Patreon button  Steam curated reviews  Discord button  Facebook button  Twitter button 
3DS | PC | PS4 | PS5 | SWITCH | VITA | XB1 | XSX | All

The 7th Saga (SNES) artwork

The 7th Saga (SNES) review

"Even on a system renowned for its expansive library of RPGs, successfully completing The 7th Saga is an unforgettable experience. Unfortunately this is solely due to its patently unfair difficulty, because the generic dungeons, incomprehensible abbreviations, and skeletal excuse for a plot would likely put everyone to sleep if all the random encounters weren't straight out of their darkest nightmares."

Even on a system renowned for its expansive library of RPGs, successfully completing The 7th Saga is an unforgettable experience. Unfortunately this is solely due to its patently unfair difficulty, because the generic dungeons, incomprehensible abbreviations, and skeletal excuse for a plot would likely put everyone to sleep if all the random encounters weren't straight out of their darkest nightmares.

At first this game actually seems somewhat ahead of its time, prompting you to select a lone champion from seven available characters who make for quite a contrast in both their fighting styles and moral outlooks. Most are typical fantasy archetypes like the noble knight and elfin sorceress, but some of them are actually pretty out there, like a nefarious demon who intends to make the entire world kneel beneath his cloven hooves – a scheme that's probably doomed to failure, since he lacks defense and curative spells. Then there's the hulking robot constructed out of hardy iron, or even a naked alien from another galaxy, but they all have one thing in common: these heroes, villains, and assorted weirdos are all pitted against each other in a race for seven mystical runes which promise their wielder power enough to reshape the world.


Initially your chosen protagonist has to do everything alone, but it's soon possible to team up with another of the characters assuming they don't refuse the offer due to alignment clashes or merely require you to gain more experience. Since each character has very specific strengths and weaknesses, a strategic pairing is essential to your survival; the knight makes for a great combination with the cleric or elf, but any duo without healing magic or brute strength is going to get slaughtered almost immediately.

Of course even the strongest of teams are simply delaying the inevitable, for this saga's glimmer of promise quickly dissolves into unending frustration.

A crystal ball in the corner of the screen reveals all the enemies lurking nearby, which would have been a nice touch if it weren't always displaying immense, rapidly moving swarms that are almost impossible to avoid for more than a few steps before plunging you into yet another desperate struggle. All but the lowliest of random encounters either drag on for ages or crush your party in moments whenever they reach a new area, making for several hours of insipid grinding just outside the nearest city, followed by about ten minutes of actual exploration in the next dungeon and a punishing boss battle before once again repeating the cycle.

At times it almost seems as if the development team secretly hated RPG players and wanted to break their spirits; duels with opposing apprentices can be all but impossible since they're always at the same level as your PC and strictly one-on-one, which still pales to the cruelty late in the game when your party temporarily loses the ability to cast any spells. Overcome this latest affront and you may find yourself hopelessly stuck near the end, unable to return to earlier areas and overwhelmed by bloodthirsty beasts you're unable to defeat without heavenly intervention. Since The 7th Saga is firmly within the crimson grasp of Satan, this is unlikely, though it does lead one to wonder just what Enix was thinking when they translated this monstrosity as opposed to Dragon Quest V.

They weren't thinking at all. The Japanese version Elnard is practically a cakewalk, so the brilliant programming staff thoughtlessly decimated the stat increases your characters are supposed to earn whenever they gain a level. Apparently they were too busy editing the demon's color palette and giving the alien a pair of pants to bother playtesting the unholy brutality their "fix" had wrought. That said, the original isn't exactly a lost masterpiece – it just happens to be playable.

Ignore the slightest of divergences based upon your party lead – entering a treasure-laden tower early, catching a ride on an airship via your feminine charms rather than sneaking aboard – and you're left with an utterly forgettable sequence of towns and dungeons interrupted by still-frequent but decidedly less malevolent Mode-7 battles and a thirty-second slap in the face ending. Ignore its ignominious savagery and The 7th Saga would be remembered for nothing much at all.

Tough call.

sho's avatar
Staff review by Sho (November 03, 2010)

Sho enjoys classic video games, black comedy, and poking people until they explode -- figuratively or otherwise. He also writes a bit.

More Reviews by Sho [+]
The Beast Within: A Gabriel Knight Mystery (PC) artwork
The Beast Within: A Gabriel Knight Mystery (PC)

Just as our hero cheerfully toys with every dour Deustchlander misfortunate enough to cross his path by pouring on the old Southern charm, so does the game itself con you into overlooking its flaws with an amazing presentation.
Duck Hunt (NES) artwork
Duck Hunt (NES)

From the moment that you press down on those aging springs and lock that smooth grey cartridge into the fiendishly designed depths of your Nintendo Entertainment System, you’ll surely recognize that you are now Playing With Power.
It Came From the Desert (Amiga) artwork
It Came From the Desert (Amiga)

One minute you’re sharing a leisurely picnic with that swell gal from the malt shop and the next thing you know ants the size of battleships are descending upon the Earth looking for a little sugar.


If you enjoyed this The 7th Saga review, you're encouraged to discuss it with the author and with other members of the site's community. If you don't already have an HonestGamers account, you can sign up for one in a snap. Thank you for reading!

board icon
JoeTheDestroyer posted November 03, 2010:

Every time I tell myself I'm finally going to start this game, someone like Sho comes along and tells me just how awful it is. Nice review, Sho! I have now put off playing this game for another two years.
board icon
espiga posted November 03, 2010:

I didn't realize that Elnard reduced the impossible-ness of the game. Maybe I'll download it and check it out, since my SNES cart has about 15 years of dust on it.
board icon
overdrive posted November 03, 2010:

You liked this game marginally less than I did!!!

It was disgustingly hard. When you have to grind a bit to beat the first boss (ghost dog)'re like, "WTF?!?!? Is this the original NES Final Fantasy?" It is amazing how little you improve from level to level.

And you have to have the perfect storm of teammates. My hero was Lux the robot. That sucked because he clanked obnoxiously while walking. My first sidekick was the dwarf. I found myself really struggling hardcore, which worried me as the healer chick was the apprentice you have to kill in my game. I finally switched out the dwarf for the knight. The last parts of the game were (comparatively) easy because of one key element: speed. With the knight, I attacked quicker than the dwarf and, because I picked him up reasonably late in the game, for some reason, he came equipped with about the best end-game sword you could buy. That in itself made it easier for some time.
board icon
sashanan posted November 04, 2010:

I have tried a few times, getting to various points in the game, but knowing it will only get worse. Not by design, but by localization. I will, at some point in the future, play it one more time, this time to beat it - but I will do so with the fan patch that restores the original Japanese balancing.
board icon
zippdementia posted November 04, 2010:

An unexpected treat of a review! Thanks for clearing up the misconception that this is a lost classic.
board icon
honestgamer posted November 04, 2010:

I must be the only person on this site who really enjoyed The 7th Saga. I agree that the referenced flaws are all there, but they didn't bother me anything even remotely close to as much as they seem to have bothered everyone else. The game worked for me, and it worked well enough that I tracked it down and bought it after renting it several times.

It also came out far enough ahead of Dragon Quest V, which essentially was localized and ready to go before Enix unexpectedly closed its doors in North America for several years, that I don't see it as an either/or thing where Enix chose this over Dragon Quest V (a decision that the company would have had no reason to make at the time, since Dragon Quest enjoyed decent popularity at the time compared to its diminished role now in the shadow of Final Fantasy).

So this is a good review that nicely sums up what seems to be a common response to the game. I just don't happen to agree with that rather common sentiment. I wish the sequel had been localized...
board icon
sho posted November 04, 2010:

Thank you for all the kind feedback! Please look forward to the next review.

Venter: Dragon Quest V came out in September of 1992, Elnard a little more than six months later in April '93. So while Enix America was busy ruining the latter, they could have published a new DQ game instead. Obviously I can't compare the US sales of The 7th Saga to a game that was never released, but personally I suspect concentrating on Heavenly Bride would have been a better use of their resources.
board icon
darketernal posted November 04, 2010:

All of this is pretty much correct, so yes, good review. I remember, years ago when I played it, chose some elf looking thing in a purple robe as a main character. Levelled my arse off to not get slaughtered, got to some prince-emperor thing who killed my entire party in a single turn, gave up. Good times.

You must be signed into an HonestGamers user account to leave feedback on this review.

User Help | Contact | Ethics | Sponsor Guide | Links

eXTReMe Tracker
© 1998-2022 HonestGamers
None of the material contained within this site may be reproduced in any conceivable fashion without permission from the author(s) of said material. This site is not sponsored or endorsed by Nintendo, Sega, Sony, Microsoft, or any other such party. The 7th Saga is a registered trademark of its copyright holder. This site makes no claim to The 7th Saga, its characters, screenshots, artwork, music, or any intellectual property contained within. Opinions expressed on this site do not necessarily represent the opinion of site staff or sponsors. Staff and freelance reviews are typically written based on time spent with a retail review copy or review key for the game that is provided by its publisher.