OK, Maybe Not

So, last time we left off, we had just done some routine monster-punching, but when we returned to Avalon, we found something terrible had happened, with the front guards lying unconscious or dead on the ground...

Romancing SaGa 2 (Steam) Screenshot: Leon finds Victor on the ground in town

Entering the city, Leon and Gerard are horrified to see Victor lying on the ground in severe condition. Leon tries to find out what happened, but Victor can't get much out before he passes away. Gerard and Leon cry out for him, but he is gone.

Romancing SaGa 2 (Steam) Screenshot: Victor confronting Kzinssie in Avalon

We get a little flashback scene of Victor battling Kzinnsie in town. Kzinssie is a really interesting design, and not just in his wacky name. He's like... a worm? with a weird giant goblin head, and like... one of those beefy arms on him for good measure. And he has a weird sword with a face on it (and I meant to comment in the last entry about how the giant had like... baby faces for kneepads, but I got too distracted by GIANT MUSTACHE) so overall he's just super weird. Sadly that blue thing on his face is like a scarf or something and not a beard (I thought it was a beard at first).

Kzinssie artwork from Imperial SaGa

Since I tried to keep this game much a secret from myself before playing it, one of my first encounters ever seeing Kzinssie was in Imperial SaGa, where I really fell in love with this artwork of him. As you may well know, I'm a monsterfucker and I have a thing for monsters with those like... pointy features on their heads...? It's kind of hard to explain lol. But he also has a giant nose in that art so like. Yeah, I want him to chop me in half with his creepy face sword~ Which is even creepier in this pic because the blade looks like a tongue coming out of the mouth of the face and has like scary saw teeth things on it. Cut me up, wormdaddy~~~~~~~~~

But uh...

Victor uses a skill called Flowing Slash over and over, but no matter how much he causes damage to Kzinssie, he never falls.

Romancing SaGa 2 (Steam) Screenshot: Kzinssie using Soulsteal on Victor

Eventually, Kzinssie praises Victor a little, but says he's "still young," and then uses a skill called Soulsteal (which for some reason I consistently typo as "Soulsteam") that makes these like red bubbles pull out of Victor's body and go into Kzinssie's please do that to me. And... Victor just loses like 19 LP or something (I missed the cap of the number popping up, but basically ALL THE LP WENT AWAY), meaning his life is over. But at least he was able to see his dad and brother for a few moments before he fully faded away.

Romancing SaGa 2 (Steam) Screenshot: Leon talking to Orieve after Victor's death

Gerard and Leon head back to the castle throne room where Leon questions a guard about the terror in Avalon that just occurred. The guard reports that the monster that killed Victor identified himself as Kzinssie from Somon. Leon asked the guard to find Orieve in town and bring her to him.

Orieve and Leon talk in the throne room while Gerard is buckled over in sorrow in his room. I think we're supposed to be overhearing the conversation from Gerard's perspective, because they just say some words here and there, mostly about some kind of inheritance of power.

Romancing SaGa 2 (Steam) Screenshot: Gerard being depressed

We cut to Gerard a bit later, still overcome with grief. Leon barges in and tells him that it is time to avenge his brother's death, and Gerard's attitude changes suddenly to seem very focused. And now we control Leon again. We can sleep in Gerard's bed to restore the party, and for some reason can't use Leon's or Victor's bed even though we can also climb into them. I want to make a comment about everyone sharing the same bed but I can't come up with the right way to say it and ... well now I'm just making it even worse.

Anyway, it's important to note that sleeping restores the party's SP and MP (which I will explain in a bit) but it does not restore LP. Meaning if you're wanting to avoid your character permanently dying, you can't just go rest up at an inn or something. I haven't played the game enough to know if there's a reliable way to restore LP later, but from what I've gathered at least, permadeath is just a part of this game, and it's not something you're going to completely avoid.

Romancing SaGa 2 (Steam) Screenshot: Locked doors in Somon

We head to the town of Somon where this Kzinssie claimed to be from. The place is overrun with monsters and all the doors everywhere were locked except for one in a kind of mansion-looking place, so that's the only place we can really go. I'm mostly avoiding battles, just doing the ones I happen to run into on accident or ones that are unavoidable. This kind of pace seems to work well for other games in the series, so I'm hoping it goes well here. (And if you're wondering how much of this game I'm playing blind, this little intro scenario with Kzinssie is all I've ever done in the game LOL

Romancing SaGa 2 (Steam) Screenshot: Into the house where Kzinssie is

We head into the house which is also crowded with monsters. There are also a lot of treasure chests scattered everywhere in here, but you often have to get close to monsters to try to open them. I save my game before opening the first one, because I already know what's inside it...

Romancing SaGa 2 (Steam) Screenshot: Running from a doppelganger

It's this creeper! This thing is called a Doppelganger and appears from some chests. Basically it will do devastating attacks to the party, able to kill pretty much everyone in a single kit. Great way to lose some LP early on! Well, the whole party perished so I had to load from my save anyway. But then I wondered if you could run from this thing, so I tried it. This was ... actually my first time ever trying to run from battle in this game, I think? And it's really hilarious. The whole party like... scuttles away BACKWARD off the side of the screen. They actually run backward. I couldn't believe it. I purposely got into another battle and ran just to see it again. But at least the design is not as bad as I had thought with these things -- this isn't essentially a forced Game Over since you can run. You just better realize it before letting all five of your party members die.

You can actually defeat these things at this point. I've actually bothered to sit and try it before on the SFC version. It's way too much effort for what I remember being little to no reward. And you lose a lot of LP across the party, too. Not worth it at all. And there are like... several of these things in this house, too...

Romancing SaGa 2 (Steam) Screenshot: Getting the Lion Helm

There were these things walking around that looked like purple dragons or something, and I didn't remember what kind of battle they would lead to, but they looked dangerous so I tried to avoid them the best I could. But I wanted to open all the treasure boxes, too... After getting a Lion Helm from one, one of these things was RIGHT behind me. And like if you bump a monster while running, if a monster bumps you from directly behind, your battle formation will break.

Romancing SaGa 2 (Steam) Screenshot: Formation broken by Jams

And so now I have to fight the scary-looking thing with broken formation! This is particularly scary because the characters who were more protected by Imperial Cross are now freely able to be attacked by the monsters.

Fortunately, though, these things weren't as scary as I was expecting. Instead of dragons or anything, they were just little demons. Like other games in the series, monsters are divided into certain families, and each family ranks up on its own (or at least it seems to for me), meaning as you fight demons, demons get stronger even if your party doesn't. Fight birds and birds get stronger... stuff like that. So these are just the lowest-ranking demons since they are the first ones we've even seen.

They were called "Jam" but I'm assuming it's supposed to be Djamu (their Japanese name was ジャム because I remember thinking it was "Jam" the first time I saw it LOL). They have almost no HP and are fairly slow, so they are very little threat to the party, since they usually get taken out before they can do anything. I'm not sure what all kinds of skills they have, but they can probably do something devastating if you leave them unattended. I'm too afraid to try it, so whenever they appear in battles, I just take them out first with Therese's bow or Gerard's Fireball spell.

But it was getting my formation broken that made me realize I wanted to talk more about formations and stats, so this is where I took some stat screen caps, so this is where we'll start talking about it! Until now I've just been describing battle without too much detail, so let's learn more about it~

Romancing SaGa 2 (Steam) Screenshot: Leon's status page

So here's the stat page for our Dream Daddy, Leon. Remember that I'm playing this blind and I haven't even bothered to read the manual (uh, IDK if this even comes with a manual) so I don't actually know what I'm doing. Much like SCARLET GRACE, I'm just guessing at everything based on how it works in other games. I'm assuming this game is very similar to Romancing SaGa 3 since they came out one after the other and RSG3 seems to borrow a lot of mechanics from RSG2.

OK, actually I just went and checked to see if a manual came with the Steam version and it indeed did not. So I'm going to be guessing.

STR most likely affects damage with strength-based weapons. Strength is one of the most pointless stats in RSG3, UNSg, and SGSG so I'm guessing it's like that here, too.

DEX probably functions like Skill, affecting accuracy and dodge chances and stuff as well as damage with skill-based weapons. A bit more important than Strength.

MAG is like Strength, but for magic...

SPD is probably completely about turn order, and possibly factors into some skills.

And then STA is probably like Endurance, affecting status resistance, maybe even ability to inflict status somehow. And it might affect HP growth, if characters don't have an innate HP growth rate.

DEF refers to the defense level of your current equipment.

MP and SP were originally WP and JP, for waza (weapon arts) points and jutsu (magic arts) points. In this game they decided to go with "Skills" and "Magic Spells" instead of "Weapon Arts" and "Magic Arts" which I am very displeased with but I'm also very petty about stuff like that, so... lol. But anyway, you need to spend Sp and MP to use your skills or spells respectively. There are some skills that cost 0SP but I haven't seen any free spells yet. There's no generic "attack" command, so you'll generally choose between your 0SP skills when you just want to perform some kind of basic damage in battle.

"Defensive Traits" are probably resistances to particular properties of attacks. The attack properties seem to be similar to all the other games in the series. There's slashing, bludgeoning, piercing, projectile, hot, cold, shocking, and... purple damage. I really don't know what the purple thing is but maybe it's some kind of 'darkness' or 'spirit' type. UNLIMITED:Saga has a "Light" property that covers a range of phenomena, it seems. So it's probably something like that.

I don't know exactly how the resistances work, though, but either the icons are on their status page or they aren't. Leon happens to have all eight of them, so that's convenient, lol.

Romancing SaGa 2 (Steam) Screenshot: Formation page

So, I was looking at the defenses of the characters and Gerard seemed like he would be less fragile than Therese, so I decided to swap their positions in the Imperial Cross formation. But when I went to do that, I noticed there is a bunch more information about what the formations do! Like SCARLET GRACE, we're now actually told exactly what each position does! It even specifies the magnitude of the effect somewhat -- it looks like the vanguard has speed lowered, but not as much as the back position, considering the number of little triangles pointing downward. And then while hovering over a position, it actually describes the other properties of that position, too! So hovering over the back position, we learn that the character there is not only the most difficult to target for enemies, but they also auto-defend until they take their action in battle. And that actually complements the big speed dip, too! So I put Therese in the back and moved Gerard to one of the flanks (the flanks seem to have no real effect on the characters in them).

Romancing SaGa 2 (Steam) Screenshot: Gerard's status page

Now let's look at Gerard's stats for a bit. His speed is Twenty, which is the highest in the party. And I'm assuming that much like the other games, these stats will never change or grow outside of effects from equipment, so they're more like base potential than anything. And among those, speed tends to be the most important to pay attention to. You want to have a general idea of what order your characters will move, and plan how you will build your characters accordingly. Fast characters are nice to use for things like healing and stun effects, so it's good to know who your fastest are.

Gerard's dexterity is pretty high, too, it seems, so he would probably be good with a foil or bow if they have the same kinds of skills as RSG3 has weapon arts.

If you're curious to see them, I have caps of Bear, James, and Therese if you're curious about their stats.

Romancing SaGa 2 (Steam) Screenshot: Gerard's Levels

But if you've read the diaries for any of the other SaGa games, you'll know what's really important more than the base stats: LEVELS.

Instead of increasing stats, in this game, like the others, you increase your proficiency levels in the various types of skills and spells by using them in battle. These tend to be much more influential in damage formulas and stuff, to the point where worrying about which character has the higher strength for a sword is nearly meaningless.

Everyone has levels in the different skill types, slashing (sword, greatsword), bludgeoning (hammer, staff, axe), piercing (foil, spear), projectile (bow), and martial arts. Then if someone knows spells from a certain school of magic, they'll have a level for that, too. I had been using martial arts with Gerard because Leon, Bear, and James were all also using slashing weapons, so I wanted to try something different. I considered 'stealing' Therese's bow and giving it to Gerard instead. And now I kind of wish I would have. I guess it's not really too late yet.

Anyway, since your levels grow based on your actions in battle, you build your characters by using them how you'd like them to grow. Use sword more and they get better with swords. Stuff like that. It's pretty simple! And if you're not wanting to get too into the mechanics, it can work well for you anyway as the characters will naturally grow in the roles you're using them for anyway.

Romancing SaGa 2 (Steam) Screenshot: Therese using Haphazard Arrow

And the other main way you raise your characters is by glimmering new skills for them. If this is your first introduction to the series, basically any time you use a weapon skill, you have a chance of "glimmering" a new skill for that weapon. There are all kinds of factors that affect how likely you are to glimmer something, such as the strength of the enemy, your current skill level in that weapon type, which skill you are using at the time, etc.

Therese glimmered Haphazard Arrow pretty early, which was awesome. I already mentioned it in the previous entry, but I didn't really talk too much about it. Basically it's just a bow attack that shoots tons of arrows at once, and every enemy has a chance of getting hit. Unlike the SCARLET GRACE version, this one just rolls a check for each enemy and then either hits them or doesn't. It doesn't try to randomly distribute the attacks among the enemy party with a chance of not even targeting some enemies and stuff... which means if you use it against a single enemy it will just function as a single attack, which is a bit wasteful for your SP. Though it does do a little more damage than the 0SP arrow shot, but I don't think it's worth it to use 2SP for it against a single enemy.

And those are the basics of how characters relate to battle!

Also when we beat that weird ninja guy (the only one I ran into), he dropped a Budo Gi which I was able to equip to Therese to boost her defenses a little. With her being in the back row, she's a LOT more hardy now.

Romancing SaGa 2 (Steam) Screenshot: Kzinssie's room at the top of the house

Anyway, back to the actual story. We continue through the big house until we reach a large room on the top floor, where we find Kzinssie. I love how his map sprite is just his head with the scarf thing, and you don't even see his weird worm body at all. Anyway, he calls Leon a fool for coming out to challenge him for revenge.

Romancing SaGa 2 (Steam) Screenshot: Battle with Kzinssie

The battle with Kzinssie doesn't seem very scary at first. He only seems to do basic attacks, and he'll only target Leon, who is pretty bulky compared to the other characters in the party, so he dies very slowly. But even spamming our best skills and spells, nothing seems to really faze our lovely worm daddy.

Romancing SaGa 2 (Steam) Screenshot: Leon's death

But then suddenly, Kzinssie says "I shall not falter" or something like that, and uses Soulsteal on Leon... and yeah, we all know how that goes... all of Leon's LP are immediately depleted, and the battle is over since our leader fell.

But that's okay (well, from a gameplay perspective, at least), because this is one of those scripted losses.

But it's definitely not okay from a storyline standpoint because we just lost our hot dad and we're not even an hour into the game T_T!! I mean, it's not like you really expected a handsome mustached gentleman to be the protagonist of a game, right? Game devs don't have that kind of taste. No one does. Stupid world.

Romancing SaGa 2 (Steam) Screenshot: Leon on his deathbed

Like Victor, Leon is doomed to die now, but he still seems to be able to hang on for a while. It's probably the mustache. Gerard stays by his father's side, and as he is dying, Leon tells him that he must be the one to defeat Kzinssie.

Leon reveals to Gerard that Orieve gave him a special power of inheritance: if the benefactor and heir have strong wills, their souls and abilities can be linked. Though he still is not sure it's even true, since he doesn't even actually know who Orieve is. Then Leon reveals that he now understands how to avoid Soulsteal, and he'll be able to pass that knowledge on to Gerard. Gerard realizes that to die at the hands of Kzinssie was Leon's reason for launching the attack, not to avenge Victor. Gerard believes that Orieve played Leon for a fool, tricking him into getting himself killed, but Leon convinces him that he has to do what he can and devote his life to fighting Kzinssie.

Romancing SaGa 2 (Steam) Screenshot: Gerard after his father's death

Gerard agrees. I don't think it matters if you pick the confused option or the confident one. I've done both in the original game and it seemed to turn out the same either way with just a tiny bit of dialogue difference. But I don't think that would really anything later in the game? Anyway, after he agrees, Leon bids farewell to Gerard, and finally passes away. Gerard falls to his knees again, now having lost both his brother and father one right after the other.

Romancing SaGa 2 (Steam) Screenshot: Who will you choose? menu with only Gerard

We're then suddenly presented with a menu asking us "who we will choose," but our only option is Gerard. When we click on him, we're taken to his status page, where we can confirm our choice. Now, I haven't played really any further than this point, so I don't know how it's going to work in the future, but this is a major system in the way the game progresses. While we only have Gerard as an option now, but later we will have the option of anyone in the party or something like that, and that person will be able to "inherit" from Gerard.

But of course, that means Gerard will have to die in order for that to happen. But this game is meant to take place over several generations, rather than just follow the narrative of a single character. So we'll be going through multiple emperors and characters as we go.

And I don't know exactly how or why Gerard is going to die. But I do know that if he runs out of LP, we'll pick a new heir and he'll be gone forever. But it's also possible to get to further generations without dying in battle, I think, but I have no idea how that will work. I guess there will also be story events that will cause characters to die? And this game is apparently one of the most open of the open-scenario systems, giving you many choices that will change how the story plays out and what kinds of things you're able to do. I don't know just how open it will be, but it seems like there will probably be many different paths you can take that may lead you to a new generation.

It's a part of the game I'm really looking forward to learning exactly how it works as we go. I really don't know much about it at all, other than it exists and is a major part of the game. There was a sort of watered-down version of the system used as a base system in Imperial SaGa as well (as that game was heavily influenced by RSG2 in its development). So I'm at least familiar with that. But in that game, there was a fairly linear story, and even after they added branching paths, you still knew that reaching the end of a chapter meant your Emperor dying for some reason and moving on to the next generation/chapter. But I don't think Romancing SaGa 2 really has clear-cut narrative chapters or anything? I don't know. We'll just have to wait and see, haha.

Romancing SaGa 2 (Steam) Screenshot: Gerard inheriting from Leon

After choosing Gerard, Leon's magic sparkles fall onto him. So even though we don't get to see this gorgeous hunk anymore, we at least get to have him inside us. Yes.

Romancing SaGa 2 (Steam) Screenshot: Gerard questioning his troops

And not long after that, there is a goblin attack on the city! So Gerard has to assume his new position very quickly... he is a little hesitant at first, but then suddenly becomes very confident. I don't know if it's meant to be interpreted this way, but from all the making-excuses-for-everything before to now be an assertive leader, it seems like Gerard may have inherited some personality traits or social abilities from Leon because of the inheritance magic, too!

Romancing SaGa 2 (Steam) Screenshot: Hector not wanting to go with Gerard

But when the soldier asks Hector, one of the other warriors, to accompany Gerard to fight the goblins, he says that he answered to Leon, and there's no point in helping a failure like Gerard. The two start to get into an argument about it, but Gerard interrupts them and says he understands Hector's position, and only those who are willing need to come with him to fight. Bear, James, and Therese, who have already been fighting alongside Gerard, accompany him, but now our party is only four members.

Romancing SaGa 2 (Steam) Screenshot: Gerard's new levels page

And here's a look at what Gerard's levels are like after this incident. If you remember before, he only had a martial arts level of 3 and a pyrology level of 2 (he did get the third in battle shortly after that last screencap though, so the 3 in pyrology wasn't from the inheritance or anything). But now you'll notice he has a level 7 in slashing weapons, even though it was 0 before! And he even has levels in the light magic school even though he's never even used a spell from there!

Gerard not only kept his own levels, skills, and spells, but now has his father's too! So not only is the inheritance system an interesting gameplay gimmick to keep you switching party members around and a clever way to tell the story, but it's also essentially a method to fuse characters together! Of course, you'll lose a character in the process, and you may have to do it at a time you don't want to, or someone you were wanting to use may end up dying before the Emperor does or whatever... I can already see many possibilities on how this can become very thoughtful and surprising as we continue onward.

And now we've finished the little introduction, learning about the inheritance system at the end, and the "real" game starts now, or so I assume. I've never really gone on past this, so this is where the run is going to become completely blind for me. I'm really excited about finally playing through this game, and I hope it will be exciting for you guys too. Next time we'll get to choose a new party member and make our first MAJOR DECISION!!! of the game.