The following information is courtesy of our partner Square Palace, who kindly offered us the chance to translate this from the article on their site. You can find the original, in French, here.
Prior to a game’s release, sample cartridges were often sent as part of press kits for reviewers to preview the game. They are limited down to certain parts of the game to preview, and often contain bugs and limiters to avoid continuing further in the game. Coming across these nowadays is difficult and costly, with cartridges sometimes going for prices in excess of $200. Such is the case of the sample cartridge for Seiken Densetsu 3.
It comes with 3 pre-saved states at different stages in the game, as well as the option to view all the character introductions (though at the end of these a message ends the demo and returns to the main screen). While the fighting mechanics are not as smooth as in the final version of the game, it is perfectly playable.
The first savestate starts at the summoning of Fairy to cross the ravine in the cave near Astoria, with the team comprised of Hawkeye, Riesz and Kevin (normally not possible at this stage in the game). This leads up to the fight with Full Metal Haggar, after which a screen is displayed describing features of the upcoming game, and returns to the main menu.
The second savestate sets the player in the Forest of Wonders with Angela, Duran and Carlie as the team, all at level 40, fighting through the forest leading toward the boss battle, mainly against easily defeated Rabites. The game will end with the return to main screen just before the boss battle.
The third savestate serves as a demonstration of the Mode7 capabilities. The player starts with Duran on a beach calling Booskaboo, and is able to travel by sea anywhere in the world. Upon touching a coastline, no matter where, the player is returned to the same beach, and sees Duran immediately call Flammie. The player can then again go anywhere in the world, but will always land back on the beach. Duran will then call Booskaboo again, and the game will, as with the other savestates, terminate and return to the main menu.
As progression through the potential rest of the game is hampered by barriers and the sudden ending of the game at a particular event, it’s interesting to know that a large portion of the rest of the game was also included in the cartridge. Using Action Replay codes to move the characters beyond certain points, such as the other side of the chasm in the first savestate, it is possible to explore other areas that were not intended to be reached in the demo.
That said, it is clear the game is in an unfinished state:
When talking to NPCs the dialogue shows a reference code instead of the actual text in many cases, areas often spawn only level 1 rabites, sellers offer the chance to purchase the Flammie Drum or Booskaboo’s Flute, items are directly equipped to the character purchasing them, colour palettes are either missing or incomplete leading to bosses such as Tzenker not rendering fully, and most dungeons are arranged differently and end returning to the Debug Room.
There are also elements that weren’t included in the final game. In the main square of Byzel there lies a mansion, within which the music for the Ghost Ship plays. It used to belong to the Lord of Byzel, but since his murder, the mansion is haunted and nobody wants to live in. Some say he was excentric, and he called his mansion “Mansion of Puppets” because he collected all sorts of puppets and other extraordinary objects. It seems his most valuable possession was a strange treasure called “Chibikko Hammer”, and that it’s still hidden in the mansion. Another man says that girls from Byzel disapears, and even if they call more guards, they have no clue…
You can also find an island that is not found in the final game, with a beach and cave similar to Bucca’s Island, though as that is already included in the Sample cartridge suggests it should be an entirely different island. There is no town or dungeon, and is smaller than Bucca’s Island.
The Island of Oblivion is a lot larger than in the final version of the game.
On Bucca Island, where we encounter Jagan normally, is a boss whose body is hidden underwater and attacks with two large tentacles. This boss is not seen in the final game.
While this cartridge offers little in the way of content, it still makes for an interesting collectors item, and is of particular interest to the fanbase due to the snippets that didn’t make it into the final game.