The 7th Saga/Gameplay
The old king Lemele recruited seven apprentices from all over the world of Ticondera. After five years of training, the apprentices are ready to start their quest to collect seven magic Runes.
You are one of those apprentices, and this is your story. But beware: the other six are looking for the Runes as well, and they'll try to get them by any means!
In The 7th Saga (originally Elnard) you control a hero and a team of just two adventurers in a quest across the fantasy world of Ticondera. During the game, the party members can progressively acquire several weapons and armors, but also many other items and a wide array of spells.
The 7th Saga is a role-playing video game. Specifically, it belongs to the sub-genre of Japanese-style RPVGs.
Three aspects that can define the genre of RPGs are listed here, and they apply to The 7th Saga as well:
- Text is an essential part of the game, and the characters have to talk and interact with non-evil characters to proceed in the adventure;
- There are permanent upgrades, in the form of enhancements of the various attributes of the characters (attack, strength, magic etc.);
- There is freedom of exploration, all the areas are connected by an "overworld", and areas that have been previously cleared can usually be re-visited; in other words, the game is non-linear.
Japanese-style RPVGs like The 7th Saga focus more on the plot, while American-style RPVGs focus more on exploration and "body-building" of the characters. Nevertheless, all three aspects are present in every RPG.
There are three modes of play: safe area, enemy-infested area, and in-battle.
When the player is in a safe area, usually in a town, (s)he can walk around as much as (s)he wants. The player can talk to non-player characters (NPCs), buy and sell items, search for hidden items, and rest at an inn. Also the player may duel the other characters, or even convince one to assist in the search for the runes.
When the player is in an enemy-infested area, the Magic Crystal item in the top-left appears. That crystal shows where enemies are, where cities and dungeons are, and where a rune is located. If a white dot gets too close to the center, a battle will break out. The player must move around quickly while grabbing chests and finding the way, since the enemies are always getting closer.
When the player is in battle, the perspective shows the character and ally, if any, from behind looking at one to three enemies. The player then select a command and take turns with the enemy and ally. The player can attack, defend, cast a spell, use an item, or run. If the player wins, his/hers character gets experience points and gold. If he loses, half of his/her money will be gone. If the player loses to one of the other main characters, his/her rune will be taken by that character. One common tactic before talking to a potential playable ally is to save the game first, then to talk to see if that character is hostile, and if he/she is, reset the game.
Gaining experience results in attaining levels which improve a character's skill. Buying better weapons and armor with the money improves a character's fighting ability. Note that due to space constraints, the names most equipment you obtain are severely abbreviated.
Saving the game
You can only save your game at the inns that are found in every town.
The 7th Saga is one of three games made by Produce & Enix for the SNES. The three together can be referred to as the "Elnard Trilogy".
- Brain Lord has a different gameplay from the other two games; anyway, it shares some plot elements with them, including the name of some characters;
- Mystic Ark is commonly considered the real sequel of The 7th Saga;
- A fourth game, Mystic Ark: Maboroshi Gekijo was made for PS1, but very little is known about it outside Japan.
The 7th Saga shares elements with many other RPGs, especially those where the player controls a team of characters and where there is clear separation between white and black magic. Some famous examples are the following:
- The Dragon Quest series, starting from the third episode;
- The Final Fantasy series;
- The Seiken Densetsu series.