Part One: Gameboy Advance
I know this is a retro gaming blog, but this post is about two of the greatest thing that you can fit into your pocket: Nintendo’s DS and Gameboy Advance. How can I write about the DS / GBA in a retro blog and still make it fit? You can thank the golden age of the console RPG, the 16 bit era for that.
In Part One of this two part feature I will discuss some of the games that helped propel the Gameboy Advance into a position to become a haven for RPG classics, both new and old.
Any RPG fan worth his weight in Gil (btw, just now that was the nerdiest reference I have ever made) will know that the GBA is one the most essential pieces of hardware you must own, next to a SNES and a PlayStation. You have a plethora of RPGs that saw new life on the GBA, in three basic catagories:
The GBA was the perfect system to port games of the 16-bit variety, because it is essentially a hand-held Super NES. Both Super NES and Genesis games could be ported over to GBA with little loss in color, graphics, or memory size. One draw back is that the sound procesor on the GBA is inferior to the SNES, but I feel that the many benefits of having a wealth of classic RPGs given new life far out-weighs the drawbacks. In many cases, such as Final Fantasy I+II: Dawn of Souls, the graphics and music were actually updated and improved. Notable 16 bit ports to the GBA include Breath of Fire 1 & 2, The Phantasy Star Collection (parts 1, 2, & 3). Final Fantasy I+II: Dawn of Souls. Final Fantasy IV, and Final Fantasy VI
Super Famicom / Famicom Releases
Many of the greatest RPGs of the 16-bit generation never even saw a release in the west. Fortunately due to fan translations and the Gameboy Advance, English speaking gamers are able to enjoy a large chunk of the Japanese only 16-bit releases. Stand outs releases GBA releases include Final Fantasy II (part of Final Fantasy I+II: Dawn of Souls), Final Fantasy V and Tales of Phantasia.
The Gameboy Advance also had several noteworthy original titles produced for the system. Able to take advantage of the GBA’s strengths and work around it’s short comings, developers embraced the format and help introduced a new audience to 16-bit style console RPGs. Nintendo itself launched a new series on the GBA, Golden Sun. Golden Sun and it’s sequel Golden Sun: The Lost Age were developed by Camelot, and among those who worked on the game were scenario writer Hiroyuki Takahashi and director Shugo Takahashi who both previously worked on Shining Force III. One unique aspect of the two Golden Sun games was the ability for the player to transfer his saved file from the first game to the second, thus having the ability to transfer your characters and inventory directly into the second game. Other original releases for the GBA include Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones, Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, and Final Fantasy Tactics Advance.
In the next part of this feature, I will be discussing the RPG godsend that is the Nintendo DS.