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The 7th Saga (known as Elnard in Japan) is an RPG for the SNES, released in 1993. It is known for one thing, and that is difficulty.

You choose your main character from one of seven apprentices- a fighter, a dwarf, an elf, an alien, a robot Tetujin, a priest, and a demon. Trained by the wise King Lemele, you must venture out into the oddly desolate world in search of seven Runes. What follows is a rather rote adventure, going through all the expected elements of contemporary JRPGs. To be honest, though, nobody's ever played it for its story.

This game is notorious for the nasty tricks it pulls on the player. It's entirely possible for some characters to die on the very first monster they encounter. The amount of Level Grinding needed to get anywhere is very great, bordering on obscene with certain characters, but the game caps your level just a little too soon so you're never quite the level you need to be. Equipment is overpriced and underpowered. Monsters regularly thrown nasty status effects and instant death attacks at you, when they're not one-shotting you with physical attacks and magic. Due to developer carelessness in the US and EU versions, you get smaller bonuses upon levelup, and the game was not rebalanced accordingly. You lose your magic at one point, and immediately after you get it back, you lose the runes you've been depending on the whole game. To add insult to injury, you lose access to B. Protects, the only other way besides magic that you could've buffed your Defense.

And they expect you to like it.

The 7th Saga is JRPG hell. Enjoy your stay.

A somewhat-sequel, Mystic Ark, was released in Japan. Through the magic of console emulation it has recently been made available to Western audiences via a fan-made English translation patch.

This work contains the following examples:

  • AI Is a Crapshoot: You do not power a giant demon-slaying supercomputer with pure evil.
  • All There in the Manual: The descriptions of the characters' personalities, motivations, and backstories.
  • And Man Grew Proud: Melenam.
  • Antidote Effect: Averted. Even if both party members receive purify (or equivalent spell), these spells expend the limited magic that you have. There are also items that prevent status effects from landing if they're in your inventory.
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit: Your "party" can hold a maximum of 2.
  • Boss Dissonance: You're far more likely to die to a random encounter than to most bosses. Two reasons:
    • After running into Pison for the first time, you start building the heck up before touching any other bosses.
    • You run into a hell of a lot of random encounters, some of which are potentially fatal even to a high-level team.
  • Boss in Mooks Clothing: Sages when you first meet them are especially deadly, especially in groups of three. Silver Brains, and the B.Nights are also quite deadly until you gain several levels. Also, Tricks. Boss Music even plays during their battles, but they are far from unique.
  • Bounty Hunter: Pison.
  • Chest Monster
    • These also qualify as Paranoia Fuel. You never know when a chest in a dungeon is going to yield a nice item, or a monster that will kill you outright in 1-3 rounds. Mimics in the first few dungeons suck a little. In later dungeons, their stronger cousins are ludicrously strong.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: When you get certain Runes, there's a chance that your ally will betray you and try to take the Runes from you by force. Lejes is the ally which is most likely to betray you, while Esuna and Lux never will.
  • Combat Medic: Valsu, with heavy emphasis on 'medic'.
  • Crystal Dragon Jesus: Due to Nintendo's censorship policy at the time, the game' dialogue really dances around the issue, but Saro is meant to be God (or his equivalent) with Gorsia being his Crystal Dragon Satan counterpart. This makes Lemele and, by extension, the player character into a literal Crystal Dragon Jesus.
  • Difficulty by Region
  • Fail O'Suckyname: Dr. Fail.
  • Fake Difficulty: If you chose Esuna or Lux as your main character, you'll have to take a ferry to the northern continent. You get dropped in an area with monsters 7-8 levels above where you're supposed to be. Hope you can outrun them.
    • Also, the rest of the game, if you don't apply a fanmade patch to restore the correct stat growth and difficulty.
  • Duel Boss: Even if you have a second party member, whenever you fight one of the other apprentices, you have to do it alone. (Sometimes, if your main character is dead, they'll be willing to duel your ally instead of you.)
  • Forced Level Grinding
  • Give Me Your Inventory Item: Don't give the Topaz to the lady with a secret. You need the 500G.
  • Guide Dang It: The apprentice you fight for the Star Rune is pre-determined as soon as you show the Wind Rune to the sage at Eygus. Whoever you fight for the Star Rune is Lost Forever. If you want that person to be your ally in the rest of the game, they must be in your group before you exit the Melenam Ruins. The game makes absolutely no hint of this whatsoever.
  • Heroic Mime
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Carrying a Mirror in your inventory has the hilarious effect of petrifying the enemy that cast it on you in the first place. Most monsters that cast Petrify are not immune to petrify. This can easily turn an Oh Crap moment into an LOL moment.
  • Incendiary Exponent: Wilme attacks monsters by setting his arm on fire and punching them in the face.
  • Level Scaling: There are points where you fight other playable characters as bosses, and they are matched exactly to your level. Also, if you lose to them, they'll take your runes, making the inevitable rematch that much harder.
    • They're also unaffected by the stat gains bug.
  • Lost Technology
  • MacGuffin Delivery Service: Once you obtain all of the runes, Gorsia steals their power and breaks them into pieces.
  • Luck-Based Mission: Pretty much the entire game, really. Because many enemies can one-shot you just by using the right (or wrong, depending on how you look at it) attack, there are very, very many situations where your only hope of survival depends on how generous the Random Number God is feeling.
  • Master of None: Kamil. Intended as a Jack of All Trades, the stat growths bug leaves him worse than everybody at almost everything. Literally the ONLY two people he beats at ANYTHING are Lux and Wilme in MP and Valsu and Esuna in Power. Lejes or Olvan are better jack of all trades than Kamil is, due to having better growths and a better spell selection.
  • Meaningful Name: Dr. Fail. Yes, that's his name.
  • Mechanical Lifeforms: The Tetujin. They employ Robo Speak.
  • Multiple Endings: Oddly not present, even though you have a choice of characters who allegedly have different personalities and motivations.
    • Considering the ending, this is almost justified. Since the character is part of a stable time loop, they were essentially destined to end the game by reincarnating, with the actions and history of their reincarnated self predetermined.
  • Nintendo Hard:
    • The game is all about Forced Level Grinding and making suicide runs to the towns selling the best equipment. If you do enough of it, even that Manrot that has been killing you again and again and again will seem feasible in a couple levelups. Gain another 2-3, and you're wondering why you were ever afraid of those guys in the first place. Make a Suicide Run to the next town to buy the newest set of armor/weapons, and come back. You'll be eating them for breakfast.
  • Palette Swap: "I've returned from the Dark World and become Red-Pison."
  • Peninsula of Power Leveling: Since the game splits XP between the Hero and his buddy, you will level far faster solo than you would with an ally. When you do recruit a new ally, their level is equal to yours and their equipment is appropriate for your level, even if said equipment is not normally obtainable yet. If you already have an ally, just let him die so you can earn all of the XP. When done, get a new ally, and the old will happily rejoin you with enough Save Scumming.
    • A better example would probably be the Isles of Beore (where Luze is located) due to its infestation of S. Brains, though it's more of an Island of power-leveling.
  • Plot Coupon That Does Something: Each rune has a special power when used in combat, from boosting stats to healing health, and can be used an infinite number of times.
  • Random Encounters: Sort of. You have a crystal ball that allows you to detect monsters. In theory, you can dodge them and avoid combat. In practice, the monsters move through walls, and are fast and numerous enough to hunt YOU down.
  • Recurring Boss: Pison again.
  • Stable Time Loop
  • Stone Wall: Lux
  • Suicidal Overconfidence: Averted, annoyingly so. Many enemies love running away, especially while you do your Forced Level Grinding. This is especially annoying when you're trying to kill the silver brains, and you have one almost dead and it runs away.
  • Taking You with Me: The final boss fight.
  • There Can Be Only One: You and the other apprentices are in direct competition for the Runes.
  • Treacherous Advisor
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Nearly all NPCs will act exactly the same regardless of which character you play as, even if you happen to choose Lejes the demon, Lux the Tetujin, or Wilme the alien.
    • Occasionally Averted, especially with children who think that the Tetujin is really, really neat.
  • Unwinnable: Don't fight Valsu after level 40. Also, make sure your levels are in the high thirties before fighting Gariso, and that you're well stocked on B Protects. Trust us on this one.
  • Unwitting Pawn
  • Useless Useful Spell: Averted. Petrify, Defense2, Vacuum1, and Vacuum2 are all very useful, due to how hard normal enemies are.
    • Some enemies appear to be weaker to these attacks than others, apparently based upon some sort of intelligence/magic defense stat. Some enemies are notoriously vulnerable to it (those tall fire guys are a Peninsula of Power Leveling to anyone with Vacuum 2), while others, Vacuum almost never works (Sages and Brains).
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: More precisely, what happens to the other allied apprentice after Gorsia kills the main character at the moment of his defeat? They're just left standing there, if still alive. It's especially a headscratcher if the ally character is Lux, since Tetujin can apparently survive for thousands of years anyway....
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle: What at first seems like it's going to be the end of the game just ends up being a time warp back to the past.