Bard Banter is a series which highlights great music found within the best genre of all – the RPG.
As the resident SaGa fan of SwitchRPG, I cannot wait until the Collection of SaGa releases on December 15, 2020. Consisting of the first three SaGa games, this collection sums up the better part of my earliest years as an RPG fan, where my original GameBoy was at the ready wherever I went. If you’re wondering why you should care about three GameBoy games from two decades ago, then consider checking this article out that explains why it coming to the Switch is definitely a good thing.
For now, though, let’s highlight what is easily one of the best features present in this collection: the music. Interestingly enough, each of the three games utilize a different composer, but somehow manage to feel like a cohesive unit even though they are stylistically different and disconnected narratively. Collectively, these composers were pushing the limits of the hardware well before more famous GameBoy franchises – looking at you, Pokemon! – stole the limelight. Below, I’ll share some of my favorites from each of the three games. And for the ideal experience, listen to these tracks with headphones on — you won’t regret it!
Final Fantasy Legend
Final Fantasy Legend had the honor of achieving many firsts beyond simply being the first game in the SaGa series (otherwise known as Makai Toushi SaGa). It was the first game to sell over a million copies for Square, and it was also the very first RPG on the original GameBoy. Mechanically, this one hasn’t aged the best, but does have the honor of featuring a soundtrack by none other than Nobuo Uematsu. From the incredibly creepy and unsettling Cave theme to the upbeat, “against all odds” Tower theme, Uematsu shows that he’s a master of his craft in spite of his relative inexperience (as a video game composer specifically) at the time.
Final Fantasy Legend II
Final Fantasy Legend II was released only a year after the first game in Japan in 1990. Despite this short window of time, Legend II would feature a far more robust experience than that of its predecessor, including (in my opinion) the soundtrack. Uematsu would return for this entry, but would be working alongside longtime SaGa composer Kenji Ito rather than it being a solo endeavor. And boy, does it show in the work they did together, with the game having some of the very best works of all time by Ito even though this was their first gig. Between some bloodpumpingly wicked boss themes to the adventuring spirit exuding in the Overworld theme, these tracks are some of the best that the GameBoy has to offer.
Save The World
Final Fantasy Legend III
The final game in the SaGa collection is interesting because it doesn’t feature Uematsu or Ito. Yes, before Ito would more or less commandeer the SaGa composing seat, Ryuji Sasai and Chihiro Fujioka would be tasked with composing for Final Fantasy Legend III. These two don’t skip a beat however, putting together a soundtrack that seems to only get better each time I listen to it. While stylistically different from the first two games, Sasai and Fujioka put together a package that is both eclectic and memorable. Fun fact: Ryuji Sasai went on to compose for Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest – another criminally underrated soundtrack.
And there you have it! I hope you enjoyed this sneak peek of what is to come in the Collection of SaGa in December! What are some of YOUR favorite tracks from this trilogy of titles?