Unlimited SaGa is one weird game, and thatís an understatement. Previous SaGa games (all nine of them) were traditional RPGs with a couple of twists to them, and this one is no different. In fact, you could easily say this is the most radical of the SaGa games, and plays something like a mix of a board game, RPG and slot machine. Unfortunately, what Unlimited SaGa has in creativity, it lacks in everything that most gamers would want.
The game follows the story of seven people, whom you have a choice to start the game with. The cast includes Laura, an ex-pirate, and Kurt, a former knight whose father has disowned him. The story of Unlimited SaGa revolves around the Seven Wonders of the World, and obviously with seven different viewpoints, the story can get confusing, but ultimately satisfying once you have played through the game.
Graphically the game is quite boring, with minimal effects for just about every action in battle and stiff character animation everywhere. The visuals only become a factor when a monster approaches or if youíre travelling inside a town, and only because you get a nicely drawn still portrait to look at. The sound is also a mixed bag. The voice acting is extremely horrid, especially when you stack the game up against the likes of Final Fantasy X or Disgaea. On the other hand, the soundtrack for the game is quite good, and has a very epic feel to it at times. Not surprisingly, the music is probably the best thing about the game.
Thatís not to say that the gameplay is absolutely terrible, as many people might have just incurred from hearing opinions of the game. The entire world of Unlimited SaGa unfolds like a board game of sorts. You travel from place to place, but your course is always set for you, and there are no secret areas to stumble upon, so youíre basically going from Point A to Point B every single time. Once in town itís no better, as your location is represented on a single screen with various points to enter. The minimalist approach of the game will definitely turn off a lot of players, simply because navigation is just so damn boring, but where the game really shows some innovation is in the battle system.
The Reel System basically acts like a slot machine. Youíre given five commands per round, and for each action you have to command a slot which will give you the next action that your characters will perform in battle. You can also perform other actions to manipulate the slots, such as passing on a command in battle in order to create combos. While fights are very much random in every sense of the word, itís such an entertaining system that you might actually enjoy the game for a bit.
In the end, itís not the complex game system of Unlimited SaGa that has doomed it, but rather the extremely poor instruction manual that tells you absolutely nothing of how the game is played and what advanced strategies you could use in order to better yourself. This is one of those games that requires good documentation, whether in the instruction manual or with an accompanying strategy guide. Itís a shame that neither were made available to players, because the game couldíve been a very solid secondary franchise for Square Enix in the future.
· · · Reno