For those who don’t know, Romancing SaGa -Minstrel Song- Remastered is a remaster of Square Enix’s 2005 JRPG Romancing SaGa: Minstrel Song which was itself a remake of the original Romancing SaGa from 1992. The newest release of the game features overhauled visuals, ports to numerous modern systems, and even fresh content for new and returning fans. However, its efforts to make it more approachable for newcomers are not enough. But fans looking to revisit its world should find more than enough to love in its newest release.
Minstrel Song allows players to explore the world of Mardias, where evil gods that were defeated countless years ago threaten to awaken. The title is structured as an anthology featuring eight stories following different playable characters that each have their own role in the game’s greater story. Each story features a unique class, a wide range of characters to interact with and recruit to your party, and an entire region of the world to explore throughout their adventure.
The unconventional structure of Minstrel Song is one of its most appealing aspects. It gives a larger sense of scale to the game’s world and events while allowing it to stay grounded in its playable characters. This is helped by the world progressing with or without the player. If one drags their feet attending to side quests for too long, that storyline will resolve itself without them.
However, the game’s various stories have aged quite poorly. They are so barebones and simplistic that it is difficult to imagine any player who has played other JPRGs to find it particularly engaging. Its story beats and dialogue are delivered to the player in the style of reading an outline. Characters awkwardly state plot elements in a stilted manner, while most side quests have a sentence or two at most of the context and are little more than general objectives like “find this treasure.”
The story also suffers from a general lack of direction. Early in most of the character’s stories, there isn’t even a single entry in the player’s quest log that relates to the main quest for the first hour or so. This is done to encourage players to explore the game’s environments at the price of often feeling directionless or confused early on. The main problem with this approach is that the game’s exploration just isn’t fun or interesting. Exploration in Minstrel Song is like exploring a corn maze. Players can go where they want and in their preferred order, but all there is to find are dead ends and useless encounters that feel like a waste of time.
Exploring also forces players into many more combat encounters than are necessary to progress through the game. Combat holds many of the trademark mechanics that helped provide Romancing SaGa with its identity in 1992. This includes decreasing the durability of weapons by using special moves, party members randomly learning new moves by fighting higher-leveled enemies, and a combo system that rewards players for strategic turns. Each character also starts with a class that is leveled by spending the jewels that players receive from completing battles while their individual stats are randomly raised during combat.
Most of these systems are fine but aren’t explained to the player very well, so newcomers will likely need to consult a wiki or spend some time teaching themselves through trial and error. Once one gets used to the combat mechanics, they often oscillate between engaging and dreadfully dull. This is because of the sheer number of repeated enemies in encounters and the lack of a difficulty setting. When fights are more punishing and demand that the player approach them using everything in their toolkit, it is an absolute blast, but those encounters make up far less than half of the ones players will partake in throughout a playthrough. The remainder of the battles are so easy that one can usually mash the select button until it is over, especially as party members automatically heal in between battles.
It is a shame that more difficulty options weren’t added with all of Minstrel Song’s additions to the game. However, the remaster does add new playable classes, makes fan-favorite NPCs recruitable to one’s party, adds some new bosses that are pretty challenging, and adds a New Game+ mode. It also upgrades the game’s visuals to be charming and brimming with character. The character models and environments are all great, but that does make some of the game’s cutscenes stand out with their poorer quality. These cutscenes are assembled as still paintings with audio tracks playing over them, and they don’t look to have gotten the same attention the rest of the game’s visuals have. As a result, their visuals look blurry and stretched out, while they also impose a square aspect ratio that is absent for the rest of the game.
All in all, fans hoping to return to a game they are already familiar with will likely be very satisfied with Romancing SaGa -Minstrel Song- Remastered. It does an admirable job of remastering the game’s visuals and adds a considerable amount of new content for fans to engage with. Unfortunately, it doesn’t do quite enough to make the game accessible or interesting enough for most newcomers to spend their time elsewhere.
Romancing SaGa -Minstrel Song- Remastered is available now on Android, iOS, PC PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and Switch.
Romancing SaGa -Minstrel Song- Remastered
- Rating - 5/105/10
Fans hoping to return to a game they are already familiar with will likely be very satisfied with Romancing SaGa -Minstrel Song- Remastered. It does an admirable job of remastering the game’s visuals and adds a considerable amount of new content for fans to engage with. However, it doesn’t do quite enough to make the game accessible or interesting enough for most newcomers.
Arron is a writer and video editor for But Why Tho? that is passionate about all things gaming, whether it be on a screen or table. When he isn’t writing for the site he’s either playing Dungeons & Dragons, watching arthouse movies, or trying to find someone to convince that the shooter Brink was ahead of its time.
March 20, 2023