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The 7th Saga – Super Nintendo

The 7th Saga – Super Nintendo

Platform: Super Nintendo

Developer: Produce

Publisher: Enix

Release Date (NA): August 3, 1993

Genre: Role Playing Game

Nerd Rating: 7 out of 10

Reviewed by Old Ben

Hello kiddies.  It’s Old Ben, here to recollect about the good ol’ days of gaming before you had CDs, internet, or good scriptwriting.  When I was a kid, a video game was something you played on the Atari… where I controlled a big white chopper that shot one big white bullet at three little black planes that shot a spread of three bullets at me, which… always seemed to be a heck of a lot more effective than my one shell.  And my older brother always played the three planes.  And he had better hand-eye coordination than me, being older and all.  And that’s the way it was and we liked it!

Nah, not really.  Though I think it would be hysterical if Atari’s Combat was revamped and released on the PlayStation 4.  But it’s not my first choice for an upgrade.  For years, if anyone asked me what old video game is screaming to be revised, rebooted, and released, I wouldn’t hesitate to say: The 7th Saga.

I still can’t think of a better candidate for a remake.

The 7th Saga was one of those games on the Super Nintendo I rented from Blockbust… and which I never finished.  Years later, when I found I could buy an old Super Nintendo AND The 7th Saga for the price of one video game, I figured: “What the heck?” and I set off to overcome that game from my adolescence I never quite forgot about.

And it’s wacky.

Here’s the story:  King Lemele has trained seven apprentices to go after the seven runes.  Whoever gets the runes has ultimate power, rules the world, smites evil, and gets a homing beacon for his remote control.  (Did I leave anything out?)  You pick one of the apprentices to play, and off you go.

Picking a character just… isn’t quite as exciting when the screen looks like this.

The game itself is a pretty hardcore RPG.  You’ll need to do some level grinding before moving to a new area, or the baddies will eat you for lunch.  You will use power ups.  This isn’t Final Fantasy where you’ll cart around truckloads of useless junk.  And weapons are expensive!  If you play an apprentice who actually uses weapons, that is.

What am I doing in a fantasy game?

That’s all nice, but the unique aspect of The 7th Saga was the apprentices.  You have a choice of seven going in:  Kamil the human knight (supposedly well-rounded, but boring), Olvan the dwarf (stronger and slower than Kamil, slightly less boring), Esuna the elf (good magic), Valsu the priest (healing magic), Wilme the alien (unarmed, great strength, terrible magic), Lux the robot (great defense, but he makes this annoying “clank clank clank” sound with every step he takes), and my favorite, Lejes the demon (Purely attack magic and good offense, poor defense).

Yeah. I wanna rule the world. Got a problem with that?

It’s quite a group.  King Lemele gets an A+ for diversity here.  Though you wonder if it’s such a great idea to dangle absolute power before seven different bad asses, saying, “There can only be one!”

And on his death bed, Alexander the Great said his empire would go “to the strongest,” leading to some nasty civil wars between his generals. Maybe this isn’t the best idea….

But here’s what’s best of all: the apprentices you don’t choose don’t go away.   Throughout the rest of the game… err…. the first half of the rest of the game (there’s a big “reveal” and a second half which is… <yawn> not that interesting) you keep bumping into the other apprentices.  You meet them in towns, they boast about how they’ll kick your butt and beat you to the rest of the runes.  You can even make alliances with them, and control two characters for the journey.  But then your “friend” can stab you in the back, steal the runes from you, and you have to hunt them down and reclaim them.

So the player is Esuna, the magic using elf maid. She’s fighting Wilme, the muscle bound alien. Combats look like this. It’s awfully… dark. Oh, and the blue lines are Esuna’s power up. Yeah.

Apprentices also level up as you do.  They’re always equal to your level.  And thus, they are always the hardest battles in the entire game.  Hands down.  Big boss at the end?  Forget him.  Fighting another apprentice is tougher.  Always.  Well, almost always (Lejes has a faulty AI, but the rest of them are tough). Some apprentices will challenge you to fight, just for exercise.  Others will attack you in the town square to steal your runes.  You might penetrate the dungeon, get to the treasure chamber behind the boss monster and…. no rune.  One of your rivals beat you to it, stole it, and is laughing at you over a tankard of ale in a cozy inn somewhere.  But on the other hand, sometimes a rival will volunteer to travel with you, letting you play two characters.  You get half the experience, but that’s okay, since you’re a little less likely to get killed.  I’m not sure if you’ll ever get backstabbed for the rune from your traveling companion.  But stranger things have happened.

This is Valsu, the holy priest of healing. He’s traveling with Lejes, the demon from hell who wants to rule the world. The game book says this isn’t supposed to be possible, but… here it is. I like seeing people settle their differences for a common cause.

The 7th Saga is over 20 years old now, and if some other game uses this formula, I don’t know what it is.  The closest I can think of is Dragon Age: Origins.  But even that doesn’t really count.  Sure, all “six” of your possible wardens exist.  But the one you picked get recruited by Duncan for the Grey Wardens, whereas the rest end up getting killed without Duncan to bail them out.  But the love/hate rivalry with the other apprentices, friend or foe, is a dynamic I haven’t seen elsewhere. Another unique aspect of Dragon Age… that you can piss off your companions such that they’ll try to kill you… is perhaps another commonality.

In my opinion, The 7th Saga is  screaming for a remake.

One thing The 7th Saga doesn’t have, which is virtually inexcusable, is multiple endings.  Which seems kind of silly, considering Lejes wants to use the runes to rule the world, Olvan wants them to regain his youth, and Valsu wants them to create fluffy happy bunnies and rainbows (Bleh!). I think Street Fighter 2 introduced unique endings for every characters, but The 7th Saga didn’t do that.  Probably because the 2nd half of the game just goes into one of those excuse plots that make no sense and is easily forgotten.  But today, with the kind of storytelling that Bethesda, Bioware, or Rockstar are capable of, there are capabilities for a rivalry system that would be epic.

Who’s up for the challenge?

Written by Nerd Bacon

Nerd Bacon

 
 

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  1. Great write up! 7th Saga is a flawed gem but it does have a lot of interesting bits to innovate on. It won’t happen.. the game didn’t even sell well back in the day. Still it’s fun to remember this game and envision what it would be like.

     

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