Legend of Legacy

Nintendo 3DS

Reviewed: 10/17/2015

It’s been a decade to the month that a game in the SaGa franchise was released stateside, in the form of Romancing Saga: Minstrel Song. This is, perhaps, for good reason: while the series tends to fare pretty well in Japan, stateside the series tends to get mixed reviews and only moderate sales on their best day. Thus, it is surprising that the spiritual successor of the franchise developed by Furyu, The Legend of Legacy, would receive a stateside release courtesy of Atlus. The game boasts a fine pedigree of artists, programmers and writers who once worked for both Square Enix and Level 5, some of which (like Kyoji Koizumi) actually have worked on previous titles in the SaGa series. To this end, the first time player should at least feel like they are getting an authentic SaGa experience, but will this relate to an enjoyable playing experience? This is a difficult question to compare when the series has so many of its own love-them-or-leave-them mechanics.

The mysterious world of Avalon has suddenly appeared and needs exploring. Seven characters rise to the challenge. Each has their own starting quirks and reason for adventuring, which gives a framework in which the player can build a strategy upon, but ultimately none of this is written in stone; with the right leveling any character can theoretically fill any role. The story is exceptionally bare-bones and come-to-realize, practically a feature of SaGa games since Final Fantasy Legend.


A flaw, however, lies in the tiny amount of development on the individual characters themselves. Previous games forsook a linear story for an interesting world and characters with unique reasons to explore it; The Legend of Legacy by comparison has very basic archetypes that ultimately don’t matter outside of background flavor. For example, Filmia is a frog prince from a lost kingdom, but not much is discussed about his actual kingdom until fairly late in the game. Owen is a mercenary who is an established fighter whose constant victories have made him exceptionally full of himself, but this doesn’t really matter while he’s traveling, and practically seems forgotten late game.

There are a few side-stories that are character specific, but no matter which character the player chooses they’re going to see a lot of the same re-purposed dialogue and the same boss fight with the same ending. It seems like a rather missed opportunity, truth be told.

The world is functional. As the player travels across a map, elements of the map show themselves; this gives a real sense of discovery. There are fights on the map in the guise of creatures representing full encounters; each creature has a different way of moving depending on its type which can be learned to ultimately be avoided or exploited if the player wishes. Even on the most frustrating of maps, there’s a real sense of being in control, of feeling like just maybe this encounter can be run away from or that encounter is one that the player can get the jump on. It’s satisfying, its old school, and it’s also a staple of many former SaGa games. It’s a shame that there seems to be a few more color swaps and re-skins of enemies than one might be used to in the modern JRPG, but it works.


The art style is sharp, and draws favorable comparisons to both former games in the franchise like the watercolor stylings of SaGa Frontier 2, and games that have charted well stateside that aren’t in the series like Bravely Default. The characters look solid, and the landscapes looked fantastic yet believable. It would have been nice if there was more variety in the creatures the player fought, however. In battle, there’s a number of combat abilities and magical spells, which range from “I’ve seen that in every other RPG ever” to “Well, that was a thing;” these are another missed opportunity the reviewer felt could have been fleshed out more.

The music sounds familiar and feels familiar because it is familiar. The soundtrack does its best when it is showing off up tempo flair, like its boss battles. When exploring, it can come off as inoffensively generic and bland. There’s some beautiful piano work in a few of the tracks that really stood out, as well. Most of the tracks seem to forsake a heavily orchestrated feel for a lighter, simpler sound that sets the backdrop for the maps they are in and then is promptly forgotten. In short, the sound track works well within the confines of the game, but don’t warrant much play outside of it.

Where The Legend of Legacy will be most scrutinized and examined is its battle system. The player character, and two characters the player recruits, work together by using set abilities from equipped weapons and spells to create combos and ultimately unleash new abilities and unlock new combos. The abilities used in battle play an influencing role in what stats level up on the character, and ultimately the player will want to find the best combos for the setup they are using. This is often interrupted by the fact that combos don’t always go off as intended. Sometimes, a character acts sooner than expected. Other times, the character learns a new skill which would be great in the long-term, but in the short term can throw an entire battle because the combo that was needed to secure victory has been sabotaged. Other times, the combo simply doesn’t work at all.

Players will also need to set battle formations for their character. This is done by setting specific stances for their character: Attack, Defense, and Support. Each stance has its own benefits, but also sets a player up to be vulnerable to specific enemy formations and attacks. They will also learn how to cast magic from one of the three elements available to the player (Fire, Water and Wind) which has a Paper-Rock-Scissor effect with the game and also clashes against a fourth type of magic that is only available to enemies. It takes a bit to learn, but once the basics were there the system felt intuitive and challenging. It is worth noting that the game expects the player to pay attention to an elemental affinity for the map or area that the characters are currently on, as at times some magic works better than others. There’s also some skill to knowing when to stop using an element, as increasing its strength during a fight for the players means it can also do more damage for the enemies who might use the same magic, as well. Finally, certain monsters can actually steal the contract to an element away, meaning the player can’t use magic of its affinity until they steal it back. This will keep players on their toes, as opposed to settling into a grind of hoping the same combo will go off time after time.

It’s a good thing that the fights in The Legend of Legacy feel so satisfying, because there’s so many of them. Fortunately, running away from a single battle takes the party all the way back to the entrance of a map, which means they can go get healed up if they absolutely need it. Unfortunately, every time a player falls in battle and then is cured back to consciousness, their maximum HP goes down. This isn’t permanent, but it means that returning to full health can only be done away from the battlefield, which can break up the flow of progress and make a particularly bad random encounter completely ruin an entire crawl of an area. At least the game forsakes the idea of equipment that can break or Life Points, two staples of previous SaGa titles.

The Legend of Legacy is a solid game, through and through, but the rub is that it’s a solid SaGa style game. This means the question the potential player needs to ask isn’t “Is this game good?” but rather “Do I like SaGa style games?” If the player does, this game is a welcome addition to their library. If the player is unsure, this is the first time in ten years they’ll be able to learn for themselves. If they’ve disliked previous titles in the franchise, they’re not going to find this games lack of a real story, difficulty spikes, or pseudo-random stat leveling any more fun here. If there is one hidden boon for the game, it’s that the success or failure of this spiritual successor to the SaGa series may influence the likelihood of the franchise’s next actually successor, the announced SaGa: Scarlet Grace for the Playstation Vita, coming stateside as well.

-Timothy Olsen

Score Breakdown
Out of 10
See our Review Criteria
Gameplay Great
Story Bad
Graphics Great
Sound/Music Very Good
Replay Value Very Good
The Verdict: Yep, it’s a SaGa game