Game Spotlight: Riglord Saga 2

Riglord Saga 2 (J) FrontQuick! Name an RPG for the Sega Saturn which was localized but had Japanese only sequels! If you answered “Dragon Force” or “Shining Force 3″… how did you even read this far without looking at the post title or looking at the picture above?

The original Riglord Saga was a strategy RPG that was released in the Western world first under the name “Mystaria: The Realms of Lore” and then later “Blazing Heroes”, making it in the running for being the videogame with the most wildly different name changes ever. Due to Sega pulling the plug on the Sega Saturn in the US much earlier than Japan (and maybe other reasons, I dunno), the sequel never received a US release.

RLS 1Riglord Saga 2 is set in the same world as the first game, although set after a timeskip so playing the first game isn’t strictly necessary.  Many years after the events of the first game, where Prince Aragon defeated the evil War Mage Bane and reclaimed his rightful place as king with the help of his gathered allies, Queensland is in an age of peace.

Unfortunately since this is an RPG, you know it doesn’t last. SEELE… uh, I mean the MYSTERIOUS Council of Seven Wisemen hatch their plan to… you guess it, take over the world (OF COURSE!).

RLS 2

Cut to the Kingdom of Dragoon, returning from the first game. The princess Mieu has come of age and is now eligible to take part in combat training, which she succeeds at. However, the celebrations is cut short: two of the Wisemen’s greatest henchmen single-handedly defeat the Dragon Knight army and overwhelm the castle.  The King of Dragoon entrusts Mieu and her sidekick Rusty to escape and gather reinforcements from the neighbouring country of Yamatai, and thus the game begins.

RLS 3

It’s interesting how many aspects of Riglord Saga 2 seems to be in direct response to what players liked or wanted from the first game.  For example, the fan favourite supporting character from Riglord Saga 1 was the Dragon Knight Ashe.

Now, the Dragon Knights aren’t called that because “Oh, they have the courageousness soul of a dragon” or something equally lame like that. Nope, they’re Dragon Knights BECAUSE THEY CAN TRANSFORM INTO FRIGGIN DRAGONS. And Dragons are cool. So what better way to please the fans than making the main character of the second game be a Dragon Knight herself?

Also, in the original Riglord Saga, the Japan-influenced Yamatai was a country mentioned in the backstory as one that was conquered by the villian. Characters from Yamatai appear as either allies or enemies, but the first game never actually explores the country in favor of the more Medieval Europe-ish Queensland. Riglord Saga 2 finally allows players to explore the land of Yamatai, ninja houses, Sake pubs and all that.

RLS 4

The Riglord Saga series is built on the long-running Tactical RPG framework set down by games like Tactics Ogre, Final Fantasy Tactics or Shining Force, so hopefully, I don’t have to explain how a turn-based SRPG plays to you. Instead I’m going to concentrate on the unique features of the game.

Terrain plays a very important part in Riglord Saga 2, and one of the unique aspect of the games is giving you spells to warp and change the terrain to your liking, which probably explains the decision to use 3D graphics for the game. Mieu (along with some other character) can cast spells to raise or lower terrain, which can cut off enemies or cause them to slip off and fall. Careful usage of such tactics can help handle overwhelming odds.

“Height” and “Flight” mechanics are an addition to the game. While many SRPGs have a simple “Flyers are not affected by difficult terrain such as water” rule to them, Riglord Saga 2 takes it a bit further. Being a Dragon Knight, Mieu can fly to higher terrain, give characters a lift across chasms, grab and fling enemies off cliffs and so on. Characters walking up a steep slope move much less slower than characters walking down a hill, which is something I don’t think I’ve ever seen in any other SRPGs are really brings the whole “3D” part of the game into play rather than 3D just being a graphical style choice.

RLS 5Riglord Saga utilizes a “learn by doing” system of skill learning. Abilities are divided into categories such as “Sword techniques”, “Attack Magic”, “Martial Arts” and so on and each character has their own spread of available categories. Using techniques from a category builds up experience in said category, which will lead to learning stronger techniques in the category, for example.

Punch -> Strong Punch -> Hundred Hands.

Characters learn techniques in-battle itself, with a Squaresoft’s SaGa like exclamation of “I got it!” and then a short demonstration of the technique in question. I always kind of preferred in-battle power-ups like this because of its potential to cause miraculous comebacks when you think you’re down and out by learning a move that’s just perfect for your current situation.

In addition to learning new techniques through experience, thief characters may steal techniques (amongst other things) from enemies. Characters share techniques they have learnt amongst themselves if they share categories (e.g multiple characters with Sword Techniques), meaning you can focus different characters on different paths without gimping the others too hard.

New to Riglord Saga 2 is the ability to combine certain techniques together to form new ones. You may find such combinations in skill book items through the games, or you may experiment on your own.

Compared to other members in its genre, Riglord Saga 2 is much more non-linear. Like Shining Force, you can explore the overworld and towns to talk to people to gather information or treasure, and at any given point of time you usually have a choice or around 3-4 scenarios which you can attempt to tackle. Like Shining Force, if you feel the battle is too tough, most of the time you can simply retreat from the battle, and the game will reward you with some experience and allow you to keep treasures found for your effort, which is nice and lenient for those who don’t want to be overly stressed.

One of the stronger aspects of the Riglord Saga series is scenario design. For example, one of the earlier tutorial scenarios has you being pursued by a squadron in greater numbers than you. Unfortunately, they have the misfortune of standing on pretty treacherous terrain: A simple Earth Rise spell sends them all plummeting to their doom and securing your escape. There is also a battle in a ninja house, filled with all your classic ninja traps like rotating doors, spikes pits and boxes that hurl flames at anyone standing in its line of fire, and a battle on a burning bridge where you have to fight through a horde of enemies while the bridge burns behind you, encouraging you to move quick or be consumed by the flames.

RLS 6Riglord Saga 2 has a bunch of “quality of life” and aesthetic improvements over the original. For example, certain scenes in the games are voiced and character description screens now have the character introducing themselves through the audience with voice over. That being said, I always felt that the game worked better without the VA. Maybe it’s just because the 3D didn’t age well in 2013. It was probably cutting age at the time though!

It’s too bad Riglord Saga was the ignored little brother of the Saturn RPG series due to Dragon Force and Shining Force (wow, they both end with the word Force!) stealing its thunder. It’s surprisingly ahead of its time and a pretty complex SRPG.

I suppose that other than the early death of US Saturn, perhaps other reasons it was passed up for localization is due to the additional cost that having to dub voice acting would bring, and also because the game feels much more “Japanese” than the first (for a really long time, I actually believed that Blazing Heroes was Western made due to its tone and style), with things such like the Japan-inspired setting and the tomboyish Princess main character with a wussy spellcaster support character feels vaguely Anime-like.

If you’re looking for more Saturn RPGs and somehow already consumed your share of all previously mentioned games and somehow also have Panzer Dragoon Saga, go ahead and acquire this underlooked gem. And maybe the first game if you never heard of it either.

Related Links:
GameFAQs walkthrough – Rather barebones, but technically complete. Use as a supplement rather than replacement to actually knowing how to read Japanese.

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