- It's supposed to be hard. It was designed to be one of the most difficult RPGs ever made.
- No, you don't get to keep your skills if you get an upgrade. That's one of the game's many "suck it up" points.
- As you can see, you have two gauges, HP (Hit Points) and LP (Life Points). HP is easily lost and regained. LP can't be recovered until after a mission is over. If you lose HP, no big deal. If you lose all your LP, your character dies for the duration of the mission. HP loss is in white and LP loss is in red. The more HP you lose, the more likely you are to lose LP. If your HP hits zero, you can count on losing LP if you get hit.
- You can get HP back by pressing R3 on the overworld. Even in a battle, having a character sit a turn or two out will give them HP.
- Every fucking item in this game breaks if you overuse it. Even if you use magic, it probably comes from an armlet, which will break if you overuse it. Weapons and armor will also break if you overuse them. To restore a weapon, all you really have to do is find just about any raw material and fuse it on. Visit a blacksmith each time you roll into town; your weapons have a way of snapping when you don't want them to.
- The game doesn't care if you're at the right level to be fighting an enemy or not, and it's often hard to tell anyway because HP isn't directly meaningful in the game. This is a multiple-concurrent-save-files kind of game.
- First off, the reason this game isn't popular is because in order to play it "right," you're going to have to learn the battle mechanics. After you play it for the very first time, give the manual a bit of a once-over. Most of the mechanics are simpler than they look; you just have to know what it is they're trying to tell you first. (Also, this guide can be a big help too.)
- Especially make sure you understand the GUI. The menus are extremely inefficient (and the only part I still dislike about the game even now), but once you get the hang of it all it's a bit easier.
- As with Chrono Cross, you get your advancements after completing each area. Unlike Chrono Cross, you don't get piddly stat increases after each battle. This means that there's virtually no point in grinding, so don't bother.
- Your hexagonal Growth Panel is the mechanism for advancement in this game. Actually understanding the advancement is a bit of a tall order, so just understand this... After each mission, you'll get a new Growth Panel insert. Make sure to watch what you're inserting, what you're replacing, and how the stats change as a result. Even if you go on a lot of missions, there's still a lot of time between each advancement, so every little choice you make in their advancement counts.
- As with other SaGa games, your items break after a certain number of uses, and you have to go to a blacksmith in town between missions to repair them, so don't go nuts with them right off the bat. In fact, getting some punch/kick/throw skills on your characters can save you a lot of heartache for this reason.
- The best starting scenario, as the game recommends, is Laura's. You'll get a lot of those skills I mentioned with her very soon, and since Laura herself is strong and powerful with magic, you have a lot of breathing room.
- Get Magic Tablets on every mage character you have; they need them and need them bad. That's the only way mages learn new spells, and even then they have to have equipment with "[element] Arts" on it. Never, ever overwrite a Magic Tablet on the Growth Panel until you've mastered it.
- The slots only come up in situations that would have a probability in other RPGs anyway. It's just glorified D&D dice rolling; the only difference is that it shows you that it's doing it and you get to time the button press to increase the probability.
- But most importantly, be patient with the game and take time to learn its mechanics. If you can see past the extremely counter-intuitive menus the rest of the game can get very fun and rewarding.
The following skills will get you out of more jams than you can count, so get them as soon as you can. Each of these is only necessary to put on one character. Remember, you equip them by placing them on the hexagonal Growth Panel after each mission.
- Defuse: Allows you to defuse traps, both on the map and in treasure chests. Almost every treasure chest is trapped, so you're going to need this and need it soon.
- Locksmith: Allows you to unlock doors and chests. A damn large number of chests are locked as well, so look into it. This won't do dick about magic locks, but those are so rare it won't matter.
- Quick-Fix: Repairs items on the field, so you can keep using them and stop worrying about "using them up."
- Eavesdrop: Gives you an approximate idea of where monsters are on the map relative to you. Not technically necessary as such, just because the monsters move just like you do, but if you're in a bad way and just trying to find your way back to the entrance this can save your ass.
- Diplomacy: Talks stock enemies out of attacking you. Very useful on missions where you're "on the ropes." As with Quick-Fix, though, it's slot-based probability, so don't expect it to cure all of your problems.
- Swimming: Let's just say you'll be glad you have it when you need it.
- Monger: Haggles with shops. It's not of life-shattering importance because you'll end up having enough money to cover expenses in the late game anyway, but it has a 100% success rate and any money saved can come in handy later.