SaGa Frontier Remastered is out for various platforms, and it's one of Square Enix's most interesting "remaster" projects. It's more of a director's cut, with story content that was originally planned but never made into the final game being reconstructed from remaining materials.
It's also been blown up to high definition in widescreen of course, and has new features. But it's still SaGa Frontier, and that means it's just as much a part of SaGa as any other game. And we say it that way because SaGa games, well, have a lot of character.
These games are notorious for being difficult to understand due to a lot of deliberate witholding of information meant to facilitate exploration, experimentation and more player-specific experiences. That isn't always compatible with the average player's mentality, due to how unfamiliar a SaGa adventure can feel.
SaGa Frontier Remastered Beginners' Guide
That's what I'm here for. I won't bang the SaGa drum any harder than I already have before, but the "related" links will take care of that for me. That said, SaGa Frontier was new to me, and threw a couple loops my way despite how prepared I thought I was.
So, here's a whole bunch of tips and important pieces of information the game doesn't communicate super well, that I think would be helpful for someone less dedicated to SaGa's strange conceits but still wants to play.
Glimmering Has Rules
So, learning new skills is not only one of the most important parts of any SaGa game (usually), but it’s also the least clear. One of the most defining aspects of the series as it has evolved, Glimmering is the quickest way to powering up your characters.
It’s too bad you hardly have any control over it. That said, there are some rules, some of them unique to SaGa Frontier. Here are some points to consider:
- The two fighting styles that utilize Glimmers in battle are Martial Arts and Swords. Making basic attacks will always make your character eligible for new skills, but using stronger attacks can influence the floor. That means if you’re using a 4 WP skill for example, you won’t Glimmer anything lower on the totem pole.
- In order to Glimmer a skill, you need an open slot. If your character has a sword or is using their fists, you need to make sure at least one slot is open if you’re still trying to learn new attacks. To do that, you’ll need to hit the Arts menu and “Seal” any skills you don’t want or can do without. “Seal” is just unequip basically, so you aren’t like permanently dropping things.
- There’s a little bar in the Arts menu with a sword on one side and a staff on the other, with a little crown icon in the middle. If you equip six arts that are either physical or magic, the bar will fill and light up the crown. If you hit that, all your skills will be cheaper by one WP or JP. That’s most of your slots, so if you want to specialize for the discount you won’t have much room for anything else.
- Guns and Magic also fill up when you use them, but you won’t Glimmer those skills in the middle of a fight. Instead those can pop up as post-battle rewards so make sure you pay attention to that text at the end. You also don’t need to worry about being full or not, so feel free to load up on magic or gun skills.
Quicksave, Quicksave, Quicksave
As I mentioned in the review, there are certain parts of SaGa Frontier in which you can get irreparably stuck if you get too complacent. This is really only a problem in parts of the story where you’re taken to an area that doesn’t have an entrance/exit.
To mitigate that, it’s a good idea to utilize the Quicksave, as the way it functions is more of a safety latch than a suspend feature. Quicksave has its own slot, so if you’re just trying to make your way through an area you can reload if you get unlucky.
But if you drop down in a new space and save over your regular file there’s nothing you can do if the enemies are too strong.
It can also be a good idea to have one or two normal save slots for things like chasing endings. You’ll have to know how those work though, anyway, but hey that’s what guides are for!
Look for the Local Station
Between story beats, especially in structured stories such as Emelia’s, you’ll have “break” points where the game cuts you loose until you come back for your next mission. There’s no direction on what to do in those moments, but there are a lot of side quests and areas you can visit without being prompted.
To find this stuff, you’ll need to locate your area’s travel station. It’s easy enough, just explore different buildings until you find the room with uniformed dudes behind a counter. You’ll be able to fly over to all the areas in SaGa Frontier, even if there isn’t much your chosen lead can do there.
If you poke around you’ll be able to find extra party members, new magic, excellent grinding spots and more. You’ll just be choosing locations from a list so it’s kind of awkward, but if you have the patience to explore it can pay off throughout the game.
Another common point for SaGa Frontier is enemy scaling. It’s a weird system, since SaGa games don’t really have levels or even progression for individual characters. Instead, it’s based on the overall number of battles you participate in.
This sounds absolutely horrible, especially for a game that seems to encourage grinding. But there are finer details.
For one, bosses don’t scale. No matter how much more powerful the regular enemy encounters get, the bosses will stay where they are. In a way that’s part of the problem, since having to grind up to match the bosses will inevitably put you in bad spots with other encounters.
But that does mean there’s light at the end of this tunnel. Especially since enemies do have ceilings. Each area has a roof for how powerful the enemies get, and which enemies appear. So eventually, no matter how rough it gets you’ll eventually overcome the odds.
It can be frustrating to get to that point, but it’s also super beneficial. You also get to notice the difference when doing a New Game+ run or returning to “earlier” areas.
Don’t Overthink This Stuff
Overall, SaGa games aren’t supposed to be really about min/maxing all the variables, blasting through the games and not messing up. These games are as obtuse as they are because they want you to experience the thrill of learning.
From how each system works for character building to how to deal with specific situations or enemies, SaGa is about figuring things out for yourself. If you can just arm yourself with the basics and play a little cautiously compared to a Final Fantasy or other standard JRPG, you’ll be fine.
There’s plenty of room to goof off, head in the wrong direction, or enter an area underprepared. You can come back from stepping on proverbial rakes. That’s the intended tradeoff for an experience or series that easily stands out as different from its peers.
Related: Interview: Talkin' SaGa Shop with Square Enix SaGa leaders Akitoshi Kawazu, Hiroyuki Miura and Masanori Ichikawa