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Sigma Star Saga Package Art
 GENRE
  RPG
 DEVELOPER
  Way Forward
 PUBLISHER
  Namco
 NUMBER OF PLAYERS
  1
 CONNECTIVITY
  No
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Sigma Star Saga

I went into Sigma Star Saga without any expectations and came out of it with new appreciation for developers who tackle the RPG beast, put a new twist on it, and make it engaging. In some ways Sigma Star Saga does this and in other ways it doesn't.

Don't be fooled by the flashy girls or space-shooter battles; this RPG is for patient fans who favor plot over action. The most satisfaction I got from Sigma Star Saga came from considering the implications of being in the protagonist, Recker's position: working alongside your enemy, trying to rise above the politics and figure out whose side you're really on. As with any good RPG there is some satisfaction in how efficiently you can emerge from random battles (but in a way that's just eagerness for getting back to the story).

visuals

Visuals are polished with some more original than others. Ships and enemies are unique and varied, but they traverse against a more drab backdrop of your traditional forest, fire, ice, etc. planet backdrops. Artistically, the themes are all visually pleasing and work well, but in terms of the genre they're very much stock settings. Considering the hundreds of sprites to be animated for all characters, ships, ground and space enemies, each animation is a small triumph. Considered together they give life and vitality to the worlds in the game.

audio

Sigma Star Saga sports some quality audio. Background music carries the mood of the situation, but is subtle and varied enough so as not to become annoying. Along with the character/enemy design, music is probably the most original aspect of the game. Sound effects are more generic, but still well done, ranging from the metallic clank of footsteps within Starbase corridors to the crack of Recker's pistol. Minibosses have a memorable, menacing roar, and in a classic Zelda vein, most NPCs have a characteristic one-sound/word when you speak to them.

gameplay

Sigma Star Saga is fairly linear in terms of storyline, though it does branch for multiple endings. While you can planet-hop at various points of the game this is mainly to go back and collect new gun data for your ship. Speaking of which, there are over 75 different kinds to collect. These are split between Cannon (how the shot is fired), Bullet (what kind of shot), and Impact (how the shot acts). While this does allow for a myriad of possible combinations, some are more practical than others--it's all in how you pair them up.

Gameplay consists of exploration, making your way to the core of each planet as you try to solve the mystery of what Earth and Krill high command are doing. Rumor is it's some kind of super weapon, and you enlist in the Krill army as an outcast criminal from Earth, secretly working undercover. Boy meets Krill in the form of Psyme, and you traverse the galaxy collecting gun data and advancing the plot, trying to stay alive between saves.

This brings me to space battles. While they are a welcome change from turn-based leveling, they can be extremely frustrating. They're random, as with most RPGs, so you can't avoid them, and if you die, that's it--back to where you last saved. This can be frustrating because it seems like there are two kinds of battles: the reasonable and the near-impossible. Most are of the former kind. The occasional miniboss adds a fun twist to the normal quota-of-small-enemies battle, but there are a few of these that are very difficult, some more so even than bosses. This becomes frustrating because at least going up against a boss where you're probably going to need a few tries you can save right beforehand. Not so with random battles, and it's not those select minibosses alone: I was once given a huge ship to navigate through an impossibly narrow tunnel. Certain death. I appreciate a good challenge, but because of these instances it translates to me being less venturesome on my adventure.

Generally, the system works well. You explore the planets, level up, optimize your gun data, and rise through the ranks. The real beauty of this game is in its visuals, audio, and story. While not all original, Sigma Star Saga is woven together well to form a cohesive end product.

multiplayer

N/A

overall

This game reminded me very much of Star Trek with its investigation of planets, beaming, allegiances, double agents, and philosophical questions. In some ways it's cliché to the point of spoof: the tyrannical overlord is called "Tyrannical Overlord," and Psyme, the cute female Krill, may have feelings for Recker or may be out to kill him. Recker could just as easily be Kirk. In true Star Trek fashion, the story makes you think and keeps you guessing, so it's good in that way.

If you're an RPG fan looking for one with a sci-fi twist, or a sci-fi fan looking for an RPG, Sigma Star Saga is at least worth checking out. It is, however, very taste specific. A frantic, reflex-testing shooter this is not; it's all about the journey.

final score 7.0/10





WRITER INFORMATION
Staff Avatar Paul Starke
Staff Profile | Email
"In Japan this was named a 'trouble bug.' (...Is it really a bug?)"


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