Posted on April 19, 2018
Romancing SaGa 2/ロマンシング サ・ガ2
Romancing SaGa 2 is the second game in the SFC trilogy. The game makes many improvements upon the style of the original Romancing SaGa, such as much more fluid combat, a deeper positioning/formation system, and an actual manageable skill/tech system. The game is more story-driven than the first, but Romancing SaGa 2 still has that non-linear gameplay that the trilogy is known for. Fans of the original Romancing SaGa should be very pleased with the second installment!
Score – 32/40
Story – 8/10
Gameplay – 8/10
Graphics – 8/10
Music – 8/10
Style: Japanese Role-playing Game (Turn-based)
Platform: Super Famicom
Release Date: JP: January 28th, 1992
Length: 20～40 Hours
Table of Contents
Romancing SaGa 2 SFC/SNES Review
Romancing SaGa 2 builds upon the foundation set by the first game, adding a deeper battle system, a more fleshed-out story (although it’s still a very sparse story if you compare it to most other SFC/SNES RPGs), and introducing an interesting Inheritance/Generation system. The Generation system allows the current Emperor/Empress character to transfer their power and abilities to their heirs.
This system is built to let characters progress and become stronger as the story progresses. Since death is a very common occurrence in Romancing SaGa 2, and even forced throughout the game, this system helps to not only alleviate the stress of dying all of the time, but it also helps to connect points of the story. With all of this in mind, let’s take a look at what we can expect when we try to tackle Romancing SaGa 2!
The story in Romancing SaGa 2 is a tale of 7 heroes that rid the world of evil many ages ago. There are rumors that the 7 heroes have returned, but monsters have also started to appear around the same time. レオン (Reon), the King of Avalon, goes to the nearby town of ソーモン (Soomon, Solmon) to rid the area of monsters.
While clearing out the town, they find one of the supposed “Heroes”, who reveals that the 7 heroes are actually 7 lords of evil, who have brought monsters with their return to the world. Reon dies during the battle with the hero, after which his powers and abilities are transferred to his son ジェラール (Jeraaru, Gerarl), who becomes the next Emperor.
Gerarl goes back to Solmon to defeat the hero who killed his father. After his victory, Gerarl continues his journey to defeat the remaining 6 heroes, with each following generation continuing the journey of their ancestors until all of the heroes have been defeated, which ends up spanning over hundreds of years. This might actually be the longest personal “beef” in gaming history!
レオン (Reon) – The King of Avalon at the beginning of the game. Reon dies while attempting to fight one of the 7 heroes near the beginning of the game.
ジェラール (Jeraaru, Gerarl) – The son of Reon, who becomes the new King of Avalon after his father dies in battle against one of the 7 heroes.
Graphics have improved decently since Romancing SaGa. Environments are much more colorful, combat animations are leagues ahead of the first game, environment and battle sprites are much more detailed, and animations in battle are super smooth compared to the choppy, almost slideshow-y animations in the first Romancing SaGa.
Character sprites have many color variations to them. For example, male mages will have the same sprite designs, but they’ll have different color variations with each different generation. There are also many different sprite types, considering there are a vast amount of classes that you can recruit throughout the game.
Monsters roaming around the map all have sprites based on what type of monsters will appear in battle. Running into a skeleton will trigger a battle against undead/ghost/spirit/demon type monsters, where as running into an insect will ensure the battle is against lizardmen/insects/frogs. This allows you to pick and choose what types of monsters you want to grind and which type of monsters you want to avoid.
Sprites in battle are nice and detailed. Most monsters are of decent size, with bosses being huge and taking up almost half of the left side of the screen. Regular monsters grow stronger depending on battle count. Not only do they become stronger, their sprites also change to illustrate this.
Small snakes will become bigger and more dangerous looking as their levels increase, eventually becoming a god damn HYDRA that pretty much destroys half of your team in one turn. What starts out as a tiny retarded-looking fish eventually becomes a freakin’ Swordfish/whale/shark hybrid (which can be stunned and gives the best % to spark skills, so farm these guys all day at end-game to become OP)! Most games will either just recolor monsters as they get stronger, or just introduce new monsters at higher levels, but Romancing SaGa 2 gives an impression of monsters actually growing and evolving as the player progresses along with them.
Battle animations are much better this time around, and most importantly, FLUID! Magic spells are flashy, with some of the later spells doing a long drawn-out animation. Character motion is also incorporated much more than before. In Romancing SaGa, most characters just walk forward a bit, swing their sword, and some type of attack would be done to the enemy.
This time around, your character will most likely teleport to the enemy and spin around, hit the enemy from various angles, or lunge straight into the enemy and fly up into the air.
Melee felt really boring to me personally in Romancing SaGa, but watching all of the various animations is really fun in Romancing SaGa 2. There are a vast amount of skills this time around, so you’ll have quite a variety to choose from!
The overworld again doesn’t have any actual graphics just like Romancing SaGa. The overworld map is laid out like a scroll, with locations marked on it. The scroll has more detail than the one in the previous game, but it’s still overall just a pretty simple world map.
The gameplay in Romancing SaGa 2 is similar to the first game, for the most part. You go to various towns and talk to various NPCs, which will begin quests for that current generation. Upon receiving a quest, you’re usually asked to go to a dungeon and defeat a boss or retrieve an item. Movement around the world takes place on an overworld map, when you guide your cursor (a quill) to the area that you want to go to. Upon entering a dungeon or similar type of map, you’ll once again see monsters walking around the map just like you will in the first Romancing SaGa.
One good thing to know is that monster density is way lower than it was in Romancing SaGa. Romancing SaGa seemed to have 10+ monsters in all areas (you can see screenshots of that in my review here…) and they always immediately ran towards your character. This time around, not only is the monster density a lot more realistic(?), the monsters seem to “wander” around a bit more as opposed to just immediately coming after you.
Romancing SaGa 2 also introduces the ability to sprint, but sprinting creates a sort of Fog of War which prevents you from seeing monsters except for those within 1 tile around your character. While the Fog of War can be pretty detrimental (colliding with a monster while running gives enemies a Preemptive Strike in battle), if you use it for a few seconds and then stop for a second to check your surroundings, it makes out-maneuvering monsters fairly simple.
Once you’re actually in a battle, the gameplay is almost identical to the first installment. Battles are turn-based and consist of selecting weapon-skills or magic to fight enemies. One big change is the replacement of “rows” and “positioning” in favor of “formations”. In the original Romancing SaGa, attacks had a “range” that determined if an attack could hit an enemy. Some attacks had a range of 1, allowing them to only hit the row infront of them, which others had a range that allowed them to hit any enemy from any row. While this could be considered a form of strategy, I think most Romancing SaGa players just used AoE attacks whenever they could.
Romancing SaGa 2 relieves you from the headache of managing rows and instead allows you to use certain pre-made formations. Enemies still have a row-type of mechanic, meaning that enemies in the back can’t be hit by melee attacks until the enemies infront of them are killed (most RPGs do this), but the player’s party doesn’t receive this benefit. What formations do for the party is usually giving the party some type of advantage, things like a speed advantage, stat boosts, or targeting priority.
One example is a formation you’ll get at the beginning of the game called “Imperial Cross” (which is basically a “+” formation). Enemies will prioritize attacking the character in the very front, while the character in the front receives a bonus to block chance. Enemies will also have a lower chance of attacking character in the back.
An example of a non-stat boosting formation is one that probably every player will use once they get it, and keep using it until they beat the game, is the “Rapid Stream” formation. This formation allows the party to strike first every turn, regardless of character or enemy speed stats. This formation alone is enough to kill most random encounters within the first turn, allowing you to grind without ever taking any damage. This formation combined with a certain water spell will make it so you can kill any boss in the game without them ever even taking a turn!
Just like in Romancing SaGa, your party gains skill points after battles based on what weapons/magic schools they used during the battle. After acquiring enough skill points, your weapon or spell levels will increase. For weapons, this means you’ll do more damage. Spells have a few more benefits, such as increased damage, some spells becoming AoE, and the ability to both learn new spells and fuse spells to create combo spells.
Weapon skills in Romancing SaGa were learned by leveling up weapons, but in Romancing SaGa 2 learning weapon skills is pretty much based on RNG. You can learn the best abilities in the game right at the beginning if you’re lucky, or you can make it all the way to the end of the game with useless garbage skills (in theory, anyway…). As enemies get stronger, your chance to “spark” good abilities increases, but in the end what skills you get and when you get them are mostly random.
Another thing that’s new in Romancing SaGa 2 is the introduction of character classes. These classes determine which skills you can learn with which weapon.For example, in Romancing SaGa 1 if you equipped a “mage” type character with the Left Hand Sword, you’ll eventually learn all of the Left Hand Sword abilities. In Romancing SaGa 2, if you equip a “mage” type character with a Splasher, that character will never be able to learn the best Short Sword skills, regardless of how long you grind. This forces you to think about your party composition at the start of each generation.
One more important change in Romancing SaGa 2 is the LP system. LP stands for Life Points (probably). Each character has a set of LP that decreases each time they fall in battle. If a character’s LP becomes 0, they are killed permanently and you will have to recruit a new character to take their place. This is where the Generation system comes in. If your current Emperor has 9 LP and he dies 9 times, that Emperor is killed permanently and that generation comes to an end.
You must choose a new Emperor and form a new party, transferring skills and equipment from your previous party to your new party and continue your adventure. LP is very scarce for some characters such as mages, but all characters’ HP is restored to full at the end of battles. So as long as you can finish battles without a character dying, you’ll be able to grind for as long as you like!
Speaking of battling, Romancing SaGa 2 uses a flagging system based on battle count just like the first game. While the first game used this counter to both scale monsters and lock/unlock quests, Romancing SaGa 2 only uses the battle count to scale monsters. Even if you don’t progress the story at all, if you stay on the same map for 15 hours grinding, you’ll eventually face all of the end-game monsters. For some people this is good, as you can use the higher level monsters to try to spark some of the best abilities, but for people who aren’t familiar with the flagging system, it can really catch you by surprise and make progressing through the game quite difficult.
The last interesting gameplay feature is the ability to develop your kingdom. After doing certain quests or obtaining certain stat amounts, you’ll be able to pay for the construction of new buildings within your kingdom. These buildings offer different benefits, such as the ability to research new spells, weapon, and armor, as well as unlocking new class types to recruit for your party. The game will be almost unbeatable without researching new spells, so while this is an optional part of the game, I personally think players should really construct new buildings as soon as possible!
The mindset of the creators changed for the better this time, as the same track isn’t repeated for 80% of the game! The variation in music is MUCH better in Romancing SaGa 2. Music fits the environments, and even within similar environments there are different songs that are played. Within probably the first two hours of the game, you’ll hear more musical variation than you will in all of Romancing SaGa.
While comparing the two games’ OST, they’re both around 1:10:00, but the difference is that more than half of the first Romancing SaGa’s OST is just character themes, which you’ll only ever hear one of those for the whole game. Romancing SaGa 2’s OST is filled with music specific to areas, rather than your main character. I feel that the music brings more life to the world in Romancing SaGa 2, rather than making it feel like your character is the only important thing in the game like the first one did. Now then, onto some tracks!
First let’s start off with a song that I thought was going to be godly, but kinda pulls a bait and switch on you after the first 20 or so seconds. It’s one of the dungeon themes you’ll hear throughout the game! Even though you get blind-sided by the bait and switch, I could still listen to this all day!
Next is the boss battle theme when you’re up against one of the 7 heroes. This is a song you’ll be hearing more than you’d like to, because chances are you’ll be dying to these guys probably 10 times each…
Finally, if you are actually able to make it to the end of the game, this great tune awaits you during the final battle! This song just FEELS like the culmination of all of your efforts, ready for the final showdown!
East vs. West
The only reason i’m including this section is because there actually was an official Western release of this game for mobile/PS4/Steam, but that is more of a remaster than a straight overseas release. The modern version includes updated sprite-work, a New Game+, and a new dungeon that seems to give super overpowered gear very early on in the game. Other than that, most of the game/story seem to be consistent with the original SFC version.
Should you play it?
I think Romancing SaGa 2 on its own is worth playing. If you actually like the first Romancing SaGa, Romancing SaGa 2 improves on it in every single way. The graphics are enhanced, the battles are much smoother and more fun to play, the world is bigger, and much more. I didn’t think it was possible, but I feel the first half of the game is much more difficult than the first game.
For me, Romancing SaGa only became “difficult” at the very last boss, which was probably just an excuse to force players to grind out a few more hours in the game. Romancing SaGa 2 was a living hell to play until the end of the game, at which you can basically destroy everything without getting hit. Difficulty aside, the game is quite fun, and depending on how long you wait to start learning and fusing new magic, the game should provide you with anywhere from 20 hours to 35-40 hours of entertainment!
Which version should you play?
I have a strict No-ROMs policy myself, so i’d of course have to recommend the original SFC version. I think this game would be VERY difficult to try to just trial-and-error your way through without knowing any Japanese, so if language is an issue and you absolutely have no other alternative, then getting the remastered version would probably be your only other option. For the original feel, play the remaster without rushing the OP gear in the new dungeon, and don’t give up and New Game+ as soon as the game gets hard. Stick it out, and you’ll feel a huge sense of accomplishment once you finally start killing the heroes and beat the game. If it’s gets too hard, there’s always Rapid Stream + Hasten Time ;)!
Final Score – 32/40
Story – 8/10
Gameplay – 8/10
Graphics – 8/10
Music – 8/10