The 7th Saga is a Role Playing game for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. It was published by Enix and was released in 1993 in either August or September (Wikipedia gives two dates). The game is widely known for its punishing difficulty. Many RPG enthusiasts will love this game because of its challenge, the classic control and the open ended possibilities it has due to its choice of a main character and partner and the combinations that can be made. However, its lack of a strong story, uninspired presentation and its aforementioned difficulty keep this from being a game for everyone and prevents me from giving it a high recommendation.
The game starts with you selecting a character and then being sent out to collect seven runes. You and the six other characters have been training at the kingdom and are now deemed ready to find the runes and rule the land. So you are actually in competition with the others for the runes. This is rather interesting considering that most RPGs deem your character the only hope for mankind or whatever particular group you’re aligned with. From there out, you’re pretty much set out on your own. The premise of the story is pretty weak and unforgettable and until you get your first rune, you’ll forget the whole rune idea altogether. However, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing since many old RPGs don’t have a fully fleshed out narrative like current RPGs do.
The graphics are impressive yet disappointing. The use of Mode 7 graphics and zooming into the world map for battles is a great touch and a great change from other RPGs that just fade into another screen, although the game does that for dungeons. Everything looks rather pretty and well detailed, especially the spells. All of the enemies also look rather well thought out and designed with a nice palette. Enemies that are supposed to look ugly and menacing do. However, the environments, as pretty as they may be, are uninspired. Dungeons look drab and bland and many of the battle environments are unimaginative and boring, sometimes they don’t even have a background and only have graphics for the ground.
Sound in this game is also a mixed bag. Sound effects are mostly just good enough and nothing stands out. Nothing sounds like you’ve hit someone rather hard nor is there any kind of musical emotion in any of the effects. However, the music in the game is a different story. The game is well composed with the town music standing out. There’s different world music for different places on the continent and different music for each town, until later in the game. However, there isn’t anything here that you would like to have to listen to on your stereo. You won’t be looking for the soundtrack to here in the car or on your iPod.
As for the game play, there is just one big flaw but it’s what really destroys the game for many. The difficulty. This game is freakin’ brutal! You will be grinding to go up several levels right at the beginning of the game. It’s like the king made a mistake. You were not ready at all! You will always be several levels behind. Once you are strong enough to move on and complete the area, you’ll automatically be several levels behind in the next area. It never lets up. Sure, the mechanics are strong, the spells are rewarding and the defend-attack is a great idea but the unforgiving difficulty keeps this game from being fun. There’s no way around it and it’s a game killer.
In summation, The 7th Saga is a game that takes relatively little risks and its difficulty gears the game towards RPG fanatics that found Dragon Warrior a walk in the park. Even fans of this genre will agree that it’s not a good game and can only be appreciated for its challenge. This is not a good game for beginners and is not a lost gem for enthusiasts. It’s a special interest game. I couldn’t finish the game. I finally had it and gave up. However, I see the appeal. So I can recommend this game but with a warning.