The 90’s was a monumental time for the video game world, as it ushered in a new era of how gamers experienced virtual worlds and paved the way for what is now one of the largest industries in the world. We have many thanks to give to the folks at Atari along with Colecovision for helping to open new doors, but it was two of Japan’s biggest companies, Nintendo and Sega, who truly shifted the direction of the gaming industry. RPGs were a massive deal during those days, especially for the Super Famicom (or Super Nintendo for those in the West) and one that truly made waves in Japan was Romancing SaGa 2. Unfortunately, when the game released, it was a Japan only title meaning that those in the West never had a chance to experience such a genuine title. Of course, during that time we didn’t have internet and finding a localization team to bring it overseas was near impossible.
Fortunately those days have passed and the folks at Square Enix, arguably the most revered publisher during the SNES hype, have managed to bring the beloved title to Nintendo’s brand new console, the Switch. It seems like those memorable days of Nintendo and Square Enix working alongside each other are coming back into fruition!
What to Expect
Romancing SaGa 2 released back in 1993 and to rave reviews in Japan, but sadly most foreigners weren’t able to partake in that experience until now. In the Nintendo Switch version, the game has maintained its pixel perfect appeal but with added HD touches to give it beautiful polish that looks like you’re playing straight from the SNES itself. The overall aesthetic still remains along with the branching storyline that players can create, but Square have added in new options such as new classes, new dungeons to explore along with New Game+, which provides a unique experience on its own. Anyone who loves the classic turn based tactical appeal in RPGs will certainly have a field day with this one, as it draws you in with its nostalgic visuals and encourages you to write your own story pertaining to the royal empire. Romancing SaGa 2 is unlike any other RPG you’ve played and since Square Enix is behind the steering wheel you can be rest assured that your experience will be a smooth ride.
Romancing SaGa 2 starts off with you being in control of the king, along with his two sons Victor and Gerard. As you progress through the opening phases, you come to a tragic halt and now, you must decide what to do next. This is the exciting aspect of Romancing SaGa 2; you’re pretty much in control of how the story pans out. How you interact with characters in the game can potentially shift things into an entirely new direction and when your party dies, you must choose a new heir to rightfully take their place. It’s cool because even if your team perishes in battle, all of their items will remain with you in the treasury and so when you recruit new members for your team they’ll be able to use all the rare items you’ve acquired at any time. In a way, Romancing SaGa 2 is one of earliest games that provide somewhat of a rogue-lite experience since every time you perish in battle, you’re essentially “starting over” with a new pact but can carry items over.
This is the truly exciting aspect about the game because it provides a ton of replay value without taking anything away from the overall experience. Battles you encounter gradually get more difficult as you level up and so your approach will always need to change according to who you encounter. Another plus is that, while other RPGs place emphasis on grinding and reaching a certain level in order to engage with enemies, Romancing SaGa 2’s gameplay actually deviates away from that and places more attention towards focusing heavily on survival, while picking and choosing enemies carefully. Also, make sure to keep an eye out on your LP since you’ll be using it often to revive characters should they have LP to begin with!
It’s really all about making the right choices while playing, since much of those choices also apply to character interaction and not just battling. In many parts of the story, you’ll have quests that must be completed and often times, you’ll come across a character who could potentially be a party member, should you choose to do so. If you choose to let that character go, for example, you’ll never encounter them again, or if an NPC helps you once, that’s it. Of course, there are plenty of other ways to complete tasks to further progress through the story and that’s the sheer beauty about the game. There are so many branching paths that you can take to create the kingdom of your liking and so every experience will be different for every player. Games like Until Dawn share a resemblance to this and perhaps it’s Romancing SaGa 2 where much of its inspiration derived from.
There’s just a plethora of options to discover while playing and because you’re always encouraged to create new strategies as you play, the fun factor always remains high. Luckily, if you don’t like the way a path turned out you could always revert back to a save point in your game and restart from where you left off. That’s another plus of Romancing SaGa 2 and it’s that you can save your progress at anytime, and never feel at a loss if you ever encounter some major defeat since you can just go back to where you last started. So maybe there was a very hard boss in a dungeon that you just couldn’t beat and the dungeon minions weren’t too forgiving either. Just reopen that save and try to develop a new attack method to better your odds and pick up on enemy patterns to ensure victory. While the attacks are RNG based for the bosses, you can still pick up on just when certain moves are used so that you’re able to defend and overtake them before it’s too late. We could go on and on forever about the gameplay mechanics but it really deserves your attention because it’s such an immersive experience. All we can say is that the minute you dive into the world of Romancing SaGa 2 it’ll be very hard to get back out because of how impactful it is, and how well it delivers an awesome experience for RPG fans.
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
Romancing SaGa 2 is a game that every switch owner should buy, not because of its rarity or Square Enix’s seal of approval, but because this game is an absolute joy to play. With all of the new additions thrown into the game, it takes the original one step further, providing even players who played the original the ability to experience something entirely new. In an age where retro titles are now making their triumphant return into the spotlight, it’s safe to say that this isn’t the last classic RPG square title we will see on the Switch. Romancing SaGa 2 is just a title that, much like the SNES days, is helping to pave the way for more genuine titles to make their way to this beloved hybrid console. Don’t sleep on this! There’s just an incredible amount of depth that lures you in with each encounter, each person you speak to and the action truly never stops. Romancing SaGa 2 is truly a one of a kind gem that you must play.
A masterpiece from start to finish.
Replay value is through the roof.
Challenging and rewarding.
The battle mechanics and branching storyline allows for player freedom.
Additional dungeons as well as new classes just add way more appeal to this classic.
May take some getting used to for players new to the series.
Honey's Final Verdict:
Romancing SaGa 2, despite its age, still provides a very charming and upbeat experience that you simply cannot find anywhere else. Like wine it has matured into this beautifully crafted masterpiece that just tastes so much better with every new sip you take. There’s a lot to absorb while playing and that’s where most of the immersiveness comes from. You’re never bored or find yourself at a dead end because there are always new ways for you to reach your goals. If you’re hungry for that classic RPG experience then look no further than this Square Enix classic.
As always, for all things sweet, with news straight from Japan, be sure to keep it locked here on Honey’s Anime.
Author: Rob "NualphaJPN" B.
A passionate fan of gaming, writing, journalism, anime, and philosophy. I've lived in Japan for many years and consider this place to be my permanent home. I love to travel around Japan and learn about the history and culture! Leave a comment if you enjoy my articles and watch me play on twitch.tv/honeysgaming ! Take care!