Review by Joe the Destroyer
"At the risk of sounding like a Square fanboy..."
I know I'm going to get one of two responses from most of the people who read the following statement: Quite possibly two of the greatest series of all time have to be Legend of Zelda and Final Fantasy. Those two response are either someone shaking his/her head and saying, ''How typical,'' or raising his/her eyebrows and saying, ''Well duh!'' Yes, all that is written above and beyond this sentence is quite predictable, given that you are currently reading a review for the first Seiken Densetsu, aka Final Fantasy Adventure. So, anyway, I'm guessing the logic here was to do somewhat of a fusion of the two series. Maybe it wasn't, maybe it was, but it's probably one of the greatest fusions that the Action/RPG genre has ever seen. With Zelda's combat system and Final Fantasy's equipment and experience system, you could only have a winning combo that produced three other sequels, each great in their own right (despite how ungodly easy Legend of Mana is on its default difficulty setting).
In Final Fantasy Adventure (or Seiken Densetsu, take your pick on a title there since this truly isn't a Final Fantasy game), you take the role of a nameless hero. Okay, well he is nameless until you name him. Why not call him Lilly? Because that's five letters long, you oaf! You can only use four letters! Anyway, give him whatever name you want, your own name, your initials... It matters not. This man has been unjustly forced by his cruel king to fight in a series of deadly battles against nasty monsters for the enjoyment of a roaring crowd (Roman much?). After the death of his dear friend, he had had enough. He was ready to take a stand of radically civil disobedience towards his king and rebel against such acts of barbarism. In the act of facing his king, he is sent to another country and must find his way back. Along the way, he meets many people who are willing to help him bring down the power hungry king, who later reveals that he wants even more power and knows of a great (and destructive) way to secure it.
If this game can really be compared to any other aside from Zelda or Final Fantasy, the first game that pops into my head is Chronicle of Radia War. The only differences are that the battles are not random, you only get one additional person in your group, and combat is much more fast-paced.
Much like Zelda, you take an overhead perspective on your word. As you move around, you will be greeted by some vicious beasts that include, but are not limited to, cuddly bunny heads, wanna-be moblins, and evil mushroom people. The only way to solve this is the good old fashion way: Violence! Brandishing your sword (or whatever other weapon you can secure), you must hack, slash, stab, bludgeon, maim, mutilate, eviscerate, or to some effect kill these wild animals that almost do no seem deserving of such heinous acts of butchery. Okay, I'm starting to sound like a member of PETA now... At the bottom of the screen a meter is displayed which fills up over time. Should you hit something when the meter is full, it does extra damage. However, early in the game you really want to just disregard the existence of this meter, since it takes ages for it to fill up. By the time it does fill up, you could have most of your enemies just slaughtered through the typical hack-anything-that-moves technique.
This all seems to work wonderfully. As stated before, it is a decent pace rather than the dreary slow creep and crawl that Radia War gives you. There isn't much of a learning curve to the combat, so you can learn to maneuver and swiftly get around your opponents easily and make combat that much more efficiently. The only thing the battle system does not provide to make it that much better is a combo attack, which isn't a surprise considering that combo attacks were not a really prevalent feature during the time this game was created. The system is especially put to work when fighting bosses, as you are forced to not only strategize, but maneuver and react quickly.
That's not all! You also get magic! The magic system in the game is fairly simplistic. You just read the magic books that are scattered about the land you will permanently have that spell in your arsenal. Given the time the game was created, you almost really can't expect anything too elaborate. However, making the spells something you have to find rather than learn through leveling or buy in a shop is a bit of a different idea for the times. This doesn't necessarily add any more depth to the game, but it does allow the developers to stretch out the game a bit more by giving you more dungeons to have to work with.
Much like the Zelda series, Square delivered to us a vast world to explore. The only difference is you don't have all the secret caves and hidden entrances that the Zelda series has. On top of that, you do not gain access by finding new items, but rather by progressing the storyline, much like a Final Fantasy game. Despite the lack of secrets (it's not that there aren't any, it's just that there is not very many), the game's world still gives you much to search and explore. In short, the world is nicely designed and throws you a few curves here and there, so you really have to travel to figure out exactly where to go.
Aside from the gameplay and engine of the game, there is also much strength in the graphics department, despite the lack of color. Many of the object and designs of the game have a very solid outline and superlative design, from the basic trees to houses and enemies, especially bosses. For 8-bit, everything in the game contains vast beauty. With color, this game's graphics would have been absolutely spectacular for its time. On a side note, playing it on a GBA SP seems to give a little extra life to the graphics, making this an even more visually enjoyable experience.
The music on the game is some of the best heard on Gameboy. The developers went to the extra length to instill the sense of adventure that they had intended. You're not just playing a quest, you're playing an epic. The music while strolling around on the world map, for instance, sends out the emotion of hard work on a very important quest, while the dungeon music fills you with not only the sense that there is something lurking in the dark, but some evil is watching you every step of the way. All in all, Square hit the right all the chords with the music.
The only casualty that is suffered in this game is the that of the dungeon designs, or some of them anyway. There are a few nicely designed ones, but most of the dungeons require no thought process whatsoever. A good number of them are like the dungeons in the first Zelda game, sans having to find keys, use bombs, or logically work your way to the boss. Not every game has to have a Zeldaesque dungeon system, but the dungeons in this game could have benefited from the system. You find quite a good number that are dryer than the acting on late night Cinemax.
Square really had their work cut out for them here. Not only did they deliver a solid action/RPG title, but they launched a great series that will be remembered by fans for ages. It isn't a surprise to see why Square is doing a remake for Gameboy Advance. The game combines the best of both worlds (or at least some of the best from both) of Zelda and Final Fantasy to bring you this action-packed epic. There isn't much more that can be said about this game without sounding like a Square fanboy. It's a terrific game, and if anyone is looking for a good RPG for Gameboy, get your hands on this whenever you can (or just wait for the GBA remake, if it's good, that is).
Graphics- Solid use of texture, compensating for lack of color 9/10
Sounds- Well composed and well fitted for their representational scenes 9/10
Controls- Very lenient, little learning to do, and great response 10/10
Plot/Storyline- Nothing really all that original. One almost thinks of Final Fantasy 6 at points. 7/10
Gameplay- Loads of action 10/10
All Together: 10/10
*Superlative gameplay and controls
*Loads of fun
*Dungeons need a little more spice
Apart from Square fanboys, action/RPG fans should definitely check this out.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 09/20/03
Got Your Own Opinion?
You can submit your own review for this game using our Review Submission Form.