Variation and Engagement in The 7th Saga
A downloadable essay
In December of 2020 I revisited Produce! and Enix's unsung classic The 7th Saga, a game rarely celebrated in discussions of Super Nintendo RPGs but dear to my heart and influential on my world. As a sort of experimental birthday party and celebration of forgotten game worlds, I invited my friends and wellwishers on Twitter to join me in a shared experience of the mysterious, hostile, long deserted wastelands of Ticondera. (You can read more about 7th Sagathon here and here.)
This essay is a piece of game design analysis focused on understanding how The 7th Saga kept me so engaged with its RPG action and its systems even though they were so simple. The short answer is, good fundamentals. The longer answer starts to get into what "good fundamentals" might mean in a traditional JRPG and spills over in some other directions. This is my longest, most self-indulgent, and least edited essay to date and I'm thrilled to share it.
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