Playthrough: A Spring SaGa

North America Box Art

Hello and welcome to The Day Tonight’s playthrough of SaGa Frontier and SaGa Frontier Remastered, a JRPG originally released for the Sony Playstation in Japan on 11 July 1997, and then released in North America at the end of March 1998. The new remastered version, which expands the game content in addition to updating the visual and audio presentation, digitally released 15 April 2021 (for Switch, PS4, Windows, iOS, and Android), is both the first multiplatform and the first world-wide release of the game. A physical version, with English support, is forthcoming in Asia.

SaGa Frontier is the seventh game in the SaGa series, a franchise of games well known for their esoteric design choices. Released in North America before the localisation of any of the earlier Super Nintendo Romancing SaGa titles, it caused considerable consternation amongst American gamers whose earlier experience with the series had been limited to the three Game Boy SaGa games, all of which were more traditional in design. In fact, SaGa Frontier builds upon the development choices made in the Romancing games, and is best understood as an evolution of those games rather than as an entirely new direction for the series. Viewed in this light, SaGa Frontier adapts and evolves the gameplay of Romancing SaGa 3, and moves it from the pixel-art style of Super Nintendo JRPGs to the pre-rendered backgrounds and sprites of the PlayStation era.

One major change in SaGa Frontier as compared to the earlier games in the series is the scaling of enemies to party level. Consequently, early overlevelling can be a serious error which greatly increases later game difficulty, rendering the game almost impossible to complete. More akin to the Romancing SaGa games is the character recruitment system which limits the characters that one can encounter in any single playthrough based on the choices made by the player in the course of the various scenarios.

SaGa Frontier…
…and SaGa Frontier Remastered.

The scenario system is SaGa Frontier‘s most well-known attribute: the title screen gives way to a character selection which places the player in the role of the chosen character. Each character has their own self-contained storyline which will overlap and share party members with the other character stories. The scenarios vary extensively, with some being comparatively linear (T260) whilst others are extremely open-ended by the standards of the day (Blue). Some stories are longer than others, although the original events have been somewhat modified with additions for the remaster. In addition, the remaster also adds an entirely new scenario–that of the character Fuse, an agent of the Interpol-like agency, IRPO, which features prominently in the other scenarios.

Battles are turn-based, with each character acting once per turn. Weapons have a set number of uses, as in other SaGa games. Skills are performed with SP, and new weapon skills are learned by performing attacks with the desired weapon. There are even special chain attacks that can occur when multiple character utilise synergistic skills together. The system behind this is quite complicated, but there are several guides (and an official strategy guide) which address the system in more or less detail. When a character reaches 0hp, further damage taken decreases LP. Dead characters can be revived at a cost of 1LP, but if LP reaches 0 then the character is permanently deceased, with the exception of one particular character, a vampire, who comes with other limitations.

The pixel art from the original is not the only thing modified in the remake…
…in addition, the soundtrack has been re-recorded and updated.

The battle system is not the only thing that has been left unchanged in the remastered version: the soundtrack has been faithfully presented and has not been modified in any way, unlike the updated ‘FF6-mobile-style’ visuals (the character sprites have been ‘smoothed’, as the images above show). The original soundtrack received a great deal of praise for its variety and excellence, and many of its tracks are fan favourites sufficient, in Japan at least, to support a series of concerts and CD albums.

Use the comment thread below to discuss your approach to the game, challenges you have faced, secrets and new content you have uncovered, and any aids you are using in your playthrough. Do you feel that SaGa Frontier is still engaging? Or do you believe that it is best left in the past? Do you find the nonlinear scenario system too daunting in making your way through the game, or do you enjoy the open-ended design? What sorts of changes would you make to the game? What features would you add, remove, or change? Do you enjoy the smoothed art style and original soundtrack, or would you have preferred something else? Tell us all about it and join in our discussion below! We will select some of the best comments, each week, for our podcast discussion.

The battle system and core gameplay elements remain unchanged.

The aim in this playthrough is to complete the entirety of the game in under two months, ending by 28 May. Instead of milestones, we encourage you to play at your own pace–but please keep us updated about your thoughts and progress as you play the game. This will help to sustain our discussion, and will let us know when it is time to close our site playthrough. Please also make use of our official Disord channel, where we have an #events channel dedicated to playthrough chat.

Please join in with us and comment about your experience! The playthrough time frame is intended to allow anyone and everyone to participate, regardless of speed of play or familiarity with the series. Comment and tell your friends!

Without further adieu, we invite you to join The Day Tonight’s staff members and readers in A Spring SaGa, our SaGa Frontier playthrough!

24 comments

  1. I bought SaGa Frontier back in ’98 and could never get too far, but could tell there was a lot more to it which I just couldn’t understand at the time. I got Remastered today and started with Emilia; let’s see where that goes.

  2. Started yesterday. So exciting when the game opnened on my Switch. I love it!! Just so easy to slide right back in the groove of it and I had already an hard time putting it down. Began with Emilia as on my last playthrough.

    Have gotten myself in a bit of a pickle right now in Tanzer xD

    Love this game so much! Realised when I picked it up again it’s probably among my too four five games of all time. It’s just an incredibly addicting game.

    I also really like how they have done this remaster. I love the visuals!

  3. My first SaGa game ever was Frontier 2 which I completed. I bought Frontier 1 when I first got a job and bought a lot of games. I played maybe 90 minutes and then decided I would come back to it someday and never did.

    I am playing as Asellus first and it’s interesting. The beginning was annoying because you need different formations of the party at different places to trigger plot progression flags. The scenario chart wasn’t useful for that section.

    The section I am in has boss fights just pop at at determined random screens which is annoying when you first encounter them. This would be worse if not for the auto-save system making sure the last however many minutes of progress isn’t lost because of the random boss battles. The next boss on the docket to beat is Lion Princess.

    I have read that the new game+ feature lets you keep character progression which I am definitely using. I don’t find the idea of leveling the party from scratch 8 times that appealing.

  4. There are a lot of guides online for this game, and they are all from when the game came out. They are also not very good.

    I mentioned in the Discord #events channel that I didn’t know what character to select for my first scenario. Previously, I usually chose Blue, which is the most non-linear scenario of all. I remember that guides used to suggest T260, because that scenario is the most straightforward–but it’s also the one I like least, other than maybe Riki.

    Asellus is one of my favourite scenarios, but… because I am trying to recreate the experience I had when I first played the game, I chose Blue.

    Straight away, there were a bunch of things that I had forgotten, and which guides did not sufficiently explain, so I was very confused. for example, all the guides say that to recruit Gen, you need to be on the Arcane quest and then talk to him in the Scrap Pub. I kept trying that, and he wouldn’t join the party. It wasn’t until I started searching online that I found a website which reminded me that I needed to talk to the skeleton guy in Koorong first.

    Currently, I have the Light quest done and I have the first card in the Arcane quest done–I am saved in Wakatu, starting on the Saber Card.

    I really appreciate how sharp the backgrounds look. But, I’m not entirely convinced by the comic-like character sprites. There is something slightly incongruous about them, and it’s hard to put my finger on why.

  5. How to get Dream Super Combo:

    Use Martial Arts.

    – Punch until you get Kick
    – Kick until you get Slide
    – Punch until you get Tumble
    Tumble until you get Suplex
    – Suplex until you get Giant Swing and Collapse.
    – Make sure you have an open slot in your art list and DSC will show up if you have
    Slide
    Suplex
    Giant Swing
    Collapse
    also in the list.
    In the old version the names are Tumble/AirThrow Slide/Sliding Collapse/Babel Crumble.

  6. Finished Emilia’s scenario 😊 It was wonderful. I think they did an amazing job with this remaster!

  7. I finished Asellus’s scenario with the half-mystic ending. The mermaid characters skill that heals everyone else in the party helped a lot in the final battle when the three mistresses all come out together. I’m playing the robot next and named it LC11(G).

    Thanks for that little guide on getting the DSC. I have been trying to get all the abilities but the name changes have made it harder to know exactly what skills to use. Most the guides you find out there are going to use the old names.

  8. I beat T260G. The beginning and ending sections were my favorite parts. I like that they went back to the starting area after accomplishing the mission. The final boss was interesting and fun although the game requiring you to fight a whole bunch of random battles before you can access it was annoying.

    I needed to use Riki with a party healing skill that works like the mermaids to beat the final boss. It was a bit of a struggle to get him to a survivable condition because of the monsters essentially random leveling progression.

    I am playing as Red now. I am right at the start of the 4 emperor section. I had to do the section where you walk outside the plane and try to not get blown away a few times more than a would have wanted.

  9. I have been really struggling this playthrough, and finding it REALLY hard–far moreso than ever before. I have played a lot of SF over the years and never recall struggling with the difficulty.

    Today, I figured out why it seemed so hard. I had forgotten some game mechanics:

    1. I forgot that LP could be recovered at an inn. I thought it was lost permanently, so I was resetting every time I lost an LP.
    2. … so I also thought that characters who ran out of LP were permanently dead.
    3. …and I thought there was no way to revive dead characters in combat.

    Consequently, I was really struggling with boss fights where I was taking LP damage, or having a single character KO’d once–leading me to instantly reset.

    Once I realised that I WAS PLAYING ON SELF-IMPOSED HARDCORE MODE, the game became a WHOLE lot easier. I should finish Blue’s scenario tonight.

  10. That really is a self-imposed hardcore mode. I had forgotten about the mechanic where you can only have a limited amount of skills/arts equipped at a time and if you hit the max you can’t glimmer anymore. That is until I found and read the slightly hidden help section under the config menu about halfway into the Asellus play-through.

  11. NG+ is extremely well designed. When you load it up, you can choose what to carry over from a previous file: everything has a toggle. And not just items and money, but skills, spells, wp, jp, enemy rank, and more. Fully customisable!

    Also: Blue’s ending still sucks.

  12. Oh boy, I love the original game, always full of good moments and the grinding (which doesnt bother me), grinding to get skils and stats up that is. Saga frontier remastered is easier than saga frontier, the big difference is the auto save and the 100% chance when running from battle unless its a boss. I remembered how to play it so it was an easy walk for 3 hours…… then windows 10 died on me……installed windows 10 again and I am 6 ours in, getting skills, leveling up stats, fun with red….ARUKAISER!

    Been using guns, swords and fighting techniques, its so easy to raise stats with the mechs…when yo have the money XD

  13. I beat the Red and Lute stories. I like how very different all these story-lines are.

    Red’s story was alright. The section where you have to go through ten non-consecutive rooms or get a game over was real annoying. I ended up just looking up a guide for the section. The final boss reminded me of Necron from FF9 in that it is a random alien looking thing that pops up out of nowhere.

    Lute’s story was a thing. New game+ let me beat in in around an hour. It did have a fun ending, the idea of Lute suddenly becoming a super powerful person in this world is a little funny.

  14. On third scenario now, done Emilia and T260G and currently doing Lute. Got my team together and doing moneytrick today and getting the equipments I want before continuing the grind. Absolutely loving it!

  15. Just a quick update to say sorry. Things here are very difficult. My father is very sick in hospital, and not getting better. I don’t know that I’ll have the time to play any more SF (or any games) for a while.

    Please keep going, though! I hope that, one day, I’ll be able to read this thread and experience a bit of the playthrough.

  16. My friend has been in and out of the hospital, also. That’s the reason I haven’t been active during the BD2 and SF playthough. I’m paying attention to the discussion though

  17. @ Akademician I am sorry to hear about the hard time you are going through, take care.

    I beat Emilia, Riki, and Blue this week.

    Emilia was interesting with the mission based game-play and the different outfits you can use that supposedly have effects on learning arts. I really wouldn’t have guessed you need to use the shooting range to trigger the next mission if I hadn’t read about it in a guide. I like how she had a scene showing a different side of Lute’s final boss.

    I really enjoyed Riki’s route going around collecting rings all over the place and all the fun scenes within expanding the world. I hated the magma slime fight while trying to beat it. Retroactively I can appreciate the thought in party and art composition required to beat it. The fight requires to beat 30 slimes that have insane speed and only do an attack that takes one LP away from the victim. I ended up using two mechs in the front row to absorb LP damage and two characters with powerful group attack skills in the back to kill all 5 slimes that spawn every turn. The last party member was just there to cast hide on Riki.

    Blue has a really cool idea with collecting one of each magic side and then having a duel with Rouge. I really enjoyed that. The ending was funny to me in how abrupt and stupid it was. I got the developer room after this because I beat the seven original routes I guess? There was a lot of goofy things in that section although It was kind of cool that you could challenge any of the seven final bosses again. It reminded me of the Chrono Trigger developer room but much longer.

    I only have Fuse left and I am excited because It seems like it is going to be a lot of fun to see how Fuse getting jammed in the stories will alter their course.

  18. Wow well done LC11!!

    It’s been a couple of crazy weeks here, but I finished Lute today. It was abrupt lol. Didn’t even realise I had engaged end boss I just didn’t remember.

  19. Finished Lute today. The entire scenario took me about an hour. I always forget how ridiculously short his path is: one mission. One!

  20. Thanks Winter!

    I beat all of the Fuse case files. Most of them are all pretty short. It’s a cut-scene then a free roam to prepare for the final boss of the character you are focusing on. Only Amelia’s case file had a dungeon you need to traverse. It was kind of annoying to go through them one after another because you need to recruit, equip, and set arts for all your characters every time you do another file.

    I liked the extra story content added through these case files. They clarified and added to the endings to make them make more sense and seem more complete. They even gave Blue/Rouge an actual ending this time and gave some pretty interesting clarification on why Mondo did what he did.

    The additions made by the remaster made this a pretty enjoyable experience. They preserved some of the abstract things that give the game a unique charm while fixing others like not knowing where exits are and adding a new game+ mode so you don’t need to grind to complete every story.

  21. I’m still with Emilia, just got through the Baccarat mission. I’m at least enjoying and understanding the game better now than ever before.

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