Video Games

Final Fantasy Retrospective 1B: Final Fantasy Adventure

Also known as The Final Fantasy of Zelda.  

Unlike the SaGa/Final Fantasy Legend games, Final Fantasy Adventure, originally known in Japan by the poetic title Holy Sword Legend: Final Fantasy Supplementary Story, actually was originally intended to be a spin-off from the Final Fantasy series.  It was only later that Square decided to make the Mana franchise out of it.  Simple enough, except for the fact that in Europe this game is known as Mystic Quest, which later became the title of another Final Fantasy spin-off.  It’s still not quite as confusing as, say, the history of many competing Zombi sequels, but it can be close.

At the time I actually did like this game more than the original Legend of Zelda, since it combined the early action RPG elements of Zelda with the (for the time) elaborate storytelling of Final Fantasy.  It wasn’t until later that I learned to appreciate that a RPG can have a simple story – so much had Final Fantasy influenced my expectations even as a kid – and today I’d probably pick the first Zelda out over this game, just because in the long haul Zelda was the better game.  I don’t know why, really.  Final Fantasy Adventure had a more varied world, a wider variety of weapons and more options for battle, and, hey, you didn’t have to commit suicide every time you wanted to save the game.  Yet Zelda just still seems more fun in retrospect.

Not to say that this was a bad game by any stretch;  on the contrary, it’s definitely a classic, with strong and simple gameplay (despite a few bugs that, depending on how reckless you are about where you save, could leave you stuck in an unwinnable state) and an emotional score by the rightfully celebrated Kenji Ito.  The story itself is quite good, too, starting out like a traditional Nintendo game of the era (the first antagonist is even named the “Dark Lord,” which makes you wonder how he approaches PR issues) but then you escape from slavery, fall in love with a woman doomed by destiny and duty, find yourself caught up with a once powerful but all extinct order of heroic knights, watch as one of your friends slowly turns into a monster and is unable to end her own suffering, and finally stand by helplessly as the one person you were fighting to save is condemned to a strange, solitary existence in order to ensure a bright future for the world.  That’s pretty heavy stuff for a Game Boy game.  And I dare you to at least not get a little depressed by the ending, although even that was pretty cheerful compared to the storyline in the real Final Fantasy sequel no American fan got to play for years to come…

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