Final Fantasy Adventure

Although the appearance of the Super NES and Sega Genesis seemed to indicate the decline of the 8-bit era of videogames, Nintendo’s Game Boy transcended the generational gap between Nintendo and Sega’s 8 and 16-bit systems, developing a reliable collection of titles. Among these portable titles was the very first installment of Square’s Seiken Densetsu (“Legend of the Holy Sword”, or Mana to Anglophone gamers) series, subtitled “Final Fantasy Gaiden” although the game itself contained very little to do with Square’s then-better-known role-playing game series, the subtitle perhaps intending to capitalize on the FF franchise’s larger popularity. Indeed, in North America, the game saw its release as Final Fantasy Adventure, and is for the most part a solid experience.

Unlike the main Final Fantasy installments, Adventure is mostly an action-oriented similar to Zelda, albeit with RPG elements such as experience and leveling. The player outfits the nameless protagonist with one of many varieties of weapon, some of which are necessary to advance through dungeons (for instance, the sickle can cut tall grass), not to mention a helmet, armor, and shield. The her uses these weapons to slay enemies, with some being immune to specific types and necessitating a change in weapon or the use of MP-consuming attack magic (which exists alongside HP-healing and status-recovery magic, with ailments such as dark and moogle being present as well).

Slaying enemies nets the protagonist experience for occasional level-ups (in which case the player can choose one of four stats to emphasize during the leveling process), and money the player can use at shops to purchase items such as keys, which are in fact always necessary, even in the final dungeons, so the player should definitely keep them on hand for the whole of the game’s meager length. The game mechanics work for the most part, with a generally-tolerable difficulty level, with the only real flaw being that the protagonist cannot move diagonally, although a few enemies can.

Final Fantasy Adventure for the most part interfaces well with the player, given easy controls, the weapons providing a minor puzzle element for a few dungeons, a save-anywhere feature, and a good direction on how to advance at most times, although there are some flaws such as the world map only showing the locations of towns and no details, not to mention the lack of in-game maps for dungeons.

The story has its moments and even a downer ending, although the translation somewhat suffers, given the lack of vast text space for the conversion between the Japanese and English languages, as well as much awkward dialogue and some names for characters such as that for one of the main villains, Dark Lord, whom other characters refer to as such, accounting for a tad bit of dorkiness.

Kenji Ito’s soundtrack serves the game well, with a nice variety of tracks and decent sound effects as well, although there are maybe a few moments with no music at all.

The graphics also look nice for a monochrome portable title, with a general lack of palette-swapped enemies (difficulty given the Game Boy’s monochrome visuals), although the dungeon visuals can be repetitive at times.

Finally, the game is fairly short, taking a little less than ten hours to complete, with little reason to replay, given the lack of features such as things to do differently during a secondary playthrough and a New Game+

Overall, Final Fantasy Adventure is a mostly-solid portable title with solid game mechanics, control, sound, and visuals, not to mention a story that has some decent moments. It does have some flaws such as a subpar localization and no in-game maps for dungeons that can cause the player to get lost at points. It would receive a remake for the Game Boy Advance years later, Sword of Mana, although the original incarnation is just as enjoyable.

The Good:
+Simple but solid action/RPG elements.
+Decently-sized world to explore.
+Story has some good moments.
+Great sound.
+Nice visuals.

The Bad:
-No in-game maps for more complicated dungeons.
-Subpar translation.

The Bottom Line:
An enjoyable old-school experience.

Score Breakdown:
Platform: Game Boy
Game Mechanics: 9/10
Controls: 8/10
Story: 7/10
Music/Sound: 9/10
Graphics: 9/10
Localization: 6/10
Lasting Appeal: 5/10
Difficulty: Medium
Playing Time: Less than 10 Hours

Overall: 7.5/10

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License