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Romancing SaGa

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Romancing SaGa (ロマンシングサ·ガ) is a role-playing video game originally developed and published by Square as the fourth game of their SaGa series. Initially made available in January 1992 for the Super Famicom, the game was later ported to the WonderSwan Color handheld system in December 2002, with both releases being exclusive to Japanese players. In April 2005, an enhanced remake of the title for the PlayStation 2 called Romancing SaGa: Minstrel Song was released in April 2005 in Japan, and in English for the first time in North America the following October simply under the title Romancing SaGa. The game was designed by Akitoshi Kawazu who had served as head developer for the previous SaGa titles, with fellow series veteran Kenji Ito providing the game's soundtrack. In 2009, the original Super Famicom version was ported to mobile phones and the Wii Virtual Console service in Japan.

Set in the fictional world of Mardias, Romancing SaGa allows players to assume the role of one of eight main characters who must journey across the world to prevent the resurrection of an evil god named Saruin who was sealed away a millennium previous. The original Super Famicom version sold over a million copies worldwide and was voted by readers of Japanese Famitsu magazine as the 53rd greatest game of all time in a 2006 poll. Conversely, the PlayStation 2 remake received largely mixed to average reviews in North America due to the game's high difficulty, steep learning curve, and questionable character designs.

Gameplay

Romancing SaGa is a traditional role-playing video game set in a fantasy world where players must navigate their characters through towns, dungeons, and other environments while taking part in the game's story by interacting with non-player characters. At the start of the game, the player is given the option of assuming the role of one of eight main characters, each with their own strengths, weaknesses, and starting points throughout the game's world. In addition, the player must select the profession of the character's parents from a list of eight choices each, which go towards determining their strengths. As a staple of the SaGa series, both gameplay and story are largely open-ended, giving the player the ability to play through scenarios in a number of different orders, with some areas and portions of the narrative only becoming available once they have spoken to specific characters or performed certain tasks. By completing story objectives and meeting new characters, the player is brought closer to the game's end, leading to the final confrontation where they must use all of their acquired skills to succeed.

While traveling through dangerous environments, the player's party can do battle with enemy monsters which roam around the screen and will enter combat when touched. Using a turn-based approach to combat, battle scenes are played out by having the player input commands for each individual party member at the start of each round, with the selected actions taking place in accordance with a character's "speed" statistic. A player may choose to attack an enemy, use a special weapon skill, cast a magic spell, defend themselves, or flee from battle entirely. Parties can consist of up to five characters that the player will recruit automatically as part of the story, or after they have completed certain story scenarios. As characters take part in more battle, they will randomly learn new weapon skills by attacking normally, as well as randomly gain increased statistics at the end of every few battles, thereby becoming stronger. All characters may become equipped with up to two different kinds of weapons, as well as become outfitted in protective gear that increases their defense against attacks.

Plot

Romancing SaGa is set in the fictional world of Mardias, which was created by the God Marda. Long ago, war raged between three wicked gods, Death, Saruin, and Schirach, and the lord of all gods, Elore. At the end of that long conflict, Death and Schirach were stripped of their powers, and Saruin was imprisoned through the might of the ten Fatestones and the hero Mirsa's ultimate sacrifice. A millennium had passed, and the Fatestones were scattered throughout Mardias. All this time the powers of evil festered, bent on releasing Saruin from his prison.

WonderSwan Color port

In September 2000, Square announced it had begun development on an enhanced version of Romancing SaGa for the Bandai WonderSwan Color handheld system. According to the company, some of the original Super Famicom version's planned material was unable to be added during its original release due to memory restrictions, and that the new hardware would allow for a more "complete" version of the game. The newly added material includes an additional story scenario, as well as a side-quest that allows the player to gather all ten "Destiny Stone" items where previously only a few were accessible. While gameplay and audio are identical to the original release, the game's graphics were enhanced to accommodate the system's larger color palette. The game was later released on in Japan December 20, 2001.

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