Coon in the Japanese release) is a Lummox, a fox-like creature, and one of the last remaining inhabitants of the mysterious world, Margmel. Determined to save his homeworld, he seeks the Rings of Margmel. In his search, he starts out in Scrap, where he finds the researcher Mei-ling. Riki's quest takes him around the regions to gather the Rings until he comes face to face with Virgil, a Mystic Lord. Following the battle, Riki returns home to attempt to restore Margmel.

T260G is an ancient Mec, a model constructed from junk parts, awakened in modern times. Originally part of a combat ship with a secret mission against the RB3 (Region Buster 3), it lost its memory when it crashed into Junk. With help of Leonard, a human who transferred his memories into a Mec, and Gen, a master swordsman, it recovers its memory and finishes the job.


Gameplay

The basic concept of SaGa Frontier is based on its Free Scenario System, in which one can play as any of seven different protagonists, all of whom exist in the same setting: a solar system known as The Regions, a group of planets, each with its own culture, game-level of technology, and form of magic. The game is considered non-linear, in that from the beginning many of the characters are free to go almost anywhere and interact with almost anyone. Travel through most of the Regions is easy due to inter-regional ships traveling regularly between them. The player controls the protagonist on the field screen, a set of interconnecting pre-rendered backgrounds, and is able to speak with a slew of other characters in order to gather information, recruit party members, and initiate quests. Each character has his or her own storyline and a main quest to fulfill, but there are also several optional quests that any of the characters can participate in. Some of the main characters even encounter each other during their quests. The storyline of each character also changes depending on who is chosen, what is said in conversation, what events have already occurred, and who the protagonist has in his or her party, a concept first introduced in Romancing SaGa 2.


Combat in SaGa Frontier pits players against groups of enemies encountered on the field screen. The battle screen depicts 2D-animated sprites amidst a 3D-rotating background. Battles are turn-based, in which the player chooses his or her actions and allow them, along those of the enemies, to play out. A variety of weapons, special skills, and magic spells are at the player's disposal. Most skills are learned mid-battle, while many spells are purchased in the game's shops. If certain conditions are met within the battle, party members on either side can create combination attacks for added damage. Winning battles will increase player character statistics such as hit points (HP), life points (LP), strength, and quickness. Outside of combat, players can equip and unequip (or "seal") weapons, armor, skills, spells, and items. First introduced in the Game Boy incarnations of the SaGa series, the game contains different races that exist within the Regions: the Humans, the Mystics, the Half-Mystics (half Human and half Mystic), Monsters, and the Mecs (robots).


The player is encouraged to complete each of the seven scenarios one after the other. For added incentive, beating a character's game and saving its completion to the system data adds some bonuses. After beating one character's game, essentially every character in the following game starts off stronger and with better gear than before, and may depend on how many battles players fought in their previous quest that they saved on the system data. Fulfilling all seven main quests allows the player access to the "2nd Division" room, in which the player can fight all final bosses and talk to the game's programmers.


Development

SaGa Frontier was developed by the then-Square Production Team 2 (referred to as 2nd Division in the game) with Akitoshi Kawazu as director and producer, Koichi Ishii as planning chief, Kenji Ito as composer, and Tomomi Kobayashi as illustrator. Square Production Team 2 included Kyoji Koizumi, Miwa Shoda, Kazuko Shibuya, and Minoru Akao among others. The musical score for SaGa Frontier was composed and arranged by Kenji Ito, who provided music for many previous entries in the SaGa franchise.

Originally, the title of this game was "Romancing SaGa 4" during early development. In that stage of development, two more heroes' quests were also being planned, in addition to the existing seven lead characters. One of them was Fuse, the IRPO agent who may be enlisted as a playable character in the actual release. In his quest, Fuse was supposed to be able to take part in other characters' scenarios, and the ultimate goal of his quest might be determined by what the player did in the course of gameplay. The "ninth" protagonist was to be the daughter of a channellers family who is engaging in a controversy as to who of them shall inherit the property of their former patriarch. This scenario seems to be dropped during the early development because of being too comedic.


Due to time constraints, some plot points of Asellus story were removed. During those events, Asellus was supposed to visit Dr. Nusakan's clinic, Bio Research Lab, Lambda Base, and Furdo's Workshop so that she would find her true identity so that she would decide to live as a human being or as a mystic. These quests were also intended to affect her scenario's ending.

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