After staring at this game for a while, playing another game, going on vacation, and staring at the game for a while more, I finally decided to move on. The game is available with a translation patch and in an official version (through a remake) so everyone can try it themselves.
As I said in the last post, I was at the point where I was going to have to do a large amount of grinding to beat the final boss, and I just wasn't in the mood. So I'll talk about my impressions of the game here and then move on.
Romancing SaGa 2 is definitely a better game than 1. It fixes a large number of the problems that I mentioned about that game, and is generally a more enjoyable experience.
SaGa games aren't known for their stories. This game has a really interesting concept -- the world is waiting for the return of 7 legendary heroes to save the world, but when they do return, they seem to be villains instead. That's about the limit of the story, though. I never saw an explanation for why this happened (although I didn't go to a village where supposedly some of the backstory would be explained).
There are a lot of fun aspects to the game system. Your main character is an Emperor or Empress, and will pass on their skills through successive generations. This system is a bit scattershot because it's not like the generation systems of other games. You can start a quest, 260 years pass, and the same NPCs are sitting around waiting for you to finish the quest. I like the idea that if you lose your party you move on to the next generation, but it takes too long to set up a new generation with the skills and magic.
The graphics are quite good, as to be expected from Square. The music is well done too, and the interface is (mostly) clean and usable.
My ultimate criticisms of this game are twofold, and I've mentioned them before. The first is that the game system is too opaque. Hardly anything about the system is explained either in the instruction manual or the game itself. This makes it hard to make intelligent decisions about which classes to use, what weapons and skills, which magic, etc. Now, this wouldn't necessarily be a huge problem, except for my second complaint -- the game is too difficult.
Right from the start the difficulty is brutal. You spend the entire game with the danger of getting wiped out by a random encounter. Fortunately you can save any time you want, but it's frustrating to constantly feel like the monsters overpower you to the point where it feels like you may not even complete the dungeons.
That being said, with knowledge of the system from the discord and walkthroughs, I was able to make it to the end of the game with very little grinding. However, the final boss represents a massive increase in difficulty from anything that comes before. There is a cheap way to beat the boss and a more "legitimate" way, but both ways require long hours of grinding to get the right skills and spells necessary. I just don't find that appealing.
Everything I've said may make it sound like I disliked the game, but as with RS1, my feelings were mixed. I enjoyed the game at many points but got annoyed with it at many others. I have no desire to complete the game, which is not a good sign. Plenty of people enjoy this game a lot, though, so it's probably worth a try, especially in the enhanced remake.
I have five more games to go in 1993: Yumemaboroshi no Gotoku, Wondrous Magic, Monster Maker III, and Shin Momotaro Densetsu. As far as I can tell, none of these have translation patches. There is also the PC Engine version of Ys IV, which I am looking forward to quite a bit.