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This topic could probably have some things that could be considered spoilers, bu

t honestly, this game is too simple to be spoiled, so beware I guess?

There's very little I can say about the good things about this game that haven't
been said, so I'll be talking about some flaws. In the reviews section on this
website there are only two reviews that are less than 8/10, which is surprising
since the game definitely suffers due to what seems like some design oversights.
While I like really like the game overall, here's where it messed up a bit.
First, the game's skills and leveling are extremely unbalanced. Putting a bunch
of levels in stamina early on will render you unstoppable for the rest of the en
tire game. Bosses do very little damage even like this and it makes leveling mor
e even easier. There's no point in leveling willpower since offensive magic is a
nnoying to use and the special attacks aren't that useful, especially when the c
ombat isn't a challenge.
The game also drops entirely too much money. Since you'll be overpowered unless
you actively try not to be, you'll collect way more money than you can spend. Yo
u'll be able to buy all the best armor as soon as it's available, making the gam
e even more easy. As if that weren't enough, it allows you to buy as many ethers
as you need. You won't need to level wisdom very much because of this, since yo
u can pause at any time during combat and use the ether. As a result of all this
leveling wisdom has little purpose other than to lower the annoyance of opening
the pause menu.
Speaking of opening the pause menu, this game has a lot of it. It makes Link's A
wakening look like the smoothest experience on a handheld. In the beginning of t
he game when you don't have that much magic or a wide variety of weapons it isn'
t so bad, but toward the end, you are expected to CONSTANTLY change spells, weap
ons and items. Some enemies can only be killed by particular weapons, some only
by magic (which you will need to pause yet again to refill) and a lot of times y
ou need to change to the morningstar or the pickaxe. In later dungeons, you will
on average need to switch a jaw dropping 2-3 times *per screen* if you want to
clear the enemies, and *more* if there are things like a key you need to you (th
e fact that it doesn't automatically take the key from your inventory is asinine
Strangely, there's a massive difficulty spike at the Undersea Volcano. This is t
he only area I found myself constantly running out of health. For some reason th
e enemies just do way more damage and the placement is way more aggressive to ge
t you stuck in places were you can get killed. In general, it feels like the end
of the game didn't get much play testing. In fact, I'd say the first half of th
is game is far better than the second half, except for the Mana Temple at the en
d, which I consider to be the best part, although only due to its music, graphic
s and atmosphere rather than mechanical reasons.
Another thing that brings the second half down is the lack of direction. The wor
ld opens up a lot, as opposed to the beginning where it's always really obvious
where to go. As far as I could tell, the only way to find Nuke was to wander aro
und aimlessly. This wouldn't be so bad if the map weren't a useless piece of tra
sh. If it were a bit more detailed like in Link's Awakening it would have been m
ore fair. You could argue that the sense of exploration make the game funner but
, to use Zelda as an example again, there's a lot of nooks and crannies that hav
e world-building, plot elements and cool items in Zelda, making it worth it to e
xplore. This game has almost nothing interesting in it's overworld other than so
me decent looking environments. Granted, a lot of these problems are mitigated s
ince you are given the chocobo so early, which makes travel an absolute breeze,
but it possibly makes it too easy.
Another mid-late game flaw is that status effects are completely unbalanced. The

main problem with this is that the moogle effect is completely broken. It's eno
ugh that it renders you unable to attack. That should have been all. But it caus
es you to take MASSIVE amounts of damage, often to the point where you can easil
y be killed almost instantly. The effect causes you to be completely defenseless
, so all you can do is hope you're in a place where you can just walk away, but
if you're in a position where you are trapped between enemies, you're dead. I'm
not sure exactly what the effect is, if it lowers DP or something, but To make i
t worse they're often paired near enemies that can stone you, which just freezes
you, making it possible to just get hit over and over. You can only be affected
by one effect at a time, but there's no "status invincibility" period, so you c
an be repeatedly hit by various (or the same) effects over and over. I strongly
suspect that status effects working this way was unintentional.
Yet another problem is the puzzles with buttons that you have to freeze enemies
over to push it. At least a couple of them are in positions where it's very easy
to push the snowmen against the wall, making them impossible to move to the but
ton. This wouldn't be so bad if you could just reenter the room and try again, b
ut the enemies *vital to progressing in the dungeon* don't reappear unless you g
o up/down a floor. If you're hurrying along you can rack up damage or get moog'd
trying to get back to the stairs. To make it worse, there can be black mages t
hat you have to destroy in close quarters, making it nearly impossible (or actua
lly impossible) to hit them without destroying the snowmen.
Lastly, the translation is very rough. Not unexpected considering the time perio
d and the obviously low budget of this game. I got a good laugh when the very fi
rst thing that popped up on the credits was the single (japanese) translator, as
if they were proud of the translation. I wouldn't want my name associated with
that work, lol.
For all the stuff that Link's Awakening ripped off of this game, I wish it would
have ripped off this game's length though. It ended at the right time and that
helped the somewhat thin plot be something that is actually quite memorable. The
music is some of the best I've heard on the GB, and that's really saying someth
ing since I love GB music. The game also has some really impressive visuals and
even atmosphere for a Gameboy game. The last section before the final boss with
the autumn trees and the beautiful mana temple song playing is the most memorab
le moment in the game, it creates a genuinely heavenly and otherworldly atmosphe
re as you go to the tree.
Another positive thing is that all the enemies are freaking adorable. Like in th
e desert with the mouse/scorpions and the goofy looking ...bear? things. Even th
e eyeball and the ninjas is kawaii as hell. Not to mention the snowmen. I have
no idea why they did this, since parts the game's tone are actually pretty serio
us and often grim. Some parts of this game like the leveling and the fact that y
ou're referred to as a "boy" make me think the game was aimed at kids who haven'
t played an RPG before parts make me think it was aimed at an older seasoned (J)
RPG player, with the plot filled with death like a full FF game. It seems like t
here was probably pretty poor communication for the vision of the game, which is
strange considering how small the team was if you just watch the credits.
Overall, the high review scores are a testament to how good the good parts of th
e game are despite the flaws. I definitely liked this game a lot. The music stan
ds over everything else as high quality, which probably painted my experience an
d kept me from getting frustrated. I compared to to LA a lot since it draws a lo
t of influence from Zelda, even though that might be unfair since LA came out tw
o years later. I played this in preparation to play Secret of Mana, which I than
kfully don't know much about, but I'm definitely looking forward to it if it has
any kind of similar audio/visual experience. I think I may play the remake of t
his game in the future, to see if it fixed some of these flaws at all.