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Final Fantasy Adventure Package Art
 GENRE
  RPG
 DEVELOPER
  Square
 PUBLISHER
  Square/Sunsoft
 NUMBER OF PLAYERS
  1
 CONNECTIVITY
  No
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Final Fantasy Adventure

Unquestionably the most popular RPGs in existence, the Final Fantasy series has been a staple of video game culture since 1987. Final Fantasy Adventure on the Game Boy is a little known gem that slipped under the radar because of its deviation from the standard Final Fantasy formula. FFA is a sadly under-appreciated classic, and any Square-Enix fan should keep this game in mind.

visuals

Given that this title was released in 1991, there wasn’t much room on the Game Boy for a diverse palette. However, with the wonders of the Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance, this isn’t much of an issue anymore. Despite the monochrome graphics sans an advanced Game Boy, FFA still delivers more than most GB titles of the time. Careful use was made of the limited colors in order to accentuate backgrounds, moving objects, and environmental properties such as grass. The result is a very nice looking 8-bit game environment with atmosphere and nuance. In addition to the tactful use of color, the character animations and designs are nicely done with a fairly wide range of movements given the limitations of a GB cart. The game can also support a fair amount of enemies on the screen at a time with only minor hindrance to the framerate. It’s a solid showing for a relatively early GB title.

audio

FFA does little to awe the ear in these days of crisp stereo and surround sound, but for the time and for the platform, Square certainly did a stellar job working with the resources at hand. The sound plays a large part in the adventure often setting the mood and helping in such matters as hit detection. Since the graphics are so limited, hit detection on or from an enemy is often best derived from the contact noise made when a blow is placed. The audio is also utilized to accentuate the atmosphere and involve the player; for example, there is an instance in the game where the heroes board an airship, and at one point in the level, the airship begins to fall. The developers were forced to depict this scene aurally since the visuals were limited. A simple but clever rumbling noise helped sadly-deprived, 1991 gamers understand that the ship was going down. Nuances in the audio and a well-crafted soundtrack made Final Fantasy Adventure a pleasure to turn up during the 8-bit days of handheld gaming.

gameplay

The few who have had their hands on this classic often wonder why Square decided to use an Action/RPG style for the game when they did not for all previous and subsequent iterations of the Final Fantasy franchise. There’s a simple explanation for this difference: this ain't no Final Fantasy game. The game is actually a port of the Japanese game Seiken Densetsu, better known in North America by its sequel’s title: Secret of Mana.

Secret of Mana was FFA’s sequel in Japan, but the events in FFA actually occur after Mana. In Final Fantasy Adventure, the player takes on the role of a young warrior who is kept as a slave by the villain Dark Lord. The hero is essentially a gladiator who must defeat hoards of enemies for the amusement of Dark Lord in order to receive meals. However, he has become aware of a plan by Dark Lord and his assistant Julius to enter the sacred realm and abuse the power of the Mana Tree. He enlists the help of Bogard, who is a Knight of Gemma—a bloodline of knights that guard the Mana Tree. The two head off into adventure to vanquish Dark Lord and protect the sacred tree.

Trite storyline aside, the game has an excellent control interface. In Action/RPG style, the player navigates the hero through dungeons and overworld areas vanquishing roaming enemies as he or she explores. There is no turn-based combat as in other Final Fantasy games—all battles are in real time. For each enemy vanquished, the player earns points and eventually levels up. Upon leveling up, the game allows the player to choose which area of performance to improve: will, wisdom, power, or stamina. Easily navigable menus help a reasonably complex equipment and item system function; players have easy access to armor, weapons, items, potions, and magic spells, all of which add depth to the gameplay. The game also offers an easily accessible save feature that allows for saving any time during gameplay. Upon restarting the game, the player can load from the exact spot he or she left off on. The simple save and load feature aids in making the game accessible and easy to pick up each time you feel an itch to play.

FFA plays great and has a decent story. Don’t expect a sprawling epic, but if fantasy fiction is your preference, you should be amused by the tale. The excellent level design and puzzle complexity makes the gameplay shine.

multiplayer

N/A

overall

If you’re expecting Final Fantasy in the traditional sense, you’re going to be disappointed. However, if you play the game for a while, you just might find that it’s equally entertaining in its own fashion. Although the decision to label this with the Final Fantasy name was clearly nothing more than a means of making it more recognizable, the game is certainly a must-have for your system. Check out eBay or your local game shop for a used copy of this title and prepare to spend a good long while venturing to the heights of Mount Illusia.

final score 8.7/10


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