UNLIMITED Saga (Yes, capitalized like that)
Publisher: Square Enix
06/17/03 USA, 12/19/02 Japan
Platforms: Playstation 2
UNLIMITED Saga is another game in that SaGa series of games, which are typically fairly non-linear and confusing. There are seven main characters for the player to choose from, and each one has a different quest to accomplish.
This game, I realized after playing roughly a half-hour of, is a text-adventure game. Seriously. When on the world map (or inside a dungeon) you can go in eight directions: N, S, W, E, NE, SE, SW, and NW. You can occasionally go up and down, which effectively switches maps. There are objects (trapdoors, traps, obstacles) in each room, and mobiles (Undead, Insects, Goblins) that wander around. Some are aggressive. When a monster attacks you in a room, all the other monsters in that room join in and you all transition over to the battle screen.
But before I get into the battle system, perhaps it is a good idea to go over the skill system, as you need certain skills for almost everything you do. See, each character has seven skill slots, arranged in a hexagonal grid. You gain four possible skills at the end of 'along with a maximum of three possible 'tablets' (spells). Of those seven skills, you get to pick one to add to the character's grid. Depending on where you put the skills, that character's stats go up in different ways. Adding a Sword skill near 'Strength' or 'Skill' would be a good idea, as it will raise those much higher then if you were to put it next to 'Fire' or 'Earth'. Of course, the skills you get a dependant of what that character has done on that adventure. Cast lots of spells and you'll get a Familiar skill. Kick and punch a lot and get the...Kick and Punch skills. Also, each skill has five different levels. Punch L5 gives you a higher stat boost then Punch L1. Also, skills give you HP bonuses in some way I have yet to figure out.
Now, the battle system is surprisingly complex, compared to the rest of the game. At the beginning of each turn you can pick five commands to use. Any characters who are not chosen to use commands are removed from that turn, and regain HP if the battle lasts long enough. Then, you are given a choice of which of the five commands to execute first. You can try to 'hold' the attacks to build up a combo, doing more damage (There's a handy percentage number, showing how much more damage you did with the combo), but you run the risk of the enemies being included in your combo, where they also get the damage modifier.
Now, when you actually attack, you are shown a roulette of sorts. For a physical attack it will appear as the weapon type (a sword, for example) with a coloured background depending on the level of the attack. A level one attack is blue, a level three is pink, and so on. There is a certain degree of luck involved here, but there are roulettes all over this game, so you might want to get used to it. If it's a magic attack the roulette is filled with each type of magic (the elements). If you manage to select the same element as the spell you are casting, it's power is increased.
Also slightly different is the Hit Point/Life Point system. Having zero HP is no big deal, it happens quite a lot in this game. However, when you have zero HP you can take LP damage (which is shown in big red numbers, as opposed to the white numbers for HP damage). When a character has zero LP, they are dead. This means you cannot use them for the rest of the adventure. If your main character is reduced to zero LP, the game ends.
And then there's the matter of traps and obstacles. See, traps are randomly scattered about each level. Each time you enter a room with a trap, there is a chance it will go off. Then another roulette with three different types (green circle, red X, stick of dynamite) will appear. Hitting any green circles avoids the trap, hitting a red X makes whatever character triggered it take moderate damage, and hitting any of the dynamite makes the character that triggered it take heavy damage (and generally a LP, too). Now, that's fairly annoying, especially considering that there are generally very few green circles. If a character has the Defuse skill, they can attempt to defuse the trap. Of course, if it goes off the first time you enter that room, you can't try. Now, when using defuse the results are much better: Green defuses the trap, red fails to defuse with a small chance of setting it off, and dynamite sets it off. Having higher levels of Defuse corresponds to a higher amount of green.
For obstacles, it's much the same drill: There's an obstacle (a big rock, a locked door, a lake), and you need certain skills to cross it (obstacle crossing, lock picking, swimming). Likewise, the higher level the skill is, the better chance of success.
As a whole, I think this is a pretty good game, albeit a bit odd. If you hate the Zork games, you might not want to play this, are there are quite a lot of similarities.