Where is SaGa Frontier 2 Remastered?
Longtime SaGa fans know a thing or two about patience, given the length between releases over the last twenty years. That said, series stalwarts have been feasting as of late, with ports or remasters of nearly every single mainline entry on modern consoles. Last December, Square Enix released Romancing SaGa: Minstrel Song Remaster, a port of the 2005 PlayStation 2 remake of the 1992 Super Famicon title.
In 2021, Square Enix released SaGa Frontier Remastered. The revisited 1997 PlayStation classic was warmly received by critics and fans alike and it seemed like SaGa Frontier 2 was coming on the horizon. Yet here we are, two years later, and there has been no announcement. Square Enix has seemingly skipped over SaGa Frontier 2 and the oft-maligned Unlimited SaGa. I won’t try to convince anyone that Unlimited SaGa deserves a remaster (not today, anyway), but perhaps a gentle reminder of Frontier 2’s strengths will remind someone at Square Enix to get this game on my Switch in due course.
First, the opening provides a stark contrast to it's predecessor: SaGa Frontier opens with a tranquil tableau whereupon players choose to start from 7 characters; Frontier 2 begins with bombast, tossing players quite literally into the heat of battle before a title screen appears. After the opening battle, players are treated to scenes of a royal birth and the early years of young Prince Gustave. We watch the young boy’s royal education as he prepares for the Firebrand Ceremony, a royal rite of passage.
Set to occur on his seventh birthday, the joyous occasion quickly sours as Gustave is unable to display a showing of magical ability, known as Anima. Gustave and his mother are tossed from the castle, living in poverty on the outskirts of town until they escape to a neighboring kingdom.
SaGa Frontier 2 has a compelling plot told in an interesting manner. Its timeline is bifurcated between two lineages across a handful of generations. Players largely observe the tale of Gustave XIII, would-be King, on his quest for recognition and power as he forms his own kingdom. His tale is juxtaposed with that of Will Knights, an up-and-coming treasure hunter from a wealthy family. The two boys – then men – could not be more different, and their paths across generations collide in fascinating, if not entirely successful ways.
This generational storytelling mechanic is reminiscent of Romancing SaGa 2, although it benefits from occurring in a world and with characters that are more fleshed out. This is complemented by the way the story unfolds, with players given the choice to largely determine the pacing of the competing pathways with a Choose Your Own Adventure-esque feel.
This unique storytelling approach complements the astounding aesthetic of the game. The art style is timeless and gorgeous, with beautiful watercolor hand drawn backgrounds. A remaster could help sharpen up the backgrounds, spell effects, and character models, but the game is already beautiful. When the narrative excels, the graphical presentation assists in making it feel like you are playing a storybook. The high quality visual approach is only met by the exceptional soundtrack from Masashi Hamauzu, who provides dramatic flourish during moments of fiery combat and drama alike.
SaGa Frontier 2 strives to innovate in terms of gameplay, although it is not always successful. Some combat changes are helpful, like allowing players to fight enemies in one to one combat; however the larger scale strategic battles feel clumsy. Thankfully, these battles are few and far between. Generally, combat is pure SaGa: a flashing lightbulb in battle either means something to you or it doesn’t. However, battles feel more accessible to series newcomers with the new ability to expend Life Points (LP) in battle for a full heal.
I personally hold both SaGa Frontier games as series high points, representing the best of the line in terms of story, combat, and presentation, in a way that has not been matched since. The content of the story can be quite affecting, and the execution is strange and exciting. Perhaps because its story is more cohesive at the onset, SaGa Frontier 2 is able to hit emotional highs that Frontier does not.
The SaGa Frontier Remaster was well received for its love of the original title, but also the quality of life and content improvements that made it more accessible or palatable to series newcomers. SaGa Frontier 2 could absolutely benefit from these same adjustments, allowing players to modify the challenge to their liking.
The SaGa series in general has found new life in recent years, with the bulk of the series available on console and mobile alike. But there is a sore spot with fans in that at least one classic title is not available on modern platforms. SaGa Frontier 2 should join them — and hopefully, it is not a matter of if it comes, but when.