The original trilogy of portable SaGa games is back in a brand new compilation for Switch and it's one fantastic nostalgia trip.
When I was a kid, I was always with my Game Boy and although I had a dozen or so games, the 2 that I spent the most amount of time with by far were Final Fantasy Legend II and III. I later purchased The Final Fantasy Legend in my teens to revisit the origins of these personal favourites but didn't find that it lived up to its sequels. Nowadays, I appreciate it much more although I still prefer II and III. Anyway, I didn't realise at the time that these games marked the beginning of the SaGa series even after I played the SaGa Frontier games on PS1. Meanwhile, us North Americans completely missed out on the SNES trilogy of Romancing SaGa games but that's a whole other story. My point is; I was obsessed with these games for a reason. They were unlike any other RPG I've played as they featured off-the-wall monsters, clever mechanics, and a sense of freedom that was often hard to find in the genre at the time.
The rewarding mechanics include things such as how different character classes level up either randomly, through consuming monster meat, or after using specific items and even equipment is handled cleverly as you can deck out your party members in a hodgepodge of whatever works best without specific equipment type slots. Plus, weapons break after time so maintaining a strong armory can become challenging at times. All of these elements actually make multiple playthroughs more enjoyable because you'll want to develop completely different parties via choosing new classes and using abilities that you've never used before. In the end, it all boils down to the fact that you create your own fun via experimentation and creativity and that's something that's missing in most RPGs nowadays.
One element of these 3 Final Fantasy Legend games that still knocks my socks off is their music. Even though the tunes were made for Game Boy which was quite limited with its sound capabilities, the soundtracks of these games remain layered, catchy, and set the perfect mood for an epic RPG adventure. I wish that you could listen to the music separately but Collection of SaGa Final Fantasy Legend is unfortunately missing any museum-style content. I wish it had instruction book scans, art galleries, and such but this sort of content is absent. On the plus side, there are some nifty options such as wallpapers, fast speed mode, and virtual touchscreen buttons that allow you to rotate your Switch vertically and play it like you would a Game Boy. Now, that's pretty cool!
Finally, although I have a great deal of nostalgia for these games, especially Final Fantasy Legend III with its sci-fi story and setting that really captured my imagination when I was a kid, I must admit that a lot of aspects simply haven't aged well. For starters, the menus are downright clunky and require a great deal of fumbling around to discover what you should purchase in the shops. This is compounded by the fact that some weapons have the same name. A party member might be equipped with a weapon called "Long" but is it a bow or sword? You'll have to unequip it to find out. Another aspect that hasn't aged well is just how insanely difficult some of the bosses are. Even as a kid, I would get incredibly angry while facing the WarMach and the original's final boss (The Creator) is notoriously enraging but what do you expect when you're literally trying to defeat god? Frustrations aside, these are still wonderful games.
If you have fond memories of playing the Final Fantasy Legend games on your Game Boy back in the day then Collection of SaGa is simply a must-have nostalgia trip. They may not hold up as well as some other RPGs yet these titles remain wonderfully unique and special.
- + Contains 3 classic portable RPGs that are fantastic to play even nowadays
- + Each game has outstanding music
- + Includes a few nifty options
- - Some aspects could use modernizations
- - A few bosses are absurdly frustrating
- - No museum-style content