Getting Started With Final Fantasy Legend (Collection of SaGa Tips)
With the Collection of SaGa having released today, it will undoubtedly bring both old and new players into the fray. The latter may be especially confused as to why things feel so different in comparison to a traditional JRPG, particularly if they have started with the first game in the collection, Final Fantasy Legend. SaGa games are notoriously elusive in regards to their mechanics and direction, and Legend being the very first entry and over 30 years old now, it is doubly so.
That is why I’ve compiled a list of tips on how to get started! Keep in mind that these are catered towards absolute newcomers (and only those just getting started) but even returning players may have their memories refreshed by some of them, as well.
Party Makeup Matters
Final Fantasy Legend allows the player to build a party of four characters, each of which can be from one of the following races: Human, Mutant, or Monster. Your single, initial character will have bonus base stats and slightly better equipment, but you are then able to quickly fill out the rest of the party via the guild services in town. There are subtle differences in stats and equipment between the genders of each race, but not in a substantial, long-term way. While the beauty of SaGa games lies in its freedom and customization, you should be aware of each race’s strengths and weaknesses prior to committing to a full party.
Humans, like the Fighter in Final Fantasy, are the most expensive to maintain, but have large equipment pools and have the potential to be the strongest units stat-wise in the game. This power comes at a significant cost, however, because Humans do not naturally gain stat increases, instead relying solely on gear and one-time use items that provide permanent bonuses to stats. These stat-boosting items can be very expensive, and is multiplied by the number of Human units in your party. For these reasons, it is recommended to have at least one or two Humans in any party, but any more could spell significant downtime due to their grinding requirements.
Mutants start out very weak, but almost immediately make up for it through natural (but random) stat increases and ability progression. Any random encounter can result in abilities gained or stats increased for Mutant party members, and they become extremely powerful very quickly as a result. There is some RNG involved to their actual usefulness, since their abilities can come and go at any time. Additionally, their equipment slots are severely limited in comparison to Humans because of their abilities taking up half of their personal inventory. In spite of their downsides, Mutants are extremely useful in any party because of their potential for natural growth without resorting to stat-boosting items. Like Humans, it is best to have at least one or two of these in your roster.
Monsters are the most unique of the bunch, as they cannot equip anything and can only grow stronger (or weaker) through eating the corpses of slain enemies. There is some logic behind how the evolution process works, but that is beyond the scope of this article. In theory, however, Monster party members will grow powerful over time by eating this meat, especially those that come from more powerful enemies and boss units. Furthermore, Monster ability charges are replenished any time you use an Inn, so they require very little upkeep. While Monsters can become powerful, they can also downgrade depending on the meat they eat, so it is never a good move to build an all-monster party unless you just find pleasure in pain.
If you’re unsure as to what kind of party to build, a two Human, two Mutant setup is a safe, balanced bet, with the option of replacing one of either race with a Monster should you choose to do so. Ultimately, there are ways to change up your party even after you’ve committed to four…but that does come at a cost, making the initial decision one that shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Stick Close To Town
Death is immensely punishing in Final Fantasy Legend, to the point that party members can be rendered permanently dead if you make too many mistakes. For this reason, it is best to stick very close to town until you have a base level of progression behind you. Inns and potions will be your very best friends at first, and consider reaching for both after every encounter until you can better stand on your own.
Why? Because each party member has a set number of hearts, which are basically used as currency should they die on the battlefield. Once a team member’s hearts have been used up, they’re done, and you’ll have to recruit another party member and start them from ground zero. There is an item that can be purchased that will restore hearts to party members, but it is incredibly expensive and completely out of reach in the opening hours of the game.
Your main priority at the beginning will be to grind while hugging the town, slowly saving up for some basic armor so that your units can survive venturing out ever further. Progression will be difficult and tedious at first, but it definitely gets easier after the initial hump.
Gear Isn’t Created Equal
Final Fantasy Legend handles gear quite differently in comparison to the traditional JRPG. For starters, most weapons have charges (or durability) and will be rendered useless once they reach zero. Weapons generally do not boost base stats in any way either, and each one’s potency is tied to different stats.
For example, the Long Sword has its potency increased by the STR stat, while the Rapier relies on AGI for increased damage. There is no in-game explanation or tooltip for this, so experimentation (or an external reference) will be necessary. If a certain weapon doesn’t seem to be doing much damage for a specific character, try swapping it to another as the one in question may not be tied to that character’s best stat.
This goes without saying, but is especially important when it comes to SaGa games. The developers have always allowed players to save virtually anywhere in most SaGa titles, and Final Fantasy Legend is no exception. Don’t be afraid to save after every fight until you get a bit stronger, and always save before fighting bosses (they are quite obvious on the map). Simple, but often underused command!
Grind, Grind, Grind
Final Fantasy Legend embraces the grind, and this will be further amplified based on your chosen party makeup. Fortunately, after a base level of progression is established, there are some quick and easy grinding spots accessible from the very first map. And you’ll want to take advantage of solid grinding spots any time you are able, as the game will only get substantially more difficult as you go.
The heroes will be seeking a set of equipment in order to progress the narrative, and because of it will be going to a few different dungeons across the map. Within their walls lies some visible enemies that, when spoken to, will initiate a random encounter. They generally will not disappear when defeated, meaning you can talk to them again and initiate another fight.
There are a few places where you can use this to your advantage for some quick and easy money and stat increases, notably the southern castle. As long as you’re keeping check on the party’s vitals (and are powerful enough) you can easily hold down a button here (if a visible enemy is pinned against a wall) and just go to town. Using the built-in speedup function in this version, as well as setting the text speed to 1 from the menu can make for an even more efficient grind. Be careful setting the text speed to “fast,” however, because it can make important narrative text very difficult to read when combined with the other speedup function.
Final Fantasy Legend uses similar mechanics to some of the early NES Final Fantasies that punishes you for stacking too many attacks on a single target. For example, if you target a single enemy with all four characters but it only takes two attacks to defeat it, then the other two queued attacks are wasted and will not automatically move on to the next target (if any). This was but a minor annoyance in the original Final Fantasy, but is even more of an issue here because it will still use a charge of the attack even if it isn’t used on the target. Therefore, it pays to keep an eye out and diversify your assault when faced with a group of varied enemies.
Final Fantasy Legend can be brutally difficult at first, but gets much easier after the opening hour or so and some base knowledge. Don’t be afraid to reference other guides along the way – this is the inaugural entry into one of the most obscure franchises out there, on top of its decades-old framework.
I hope you found at least one of these tips useful! If you have any other tips that might be beneficial for others, then please drop them in the comments below. Also, let me know how YOU are enjoying the Collection of SaGa so far. Happy hunting!