It certainly seems like 2018 has been a good year for people who love strategy games! Valkyria Chronicles 4 was released, Disgaea 1 Complete made a comeback and we’re even seeing lots of Mercenaries Saga games. Something like Mercenaries Saga Chronicles, for the Nintendo Switch, could easily be buried. Especially if someone didn’t notice it when it immediately appeared digitally in February 2018 or physically in September 2018. But, people should pay attention for a number of reasons. This is a collection people should not skip.
So, what is Mercenaries Saga? Well, consider it something of a budget Final Fantasy Tactics. This is a strategic-RPG set on isometric fields where people take a party of characters and attempt to complete various missions. As you improve your squad, you will eventually build them up enough to assign them to new intermediate and advanced classes. The stories are not earth-shattering, but this complete package does end up giving people over 80 standard and extra fights to face.
What is especially unique about this installment is the inclusion of Mercenaries Saga: Will of the White Lions. In general, the Mercenaries Saga series has a general fanbase outside of Japan, due to two installments, Order of the Silver Eagle and Gray Wolves of War being released on the Nintendo 3DS eShop. But the first installment was only available on mobile devices in Japan. We never got to know about Leon and his band of mercenaries, and how the group got involved in military conflicts on Fornea and found themselves fighting bandits tied to military leaders. This collection marks the first tie the game has been accessible and playable in English, which is a rather notable thing and boon for strategy game fans.
Speaking of accessibility, there are other ways in which Mercenaries Saga Chronicles works well on the Nintendo Switch. This collection is an easy way to bring people in, due to a low $14.99 price tag. Each game is around 20 hours each, though the second installment did take me just over 23 hours to beat on the Nintendo 3DS. There are different difficulty options, which might make it more practical for those who aren’t used to thinking tactically. For example, the Easy option allows you to change your equipment in a battle, restores a unit’s health completely if they level up and makes enemies a little weaker than usual. This is on top of the games, as a whole, not being as intimidating or complex as something like Disgaea The whole collection is designed in a way to make it attractive, not scare away
There is really only one downside to Mercenaries Saga Chronicles on the Nintendo Switch. That is, these three games were all originally designed for handheld devices. The original Will of the White Lions was only on mobile devices, remember, and the other two were on the 3DS and mobile devices. While the character portraits and UI look fine and crisp on the Nintendo Switch, there are times when the actual characters and landscapes are not exactly at their best. Especially if you compare it to footage and screenshots from Mercenaries Wings: The False Phoenix, an installment made specifically for the Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4. I wouldn’t say it is a dealbreaker, but its roots are showing.
Mercenaries Saga Chronicles can be quite an inviting thing. This collection gives people three lengthy games, one of which has never appeared outside of Japan before. It offers adventures that aren’t too complex, but do allow for branching story and character paths. It allows people to tone down the difficulty, if they aren’t accustomed to these sorts of games. Sure, there may be a few times when they show their age. But overall, getting a chance to play these three titles again, especially as 2018 draws to a close, could be a delightful way to settle in with a Nintendo Switch.