New Releases: What upcoming games are you looking forward to?
Playing a game for the first time in many years is a tricky thing - while it's tempting to give in to nostalgia, it's also incredibly easy to forget where that game came from and how it fits into the context of its time. For Final Fantasy Adventure the obvious criticisms stem from comparisons to the two years younger The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening. Of course that's unfair at best and downright ridiculous at worst -- Link's Awakening was the Game Boy's first 4 megabit cartridge and Nintendo's pockets were as deep as the ocean while hardly anyone outside of Japan cared for Square -- but still, great games always hold up, no matter how dated they may be.
To get that out of the way as quickly as possible: The aspect where the release of Link's Awakening retroactively hurt FFA the most are the controls. They were clunky when the game was released, but such things are easily dismissed as long as there is no one else out there doing it better. Think of the controls as a 2D version of the semi-grid based ones in Tomb Raider in contrast to the complete analog freedom Mario 64 presented. This is especially bad since the fights are very action-oriented and contain little strategy apart from some enemies being immune to some weapons. Looking back, FFA should have perhaps embraced its usually clever puzzles a bit more.
Enough of the mechanics now, let's talk presentation. The graphics and the sound in FFA are both solid. Kenji Ito's score can sometimes, usually when it's background dungeon music, be a bit middling, but when you're outside or during cut scenes his work is good to great and will get you either excited or very sad. Which of course brings me to the story (transition!). It's kind of a mixed bag here -- when everything comes together, it feels very emotional and rich, but taken individually, the scenes feel simple and underdeveloped. I have a theory however that may explain this: I played the German version. I'm not accusing the translators of laziness or anything her. Try to translate a Japanese script of, say, 60 characters into a suitable German equivalent of no more than 60 characters (which is how it often had to be done back in those days) and see what happens. I think the fact that the Chocobo (チョコボ) became Dodo supports this theory, so I really don't want to speak too poorly of anyone here. It would be like judging a movie where all the dialogue is rapped by Twista and Busta Rhymes based on subtitles.
Anyway, enough speculation, enough ill-conceived comparisons, it's time for a verdict. Final Fantasy Adventure is without a doubt a fine game, even a really good one for it's time. Unfortunately, while I certainly won't stop anyone from doing so (in fact I'd even applaud it), I can't really recommend revisiting FFA. If you want to get the old Game Boy out again to go for an action adventure, you're better off choosing Link's Awakening, and if you want some old school Square, there's always Final Fantasy Legend II for that. Unless of course you really want to relive that awfully sad ending. And no, I'm not talking about the scene with the girl, I'm talking about the one with the Chocobo.
Game Traits applied to Final Fantasy Adventure (GB) by pierben