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dude789
Nov 4, 2009

I'll make your ass sense.

Full party wipes because an enemy screamed at you! Let's play Saga Frontier


Saga Frontier was released in 1998, and like other games in the Saga franchise, it is notorious for having a deep and complex gameplay system while also having very little information about these game mechanics. This combined with it coming out in the shadow of Final Fantasy 7 mean that Saga Frontier didn't do too well at the time of its release. Reviewers panned it for it's difficulty and frequent points of no return which could leave players with no other option aside from grinding, and to make things worse if you didn't grind the right way you would just end up spinning your wheels and making the random battles stronger.

Since then, the general opinion of the game has improved. After playing the game long enough, there's a moment where everything sort of clicks and it becomes a lot of fun. The decision to have the player play through multiple short storylines while offering a diverse cast gives the game a lot of replay value. In fact, a very dedicated community of fans has formed focused on shedding some light on the games many obtuse game mechanics and more incomplete parts of the story.

LP Style
In general, I'll be going for a more informative LP. RedBoot has a very good LP of Saga Frontier in the archives
Here, but since his LP there's been a lot of good information to come out about the game that I'm going to try and show off.

Thread Rules and Notes
-The plot of this game can be a bit of a mess at times, but please refrain from spoilers until we've covered them.
-If you know something about the game mechanics feel free to share it! I'm sure that I'm going to miss something just because there's so much that can be covered.
-In general, I want to show off as many party members as possible so unfortunately, that doesn't leave too much room for voting on party composition. As far as the order of the scenarios, I'm going to start with Emelia's and end with Red's but there's some flexibility in the middle for voting.

Latest Update
Riki Update 9

Fanart and other user content:

Turnip Fritter made us a lovely picture of Emelia's team of asskicking ladies and a smug as hell Roufas (Because is there really any other kind of Roufas?)


And Turnip Fritter is awesome again! Giving us fanart of Blue's team this time.


GOTTA STAY FAI provides us with an update on how the real pros play Saga Frontier while we wait for my keyboard to sober up.
EXPERT LP MASTERPIECE

Raitzeno comes up with the one true acronym for Leonard's anti-RB3 program.

Raitzeno posted:

Screw that, I wanted to see the Juryrigged Extralogical RB3 Killer: Weaponized Alcoholism & Douchery (J.E.R.K.W.A.D.) system in action.

dude789 fucked around with this message at Oct 19, 2014 around 21:22

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dude789
Nov 4, 2009

I'll make your ass sense.

Update List
Emelia Update 1
Emelia Update2
Emelia Update 3
Emelia Update 4
Emelia Update 5
Emelia Update 6
Emelia Update 7
Emelia Update 8
Emelia Update 9
Emelia Update 10
Emelia Update 11
Emelia Update 12
Emelia FINAL Update

Blue Update 1
Blue Update 2
Blue Update 3
Blue Update 4
Blue Update 5
Blue Update 6
Blue Update 7
Blue Update 8
Blue Update 9
Blue Update 10
Blue FINAL Update

T260G update 1
T260G update 2
T260G update 3
T260G update 4
T260G update 5
T260G Update 6
T260G Update 7
T260G Update 8
T260G Update 9
T260G Update 10
T260G FINAL Update

Lute Update 1
Lute Update 2
Lute Update 3
Lute Update 4
Lute FINAL Update

Riki Update 1
Riki Update 2
Riki Update 3
Riki Update 4
Riki Update 5
Riki Update 6
Riki Update 7
Riki Update 8
Riki Update 9

Gameplay Update 1 Basic Human Development and Stat Growth
Gameply Update 2 Sparking
Gameplay Update 3 Defense stats
Gameplay Update 4 Mystic Development
Gameplay Update 5 The DSC
Gameplay Update 6 Emelia's scenario party analysis and pros and cons
Gameplay Update 7 Light and Shadow Magic
Gameplay Update 8 Rune and Arcane Magic
Gameplay Update 9 Realm and Mind magic
Gameplay Update 10 Mystic Specific Magic
Gameplay Update 11 Time and Space Magic
Gameplay Update 12 Combos
Gameplay Update 13 Blue's Pros and Cons and party analysis
Gameplay Update 14 Mec Development
Gameplay Update 15 Junk Shop Glitch
Gameplay Update 16: T260G's Pros and Cons and Party Analysis
T260G and The Essence of Saga Frontier
Lute's Scenario Pros and Cons and The Essence of Saga Frontier
Monster Transformations and Development

dude789 fucked around with this message at Oct 19, 2014 around 21:22

dude789
Nov 4, 2009

I'll make your ass sense.


In the 90s, this was a pretty good sign that you were going to get a pretty good game. This game is no exception but it took people a while to realize it.

Opening Title


A series of seven characters flash by the screen and fade into the background followed by a bunch of stormy clouds coalescing into our title screen.


This is the character select screen, we can choose whether to load our game or create a new one with one of these seven characters.


We'll be going with Emelia. She's a pretty good character to start the game out with. She gets a decent amount of plot, and the strong team of characters forced in her team makes her great for beginners.

The Opening of a Journey

Unfortunately before we begin we have to do a bit of housekeeping. System data is there to link together your quests and give you bonuses for completeing quests. Back in the day, it also existed to clog up memory cards. Since each save took up 2 blocks, a set of 7 saves for each character and 1 for system data would practically take up a whole normal sized card by itself.


We'll just go for the obvious here. The game was nice enough to give exactly 8 letters.


The game then asks for our sign and blood type. I don't know why. I guess blood type is kind of a big deal in Japan, but it doesn't affect anything here.

Theme of Emelia

So now that that's taken care of we get the option to give Emelia a new name. We'll just keep it simple for now. The game is rather arbitrary for which main characters you can name and which you can't.


Although it's not my taste...I guess it's better than nothing.
Things aren't starting off to hot for Emelia. She starts off in the world famous prison Despair, but it looks like she's already starting to adjust.


"I forgive you for yesterday." No that's too mean. "It was my fault..."But it really wasn't...

This scene flashes back and forth between Emelia's house and Despair.



The woman in the green stripes walks up and sits next to us. Also notice the woman with the purple hair at the top of the screen.
Anyone sitting here? You're new aren't you? Hi I'm Annie. I've been here let's see...3,4,5,6 times. The last time I beat the crap out of 3 guys who turned out to be pretty rough customers. I thought I'd be safer in jail so I smacked a couple of guards around to get in. Hey you're you're pretty good lookin'. What're
you in for??


It's pretty dangerous nowadays not to even lock the door. Maybe he's been robbed...? Ren! Are you here?

Emelia's house is kind of a mess. It seems odd that they would leave her big ol TV if they were going to rob her though.


The man with the green hair jumps away leaving Emelia with her dead boyfriends body.


He must have killed my...Why do you keep asking me the same questions!? Why don't you do something.

We cut to Emelia in the interrogation room. Things don't seem to be going to well for her. The man on the left is called Fuse by the way.

Lady, a neighbor said she saw you and the victim quarrelling yesterday.
What are you saying? You think I killed him?
Your boyfriend was an outstanding officer. It seems odd that he was killed without any sign of struggle...Unless he was caught of guard.
This's outrageous! Yes, we had a fight. But why would I kill Ren? I was going to marry him. I loved him.
Why did you kill him? That's what I want to know! Ren and I go back over ten years, back to the academy. Unlike me, he was a nice guy, a good cop. I couldn't believe it when I heard he was dating a tramp like you. Now tell me why you shot him! Was it rage? Jealousy? Or did someone else hire you?
Crazy...You're crazy. You're trying to pin this on me without one shred of evidence. I want a lawyer.
Lady, the evidence is there. Let me assure you no one gets away with shooting an officer.



Is he some weirdo or something?
No, no just listen to his announcement.
Ladies, today's your lucky day! This is your chance to earn the freedom you've yearned for. To get away from this stinking hell hole forever. It's simple enough. In the center of Despair is a giant stone on which the Freedom Rune is inscribed. I'll grant a pardon to the one who manages to touch this stone, guaranteed. You have exactly 5 minutes and you're not allowed to attack any of my guards. We'll start in exactly 3 hours. Good luck to you all.
What a strange prison. The warden is encouraging us to escape.
He knows it's impossible. Only one prisoner's ever made it and God knows what really happened to them after that.
Are you going to try?
Yeah, why not

And now we have our first goal. Don't worry about the time limit there's no countdown or anything. The second rule will prove a bit more troublesome though.



Hey, This is Liza. We're gonna escape together.

Hang in there.
All right.
Let's go.
Go where?
There's a hole under the bed. Hurry up.
But...
You wanna get old in this hellhole?


Liza opens up the hole underneath the bed and our three heroines change out of their prison clothes and jump down...

Despair

...Right into the sewer. Lovely. The good news is that we're finally give control. Let's start by opening the menu and taking a look at our party.


Nice HP there Emelia. The options on the right are fairly obvious. As far as the stats we can see on the main menu, HP should be obvious. JP stands for Jutsu points and is essentially MP. WP stands for Waza Points and is like MP for physical skills. LP is a mechanic unique to the Saga franchise. Basically every time a character dies in battle they lose LP. If the LP runs out that character is incapacitated until you rest at an inn. If your main character runs out of LP it's a game over. There are other ways to lose LP as well, if a party members corpse is hit they will lose an LP point each time and there are also some skills that cost LP.




Emelia doesn't start off with a whole lot. You'll want to be sure to give her the Infra Scope helmet and extra Fiber Vest in the inventory so that she doesn't die to absolutely everything.
Annie and Liza are much better off. Annie's Laser Knife is a decent sword for this point of the game, and Liza doesn't need anything other than her fists.


Let's talk about the rest of the stats shall we? Also notice the +5 by Liza's strength stat. That's coming from her Fang Amulet. Equipment in addition to boosting defence, can give fairly significant stat increases.
Also all of our characters are unsurprisingly humans. Like in the Final Fantasy Legend series, there are different races which grow stronger in different ways. In Saga Frontier there are 4 of them: humans, mystics, mechs, and monsters.
Strength: Boosts physical attacks. For humans it has a much more significant effect on martial arts than sword attacks so it's nice that Liza starts with the Fang Amulet.
Quickness: Helps you act faster in battle. Pretty self explanatory.
Intelligence: Contrary to what you might expect , this isn't the main magic boosting stat. Rather, intelligence boosts your learning rate of magic and gun techniques.
Will: Will is what you might expect intelligence to do. Has a fairly major impact on Gun and Magic skills.
Psychic: Another significant factor into magic damage.
Vitality: Your main defensive stat.
Charm: Kind of the dump stat, affects status effect hit rates both incoming and outgoing.

Most of these stats have secondary, less noticeable effects, but for now lets just keep things simple.


Finally, talk about skills. A human character can equip up to 8 skills at once any others must be sealed away and can be replaced on the list whenever you chose. Annie here starts with Stun Slash which is a weak hit with a chance to make an enemy lose a turn, and Double Slash which deals more damage than a normal attack. Liza starts with KO Throw which is a counter skill that activates when an enemy uses a punching attack and Air Throw which deals extra damage and has a chance to stun. Emelia doesn't start with anything.



As we progress through the sewer we run into our first enemy! Enemies in Saga Frontier appear on the field using a variety of different sprites indicating the type of enemy you'll face. Enemy types can have different movement patterns. These slimes for example melt into and out of the ground. Let's try fighting one shall we?

Battle 1


At the start of a fight our party leaps into battle one by one. Here we can see our enemies are a Shellworm and a Xeno. The Xeno is the main enemy we saw on the map with the slime sprite whereas the Shellworm is just along for the ride.


Battles in Saga Frontier are turn based. You select actions at the start of the round and the two sides execute them based on speed. These guys are fairly easy so Emelia and Liza decide to punch them while Annie busts out her Laser Knife.



The battle starts off fairly smoothly. Liza's punch does good damage to the Shellworm and Annie one shots the Xeno before it can act. Emelia takes a nasty hit from the shellworm though.


Oh!?



Emelia just sparked her first skill! In the Romancing Saga series, characters learn new attack skills by "sparking" them in battle. In Saga Frontier Sparking is one of the main methods of growing a skillset for human characters.
Any time you use a martial arts or sword skill you have a chance to spark a new technique. The Chop skill that Emelia learned is a weak martial arts attack that inflicts blind. Unfortunately, it's not very good.


At the end of the round a status screen pops up so you can check how your party is doing. That shellworm really did a number on Emelia, and if we hadn't given her the Fiber Vest and Infra Scope she could have easily gone down. In general battles in Saga Frontier are very damage heavy affairs. Healing is sparse and the goal of most fights is to end them before they end you. The good news is that your HP gets restored at the end of every fight.


Liza finishes off the Shellworm at the start of the next round and with that we officially win the battle.


Human characters use the traditional Romancing Saga method of character development originally used in Final Fantasy 2. When a battle ends, a human will have a random chance to raise their stats based on the actions they took in battle. Here Annie attack with a physical attack so she raises her WP. After every character has gotten their stats we receive any Credits (this games currency) and any items they may have dropped.

Well this update's getting kind of long, and with our first victory in the books this seems like as good a time as any to end the update. Next time we'll continue following our three ladies as they finish up their daring escape from Despair!

dude789 fucked around with this message at May 10, 2014 around 14:08

Mysticblade
Oct 22, 2012


Using [timg] for an LP is not the wisest of moves. Could we get these in [img] form? Kind of hard to read otherwise.

Thinky Whale
Aug 2, 2012

All that most maddens and torments; all that stirs up the lees of things; all truth with malice in it; all that cracks the sinews and cakes the brain; all the subtle demonisms of life and thought; all evil were visibly personified, and made practically assailable in Fry.

Saga Frontier is such a deeply weird game. It's flawed as hell, like how incredibly easy it is to get stuck, and how all the characters sharing the same world means you go through the same areas over and over, but something about it is strangely compelling. I was obsessed with it for a while there. I'm interested to see an indepth explanation of the mechanics, since I always did a whole lot of slamming whatever worked at the moment.

dude789
Nov 4, 2009

I'll make your ass sense.

No problem. Should be fixed now.

Thwack!
Aug 14, 2010

Ability: Shadow Tag


Can I just say that, out of all the SaGa games, I feel that SaGa Frontier probably has the best battle system since it's the game where Akitoshi Kawazu took the best features from the past SaGa games, such as the races and the 'sparking' tech learning system. Also, it's a shame that there isn't any other game in the series that seperates the story into different characters (except for Unlimited SaGa? I'm not sure since I haven't gotten into it all that much) Sure, in the past games, you could select your starting character, but after they're done with their unique intro dungeon and exposition, they all lead to the same story. With some slight differences I assume.

As for the tech learning, I can't wait until you get into great detail with how each character is able to learn certain techs. When I played this game a 2nd time, getting into depth with that system really helped me with optimizing my characters.

Thwack! fucked around with this message at Sep 7, 2013 around 14:00

ETB
Nov 8, 2009

Yeah, I'm that guy.


I think I watched my friend play the very end of this game back in middle school. I thought, "Man, what a harsh game!" The LP mechanic is rough.

TheUkuleleFanboy
Sep 2, 2011


Thwack! posted:

Also, it's a shame that there isn't any other game in the series that seperates the story into different characters (except for Unlimited SaGa? I'm not sure since I haven't gotten into it all that much) Sure, in the past games, you could select your starting character, but after they're done with their unique intro dungeon and exposition, they all lead to the same story. With some slight differences I assume.

Yeah Unlimited has completely separate stories and villains for each character (even if the final boss is always the same), it's a shame that it really isn't a fun game to play even if you know what you're doing.

I haven't played Frontier but I thought Minstrel Song was pretty fun, looking forward to this LP.

dude789
Nov 4, 2009

I'll make your ass sense.

Thwack! posted:

Can I just say that, out of all the SaGa games, I feel that SaGa Frontier probably has the best battle system since it's the game where Akitoshi Kawazu took the best features from the past SaGa games, such as the races and the 'sparking' tech learning system. Also, it's a shame that there isn't any other game in the series that seperates the story into different characters (except for Unlimited SaGa? I'm not sure since I haven't gotten into it all that much) Sure, in the past games, you could select your starting character, but after they're done with their unique intro dungeon and exposition, they all lead to the same story. With some slight differences I assume.

As for the tech learning, I can't wait until you get into great detail with how each character is able to learn certain techs. When I played this game a 2nd time, getting into depth with that system really helped me with optimizing my characters.

I plan on having gameplay updates split up the main updates at a fairly frequent rate, and since Emelia's quest is so human heavy I'll be covering the sparking mechanics fairly early. Also, thanks to everyone for expressing their interest. It's nice to see that there's already interest from people of all levels of experience with the game.

Black Balloon
Dec 28, 2008

Don't worry, I'm only taking damage to save time.



I enjoyed the hell out of Frontier 2 once I finally figured out how it worked. Never played or even read an LP of this game though. It seemed to be generally agreed that it's not as good, but I am curious about it all the same. So thanks for doing this.

KataraniSword
Apr 22, 2008

but at least I don't have
a MLP or MSPA avatar.
I am my own man.

Thwack! posted:

Can I just say that, out of all the SaGa games, I feel that SaGa Frontier probably has the best battle system since it's the game where Akitoshi Kawazu took the best features from the past SaGa games, such as the races and the 'sparking' tech learning system. Also, it's a shame that there isn't any other game in the series that seperates the story into different characters (except for Unlimited SaGa? I'm not sure since I haven't gotten into it all that much) Sure, in the past games, you could select your starting character, but after they're done with their unique intro dungeon and exposition, they all lead to the same story. With some slight differences I assume.

I think Frontier is the only game that had separate beginnings AND endings for the characters; about the only thing that's the "same" with the separate quests in SGF is the sidequesting. Certain characters even recruit different optional side-characters.

Are we gonna get music links? One of the best things about the PSX-era SaGa games are their soundtracks; this may actually rank up there as some of Kenji Ito's best work. The battle themes in particular are some of the best video game songs I can think of from Square.

Black Balloon posted:

I enjoyed the hell out of Frontier 2 once I finally figured out how it worked. Never played or even read an LP of this game though. It seemed to be generally agreed that it's not as good, but I am curious about it all the same. So thanks for doing this.

Frontier 2 is more... traditional than your normal SaGa game, so it attracts a lot more of the Final Fantasy fans than it does the fans of the SaGa games, ironically enough.

While you do have a little bit of freedom given the chapter-selection system and the battle system still relies on the "sparking" and after-battle stat gains that the Romancing games and SGF are famous for, it's still a LOT more railroaded than its earlier counterparts. SaGa Frontier 2 was ultimately plot-driven, which is where it differed wildly from the rest of the series.

tl;dr for the above: SaGa fans prefer Frontier, FF fans seem to prefer Frontier 2.

dude789
Nov 4, 2009

I'll make your ass sense.

KataraniSword posted:

Are we gonna get music links? One of the best things about the PSX-era SaGa games are their soundtracks; this may actually rank up there as some of Kenji Ito's best work. The battle themes in particular are some of the best video game songs I can think of from Square.
I'm pretty sure the entire ost is posted on youtube so if there was a big demand for them I could link those videos, but I hadn't planned on providing Tindeck links or anything. Although if someone was willing to provide tindeck links or something it would be greatly appreciated.

Edit: Edit in some music links. We've only heard a few tracks so far, but Emelia's theme is pretty good.

dude789 fucked around with this message at Sep 8, 2013 around 18:17

FeyerbrandX
Oct 9, 2012

The Laws of Fiesta are Absolute!


Don't need tindeck or youtube, the OST is engrained into my brain.

Also, don't forget that if you literally run into an enemy either their group or yours gets scattered hap haphazardly rather than compactly like your fight did... or maybe you did and the enemy got scattered.

Either way, I'd suggest running into them, I don't think there's any AoE effects that you'd want to get hit with anyway.

Scalding Coffee
Jun 26, 2006

You're already dead.


Do you have the Japanese book with huge spoilers?

dude789
Nov 4, 2009

I'll make your ass sense.

Welcome back! Last time our intrepid team got their first taste of combat. Today we'll catch up with them as they finally make their way out of Despair!

It's kind of hard to see in the screenshot but there's a hole in the floor where Emelia is standing. There's also a little glimmer of a treasure chest to the right.


Immediately once we drop down Liza grabs us and pulls us into the lockers.


Just in time too! This guard patrols back and forth once through the room and exits. Now let's see about getting that treasure.


You have to grab this pretty quick and jump back into one of the lockers before the guard comes back or it's game over. I'll be honest, and say I hosed this up like three times before finally getting it. Playing this game on a keyboard is not the most precise thing.


Immediately outside the guard room we have a garbage chute and a ladder leading back to the earlier sewer areas. Since we actually want to progress we go down the chute.


At the bottom of the garbage shoot we encounter some insect type enemies. They roll up into a ball and launch at you which makes them a bit more tricky to dodge than slimes. In battle they're just more Shellworms.


At this point I realized that I forgot to equip the Light Bazooka so let's fix that now. I also give Emelia the Backpack item which gives her access to all Consumable battle items. Otherwise you'd only be able to use them by taking up a whole equipment slot for one.
You can also see a ladder leading downward in the upper right of this screen. This is our next path forward.


Moving down the ladder we encounter a reptile enemy type. This seems as good a time as any to show off the Light Bazooka.




The damage is quite good, but unfortunately the Bazooka is classified as a machine type weapon. These weapons have limited uses in battle and don't provide any boosts to offensive stats like using swords, guns, magic or martial arts do. This makes them a bad choice early on for human characters who really need to grow.


These spotlights are another trap area. I think in most quests they just lead to a random battle, but it wouldn't surprise me if they lead to a game over in Emelia's quest.



Past the spotlight room we encounter another new enemy type. The pick bird is easily dispatched, but I wanted to show off just how many backgrounds Saga Frontier has for their battles. I believe this is the 4th on we've seen so far for Despair and we haven't even seen them all.
Also you can jump on the conveyor belt but it just takes you backwards so it's not worth it.



The main reason the team was give the Infra Scope was for this room. Without it all of these laser beams would be invisible, and even better they're semi randomized! Let's see what happens when we touch one.


Oh dear. We could probably handle the Battle Ax enemy towards the back and the Sprite enemy towards the front. Maybe the Gun Fish if he was by himself, but the Wasp Mec is out of our league right now.


Yeah I don't think this will end well for us.




That went about as expected and this is a good opportunity to talk discuss encounter rank. Unlike most RPGs where enounters are tied to location, in Saga Frontier battles are tied to how strong you are. As you fight more and more enemies your encounter rate will rise from 1 all the way up till 9.

Additionally, certain areas have modifiers to encounter rates that can be either positive or negative. I believe this modifier ranges from -2 to +2. In this case, bumping into a laser puts us in a fight against a +2 mec encounter.

Trying to punch above your encounter rank weight class isn't always a death sentence. It's actually a very good way to grind stats and learn new skills. In this case however, without a full team and with Emelia being so weak initially, the odds were very much against us.


One quick reload later and we make it through the laser room and into the penultimate room of the dungeon. The exit is just up that ladder.



Who would have thought! It's not like y'all are in a sewer or anything.
Hurry, Liza. I got a bad feeling about this.
They'd make sure we'd waste time here. Let me try one more time.
Oh, oh something's coming. Hurry, Liza!


Roufas didn't tell us about this!!




And now we have our first boss! He looks quite a bit smaller than he did before the battle started doesn't he.

As with any boss battle we begin by selecting our strongest attacks (not that that's saying much right now.) Annie preps a double slash, Emelia readies the Light Bazooka, and Liza chooses Air Throw.





What was that you ask? Another aspect of Saga Frontier's combat system is the combo system. Compatible attacks can be linked together for bonus damage and as you can see they are quite effective. In particular we'll probably see some level 5 combos later that will be absolutely devastating.




The next round Annie Sparks Smash, a decent Sword skill for the early game. I included the damage so you can see just how much the combo boosted our damage. Smash is stronger than Double Slash and Liza is doing less than Annie right now. The two attacks separately would probably done about 450 or so, but in a combo that's boosted to 700!


After a few rounds we're not doing too bad. His basic attacks are doing manageable damage and our team has already dealt out a good amount.


Ugh. Supersonic is a Sound based attack, and in Saga Frontier those are notoriously dangerous, so much so that they're what the thread is named after. Annie survives this one with about 7 HP, but keep in mind that Supersonic is by far the weakest Sound attack.

It's a good thing he targeted Annie with it too. Supersonic has a cone based area of effect and if he had chose Emelia or Liza both of them would have taken a hit (or even all three! It's kind of hard to tell sometimes.)



In response Annie sparks Swallow Swing. A nifty skill with anti air properties. Sadly that doesn't apply here.

At this point the battle is starting to drag on. I've hit him with a couple more combos and I figure that he's got to go down soon enough:

Hey!



And we win, but because of this fucker's last ditch attack, Emelia misses out on any stat ups.


Our team jumps down and finds themselves infront of a giant rock which is presumably the Freedom Rune the warden directed us to find.



Once Emelia touches it, the Rune glows and we pan up to see the warden congratulating us.


Every so often when you pass through a plot significant area you'll get this nice little screen with the game logo and some concept art on it. It's a nice touch since in general the concept art is really pretty.


We rejoin Emelia a few days later outside of her house. I guess at this point she doesn't have anywhere else to go.
...Why am I back here? ..Ren's gone...But, where will I go?...Ren...




Suddenly, Ren's killer jumps out and tries to abduct her, but fortunately for Emelia a passerby comes to her rescue.


Ha! Like you're a law-abiding citizen? I'll get you two next time.



After being accosted by our good samaritan, the man in the mask jumps off and Emelia promptly faints because she is a Strong Female Character TM.
Next time we'll find out what happens once Emelia finally comes to. I hope you'll join me then.

dude789 fucked around with this message at Sep 12, 2013 around 01:39

FeyerbrandX
Oct 9, 2012

The Laws of Fiesta are Absolute!


Scalding Coffee posted:

Do you have the Japanese book with huge spoilers?

Speaking of that, how about a challenge, use the canon teams for the final bosses.

including slime

e: nevermind, forgot one was solo in canon, I'm not that cruel.

FeyerbrandX fucked around with this message at Sep 10, 2013 around 12:09

CmdrKing
Oct 14, 2012

Maybe if I called it 'Interpretive Stabbing'...

I know it's earlygame and a boss, but cripes, didn't realize Liza sparked so fast. Granted, Emelia is one of the routes I haven't done so I've never really used her before.

RelentlessImp
Mar 14, 2011


CmdrKing posted:

I know it's earlygame and a boss, but cripes, didn't realize Liza sparked so fast. Granted, Emelia is one of the routes I haven't done so I've never really used her before.

Liza sparks INCREDIBLY fast on hand to hand moves, she's a friggin' prodigy with it. There's a reason she's the favorite for getting the hidden and completely overpowered martial arts move.

Thwack!
Aug 14, 2010

Ability: Shadow Tag


Whoa! You're getting really lucky with sparking some of Annie's techs. Typically, Annie has a pretty hard time learning most Sword techs since she learns a majority of the Sword techs at a fixed 1/256 chance; including SwallowSwing, but you've managed to learn SwallowSwing along with Smash (in which she has a 'talent' for Smash; thus having variable chance depending on the monster in a particular Battle Rank).

Also, I sorta feel silly spoiler-ing those, but I really want to leave it to the LPer to get into the game mechanics more.

Thwack! fucked around with this message at Sep 11, 2013 around 01:09

Glazius
Jul 22, 2007

Hail all those who are able,
any mouse can,
any mouse will,
but the Guard prevail.


I can't wait to find out about this game's mechanics. They all seemed so very obtuse at the time.

dude789
Nov 4, 2009

I'll make your ass sense.

RelentlessImp posted:

Liza sparks INCREDIBLY fast on hand to hand moves, she's a friggin' prodigy with it. There's a reason she's the favorite for getting the hidden and completely overpowered martial arts move.

Here's a fun fact: Annie, Gen, and Red are almost as good as Liza at learning that technique. Liza has a very slight advantage over them, but only early on. There's also one character who's better than Liza but only in specific circumstances which I'll cover a little bit later. Next update is going to be a gameplay one. I'll cover the basic methods of human development as well as a high level overview of what influences stat gains.

RosarioImpale
Oct 27, 2007


Absolutely thrilled to see someone LPing this; I was downright obsessed throughout my early gaming years. I still go back once in a while to read Essence and I always end up learning something new.

Seconding the 'you've been incredibly lucky with Annie', though. She was basically dead weight in almost all of my playthroughs; I don't think I've ever seen her spark more than once in a battle.

FeyerbrandX
Oct 9, 2012

The Laws of Fiesta are Absolute!


RosarioImpale posted:

Absolutely thrilled to see someone LPing this; I was downright obsessed throughout my early gaming years. I still go back once in a while to read Essence and I always end up learning something new.

From someone called Rosario Impale.

Can't wait til you get to the weird stuff. Then again this is one of the weird chapters.

Dareon
Apr 6, 2009


FeyerbrandX posted:

From someone called Rosario Impale.

Can't wait til you get to the weird stuff. Then again this is one of the weird chapters.

That's not saying all that much, there is really only one chapter that's NOT weird.

Maybe two, since Red's is basically a Japanese superhero story.

Thinky Whale
Aug 2, 2012

All that most maddens and torments; all that stirs up the lees of things; all truth with malice in it; all that cracks the sinews and cakes the brain; all the subtle demonisms of life and thought; all evil were visibly personified, and made practically assailable in Fry.

Dareon posted:

That's not saying all that much, there is really only one chapter that's NOT weird.

Something about the sparseness of dialogue makes it even weirder. You have very little to go on, and it's in between long stretches of just running around and fighting monsters. You end up in a kind of trance, waiting for that little light bulb to show up and hit you right in the Pavlov. Then there's the people in the towns that you go to over and over, and the RPG rule to talk to everyone is embedded so far in my brain that I talked to that one boar in Koorong who says city life is making his fur luxurious like twenty times.

I have a strange relationship with this game.

dude789
Nov 4, 2009

I'll make your ass sense.

RosarioImpale posted:

Absolutely thrilled to see someone LPing this; I was downright obsessed throughout my early gaming years. I still go back once in a while to read Essence and I always end up learning something new.

Seconding the 'you've been incredibly lucky with Annie', though. She was basically dead weight in almost all of my playthroughs; I don't think I've ever seen her spark more than once in a battle.

That's pretty cool. If there's anything you want to share from Essence feel free to post it once we reach an appropriate point in the LP. I've seen the translation of Fuse's log and was going to bring it up to talk a bit about what ended up being cut and the different ways that the characters are portrayed in comparisons to their in-game selves. But first I have our first gameplay update!

Gameplay Update 1: Basic Human Development and Stat Growth
So I'd like to preface this by saying that a lot of this information is coming from Zaraktheus's excellent Data and Mechanics Guide over on Gamefaqs. It's a really great resource and you should check it out if you want to dive deeper into the mechanics or understand some of the more arcane elements of the games battle system. Today though we won't be getting to much into the nitty gritty as we're going to go over a high level overview of human development.

First of we'll talk about stats. In Saga Frontier every enemy in the game has a value attached to them that represents a ceiling of sorts for stat growth. In battle this value is dictated by the "main monster." That is to say, the monster that represents the on screen sprite before the fight begins. So in the very first battle we fought in Emelia's scenario, the Xeno we fought was the "main monster" rather than the shellworm because the enemy sprite we encountered on the map was a slime type. In addition, each human character has certain bonus values for certain stats. These bonus values can range from 0-12. Emelia for example gets a bonus of 7 to her charm and will stats making it more likely for her to raise them at the end of battle and giving her a high achievable ceiling in those stats. The simplest way to think of this is just to add monster's stat value to a character's bonus stat value. For reference, the highest easily encounter-able monster has a stat up value of 75. So Emelia can expect for her Will and Charm growth to really slow down once it gets to around 80 or so and probably stop completely a few points after that.

Of course, that's not the only factor to stat growth. Each of the 4 human development methods have modifiers to stat growth. This modifier ranges from 0-8 and is multiplicative. As a result, if a type of action has a 0 associated with a certain stat, there is no chance that the stat will be raised if you exclusively perform that type of action in battle. Martial arts for example will raise strength at a good rate with a growth modifier of 4, but Magic or Guns which have a value of 0 for strength won't raise it at all. If you use multiple action types it will average the growth rates of the development methods. The number of times an action is performed has no influence on this. If a character uses magic 5 times and martial arts once, the calculation will still average them as if they had only done each action once.

Now let's cover each of the 4 major growth methods for creating a human character.

Swords: Swords are probably the most versatile damage focused skillset in the game. They have almost no gaps in solid damage for WP options. If you want to bring out the big guns and do big damage for WP; swords have like 4-5 options. If you want to be more conservative and only spend 4-5 WP while still packing a punch, swords can do that too. Swords also have some really solid multi-target and defensive options that help to set them apart from Guns and Martial Arts which are more single target focused. Key skills for sword users include DoubleSlash, Deflect, GaleSlash/2GaleSlash. Dead End, Kasumi, LifeSprinkler(or TripleThrust/Rosario Impale/Tres Flores/Rising Nova/Turbid Current I told you swords had a lot of damage options.) Also, a subset of the swords skills can only be learned and used with a Katana. Keep this in mind if you're trying to learn Shadow Counter, Moonlight Slash, Blizzard, or Tres Flores. A sword user will gain Strength, Vitality, HP, and WP, at a good rate, Will, Charm, and quickness at a fair rate. JP, Intelligence, and Psychic will not raise if you stick exclusively to swords.

Martial Arts: Training a human up in martial arts is a bit of a gamble. Compared to sword users, their strongest techniques do less damage (still good relative to most of the other races though), have almost no multi-target options (exactly one martial arts move can hit multiple targets and it's bad), and their defensive and counter skills just aren't as good as a sword users. If you're unlucky there just isn't any benefit to raising a martial artist instead of a sword user aside from maybe saving a bit of money by not having to buy weapons. But if you are lucky, and they spark the right combination of skills? Then martial arts will be all worth it. Important skills for a martial artist include Air Throw, Fist, Sway Back, Corkscrew/Sky Twister/Last shot and most importantly 4 skills that I'm going to stay quiet about until we can see them in action. Don't worry. I have plans to show it off by the end of Emelia's quest. A martial artist will gain Strength, Vitality, HP, and WP at a good rate, Quickness, and Will at a fair rate. They will not gain Charm, JP, Intelligence or Psychic if you stick exclusively to martial arts.

Guns: Guns are a neat skillset that's very easy to overlook. It's easily the smallest of the human skillsets, but there's very little that goes to waste. They also learn a couple of neat passives, one of which is vital to a gunner's success. Fortunately, learning gun skills is a lot less random than learning swords or martial arts so it's more a matter of when than if they learn the skill. Gun skills are tend to be very cost effective and combo well. In fact, if equipped properly, and using the right skills, even a gunner's basic physical attack can be devastating. The skillset is perfectly designed to pair up with some spells since a gunner does not need all 8 of their skill slots to be effective, and gunners raise up some of the same stats as magicians. The biggest problems with guns are that they don't inflict many damage types. As a result, enemies who have really high defenses in certain areas won't take a lot of damage from guns. In particular gunners struggle against the undead. Important skills for gunners include Quickdraw, Bound Shot, Trick Shot, and Two Gun. Guns will occasionally need to reload, but in general that's not a big deal. If you have insufficient bullets for an attack, the character will still perform the attack but will go last in the round. If they end the round with 0 bullets they will automatically reload before the start of the next round. Gunners will gain Quickness and Will at a good rate, Charm, HP, WP, Intelligence, Psychic, and Vitality at a fair rate. Gunner's will not gain Strength or JP.

Magic: Humans are one of the two races capable of using magic effectively. Personally, I find them to be a bit better at it than Mystics, the other magic using class, but it ends up being fairly close. The main difference between the two comes down to whether you want more skill slots or better stats. Mystics have better stats than a pure magician human, but humans have 8 skill slots for spells instead of 4. The main thing to keep in mind for a human magician is where they're damage is going to come from. Not all of the magic schools have great damage options so if you're going for a pure mage you might want to pick light magic over shadow for example. In general though, magic is the primary and most versatile support skill set in the game offering a wide range of buffs, debuffs and status effects. Magic will get a whole update to it's own where I'll cover the differences between the major schools. Magicians will gain Intelligence, JP, Will, and Psychic at a good rate, HP, Quickness, and Charm at a fair rate. They will not gain Vitality or Strength.

So overall, the primary advantage humans have over the other races is damage. Mechs are the only other race who can even come close to matching the damage options of humans, and even then the damage ceiling for humans is higher and humans can often sustain the damage for longer. The biggest problems humans have are that their stats can end up lopsided, and they take time to develop. It's much easier to catch up a Mech, Mystic, or Monster at endgame than it is to catch up a human.

In the next gameplay update, I'll talk about how humans learn new skills and go much deeper into the mechanics of sparking.

dude789 fucked around with this message at Sep 19, 2013 around 22:15

FeyerbrandX
Oct 9, 2012

The Laws of Fiesta are Absolute!


Couple things to remember:

If I recall right, Katanas are described as "knife" near the attack power. Or maybe it's "sword," either way it's described oddly, but usually the fancy names give them away.

Also, gun techs and spells are never sparked, but learned after battle. Also you need the gift for magic and yadayadayada.

Thwack!
Aug 14, 2010

Ability: Shadow Tag


Oh man, that's a great summary. To tell you the truth, although Zarak did a bang up job documenting the game mechanics, I couldn't really understand a good portion of what they were saying at the time. You're doing a great job making some sense from the Data Mechanics guide; keep it up!

Also, I've been re-reading the Data Mechanics guide, and I've begun to notice (or rather, recall) some mechanics I was unaware of; namely the magic damage formulas. Even today I'm still learning something new about this game, and this is why I love this game to death!

Thwack! fucked around with this message at Sep 14, 2013 around 13:05

dude789
Nov 4, 2009

I'll make your ass sense.

Thwack! posted:

Oh man, that's a great summary. To tell you the truth, although Zarak did a bang up job documenting the game mechanics, I couldn't really understand a good portion of what they were saying at the time. You're doing a great job making some sense from the Data Mechanics guide; keep it up!

Also, I've been re-reading the Data Mechanics guide, and I've begun to notice (or rather, recall) some mechanics I was unaware of; namely the magic damage formulas. Even today I'm still learning something new about this game, and this is why I love this game to death!

Thanks, I know I certainly had some trouble understanding it at first, and even now I still don't really grasp some of the really complex monster transformation mechanics, but I'll do my best to show how to maximize your chances of success and also give you a good idea of what those chances are without getting to bogged down in numbers.

Should have a new update ready for y'all tomorrow.

dude789
Nov 4, 2009

I'll make your ass sense.

Update 3

In back
This will be a shorter update, but it'll advance the plot of Emelia's quest quite a bit and by the end of it, the world will have significantly opened up for us.


We follow Roufas into the back of the diner into what seems to be a secret base.



We are members of the secret society, Gradius.


Well that's reassuring.

But, you commit all other crimes. Why are criminals like you hanging around in public?
We do what the Patrol can't.

Like assassinations?

I KNOW you know how incompetent they are. An outlaw like Joker can't be caught by conventional means. That's why we're here. What are you going to do?
I'll never forgive Joker. But what are you people after? Why are you following me? Are you also interested in Cube?
I guess I'd better fill you in. I'm sure you've heard a lot of crazies talking about ancient civilizations like Atlantis and Canberra. The truth is they don't know what they're talking about. They don't realize that Trinity is using their ancient technology today, or that the real ruins of those cultures are everywhere.


This is the first time Cube's been mentioned and this is also the quest where it plays the most significant role. I guess we're supposed to infer that Ren was killed because he was working with Cube in some way.

We don't really know what this Cube thing is, but it seems like it can be used to produce energy more powerful than that of nuclear power. Joker wants this and we want to stop him from getting it.
And that's why you approached me.
Will you work with us?
Give me some time to think.



After this we're given the opportunity to wander around a bit and talk to everyone.
One can't live by pretty words alone.
Many years ago Roufas saved my life when I was being mugged by a bunch of teenagers. I was nearly dead and I realized hat the only person I could really count on was myself.
Annie, you lied to me.
I had to. I didn't want to scare you off. Besides I had to get you out of Despair.
Are you also interested in cube?
Not really. I don't really care what they do. All I want is some quick cash. I've got a little brother and sister to take care of.
Must be though.
They're both in institutions. My sister is being adopted by a nice foster family. But, my brother's a troublemaker.
But, I bet he's your favorite.
Yeah that's true. I think we'll get along fine.



We find Liza outside the room, blocking the exit so we can't roam off.
What are YOU going to do?
That's up to you. Never mind I got you out of Despair and Roufas saved you from Joker.
What's Roufas like?
He's one of the heads of Gradius. He's also the commander of the Koorong district. He's tough, good with guns and very smart. Are you worried about him?
...


I understand. But be careful because Joker's still after you.

I chose the second option because I was curious to see if it gave you more dialogue. I was disappointed and seeing as that we have to join to make progress we'll just say Emelia had a quick change of heart.
Did you change your mind?


Hi, I am Emelia.
First you need to go through basic training. We've got to put some muscle on that skinny body of yours.
Training? No one ever said anything about that.
Well you should've asked. Now, let's begin. Annie, you be her partner.
Don't worry, Emelia. It's a piece of cake.


Annie's right, none of the training missions are even remotely threatening.



Target practice consists of shooting out six rounds at a target. It's a tedious way to help catch Emelia up if she falls behind.





Once you've used up all your rounds, the game tells you how many times you missed. 4/6 seems to be about average for this.

Go in whenever you like. Maybe you can get some real combat experience after a little practice.

I wouldn't worry too much about this, Emelia.

Backstreets of Koorong

Don't worry. I'll be with you along the way. And if you see any money bags be sure to pick them up.
The game promptly dumps us in the middle of the Koorong Sewers. I'm pretty sure that the Koorong Sewers are one of those dungeons that have a negative Encounter Rate modifier. This makes them good for catching up characters who join late. Emelia and Annie should be just fine.



We run into a few new enemies like the Skeleton and BattleAxe enemy seen above. They're the basic forms of the Undead and Human enemies. Neither of them will cause a game over by themselves but the BattleAxe can be a bit irritating.



In the first screenshot the BattleAxe is actually blocking Annie's attack. Certain enemies have the ability to block certain attacks and it makes them extremely frustrating. He also hit Emelia kind of hard right there.


If we pass by the ladder at the start of the area we can wind around to the back to find a back of cash. 200 credits aren't too bad for the beginning of the game.



By climbing the ladder we reach one of the backstreets areas of Koorong. The glowing neon sign leads to a rather neat character we can pick up in a few quests. Sadly, Emelia's quest is not one of them. So instead we run up the stairs, dodging some PickBirds along the way.

Koorong



With that we've reached Koorong proper. If there is any main area to Saga Frontier, it's Koorong.There's about 5 shops selling a decent variety of goods as well as a cheap inn. Koorong's airport is also the most diverse in the game, giving access to almost all of the game's main areas.



Our destination is the door that funny looking robot is standing in front of. It leads us back to the Gradius base.


We make our way to the back of the shop and talk to Roufas again to complete the mission.

This mission is now officially completed. You are free till the next mission. But always stay alert, we might need you at anytime.


Well, you still have a rune from Despair, don't you? You might as well collect the rest. Go to Devin to ask where you can find the other three.
Do you still want something?
I'm broke.
Need credits, huh? This is the campaign fund.

At this point the game really opens up to us and we're given the option to recruit a bunch of characters and do some sidequests. Roufas gives us a decent suggestion of how to spend our time. The Rune quest is one of the 2 major magic quests and we're already 1/4 of the way done because of the opening in Despair.

Roufas also gives us a few credits to spend. This is another reason that Emelia's quest is one of the more friendly ones for beginners. If you talk to Roufas at certain times during the game, he'll give Emelia some extra cash. This is especially nice since money can be tight in Saga Frontier.

This is a good stopping point, next time we're going to go recruit a good starting team and do a bit of grinding to make the team a little bit better. I hope you will join me then.

dude789 fucked around with this message at Sep 18, 2013 around 12:24

Glazius
Jul 22, 2007

Hail all those who are able,
any mouse can,
any mouse will,
but the Guard prevail.


Can you actually pick up stats and techs from target practice?

Thwack!
Aug 14, 2010

Ability: Shadow Tag


Glazius posted:

Can you actually pick up stats and techs from target practice?

I remember ending up getting a point in Quickness, so I guess you could probably learn a skill too.

Alectai
Dec 31, 2008

It doesn't matter how long I live, I will never have a hat as dashing as this.

Glazius posted:

Can you actually pick up stats and techs from target practice?

Only a little bit, it's there to help you if you get stat-screwed with Emelia during Despair, or if she spends half of it dead or something.

RabidWeasel
Aug 4, 2007

Cultures thrive on their myths and legends...and snuggles!


The dialogue in this game is so weird

Thinky Whale
Aug 2, 2012

All that most maddens and torments; all that stirs up the lees of things; all truth with malice in it; all that cracks the sinews and cakes the brain; all the subtle demonisms of life and thought; all evil were visibly personified, and made practically assailable in Fry.

The dialogue makes way more sense if you think of it as somebody's bare-bones notes that were supposed to be fleshed out later.

dude789
Nov 4, 2009

I'll make your ass sense.

RabidWeasel posted:

The dialogue in this game is so weird

It is indeed. I think a large part of it is that the dialogue tries to be somewhat contemporary but it's also very terse. Emelia's quest is also one of the more lighthearted ones and the attempts at humor in the game are kind of awkward. Emelia being dragged into things because Roufas omitted some crucial piece of information is going to be a common occurrence.

Raitzeno
Nov 24, 2007

What? It seemed like
a good idea at the time.


This has always been one of my favorite games and I've come back to it a dozen or more times. I'm a big fan of several of the stories and absolutely can't stand a few. It's always hilarious trying to explain this game to someone who hasn't heard of it, especially in the mechanics, just because there is so much going on. It's also both really difficult if you don't pick up on certain things quick and severely breakable if you know how to exploit certain mechanics (and glitches!) and where/when/if you can do each of those exploits in each campaign.

Shazzner
Feb 9, 2004

HAPPY GAMES ONLY



The glitches are really one of the best things about this neat little rpg. Overdrive/stasis (if I remember the names correctly), being my favorite.

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Funktor
May 17, 2009

Burnin' down the disco floor...
Fear the wrath of the mighty FUNKTOR!


On for the ride. This was one of my favorite late 90's games, and one that I always have in the back of my mind as something to return to. I'm looking forward to getting a better understanding of game mechanics than I ever had as a kid.

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