Title: Collection of SaGa Final Fantasy Legend
Developer: Square Enix
Release Date: December 15, 2020
Reviewed On: Switch
Publisher: Square Enix
I never thought that I would have a chance to talk about The Final Fantasy Legend series in 2020. During my early years as a gamer, it was this known secret that what we were actually playing on our Game Boy was the SaGa series under a different name. Marketing stunt or not, it worked, and I played this game for the Final Fantasy in the title, but SaGa ended up becoming one of my favorite series of all time.
The Collection of SaGa Final Fantasy Legend combines all three entries of Final Fantasy Legends into one package. The game retains many of its retro systems and non-traditional RPG features, but it also gives gamers a chance to play this trilogy that still has plenty of adventure to offer.
Collection of SaGa Final Fantasy Legend has a few added playing options to make it more accessible to modern gamers. For example, you can change the game speed to either Normal or Fast. It works wonders for early level grinding and will make dungeon exploration less tedious. Further, the game takes full advantage of the Switch’s touch features, allowing you to remove the Joy-Con and play exclusively using the touch screen.
Additionally, the options extend further and allow you to twist the screen vertically as if you’re playing on Game Boy. Aside from that, you can adjust the button placement and change the border background. These small inclusions make it feel like Square Enix actually tried with this release instead of a simple port. Funny enough, the series has always allowed players to save anywhere they want, so we’ll say it was ahead of the times in that regard.
As for the games themselves, well, they each have a place in my heart, but they aren’t the easiest to understand. So let’s begin with The Final Fantasy Legend. When beginning, you can choose a character class to start your adventure and your off. But wait, you have no other party members with you, and nothing prompts you exactly what to do. This is when your RPG instincts kick in, and you must speak to the townspeople to understand your next steps.
The game’s plot isn’t revealed until much later, but it revolves around unsealing the door at the beginning of the game and collecting some items. The story is what you make it as you are required to talk with NPCs to truly understand where to go and what to do. You’ll connect the dots along the way, but in the end, your in for a rather epic climax.
Sadly, this game, like the others, lacks detailed instructions on why things happen. Systems such as Mutant classes learning and unlearning spells, how weapons degrade, what feeding a character a piece of meat will do, how stats and level-ups work, and so on. It’s frustrating in the sense that you’ll get to a moment in the game where you realize that you might have an easier time if you just start over.
Final Fantasy Legend II really pushed to make the adventure have a much more rounded narrative. Again, players choose their character class, with a few extras such as Robot and Slime added. In the opening, your father leaves you in search of legendary MAGI. Years later, the protagonist sets out to find their father and the rumored MAGI, which grants the owner power.
This adventure is much more streamlined as your party is chosen in the story’s introduction, and you are teamed up with a powerful temporary character for this first dungeon. This entry is actually probably my favorite for its system advancements without really overdoing it. Many features return, such as talking to NPCs to understand where to go next and exploring dungeons, but everything is presented in an accessible way.
Also, I really like the music in Final Fantasy Legend II. It’s just so epic no matter what you’re doing. The entire adventure has you fighting Gods, collecting MAGI, and pretty much saving the world from complete collapse. I can’t say I liked the comical cliffhanger ending, but everything that happens before is awesome JRPG story writing.
Final Fantasy Legend III is…different. It shows the most advancements in systems and design in the entire series, but I never really cared about the story. You see, it deals with time travel, which doesn’t mesh well with the high fantasy aspects of SaGa. In the opening scene, you’re tasked with finding items for your time-traveling ship named Talon to defeat an evil that transcends time itself.
In this entry, you can jump, which adds a layer to the dungeon exploration, and there are still elements of speaking with NPCs to progress. However, I never really felt attached to the battle system or the characters. You’re joined by temporary party members several times, which gives away the level you should be at to progress, and the new battle layout made all the monsters look like totem poles.
Still, I think this entry resembles what a more modern turn-based RPG was at the time. It delivered information to the player, such as level increases and stats, with an improved menu display for easily equipping your party members. This game’s runtime is also significantly longer than the previous two, making it pretty grand for a Game Boy title.
Each title within Collection of SaGa Final Fantasy Legend is like a trip down memory lane. There are some epic moments of storytelling that are directly impacted by how you build your party. There’s very little hand-holding in these games as they attempt to deliver a genuine adventure to the player through limited hardware.
One of the most lacking exclusions of this release is how it doesn’t include the DS remakes exclusive to Japan. I’ve personally played these Game Boy releases before, and they were fun to return to, but I would have liked to officially play those games that never made it west.
Collection of SaGa Final Fantasy Legend is a great piece of retro RPG history made readily available for modern gamers. The added options add a layer of accessibility lacking in the series, but it still retains its minimalistic design and leaves progression in the player’s hands. Bottom line, this is an amazing collection for RPG fans, and you won’t be disappointed spending an afternoon pretending your switch is a Game Boy and going on an adventure.
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