Twenty-four years after its release on the Super Famicom console in Japan, Romancing SaGa 3 returns with a remake and localization on a dizzying amount of platforms. It follows in the footsteps of Romancing SaGa 2 nearly two years prior and adds a visual overhaul, a New Game+ option, new storylines, and a brand-new dungeon called “The Phantom Maze.”
Square Enix enlisted the help of ArtePiazza, known for their work on copious amounts of Dragon Quest series ports, to develop the remake. In the video below, we play through the first hour-ish of the game on PlayStation 4. Have a look:
For those unfamiliar with the Romancing SaGa series or the SaGa series entirely, Romancing SaGa 3 is a RPG with turn-based combat. It features an original story, so there’s no need to play Romancing 1 or 2. In typical SaGa fashion, you’ll select a playable protagonist from several options — here, there are four male and four female characters. The characters you don’t select will be your party members or recruited later in the story, and there are also many other recruit-able characters aside from the initial eight — including a Lobster named Boston and a snowman named Snowman.
The story takes place 20 years after an event called the “Rise of Morastrum,” a cosmological event that happens every 300 years where a heavenly body eclipses the sun. If you’re born in this same year, you won’t live to see the next. In a previous cycle, a child survived this phenomenon, going on to become an “Archfiend,” releasing lords of the Abyss before vanishing. Another child survivor in a later cycle became a “Matriarch,” and helped drive the Archfiends away. Those who survive this phenomenon go on to have a pivotal role in the fate of the world.
As you travel around the world of Romancing SaGa 3, encounters are transitioned to a battle arena but are not random — meaning you’ll see enemies in the field and upon colliding with them, start a battle scene. HP is recovered outside of battle, which allows momentary battles to amp up the stakes a bit, a feature seen in several other SaGa games and in Final Fantasy XIII. You’ll need to pick and choose your fights with care — get reckless and your party will lose precious LP (or Life Points.) If these are depleted the character will leave your party and need to be re-recruited. If it happens to your protagonist, it’s game over.
The battle party can consist of up to six characters at once, but should you activate Commander Mode, you can take a party with four or five characters where your protagonist will direct the action. Smaller formations open up the possibility for combination moves between party members. Formations are also a key part of customizing your party — but be aware that if an enemy catches you dashing, they’ll break your formation and your leading edge in battle.
Abilities are categorized by weapon types, but there’s also magic and items available to use too. Your party will start out with a scant amount of options in battle, but things will open up as they “spark” new abilities based on the ones you elect to use. Use bows often enough and the character using them will learn a new ability to attack all targets – which becomes usable in their command menus. Different enemies have different resistances to weapon types, so it’s in your interest to diversify what you’re party is proficient in. Outside of sparking new abilities, character progression is also guided by your actions in battle — in a similar vein to Final Fantasy II. There are no level-ups in this game, but individual stats will improve based on how you use the character.
Romancing SaGa 3 is available digitally on PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Windows 10, Steam, Google Play, and the App Store.