Final Fantasy Adventure
  • Genre:
    • Action RPG
  • Platform:
    • Game Boy
  • Developer:
    • Square
  • Publisher:
    • Square
  • Released:
    • JP 06/08/1991
    • US November 1991
    • UK 1993
Score: 75%

This review was published on 08/17/2014.

Final Fantasy Adventure is an action role-playing game developed and published by Square for the original Game Boy. It was first released in Japan on June 8, 1991, and got a North American release shortly thereafter in November of 1991. North America also received a reprint of the game in 1998 by SunSoft. The game later got a European release sometime in 1993, making it one of the only Final Fantasy titles to reach Europe back then. In Japan, the game is known as Seiken Densetsu: Final Fantasy Gaiden. If that name sounds familiar, it's because this is the predecessor to Secret of Mana, which was called Seiken Densetsu 2 in Japan. Yep, the Mana series started out as a Final Fantasy spinoff on Game Boy. Final Fantasy Adventure is called Mystic Quest in Europe, not to be confused with Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest, which is a totally different game for the Super Nintendo. The actual Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest is known in Europe as Mystic Quest Legend. I hope you're confused. Anyway, Final Fantasy Adventure takes after The Legend of Zelda, which is a good thing if you like Zelda. It may not be on par with the average Zelda game, but Final Fantasy Adventure is still solid.

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All things in the world of Final Fantasy Adventure revolve around a sacred tree known as the Tree of Mana. The Tree of Mana grants life to all living creatures on the planet and it is said that whoever touches it will obtain unimaginable power. An evil emperor called the Dark Lord wishes to acquire this power. Our adventure begins with the protagonist serving as a gladiator for the Glaive Empire. He and his friends are slaves, forced to fight dangerous battles in the arena on a daily basis for nothing more than the Dark Lord's amusement. Many of these enslaved fighters have died from their deadly bouts, but the protagonist prevails. One day, a close friend of the protagonist befalls a tragic fate in battle and is fatally wounded. During his dying words, he tells the protagonist about the Dark Lord's plan and asks him to go seek the aid of a knight named Bogard. Determined to stop the Dark Lord, the protagonist escapes from the Empire's grasp to honor his friend's last request by searching for this elusive knight. That then becomes the start of the adventure mentioned in the game's title. While the dialogue is a bit weak, Final Fantasy Adventure has a nice premise with a cool intro sequence. The rest of the story isn't as good as the intro, but it's still decent.

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Navigating the game world is done in an overhead fashion not unlike 2-D Zelda games. Areas of interest are divided into towns, dungeons, and the overworld. Most of your time will be spent on the overworld and inside dungeons, but some of that time will be broken up by towns. Oddly enough, townsfolk can be killed in this game, which serves no purpose beyond amusing sadistic people like me. Exploring the world has a slight Zelda-like progression to it, as new weapons and items are sometimes required to get further in the game. For instance, the axe is needed to cut down certain trees that block the way, the flail is used as a makeshift hook shot to cross large gaps, and mattocks are used to break weak walls. Generally, figuring out where to go next is easy, except for one part later in the game that involves an oasis and two palm trees. The hint for this part is extremely vague, and on top of that, you have to obtain an item randomly dropped by a monster to even get the hint in the first place. Just about everyone resorts to reading an external guide for this part, making this kind of the game's fault. Aside from that one bump in the desert, navigation in Final Fantasy Adventure is quick, easy, and most of all, fun.

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Being that Final Fantasy Adventure is an action RPG, combat is in real time and there are no random encounters. Battles are as simple as walking up to a monster and pressing the attack button to swing your sword. A cool feature of the sword is that it can perform two separate attack moves, a slash and a stab, depending on whether forward is held on the d-pad. It's also possible to block attacks from the front using the shield, just like in Zelda. In addition to swords, the hero can use axes, spears, morning stars, and more. Every weapon has its own attack power and range, with some being better for certain situations than others. Many enemies are immune to certain weapons, as well, further necessitating utilizing every weapon in your arsenal. The constant weapon switching can get annoying, however. There is also a meter at the bottom of the screen that represents the hero's will. When the hero isn't attacking, this meter fills up over time, and when it's full, the hero can use special attacks that change depending on what weapon is equipped. Special attacks are more powerful than regular attacks, and they do different things, such as how the sword can do a spinning attack, or how the axe is thrown as a projectile weapon. Combat in Final Fantasy Adventure is enjoyable, thanks to weapon variety and cool special attacks. The collision detection can be a bit finicky, though.

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Magic is an important part of every warrior's breakfast. The hero can cast spells through the use of various mystical tomes procured from the environment. New spells are learned at key points during the story, like shortly after beating a boss or at the end of a cutscene. Only one spell can be equipped at a time, but they can be swapped at any moment by entering the menu. There are a fair amount of spells in the game with various effects. Examples include restorative spells that heal status ailments or restore life, offensive spells that do damage, and magic that inflicts negative ailments onto enemies. Almost all spells are useful to an extent, except for the ones that give negative ailments to enemies. Some enemies can only be killed by magic, so offensive spells will never be rendered totally obsolete. Different offensive spells do more than simply inflict damage of a different element. For example, the fire spell homes in on the nearest enemy. A few of the spells are used to solve simple puzzles, like how the ice spell is used to turn enemies into snowmen that can then be pushed onto switches. Magic in Final Fantasy Adventure is rather simple, but it's extremely useful and fun to use.

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Leveling up plays a big role in many RPGs and that's no different here. Like other RPGs, killing enemies accrues experience points, and once enough points have been gathered, a level is gained. The thing that separates this leveling system from other Final Fantasy games is that you have full control over your hero's growth. Each level up allows you to put points into a statistical attribute of your choice. There are four statistical categories; stamina, power, wisdom, and will. Stamina determines defense and life, power is physical attack strength, wisdom increases MP and magic, and will increases the rate at which the meter at the bottom of the screen regenerates. Raising one stat will slightly raise a few other related stats, so there are a lot of possibilities. The customizable growth allows you to build the hero of your own choosing, which is nice. One flaw with this system is that certain choices are much better than others. If you play your cards right, it's possible to max out all four stats. Play your cards wrong, however, and you'll end up with a permanently gimped hero. It's still a nice feature, but it could be a bit more balanced.

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The dungeons in this game look very similar to that of the original Zelda, with each screen representing a separate room. Unlike Zelda, however, these dungeons are light on puzzles and heavy on combat. As with Zelda, progression within dungeons depends on using keys to open doors, but there is a key difference here: keys must be purchased at shops or found as random item drops from monsters. This is a bad thing, because you can run out of keys if you don't bring enough with you, preventing you from completing the dungeon. You can usually grind on monsters within the dungeon to eventually find a key, but this is an annoying alternative. The same thing occurs with mattocks, since mattocks are needed for most dungeons, and they also vanish when used. There is a permanent weapon later on that replaces the need for mattocks, but nothing replaces keys. Even worse, broken walls and unlocked doors will reseal whenever you move too far away from them, making it possible to waste keys and mattocks. A lot of the dungeons look identical, too, and they have a tendency to overstay their welcome. However, there are a few dungeons that are marginally cool, like a cave with mine carts you can ride and an airship fortress. Sadly, most of the dungeons suck. The dungeons are the weakest part of Final Fantasy Adventure, which is the polar opposite of Zelda.

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Partners are a good thing to have in an adventure, especially a Final Fantasy Adventure. The hero is the only character that can be directly controlled in Final Fantasy Adventure, but there are guest characters that will temporarily tag along during certain parts of the story. There are a large variety of partners that join you on this adventure, such as brave knights, beautiful maidens, clever magicians, and even stout robots. Besides following you around like a lost dog, these partners will sometimes help out by attacking nearby enemies. The AI isn't too good for partners, but the game is simple enough that complex AI isn't necessary. What matters most for many partners is the "ask" command. Whenever a partner is at your side, you can go into the menu and select the ask command to make them do something special. Depending on what partner you have, the ask command will do different things. Some partners will heal your wounds, some will dispense helpful advice, and some will even sell you items. The best partner in the game is the Chocobo, because you can ride him around to freely avoid all confrontation with enemies. As if that weren't awesome enough, the Chocobo gets mechanized later and is able to cross water! His name changes to Chocobot at this point, which further sweetens the deal. Partners aren't permanent, but they are a pretty cool feature of the game.

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Final Fantasy Adventure is indeed an adventure. While modest, the graphics, music, and sound are decent, and more importantly, the game is a delight to play. It combines action RPG game play with alluring Zelda styled mechanics to create a winning formula that just works. The weapons are varied, the partners are slightly cool, and riding around on a Chocobo is awesome. There are notable problems in the dungeon department, though, as the dungeons can be tedious, and many of them look the same. Also, that one part with the desert and palm trees stumped me for around fifteen years, so a few points will be deducted for that. Still, there are enough good things in this game to have a swell time. If you like action RPGs, and you like Zelda, then you're going to love Final Fantasy Adventure.

Word Count: 1,942

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