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All of Saga
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I've only played SaGa 1-3 (and only liked 1 & 2)

What other SaGa game would I actually enjoy? I've played my share of RPGs, and would count FFL among my top 5. Are the rest in the series anything like 1 & 2? So broken you almost can't play the game 'right?'
Unlimited SaGa on the PS2, the game that apparently no one understands how to play.

Everything that follows the original trilogy is very diverse. The games keep tacking on new features like combo attacks, tech sparking and other things that have long since become SaGa staples. The learning curve can still be pretty steep, even if you've already played through SaGa 1 - 3.

Luckily, Romancing SaGa and SaGa Frontier have a lot in common, mechanically speaking. If you can get a grip on the gameplay and basic plot progression, you should be able to jump right in and play those games in whatever order you prefer.

Unlimited Saga and the PS2 remake of Romancing SaGa is where the mechanics start to get overly dense again.

>Unlimited SaGa on the PS2, the game that apparently no one understands how to play.

From my experience, it's just a too-faithful recreation of pen-and-paper rules. Your characters are even represented as game tokens that are moved around grid maps. If you spent a lot of time playing D&D growing up, it may not seem as confusing. I do understand the basic gameplay mechanics, although I can't say I understand exactly how things like panel growth are determined. A lot of that seems to be based entirely on luck.
I like Unlimited Saga, but once you do actually understand it it's a bit too easy!

Saga Frontier ironically has some of the best difficulty in the series if you try to speedrun it or finish at a low power level, it's probably my favorite! (ironic because it's probably considered the best entry title for the series)

so play that one OP

play SaGa Frontier, which might be my favorite jRPG

Come to think of it, maybe I can quickly explain some of these staples for you, OP. That might help you get into the rest of the series.

This is how characters learn new skills. When a character uses a specific type of weapon or spell numerous times, they'll randomly unleash a new skill when their turn comes up. That new skill is then mastered, and you can equip it at your leisure.

A specific example: Equip and use gun-type weapons in SaGa Frontier. After using the gun a number of times, a lightbulb sparks over the character's head, and they unleash a new technique such as "BoundShot." After the battle, you can freely equip BoundShot in your ability list from now on.

Some games will give characters a higher affinity with certain types of weapons or spells to start with, which means that character is more likely to spark new techniques in that field than others. For instance, some characters are naturally more skills with guns. These characters will spark BoundShot much faster than anyone else equipped with a gun. Paying attention to these affinities will help you cut down on grinding and make the most of your team.

Similar to, say, Chrono Trigger. You tell your party to use a specific set of skills, and those skills may result in a combo attack. Combo attacks deal thousands or tens of thousands of damage, and bosses are usually balanced so you have to rely on combo attacks to win.

Specific example: The BoundShot skill in SaGa Frontier can combo with itself. If you had your entire party use BoundShot, they'd unleash a level-5 combo that deals somewhere in the area of 20,000 - 30,000 damage. By itself, a BoundShot probably deals something in the area of 1,000 damage.
you know anon maybe being told about these things in advance only strips someone of the enjoyment of finding them out for the first time the way you did

have some empathy or something, grow up and get some perspective

These are details you can (and should) read in the manual. Only you may not have access to English manuals if you're playing fan translations.

>the enjoyment of finding them out for the first time the way you did

... I read manuals.
I'm sold. The PS1 ones look like the way to go.
I only wish I had played these games when they originally came out (I really want to play Legend 1-3), but from what I've heard, they have similarities to a game that released recently called The Legend of Legacy for 3DS.

While a number of people shat on this game for being too opaque and not explaining itself very well, a seasoned and retro-based gamer who has played SaGa games should be able to wrap their head around it fairly easily. It has great music, a neat economy system, and the battle mechanics are quite nice. It has seven endings of varying levels of silliness/seriousness, and you can choose your party from 7 characters at the start of each playthrough.

Give it a look if you have a 3DS.
SaGa Frontier will be just right for you.
>A lot of that seems to be based entirely on luck.
Each panel is associated with specific behaviour patterns and quest ranks, it's not based on luck, just very complex.
it's still based on random number generators for precisely which panels you get out of the probabilities

it also does things like make it so theres a 50% chance the reel will slip 1-5 spaces when you stop it in a non-combat scenario

which is not as bad as it sounds, you can plan for it

more stupid things would be the way you get magic tablets (tripping mimic traps on treasure chests) or the amount of resetting that can be involved in forging
>it's still based on random number generators for precisely which panels you get out of the probabilities
That it is, but as long as you know how you should behave in order to get which panel you're good to go, not to mention that you can exploit Tetraforce if you feel like hunting for rare panels. If you do want really hard ones like Spell Fusion though you need to grind, but that's a given since they're very strong panels.
>more stupid things would be the way you get magic tablets
That can be planned by visiting places like the Gods' Table or certain sidequests like the Glyph Caves which have a lot of monsters who regularly yield magic tablets, but than again ,it's all metaknowledge, as long as you play the game like other casual RPGs you won't be able to get all the exploitable stuff they filled the game with, much like exploiting the Giant Guard in the ruins of the capital to spark better arts.

I mean, It's a Kawazu game, you shouldn't expect to have all things neatly packed and handled to you.
>Are the rest in the series anything like 1 & 2?
Only SaGa Frontier is like the first two with many races that develop differently. The Romancing SaGa trilogy and SaGa Frontier 2 take the mutants mechanics from Final Fantasy Legend and apply it to all the characters so you have to fight monsters to gain stat ups.

With that said go through the other SaGa games, they add MANY more mechanics since the Gameboy games, from sparking skills during battles, formations, chaining skills, event ranking which quests show up or vanish at certain points of the game, battle ranking so the game can punish you for grinding, and possibly a few more mechanics.

Not mentioning Unlimited Saga since it isn't /vr/, but it isn't a traditional JRPG and shouldn't be played like one. The instant you let go of what you know about JRPG's the faster you will have fun with it.
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Not that I know of. Legend of Legacy is more in line of the Romancing SaGa games. No races, or at least if there are races they develop exactly like how humans develop, it is a free scenario system so you have various main characters you can select and they start in different locations, and they are more free roaming than the linear Gameboy games.

It is VERY worth checking out Final Fantasy Legend 1 and 2. Monsters needing to consume other monsters meat to transform into other monsters with their own stats, abilities, weaknesses and resistances. In the first game the only way to make humans stronger is through buying potions for agility, strength, and hit points. Then in the second game the introduction of robots and them needing to equip items to gain stats which is fun. You can find a powerful item in a dungeon and slap it onto your robot and it becomes a power house with the weapons attack along with the stats the weapon gave the robot.

The Gameboy games don't even have a defined setting. They take place in various worlds which can be feudal Japan, tropical islands, an advance city brought to ruin, a desert continually consumed by a dust storm, and many more. What drives the undefined setting is the items you get, you can get tomes for fire, ice, thunder spells, you can get swords, hammers, or learn martial arts, and you can get SMG's, grenades, tanks, and even nukes.

These are short games clocking in around 12 hours, and they are fun to replay due to the fact you can choose your party and how the different races develop.

Remember, the guy behind the SaGa series worked on Final Fantasy I and is the main influence in Final Fantasy II. You can expect changes among the games in the series.

Easily my favorite thing about SaGa --- it's a very short RPG, that you can easily play without any guide or reference.

Because it's so short, replaying it isn't a chore and only really drags near the final tower. FFVI, by comparison is still short 25-30 hours, but long enough that you really have to invest some time.
Not exactly /vr/, but if I wanted to play SaGa II and III, which are better: original or DS remakes?
DS remakes, especially for SaGa 3, there's no reason to play the GB unless you want to witness the colossal fuck up of going back to a FF based system, DS SaGa 3 is actually a SaGa game and a very good one at that.
FFX For the win.
I like that because it really cuts out the fat of the game. You are constantly progressing from world to world so every hour you invest you are truly making progress.
>You are constantly progressing from world to world so every hour you invest you are truly making progress.
That's one of the best things about the series in general, it's all no-nonsense and gets straight to the point even durin the rare instances of cutscenes, no needless melodrama, more actual gameplay.
I'm thinking of playing Romancing SaGa 2 for the first time. I think I see it mentioned as a favorite from more Japanese people than anything else, so I hope I'm in for something good.
If you can't read Japanese I don't see you getting much out of it.
It's very good, my favorite in the trilogy for sure, but it's also quite a bit more complex than the others in terms of progression and the final boss is notorious for being almost impossible unless you use exploits.
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>the final boss is notorious for being almost impossible unless you use exploits.
It's pretty brutal, not at all impossible if you know what you're dealing with but it's a very intense battle that only gets worse the more damage you deal to the final boss.

Exploits help a lot though, you can even solo it with the right combination of spells and equipment, but that takes a lot of work since you'll need a lot of JP to fuel your spells and enough WP to dish out damage before it kills you, or you could use another exploit that takes a shitload of time to setup but makes you almost completely invincible.

They're probably gonna remove a lot of them for the upcoming Vita version though, now that would be a difficult fight if you're forced to legit beat them without overpowered spells and glitches.
I wouldn't at all be surprised if they added some means of fighting an even harder version of them
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The game will be based on the Mobile version, so far they didn't mention any additional content on top of the mobile's new one, which is 2 more character classes and a special boss+dungeon.

I also don't see how they could make it even more powerful, shit's pretty fucking brutal.

>from 3 to 7 attacks in a row
>Maelstrom, Psycho Bind, Grand Slam, Temptation, Marionette in one turn are enough to destroy even a maxed party
>Get even stronger than that

Just fixing glitches and upping the cost of certain spells like Quicktime would be more than enough to make it a legit fight, besides, you can challenge yourself further by doing a solo run if you feel like humiliating the game.
Who's the best character to start with in SaGa Frontier (the first one)?
Emilia's probably the best, short, easy story with not many shenanigans so you can just concentrate on familiarizing with the game.
If you don't totally get into Emilia's quest, try Blue or T260G, which might have a better feel for you.

The other quests are somewhat harder to play
they could have brutal counter attacks like simultaneously casting overdrive when you do to neutralize it, memorizing moves like beruga or saruin, or traps and barriers that force you to memorize what spells they've cast and how many turns have passed in order to avoid wiping out

they could do a lot of fun things c:
Nah, it wouldn't be coherent with the lore, none of the Seven Heroes could use Quicktime or barriers, mostly because they didn't need to.

Changing the battle in that way would mean being forced to dumb down or alter the general design of the boss, you can't have them spamming AoE attacks AND casting protections up to seven times in a turn, that would be SNK cheap boss design.

Besides, it's already well known that one of the biggest fuck ups of beginners was having an unprotected male buffer who got charmed on the first turn and casted Vajra Shield on the boss forcing a reset, there's even 4komas on that.
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>Read what Vajra Shield does
>Remember when Saruin insta killed and revived a guy and had him use Earth Shield on him
I really don't have any other words for that high level bullshit.
Yeah, that's pretty much the level of bullshit that the battle can reach, in SNES Romancing SaGa 2, 1993.

Asking for more is just masochism, the Seven Heroes were already insane back then if you didn't cheese them with Quicktime or Dragon Pulse, giving them more tools just means slapping your balls with a wet towel for the sake of difficuly, it just stops being fun altogether.
I'd like that. I'd like the game to force me to prepare generations in advance, make split second reactions in battle, change, drop or alter my strategy constantly, then still not allow me victory until I think outside of the boundaries of the game itself and do something that defies logic based on the most strictly serendipitous kind of intuitive suspicion.

like what if both attacking and defending required timed reactions and you could save actions when they came up during a round, delaying their execution, or change orders based on changing events in the middle of the round? What if changing orders in a split second way was even required to make contact against some bosses?

the thought makes me salivate
>I'd like the game to force me to prepare generations in advance,
It already kind of does that, Bokuohn forces you to get a fast Emperor and a certain formation if you want to bypass Marionette, Rocbouquet is much easier with a party of female characters and so on, remember that Kawazu always tries to emphasize freedom in SaGa, especially in the classic trilogy, put too many gimmicks and you'll severely restrict the system when it comes to flexibility.
>make split second reactions in battle, change, drop or alter my strategy constantly
A semi real time system would be pretty good, I'd personally love if they made all SaGa games work on Romancing SaGa 3 special Command system from Sara's story, so you can input commands for each individual party member or choose to fight in formations and also change formation each turn, that would be great and by designing enemies for this kind of system you'd sure get even less bored during normal battles, but it might become something too complicated and not many people would dig that I'm afraid, much like what happened with Unlimited.
>like what if both attacking and defending required timed reactions
>What if changing orders in a split second way was even required to make contact against some bosses?
Like reels in Unlimited? I'd be down for a SaGa/Valkyrie Profile hybrid in which you select your waza and have to input it in real time with fighting game commands, that would be pretty dope.
Heroes Phantasia for PSP had a similar kind of gimmick in which you can change your party members in real time so you can cover your glass cannons by switching them with tanks or even better switch a character to an empty position so the enemy's attack would miss altogether, it was kind of neat although not really well implemented.

I don't know whether fans would be up for it though, the series is well known for trying to break te conventions of classic turn based RPGs, but even I think that some things might feel too alien.
Not going to make a new thread for this so I'll just ask here.

It's been years since I was aware of any thing in the translation patch scene, over a decade actually but, are there any complete translation patches floating around out there for Romancing SaGa 2 & 3 ? Last I was aware there was only a handful of unfinished translations floating around the place.
>are there any complete translation patches floating around out there for Romancing SaGa 2 & 3 ?

Well damn.

Kind of regretting dropping out of that Japanese course now ...
It sucks, I know.
Doesn't help that Gideon was the one who began working on the Romancing SaGa 2 translation.

Oh, that lackadaisical shit?

Good luck.
>Good luck.
I know, right?
/m/ is still waiting for the SRW@ translation since...almost a decade now?

What surprises me a bit is how nobody decided to pick it up, we've been getting patches for far more obscure games and yet nobody bothered picking up Romancing SaGa 2 or make a decent translation for 3, since Manasword's a disaster.
Doesn't help that fantranslators are mostly cunts who'll throw hissy fits and unnecessary drama when they find out someone did a patch for a project they announced and never actually completed.

Why would that matter? They have no legal basis for claiming copyright on their patch or any other. If it's an "honor" type thing, I would submit announcing a project and fucking sitting on it for years is a far more uncouth action than unilaterally picking up someone else' work and trying to hammer something presentable out of it.
Wasn't 3 fully translated?
>I would submit announcing a project and fucking sitting on it for years is a far more uncouth action than unilaterally picking up someone else' work and trying to hammer something presentable out of it.

Problem is you're a reasonable man with actual work ethics, they mostly aren't.

I mean really, take a look at how tragic Gideon's patch backlog is, he bit far more than he could chew, he started tons of projects without even finishing his previous ones, he got his hands on titles that a lot of people want since years, SRW@, Romancing SaGa 2 and SMT: if alone are sought after by a lot of people even here, and he still has to complete other stuff on top of those iirc. Not to mention how he and his coworkers work most of the times, I remember when it turned out that one of his coworker machine translated SRW@'s script, something that already took months apparently, he posts about it, people call him out on that shit because who the fuck gives a project like that to a guy who doesn't speak neither English or Japanese to begin with and then says that they'll begin the project anew, posts year later that they're around 65% done and then never talks about it ever again.
I get that it's not your job, it's a hobby, you don't get payed(even though a lot of people would donate) and all, but at least don't fucking take more than you can handle.
Manasword's translation is hot garbage, most of the script was evidently machine translated, certain lines for events who were originally different depending on which MC you got were uniformed into one standard line and certain stuff was even plain wrong, it's gutter trash only useful for those who really, really want to play the game and don't really care about anything but having menus translated.
I mean, they translated the item Sledge Hammer into Slit Hammer, come the fuck on, this is not even machine translated, it's done by people who can't even read Katakana.
That's weird because we have a full translation in spanish and it seems to be pretty decent.
Cool for you, but most people here want english patches.

Afaik Makyou Tengai: Zero got a good german translation patch too, but nobody made an english one.
>Makyou Tengai
Tengai Makyou, my bad, I always mix them up.

I have been noticing that trend more and more: games are now often available in another romance language that have been languishing _years_ for an English one. As >>2930160 indirectly indicated, I think work ethic is making all the difference. I seem to recall Italian, Spanish, and Chinese translation groups all kicking huge amounts of ass in recent years, while all we get is mouthy incompetence and drama.

It's truly saddening.
English is a Germanic language fool.

So it is. I apologize.
If there is a time to learn Spanish I guess it is now.
I hope SaGa will always be turn based. Though I don't tend to like action RPG's anyway.
>I hope SaGa will always be turn based.
You can trust Kawazu on that, he's one of the old guard of designers, as much as he likes to experiment with his games he's still one of the few people who likes classic turn based rpgs, look at what he did with The Last Remnant, it's a beautiful game and is still purely turn based with a few QTEs here and there, I don't see him doing something like FFXIII-2 or LR, he likes turn based systems too much.
isn't he all into western crpg and PnP and shit
Yeah, he is. Unlimited is pretty much the proof of that.
Of course, I am sure some of the former guys at Square were as well. Originally they wanted to make a RPG but they could never get the green light for it due to the lead not seeing a market for it.

Then Dragon Quest happened.

Not only that though, he likes to make his own board games just for his amusement:
>1UP: What led you to decide you wanted to make the games instead of write about them?

>AK: Since I was a kid, I made... not computer games, but board games and things like that. I always had an interest in making games. It wasn't my initial motivation to become a game journalist -- a friend told me to come do it, so that was my motivation for going to work at the magazine -- but I always had an interest in making games.
This guy and Yuji Horii are probably two of the absolute greatest figures in all of JRPGs.
no Kawazu a shit the talent underneath him is better than he will ever, ever be. even in terms of just getting shit produced it's still Sakaguchi, not Kawazu.
How so? He is originally the battle planner for the first Final Fantasy game and wanted to incorporate D&D/Wizardry elemental spells and monster elemental weaknesses to the game for RPG's in Japan because apparently they weren't incorporating them just yet.

Hard to say Kawazu is shit, he leaves a very defined mark on the games he works on.

Personally I haven't played many JRPG's that experimented with various mechanics, especially character growth, like the SaGa series has. There are games like Vagrant Story which you focus strengthening equipment, essentially leveling it against certain races or elements over building your characters stats. Then there is Hybrid Heaven which is a natural growth system so the more you use something the more proficient you become with it along with how skills are obtained in the game.
>battle planner for the first Final Fantasy game
nigga do you fucking remember that shitty fucking game

the battle planning is the single most fucked up thing about it
also you should try Dark Law, figure out Shadow Tower's leveling system, and maybe take a look at Tobal 2's adventure mode
There is one thing for planning and designing it, it is another thing for how the code affected the outcome.
>no Kawazu a shit the talent underneath him is better than he will ever, ever be.

He's literally one of the fathers of japanese RPGs, he designed the original FF battle system design, he came up with FFII which anticipated by almost a decade mechanics in titles like Daggerfall, he's actually the creator of the first over million unit seller of Squaresoft, yes, the GB SaGa was actually the first true big hit for Squaresoft, not a FF title.
He came up with unique systems that put most of his contemporaries to shame, Kawazu is a fucking giant when it comes to RPG design, his influence in both classic and niche RPG design is immense.

>the battle planning is the single most fucked up thing about it
The battle planning was great for its time, it didn't help that it was ridden with bugs that completely fucked up the original vision of the system, if you're gonna say that it's doesn't hold up today, well of fucking course, it's an almost 30 years old battle system design, the mere introduction of elemental weaknesses was huge back in the days, not even MT had something similar and you know how important elemental weaknesses are in SMT.
Kawazu is nothing short of a fucking genius when it comes to design, sure, he also misses a lot and sometimes he either makes something overly complicated and obscure or makes something that ends up breaking the whole balance he creates, but in terms of sheer innovation and creativity he's almost peerless.
I know this isn't /vr/ but this felt like the best place to ask: how is Legend of Legacy compared to the Romancing SaGa games? I only played a bit of one of them, but the experimental design was fascinating. Is Legacy close to that or is it a cheap imitation?

"Cheap imitation" sums it up. The localization also sucks, but that's to be expected from Atlus. If you know some Japanese, you may as well just import it rather than settle for a slaughtered script.

As far as DS goes, just look into the remakes of SaGa 2 and 3. They're really enjoyable. I can't comment on the quality of the fan translations, though. I haven't actually taken the time to do any comparison of the scripts.
I don't think his ideas are actually that good or original desu

what you are basically telling me is that kawazu is the father of numbers going up in ridiculous proportions and addictive gambling mechanics in RPGs, and in which case, still, fuck that asshole

he didn't even come up with glimmering or combos, his one thing is stats that go up sometimes at the end of battle based on what happened during, which is less of an idea than it is simply taking the levels and attributes of DnD and removing the level abstraction to make it organic.

Ultima, Wizardry, Dragon Quest, and a bunch of fucking Dungeons and Dragons game all existed before the shit that is final fantasy (I like some of those games tho, those FFs, just not the first one it's really shit. It was shit when it came out.)
I'm playing the first saga right now of the wonderswan color remake. I havent ever played it before but I played the shit out of 2 and this game is so piss easy so far, just beat genbu which isnt even that far into the game but damn nothing has been able to put up a fight yet. My mutants/espers both learned psybarrier which is pretty op though.
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Anyone that played both know if there was some sort of re-balancing of the games or was it just a graphical and audio update?

> numbers going up in ridiculous proportions
That would probably be Disgaea, that series has numbers going up in ridiculous proportions.

What I find most interesting in Kawazu's natural growth system is that in later entries in the SaGa series it isn't enough to continually do that action. If you want to gain stats or even gain a lot of stats and a good chance to learn skills you have to fight strong enemies. Weaker enemies eventually won't yield anything for your party outside of a possible WP/JP boost and that is about it. In other games with natural stats you could grind on the lower tier enemies and still grind the stats or skills up, though very slowly.

I was thinking that it could be the best stat simulation for a game based more on real life. You don't always get better by taking it easy but pitting yourself against a challenge and your skill grows, and at times certain hurdles are overcame and your skill in an activity greatly increases.

>addictive gambling mechanics in RPGs
They are great. With levels and experience points you know that you need a set amount of experience to level up and develop your character more, to up their stats, possibly gain new skills. With more SaGa like mechanics there is potential in every battle to gain stats and learn skill among all the members you have in your party. It is duller when it is just a set amount of battles you have to do, it becomes very predictable.
>Anyone that played both know if there was some sort of re-balancing of the games or was it just a graphical and audio update?

As far as I know they didn't do much beside fixing most bugs, but I might be wrong.
I am guessing the big one would be making the bosses not killable with saw.
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Yeah, though it still works on the final boss literally for shit and giggles.
it seems so easy espers are just out of control. Like mine have 300 HP plus and I just maxed my human out on HP200s
>Anyone that played both know if there was some sort of re-balancing of the games or was it just a graphical and audio update?

All of the bugs were fixed, aside from a few that were retrofitted, such as the chainsaw glitch. That was left intact due to its cultural significance, I guess.

The RNG in the original version were essentially useless. Espers were unable to learn their more powerful abilities because the RNG couldn't produce the necessary ranges for those abilities to appear. This was addressed in the WSC remake. Espers are much more useful as a result.

Human stats could initially be raised above 99 points, and would roll-over to 0 after reaching 255 points. The WSC remake caps stats at 99 for all races now. But if a piece of equipment has stat bonuses that could raise a stat beyond this value, I'm pretty sure those bonuses are still applied.

There's a bestiary feature in the menu now. Any monsters you've transformed into will show up here, along with detailed information about their stats and abilities. You don't get anything for completing all entries.

After beating the game once, a crown appears on your save file. Starting a new game with the same file doesn't unlock anything special.

The original version can be selected from the title screen, which is the grayscale Game Boy game. I'm not sure if it's emulated or the ROM was actually compiled to run on the WSC's hardware. Since it's based on the Japanese version, it doesn't include the extra features that were present in the English ROM, such as additional attack animations and item icons.

I think that's about it?

Ah, right. I knew I was forgetting something.

The inventory is slightly expanded so that key items go in a separate inventory, freeing up a little space. Your main inventory is nonetheless limited to only 8 items.
Anon I'm sorry to be the one to inform you but you have shit taste.
How so? Even with "random" stat ups and skill learning the games don't really become a grind. The routes in SaGa Frontier can be easily completed in fifteen hours, not to mention all the side quests you are able to do as well. So even with natural growth that seems "random" you can still have a speedy and to the point RPG, none-the-less have other growth mechanics like move sets influencing what you transform into or stats boosts entirely on equipment.

Not only that it is even better in later games than what was done in Final Fantasy II due to stats playing a bigger role in damage. In Final Fantasy II if you were to switch weapons your strength cannot carry your damage on the weapon switch, but in later SaGa games you will have decent strength to help with damage and you can easily spark new skills for the new weapon and bring you up to speed since you are naturally progressing in the game thus facing off against strong enemies giving you a higher chance to spark new skills.

It gives players more freedom, which is always a good thing.
Totes agree.
TLR should have had less cutscenes imo. The start of the game is a drag and the whole game progression doesn't feel SaFaIsh until mid game
I probably would have gotten into TLR if it wasn't for all of those cut scenes.
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Amen to that, and it's a shame since the gameplay and content is very solid, but I guess they really tried to market it to the western audience as much as they said, up to having J. Y. Bosch dubbing the MC, which wasn't even that terrible as I though he would be, I actually grew quite fond of some of Rush's lines.
Are the SaGa games the only console/handheld RPGs that come close to cRPGs?
It really depends on what kind of RPGs you're referring to, there's tons of shallow cRPGs like Silverfall after all, which are not really that different from console RPGs. Don't forget that a lot of cRPGs got ported to console, even Baldur's Gate was ported to the PS, but never came out in the end though you can find the ISO around the internet, it was a pretty well done port even, if only they bothered to put the finishing touches on it, it's pretty buggy and glitchy.

In general, it's surely one of the most complex series in terms of general mechanics and it surely draws a lot from the western RPG philosophy, however there are still games that do certain stuff like or better than SaGa and are even more reminiscent of classic cRPGs.

Zill O'll, for the PS is pretty much a cRPG in terms of sheer script content, story building and party interaction, it's a pretty astounding game for its time with an incredibly complex and elaborated storyline and tons of party members, if you know japanese that's a game I warmly suggest to try out if you're into pure story roleplaying since the battle mechanics aren't that hot(still better than most consosle RPGs for some things though).

Lunatic Dawn 3 and Odyssey for PS are a bit of stretch since the series originated on PCs, you can definitely see the common design and richness of most cRPGs regarding certain aspects like NPCs and party member mechanics and interaction.

Metal Max has kind of a better sandbox world than most SaGa games too, at least in terms of exploration and for certain things it really reminds me of Ultima games, the SNES remakes is probably one of the best RPGs on the system too, so you might want to check it out.

King's Field and later on Shadow Tower were very influenced by Ultima Underworld.

Not to mention all the Wizardry clones and spinoffs on consoles, it's kind of a tricky topic, I'm not even sure if you can draw a definite line between console and cRPGs, unless we talk about FF and TES.
Oh, I almost forgot, most of Falcom's RPGs which are being glorified as the best thing since sliced bread by young people today, such as the Legend of Heroes series and to a certain extent YS are pretty much console RPGs in terms of design even though they were on PC and/or consoles.
As much as they sometimes threw gimmicks in them, the vast majority of the LoH games are pretty much RPG101.
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