I just couldn't sink my teeth into the game, mostly because of the seven-character-based non-linear play, which left me a bit disinterested. I guess I like my games more straighforward. [June 2003, p.57]
This game's reputation sometimes makes me sad, especially since it is so incredibly obvious that the vast majority of people haven't even bothered to give it a fair try or were simply unable to admit that this particular niche does not appeal to them without blaming the game.
Every aspect of the game, from the combat mechanics to the movement to the technical execution of the graphics, is lacking in some regard, and when you add these elements together, you get a game that's simply unpleasant to play.
It also suffers some stultifying strikes: excruciating difficulty, obtuse mechanics, a stifling lack of freedom, and a brutal mission structure that punishes you as often as it rewards you. [July 2003, p.94]
The negative reviews are truly terribly written and deliberately disingenuous to this game. So what if it plays like a board game? Are games not allowed to be different from each other? What are you even insinuating? Go give this game a shot. Not everyone likes it, but a 3.9/10 is far too low for what it is.
The "mystique" of a SaGa game is simultaneously its strongest and weakest point. I love all the surprises and curve-balls a SaGa game throws at you, both in terms of story and gameplay, especially if you go in blind and figure out those things yourself. Then you play the game for a couple more playthroughs, think you've figured it out, only to visit the forums and realize that you overlooked a huge chunk of the game! Time for another run! To me, it's all in good fun, but most people don't have the time or patience to go through that.
I remember the first time my entire party in SaGa Frontier was wiped except for Red, only to realize that he can transform into a superhero when everyone is down. Or, in Unlimited Saga where the battle system is all about switching formations every single turn. To even heal at all in that game, you have to put the injured on standby, so you're constantly rotating characters in and out from your entire roster. Or, recently in Romancing SaGa 3, where there is a whole, separate battle system (Commander Mode) that actually makes your party far stronger than the normal one in many situations. A battle system that barely, if any, reviewers ever mention.
I remember how Unlimited Saga was so incredibly opaque, even for a SaGa game, that there was a huge rift in review scores between the Japanese and the US version, just because the US version got a manual that explained nothing in the game. Imagine playing an RPG without knowing how to heal at all - how much fun would you have? I wonder how many USaga players today even know how to activate multi-art combos in USaga. You have to hit a skill on the FIRST rotation of the combo slot ring so that multiple characters can activate their abilities in a combo. People think that the minimalist board game design was its downfall, but such games have been and are still successful today. It's the extreme lack of handholding for a game that is incredibly deep mechanically and very experimental.
Unlimited Saga is the most underrated game of the franchise. Don't let the reviews fool you - barely any of them probably even played the game correctly. Unlike other SaGa titles, it is hard to play this one blind (I'd argue that veterans of the series might be able to). If you're interested in revisiting this old, lost gem, here's a rundown of things to expect:
1.) Dungeons & Dragons-like board game design.
2) Complex Exploration - For example, it can take up to optional 5 steps (Fortuneteller, Sharpeye, Defuse, Locksmith, Melee) to open a trapped treasure chest safely without it blowing up in your face.
3.) Experimental Battle System completely unlike anything you can find ever:
4.) HP is not HP, it's an MP-like resource that also absorbs damage. The more HP you have, the less chance you have of taking LP damage. The same is true of bosses, so you would do a lot of HP damage first, then switch to LP-damaging attacks. Unlike other SaGas, you don't collapse at zero HP.
5.) Standby Healing - You constantly rotate out characters in your party each turn from your entire roster. Those on standby (not fighting that turn) heal HP. Fights are epic, since the whole party is involved by design. Believe it or not, but the amount you heal is also affected by the weather of the environment (snowy means you heal less).
6.) Tactical Position - Each turn, you choose who to attack first in what order. This determines aggro from enemies. Correctly rotating defenders is vital to beat bosses.
7.) Skill Reel - Instead of skill points, you activate stronger skills by pressing attack at the right time on a spinning reel. To activate all skills in a combo attack, you need to press on the first pass of the skill, otherwise other characters' skills won't be aligned.
8.) Weapon Weight & Attack Types - The Weight of your weapon determines what Attack Types it has, and each type has a different role, whether to attack first to split enemy combos (Quick/Throw), damage HP (Power), damage LP (Multi/Aim), or damage both (Dash). Crafting in this game is very detailed, since you can make weapons lighter or heavier to flesh out your strategy. Lighter weapons in your secondary hand are important for blocking attacks. And of course, none of this is explained.
Sorry for the long rambling, but USaga's reputation makes me sad sometimes. USaga's brilliant, Formation-based battle system of constantly switching around characters is something too few players appreciate, even among SaGa fans to this day. And sadly, almost no reviewers understand.
Contrary to the negative reviews here, Unlimited SaGa isn't a bad game. It's a horribly average one brought to us by the same guy who made FINAL FANTASY 2, not 3, not 6, not 7, not 10. 2. Final Fantasy 2 had a system where you didn't gain experience by killing enemies but simply by using skills and attacks. Want more HP? Take hits. Want more attack? Attack more. There's a really deep system involved with skills in U SaGa that is just poorly explained and leads to people scratching their heads minutes into the game. Combined with a lackluster story and a high difficulty curve and people will be turned off immediately.
My first several HOURS of the game were spent in two or three towns, progress inching forward as I would need to spend more time battling to increase stats instead of trying to further the story. When I would finally make headway with the story a boss would inevitably pop up and slam me back into grinding mobs for stats until I was strong enough to fight the boss. This sounds like a very typical RPG set up, but realize that if I don't get hit my defense doesn't go up. So a fight could be me standing there guarding to take hits for several minutes, and then not getting a stat up because RNG decided not to give it to me. This can be mitigated and abused at times, but it also means that the average gamer becomes frustrated and gives up.
In the end, the game doesn't innovate anything, it borrows from old ideas the designer of Final Fantasy 2 had, slaps them on a new art style, and is honestly a very mediocre game in the SaGa series. Yes, series. This isn't the only SaGa game, it wasn't even the first, and it wasn't the last. And quite a few of those are better than this one. It seems like the man behind FF2 is doomed to always fall when Square pushes his titles West.
Without a shadow of doubt the worst RPG I have ever had the unfortunate experience of "playing".
This takes linear RPG's to a completely new level, gameplay and movement are so restrictive it would make chess seem more appealing. Any positive reviews would only be from Square employees.
Avoid at all costs even if it was being given away for free, please don't waste even a single hour of your life on this.
SummaryThe story is uniquely told through the eyes of seven different protagonists, each with their own motivations for seeking the seven grand menaces. The powers of the Seven Wonders of Lore have been released and a deity has emerged, heralding the advent of a new Golden Age. A group of adventurers led only by their belief in the legend journ...