With another year comes yet another handheld game to play, but this year saw many new graphic-pushing games for the newest Game Boy incarnation, Game Boy Adavance. Giving a home for many great original games, Game Boy Advance even managed to get a few remakes that have been much wanted for many years. Even though it's close cousin, the Game Boy Color died a quick death these games hold testament to the fact that Game Boy Advance is here and it's here to stay. With such a great selection of titles, and the portability RPGamers are not only responsive, but this year they were impressed enough to turn out to vote for the Best GBA RPG of the Year.
Though more than one game has used the title of Final Fantasy on a
portable system before, it wasn't until Final Fantasy Tactics Advance
that RPGamers actually saw the name truly shine on the Game Boy. Four years
had passed since the original Final Fantas Tactics game had appeared on the
PlayStation, overshadowed by the fan-favored game of Final Fantasy VII.
Returning once again to a more refined Job system made for carefully plotting which
classes compliment each other in strategic battles, all to get Marche back
home. It's best to play by the rules, however, as breaking them will
possibly get a character thrown into jail, and then you have to pay to get them back. With a lighter plot involving
Marche and his friends being thrown into a video game world, it's a game
that can be enjoyed as a diversion on a handheld or immersed into with a
Game Boy Player. Multiplayer options include trades of items and troops, or
head to head battling. With a markedly improved translation over Tactics,
and future development of the same game world in Final Fantasy XII,
it's no big surprise this title was the reader's number one choice for
Game Boy Advance this year.
Speaking of handheld games originally holding the Final Fantasy title in
North America, Sword of Mana (originally entitled Final Fantasy
Adventure) managed to snag this year's silver spot from the readers.
With completely redone graphics, an improved storyline, and a general
facelift in other areas it's difficult to believe Sword is actually a
remake of a twelve year old game. Those that enjoyed the type of battle
system found in the second game of the same series, Secret of Mana
will leap at the chance to pick up a similar style of play. Choose to fight
the good fight between two main characters, become involved in deep
political intrigue and seek revenge upon the ultimate evil of the Empire!
With bright, colorful graphics, it certainly appealed visually to many
people, and managed to squeak ahead of another game done in a traditional
Last to join the illustrious ranks of Game Boy Advance reader rewards is
Golden Sun: The Lost Age. Though playable well enough as a
standalone game, it is also the continuation of the first Golden Sun.
This means intricate data such as character names, levels, events, and
special magic being called Djinni can be transferred to Lost Age, picking up
where Golden Sun left off. With a storyline following Felix and Jenna,
characters introduced in the first installment, and Sheba as well, it fills
in many conspicuous plot gaps by viewing the race for the Lighthouses from
another angle. With a wide-ranging plot that spans many hours, and freedom
of exploration, Lost Age allows a player to proceed at their own pace, and
makes a good RPG for both veterans and those newly introduced to the genre.
Adding in a battle system based on judicious timing of attacks and magic
spells, anyone can pick up the game and have a lot of fun.