Game Title: Romancing SaGa 2
Developer: Square Enix
Platform: Nintendo Switch / PlayStation Vita
Availability: Digital Download
Battery Life: 5 – 8 hours
Download: 1.4 GB (Switch) / 383 MB (Vita)
PSTV Support: No
The Saga series is a franchise that is not often seen in the Western World. A good third of the franchise never left Japan, including the more recent SaGa: Scarlet Grace, made exclusively for the PS Vita handheld.
However, one of the older titles recently got a localization via Mobile platforms and was then ported to several current systems, including two handheld consoles that I heavily support on this website. It took a long time to get the game, but we finally got it.
Coming from the 1990s era of RPGs, here is my review of both the Nintendo Switch and PlayStation Vita versions of Romancing SaGa 2!
Long ago, there were Seven Heroes who saved the world and were prophesized to return one day. You play as the ruler of the kingdom of Avalon in a world where the Seven Heroes do, indeed, return, but resurrected as Demons, bent on World Conquest. You must fight them off as they appear, from generation to generation, to protect the world from their Evil.
The thing that makes this game’s plot unique is its use of Generations. The Seven Heroes appear after long time-frames, each challenges by the different heirs of the Throne of Avalon, giving you several different parties of characters to see continuing to maintain the kingdom, along with the fact that you can choose different heirs for different time periods, having branching story paths that aren’t always the same each time you play through the game.
Romancing SaGa 2 is a turn-based RPG with some light Town Sim elements thrown into the mix. Over the course of the game, you will be exploring dungeons and fighting off enemies, but also managing the funds your kingdom has and what advancements you an make using those funds.
First of all, this is an enhanced port of the original, or a remake to some. When you begin the game, you are given the option of playing the game in its vanilla format from the 90s or with Additional Content, which includes an Auto-Save Feature, and extra post-game content not found in its original release.
When you are going through the game, there is a lot to think about. You have a party of characters during each generation as you develop Avalon and fight off against the Demonic Seven, and you have Avalon, which has a set amount of funds that you can dedicate to researching different aspects of skills, magic, and gear to help you as you fight off monsters and enemies.
This is important because of the Life Point system. Unlike other RPGs, your characters can die, permanently. Whenever they get wiped out in a fight, they lose a point of their LP stat. When that LP stat hits 0, they are permanently dead and cannot be revived by any means. If the Emperor’s stat hits 0, however, you get a Game Over. Even if your other party members are still alive and you have a rare LP-restoring potion, the Main Character dying is the end of the game.
Of course, this is assuming you researched the game and know this happens. If you don’t, you will have a nice character death pop up on you because with all of these detailed gameplay systems comes not a single tutorial or pop-up to let you know your characters can perma-die or that bosses get harder the more you level.
So you think to yourself that all you need to do is grind, but that can actually make the game harder. If you remember Final Fantasy VIII’s little unspoken rule that monsters level up with you, the Main Bosses of Romancing SaGa 2 do this as well. The higher your level, the higher the boss’s level and the harder they will be to take down. So, there is a very high emphasis on equipment and skills over just grinding out levels and trying to max out your stats.
Now, let’s get to combat and difficulty. Combat is pretty straight-forward as a Square RPG. It is turn-based and each character chooses skills or attacks for their turn’s action. That is Final Fantasy 101.
Difficulty, though, is different. SaGa is known to many as the “Hard” version of Final Fantasy, and that is very true in this game. The game’s difficulty spikes a lot, and in a very unbalanced way. You have constant difficulty spikes and the spikes are never similar to one another. It just randomly spikes a little bit or by an enormous margin and has no flow or pattern to it. It makes the game frustrating and causes you to constantly go to your menu and save at almost every twist and turn.
Now, when all is said and done, Romancing SaGa 2 is a very long game. Across the entirety of several generations of party members and taking down all of the Seven, you will be spending around 40 hours or so. Despite being over 20 years old, it takes play time and still stands with handheld RPGs of this day and age.
The controls for this game are nothing too extensive. It is worth noting that the PS Vita version of this game is NOT compatible with the PlayStation TV. So, if you want the game on the go and the TV without having to buy the PS4 version and use Cross-Save, you will have to hop over to Nintendo and grab the Switch version.
As far as controlling the game is concerned, the two control schemes are not all that different. Moving around is done with the D-Pad or Left Analog Stick. The Start or + button is used for pausing the game and the Triangle/X button is used for accessing and closing the main menu.
The main difference is this. On the Switch, A is used for selecting options in menus and interacting with NPCs and B is used for canceling options. On the Vita, these two are swapped,. X is used for selecting and Circle is used for canceling. This is a typical case of the Nintendo control scheme vs PlayStation control scheme.
Visually, the game looks like it did back in the 90s. You have a 2D retro graphics engine to retain the game’s original look as well as to showcase the age of the game for those unaware that it originally released in Japan over 20 years ago.
As far as performance differences are concerned, fps is perfect across both versions of the game. The only difference is Load Times, with the Switch loading battle and areas significantly faster than the PS Vita. To cite a view examples that I timed:
Load to the Title Screen
Switch – 15 seconds
Vita – 25 seconds
Start a Random Encounter Battle
Switch – 1 Second
Vita – 4 Seconds
None of these times are that bad, even that 25 second startup time for the Vita, but it is a difference, nonetheless.
This is a very basic game and, for the Switch owners wanting something to really max out their Battery, this is that game. Here are my record-setting Battery Times, from 100% to 0%
Max Brightness + Wi-Fi – 5 hours, 04 minutes
Max Brightness + No Wi-Fi – 5 hors, 30 minutes
Low Brightness + Wi-Fi – 7 hours, 21 minutes
Low Brightness + No Wi-Fi – 8 hours, 00 minutes
That’s right. Romancing Saga 2 can get your Switch up to 8 hours of Battery Life, a good 2 hours over the total expected Battery Life from Nintendo, themselves.
In conclusion, Romancing SaGa 2 is a solid RPG that was once forgotten in the Western World. Although the difficulty is horrifically unbalanced and there is a plethora of gameplay systems that are never explained or even mentioned to you, it has enough strategy and freedom-of-choice story paths to keep any Handheld RPG fan entertained, be it on the Nintendo Switch or PlayStation Vita.