The first sequel to smash-success Kingdom Hearts wasn’t Kingdom Hearts 2, as many gamers were expecting. In fact that game was some time away from release when the Game Boy Advance received an ambitious bridging chapter in Sora’s story called Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories.
Aside from a single adventure game release in 1982 by Sierra, the unique world setting of Jim Henson’s film ‘The Dark Crystal’ has been curiously unexplored in video game form. Though it’s always been a cult classic, a recent resurgence in interest led by a series of young adult novels and comics cumulated in Netflix commissioning a prequel series subtitled ‘Age of Resistance’ that also came with its own Tactics RPG tie-in.
The Puzzle Quest series was one of the first titles to mix the match 3 and RPG genres successfully, and Puzzle Quest 1 and 2 are still solid entries into the sub-genre years after their original release (though ‘Puzzle Quest 2’ is notable by its absence in digital stores these days). With the main-line titles spinning off into licensed properties such as ‘Magic: The Gathering Puzzle Quest’ and ‘Marvel Puzzle Quest’, it’s been left to Gems or War to carry the banner for original content in this respected series.
After three relatively solid entries into the Onimusha series of adventure/horror titles (arguably Action RPGs with their levelling system for weapons) that closed off a tight trilogy in 2003, Capcom started to experiment with the IP. This gave us smash-clone ‘Onimusha: Blade Warriors’, ‘Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams’ the fourth entry into the series, and ‘Onimusha Tactics’ a fully-fledged tactical RPG for the Game Boy Advance.
Kemco has developed a reputation for pushing out JRPGs onto mobiles as a schedule to intense that the quality of their games can suffer for it, with many feeling like drab re-treads that use the same system and assets with minimal new elements or gameplay hooks. It’s interesting to see how many of these faults can be forgiven when the game is wrapped in a ‘retro’ presentation.
SquareEnix is fast approaching the point where they will have release more re-release retro content than new games this side of the millennium, but when a company has such a vast and genre-defining back catalog it’s hard to argue against seeing some of their titles getting a lavish remake. Adventures of Mana is in fact the second remake of the originally titled ‘Seiken Densetsu: Final Fantasy Gaiden’ (also known as ‘Mystic Quest’ and ‘Final Fantasy Adventure’ outside Japan) after the less than successful ‘Sword of Mana’ version on the Game Boy Advance, and this version easily trumps it’s last-gen equivalent on all fronts by staying closer to the source material.
Young Adult fiction has become considerably more acceptable to adults over the last few years, with the line often blurring between adult and teen fiction and authors writing stories based on their own merits instead of pandering down to children. One of the best authors leading this charge is Rick Riordan, a man who many have termed the ‘Myth Master’ and it’s a title he’s earned. With two high-budget film adaptions of his first two novels in the Percy Jackson series, it was inevitable that there would be a at least one video game tie-in.
For those of us from Europe this game will always be known confusingly as ‘Final Fantasy Mystic Quest’, and for others in America its ‘Final Fantasy Adventure’, however in truth this game is at its best using its Japanese title ‘Seiken Densetsu: Final Fantasy Gaiden’ marking it as the first entry into the massively popular ‘Mana’ series.
Sadly after the release of ‘Sword of Hajya’, Sega decided not to translate any more mobile offerings from the Shining Force series onto the Game Gear, leaving it with just 1 out of 3 titles available. In over 20 years since its release it’s become painfully obvious that they have no intention of modifying this. Luckily Shining Force Central has a dedicated group of fans who have.
The Game Gear didn’t have a lot of RPGs in its catalogue, but those that it did produce were some of the best hand held experiences at the time, especially in the field of Tactical RPGs. The best of these are, of course, extensions of Sega’s classic Shining Force series.