Let’s Not Play: The 7th Saga

Sometimes, all the hacks in the world won’t make a game fun. Yesterday I tried playing “The 7th Saga”; my second attempt. I tried playing years ago, but I gave up for some reason or another.

For the uninitiated, “The 7th Saga” is an infamous SNES RPG. You take the role of one of seven apprentices to a king who are on a mission to find the four runes. Once one of them collects all the runes, they can become “leader of the world”, whatever that means. I suspect mistranslation shenanigans, but the game is bad enough regardless. So, the seven apprentices (why there are seven apprentices when only one could possibly claim the power, I do not know) set off into the world to reclaim the four runes.

That’s about it for plot. I played through about half the game and the only other plot points were “one of the other apprentices hired an assassin to stop you, twice! (same guy)” and “one of the apprentices has gone mad and is holed up in a castle holding onto one of the runes”… isn’t he supposed to be all about getting the runes for himself anyway? Right… anyway, that’s about it.

The rest of it is running around the world map, leveling up, so you can get to new areas, in which you level up, and sometimes get a crystal. Then you get a terrible ending.

Flaws are compounded by a troublesome interface. This is the kind of game where you need to press a button to activate a menu to get to a screen where you can press talk, to talk to somebody, if they have not already moved away.

It gets minor points for a slightly innovative battle transition… you move on a screen with a radar indicating nearby monsters. You can try to dodge them, but it does not work well. They will eventually catch you. No rhyme or reason to it. But when they do, the screen rotates down to show where you are, and a monster on a screen. Sadly, the battle screen does not look convincing.

You get to pick which of the seven apprentices you want to play as, but choose wisely. They are unbalanced. Some are terribly weak compared to the others. You can mitigate their flaws by taking a second apprentice as your companion, but it raises the question as to why not all of you are working together, or why just one of them would randomly decide to work with you. You can also fight the other apprentices, but they are always around your level, with the best equipment for them at that point in the game. If you chose a bad apprentice, good luck! (I’ve heard the one mandatory apprentice fight is impossible if you chose a bad character)

I mentioned a hack. Well, this game has been hacked three times to make it easier because it is just brutal and unbalanced. The original hack, “Easier 7th Saga”, restores the American release to the original Japanese balance, which makes the game better. “7th Saga Redux” changes a few things, again trying to make it easier, but the changes seem small to me. “7th Saga+”, the one I used, completely rebalances the game, so that you level at a decent clip, all of the apprentices learn their abilities in a more logical order, and the monsters have realistic weaknesses. That’s the winner for me. But the game still sucks with it.

It’s just a very boring game. The graphics are not especially pretty; sometimes cool in a weird and creepy way, but often they just look barren, flat, and repetitive. The characters have no personality. The dialogue (what little exists, and there is [i]precious[/i] little – neither you nor your companion, if you take one, speak) is bland. The game’s only redeeming feature is its music, which is lovely, but I’m sure an audiophile could get better use out of the OST while doing something else with their free time. No matter how you hack it, “The 7th Saga” sucks.