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Nothing New in the Demon World Tower
In Japan in 1989, Squaresoft commenced their SaGa series, a rather unique RPG franchise. While the first three games in the series reached American shores as the Final Fantasy Legend games, they clearly in no way resemble the games of the companyís flagship franchise. A Wonderswan Color remake of the very first game in the series, Makaitoushi SaGa was released in Japan in Spring 2002, and since the portable Bandai system was never marketed in America, the remake suffered the same fate, naturally. While the remake does bear some improvements over the original, the result, unfortunately, is still an average title.
As Iíve mentioned, the SaGa games are very unique, featuring turn-based battle systems with unique twists. Upon starting a new game, you can pick four characters of three different races: humans, espers, or monsters. Special items are necessary to increase a humanís stats, and can be easily purchased at many stores. As for espers, they randomly gain stats and/or spells after each battle, the latter of which have a certain number of points that decrease after each use, though they can be replenished at inns. Monsters, on the other hand, are able to consume the meat enemies may drop after battle to transform into different monsters; this time around, you can actually see what your monstersí stats will become before consuming meat. Furthermore, you can purchase weapons, spells, and armor for your characters, the first two of which have a certain number of points that are consumed each time you use them; when these points reach zero, they disappear from your inventory, and cannot be replenished.
As for the basic battle mechanisms, theyíre typical for a turn-based battle system: input all your charactersí commands, and let them go at it with the enemies. Thereís a run option, but unfortunately, it doesnít always work against regular enemies; donít you just love when they do that? Furthermore, enemies seemed impervious to my attacks at many points, and unless your characters donít have consumable weapons, items or skills, you have to use one of them, since your allies canít perform any commands outside their inventories. Finally, the encounter rate seemed to fluctuate greatly.
As for interaction, the menu system is quite conservative, although youíll find yourself running out of space constantly during the game, and have to dump items from your inventory if you want to claim the contents of treasure chests. Still, you can save your game anywhere, so you can easily reset if things arenít going your way in certain areas of the game.
Naturally, a remake doesnít have very high originality, and this one doesnít offer very much new, except for color graphics and the very slight tweak in the battle system I mentioned.
This remake doesnít have much in the area of story, either: open the Demon World Tower and ascend it, yadda, yadda, yadda. Still, I actually liked the concept of a tower connecting many different worlds.
Furthermore, while the remakeís soundtrack does contain a few additional tunes, they still contain the same blip-blop quality as the Gameboy version; the Wonderswan Color, I should mention, doesnít have very good audio, although a few tunes were decent.
As for the visuals, the various environments of this remake were very well designed, although the sprites were simplistic, and battles, while with gorgeous backgrounds and monsters, still contain the first-person perspective that they had in the original version, and your foes merely flash when attacking you.
Finally, the remake was neither too hard or too easy, and can possibly be beaten in one sitting, although newbies to the SaGa series may take a while.
Overall, while the Wonderswan Color version of Makaitoushi SaGa is a worthy remake, itís still average in the end. While diehard SaGa fans will definitely want to give this title a look, others need not play this game to make their lives complete.
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