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Final Fantasy Adventure – Game Boy

Final Fantasy Adventure – Game Boy

21020_frontPlatform: Game Boy

Developer: Square

Publisher: Square

Release Date: November 1, 1991

Genre: RPG

Nerd Rating: 6.5/10

Reviewed by Paladin

America has a serious naming problem. Thank God for the internet, otherwise we’d never know which video game names were real. Final Fantasy IV would still be Final Fantasy II, Mario would be constantly saving Princess Toadstool from King Koopa, and Sonic would still be fighting Dr. Robotnik instead of Dr. Eggman (though that last one wasn’t so bad…) Video games of the late 80’s and early 90’s were at the mercy of whichever country was translating them and if someone felt that a name needed changing, it was changed. How would the fans even know?

Obviously, this doesn’t happen anymore, but it did leave a baffling array of mixed-up titles in its wake. Remember how confused we all were when Final Fantasy VII came out? Luckily, some games were one hit wonders and Americans didn’t need to worry about sequels or prequels, such as Secret of Mana. It’s innovative real-time battle system, epic story and…huh? imagesIt was a sequel?

That’s right! Not only are there multiple Mana games, but they were all brought to this country and in the correct order too! Though it would later be repackaged as Adventure of Mana, the first one, Seiken Densetsu: Final Fantasy Gaiden (Legend of the Holy Sword: Final Fantasy Gaiden), was released here as Final Fantasy Adventure.

Even though it carries the FF initials, Adventure has more in common with Legend of Zelda and, of course, the eventual Secret of Mana. POV is from a bird’s eye view, you need multiple different items and weapons to access certain areas, and the quest takes place over a massive world map interlaced with puzzle-filled dungeons.

The protagonist, a swordsman named Sumo, is a gladiator in the Dark Lord’s Colosseum. Upon escaping, he learns that the mythical Tree of Mana has the ancient power to do awesome things and the Dark Lord is attempting to gain access to it. After nearly dying at the despot’s hands, Sumo embarks on a quest to save the world.

Like Zelda, gameplay is the main draw rather than story and anyone who has played Secret of Mana will notice the similarities right away. When Sumo swings his weapon, a power meter at the bottom images-1of the screen drains. A constant mashing of the attack button still puts him on the offensive, but will do considerably less damage than waiting for the bar to refill. This one feature turns the game from a simple hack-and-slash adventure into a strategy game. Each new enemy means a new decision of whether or not to wait for the bar.

Another Mana standby is the wide array of weaponry. Whereas Link’s primary weapon is always his sword, Sumo switches between swords, axes, spears, morning stars, a hookshot ripoff, and others. Not only are different weapons necessary for conquering various obstacles, but some monsters can only be defeated by a certain item. If your life bar is low you better know which blade goes with which foe.

However, there’s a reason Zelda is the king of strategy RPGs. While Adventure has numerous moments of strategy there are few instances where an entire dungeon will require critical thinking. Most consist of monster-filled room after monster-filled room to drudge through until you get to one of several easily defeatable bosses. Treasure chests literally sit in the middle of a room waiting for you to open them and magic spells are nearly useless. Other than the healing spell and a few puzzles solved by freezing a monster with Blizzard, I found myself exclusively using the weapons.images-2

Experimenting with new weapons in the field is fun, but it does wear thin after a while. The power bar only keeps things interesting for so long, especially when making one of multiple treks across the world map. The game doesn’t always spell out where to go next and finding out for yourself can be frustrating. The worst is locating Medusa’s cave in the desert. The only hint given is “Find a grove of trees and remember the number eight.” After hours of searching the expansive sands for a grove of eight trees I gave up and looked online. Turns out, you’re supposed to get Sumo to a certain pair of trees and run him in a figure eight pattern between the two. What did gamers do before Google

images-1Leveling up can be fun as Sumo has different stats that increase and each time you’re able to give an extra push to one: Stamina, Power, Wisdom, and Will reflect offense, defense, magic power and how fast the power bar refills. Interesting at first, but there is little advantage to building up one over the other. After a while it becomes just another thing to do.

I’ll admit I didn’t pick up this title until later in life when Zelda had more than set the standard for this genre. For what it is, Final Fantasy Adventure is fine. Gameplay is good, graphics are good, music is good, but there isn’t much to really set it apart. There was too much walking and fighting with little in between to break up the monotony. Perhaps it has suffered from an overabundance of comparisons to similar games over the years, but don’t pick this one up unless you want to take it nice and easy.


Written by Paladin


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  1. Um you weren’t kidding about Zelda. Looks so similar


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