Part 1: Introduction
What is 7th Saga?
7th Saga is a console RPG for the Super Nintendo system released in 1993 (that's after Final Fantasy 2/4 and before Final Fantasy 3/6 and Chrono Trigger, for reference). It is a fairly traditional one, where you pick your hero and adventure your way through a generic fantasy world seeking mysterious runes which will grant great power and leadership or something to the world of Ticondera.
While the system is simple, it's also marginally interesting, and there is a degree of replay value in the game's seven characters. Or would be if anyone could stand to play this game more than once. Anyway, each Apprentice (as they are called) is somewhat unique in terms of their stats, equipment they can use, spells they can cast, and so forth. You mostly play solo, but there is a chance of befriending one of the other Apprentices and teaming up.
The translation is reasonably okay for a SNES RPG, with some interesting exceptions. The storyline is generic but has some twists and a very unique ending that would make you hate the game even more if you didn't already hate it as much as is possible to begin with.
Also, and of foremost importance, this game is hard as balls, which is probably how you're familiar with it if you've ever heard of it in the first place.
Who is Responsible For This Madness?
Enix (before their merger with Squaresoft). You may have heard of them. This is not necessarily the hardest RPG they ever released, but it's close.
Okay, So It's Hard?
In as few words as possible: Yes.
This game is notorious for its difficulty. Grinding experience levels is absolutely required, many bosses (and especially the other Apprentices) are ruthlessly hard and scale to your level to boot, and the gear you need is never available when you actually need it.
To top it off, there are parts of the game where, unless you have been grinding properly, victory against even the weakest monsters is basically impossible, and in at least one potential encounter, literally impossible. That's right, fuck this up and you cannot win this game. And it's not a bug, it's just that hard.
Oh yes, lest I forget, due to a bug, experience is rather difficult to acquire and the game caps your level lower than it's supposed to, so even if you grind out as far as possible you're never going to quite be where you need to be.
So How Does It Work?
Like any traditional RPG, it starts with your character. The game conveniently offers us a choice from the seven Apprentices, and runs the gamut of fantasy races: humans, elves, dwarves, demons, an alien and a robot. Really. In fact, let's meet them right now!
Name: Kamil Dowonna
Class: Generic Fighter
Overview: Kamil is the "baseline" character of 7th Saga. Average in pretty much every way, he's not hard to use and fairly well-balanced for any purpose. He can equip most of the heaviest armor and strongest weapons, so upgrading his equipment will be important. His stat development is also quite ordinary and not too deficient in any area.
Spoilers: There's really not much to spoil. Kamil's pretty average, but he does get some magic, and he's not terrible with it, which puts him pretty high up on the list of heavy-armor characters. He learns healing spells and fire magic primarily, which is actually incredibly nice. His MP is generally lacking, and all his stats raise fairly evenly across the board, which isn't necessarily a good thing.
Difficulty: Average to Moderately Tough
Name: Olvan Jaess
Class: Generic Fighter With Beard
Overview: Olvan is a dwarf. This means he likes armor, axes, beer, and not casting magic spells.
Spoilers: Olvan has the highest natural attack power and decent defense, and can equip pretty much the broadest range of gear. If you're looking for a physical asswhipper, he's one of the good ones. He's an absolutely terrible spellcaster, at least offensively. He learns a couple attack spells but they suck and aren't comparable to his physical strength, which is enormous. He does, however, learn some healing spells and a defense buff, which stacks with his armor and makes him pretty damn tough. Unlike the other physical characters, Lux and Wilme, he actually upgrades gear, which makes him weaker early on but capable of catching up or even surpassing them later.
Name: Esuna Busy
Class: Token Female
Overview: Esuna is a spellcaster with terrible physical prowess. Also she's the game's only woman. Not that I'm trying to imply anything there, Enix. She's the Black Mage, the badass spellcaster who blows shit up.
Spoilers: Esuna doesn't learn fire attack spells, but mainly focuses on ice magic. There's not a huge amount of difference. Esuna's gear is extremely limited and she will be passed around like a blunt on a doorstoop until she comes into her own. She has by far the most MP and learns some healing and buffing spells in addition to powerful attack magic. Unfortunately, she really, really needs to buff to stay alive. The good news is she's fast, and so if she outlevels enemies she should be able to blow them up before they can attack. Being MP-reliant has its share of risks, though. She could be ridiculously overpowered if teamed with Valsu, assuming one can get that far without going completely insane.
Difficulty: Very Hard
Name: Wilme Pelin
Species: Alien (no mention of what kind)
Overview: Wilme is an alien, a fact which seems to cause the citizens of Ticondera no distress whatsoever. It's never specifically stated whether he's from another planet or just overstaying his student visa. Wilme doesn't use much in the way of equipment, because of those spikes on his arms which I guess make it difficult to wear a shirt.
Spoilers: Wilme is a badass motherfucker. He sacrifices his spellcasting power for excellent attack power and defense, but needs both because he gains most of his power from leveling up and not from buying new gear. Did I mention he has basically no gear? He also gains gobs of HP every level, but he'll get hit pretty hard and he can't heal himself. In fact, his spells should be largely ignored, because he doesn't have anything good and his MP and magic skill are both atrocious. He more or less needs Valsu as his partner or he's going to die. Finally, Wilme is a cock who flies solo, which means he probably won't join another character as an ally. Luckily, this restriction doesn't apply if you're playing as him.
Difficulty: Moderately Hard
Name: Lux Tijer
Species: Tetujin (that's Japanese for "robot")
Overview: LUX IS A ROBOT. LUX SPEAKS IN CAPITAL LETTERS. LUX PUNCHES THINGS AND HAS LASERS. LUX DOES NOT UNDERSTAND THE HUMAN CONCEPT OF PANTS.
Spoilers: As an eons-old robot, Lux has a lot of trouble finding good equipment, but he fortunately starts with probably the best loadout in the game. He's one of the few characters who doesn't die instantly right out of the gate and can afford to be more aggressive and grind harder and longer. However, he's not terribly exciting since he doesn't upgrade much and his laser and thunder spells aren't terribly impressive because his magic sucks. He's harder than he initially seems, because his starting equipment will not last and he doesn't upgrade for a long time.
Difficulty: Average Early, Hard Late
Name: Valsu Saizer
Class: Pope Hat
Overview: Valsu is the healer guy. His equipment sucks like Esuna's but he has marginally better natural physical stats. He's pretty good at magic stuff.
Spoilers: Valsu is the best character in the game after lv42 when he learns the Elixir spell. Due to oversight, brain damage, or twisted intent, Elixir restores its target to full HP and MP, AND THE MP USED TO CAST ELIXIR IS DEDUCTED BEFORE MP IS RESTORED. This means that, yes, Valsu is completely invincible against anything that cannot kill him in one hit. This is somewhat problematic if you are fighting him, since you will never be able to defeat him. Ever. Better hope he doesn't jack your rune because you'll never get it back, ever. He's hell to level up but he's fairly friendly and, without question, the best ally Apprentice. If you guys don't pick him, I'm almost guaranteed to try to ally with him. This game is hard enough without an invincible priest running around loose. He has other magic but who gives a shit, he's IMMORTAL AFTER LEVEL 42.
Difficulty: Impossible Early, Immortal Late
Name: Lejes Rimul
Overview: Lejes is for some reason the cool and popular apprentice. He's a dick, he's evil, and he's focused pretty heavily on dealing physical or magical damage. His stats are balanced like Kamil's, and he can use a decent selection of equipment (better than Esuna and Valsu, worse than Kamil and Olvan).
Spoilers: Lejes is really overrated. He's got a good mix of spells but his balanced stats mean he won't hit as hard as Esuna with them, he can't heal at all, and his buffs come fairly late. His biggest problem is defense, which is nearly as bad as the mages. Lejes is also, you know, a DEMON, so Valsu will hate him and most of the other Apprentices don't care for him either, which limits the ally options. That's a problem because, like other non-healing characters, he really needs an ally.
Difficulty: Pretty Hard. No matter how cool people think he looks, Lejes is the bitch for most of the game.
As a general warning, 7th Saga mostly wastes you with massive physical damage, which is why the low-defense characters are harder to work with early on. Magic has a prominent role in boss fights though. Relying on MP can be quite difficult, as money is scarce and you can lose most of it if you die unless you're clever.
About This Thread
There is a video here, and I may try some other videos as we go along for Apprentice and boss fights, but for the most part things will be told through screenshots and commentary. This game has an assload of grinding, which I will mostly gloss over, but I do intend to actually do the grinding part. The game isn't really possible without it anyway.
There aren't too many interactive bits in the game, other than the major question of character selection (and name, which we can change if we want), but I might take some input on minor decisions when they arise. For the most part, this will just be a journey through RPG hell with all the requisite insanity that comes with it. I'll also be trying my hardest to break every little aspect of the system. It's not as exploitable as some games.
I will also be trying to set up certain events, such as unwinnable Apprentice battles and horrific deaths to random monsters, to demonstrate just how easily this game can be lost. Also I may try to win.
Anyway, the major thing is to pick a character. It will pretty much determine how hard the game is (from "fairly hard" to "fuck you guys") and how much I hate you. Once that's decided, we can explore the first town, step outside, and be killed over and over by birds. Prepare yourself for epic adventure!