The 7th Saga is an obscure Japanese Role-Playing Game developed by Produce! and published by Enix for the Super Nintendo in 1993.
The story and gameplay of The 7th Saga are fairly simple – at least when compared to other SNES RPGs, like Seiken Densetsu 3 – but the game moves at a quick pace and also has a few unique features of its own that make it memorable.
The first thing that stands out is how random combat works. A circular scanner (actually a crystal ball) in the top left of the screen shows hidden enemies on the map, and they move around, eventually gravitating towards your character in the centre of the circle. When an enemy occupies the same space as you, combat initiates and the camera switches from an overhead view to an over-the-shoulder, third-person view using the ‘magic’ of Mode 7.
Combat is turn-based and you can choose physical or magical attacks from a menu, as well as defensive moves, or items from your inventory. And you can also run away should you wish. What moves are available to you depends on the type of character you chose at the start of the game, and there are seven classes of character to select from (human fighter, Tetujin, dwarf, human cleric, elf, demon, or alien).
The storyline is fairly standard stuff: you’re on a quest to locate seven magical runes, and as you travel you will meet other characters who are also searching for the runes. These characters will sometimes join your party or will even fight you at certain points in the game if you’ve already found a rune.
Levels rise quickly initially and combat is simple and effective. The music throughout is also good. Overall, The 7th Saga is another absorbing level-grinder on the SNES that will appeal to anyone who likes obscure JRPGs with turn-based combat.
Unlike many Japanese RPGs on the Super Nintendo, The 7th Saga did actually receive an official release in North America, and was thus translated into English. A follow-up, called Mystic Ark, was planned for release in North America under the title of “The 7th Saga II“, but never made it out (and it was only ever released in Japan).
Final note: I did see a review of this game that said that the North American version of The 7th Saga is an insanely difficult game, with many deaths in combat, but for some reason I didn’t experience that. I even chose the cleric as my playable character and he didn’t seem to have too many problems surviving. I understand that there is a fan-made patch available that better balances the gameplay, and it could be that the version I played already had this patch applied.