Square's Tom Sawyer
|Square no Tom Sawyer|
|Genre(s)||Role-playing video game|
Square's Tom Sawyer (スクウェアのトム・ソーヤ Sukuwea no Tomu Sōya?) is a role-playing video game for the Nintendo Family Computer (known internationally as the Nintendo Entertainment System) game console. The game is directly based on Mark Twain's renowned novel, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and was developed in the role-playing video game niche that made Square famous with its acclaimed Final Fantasy series of video games. The game is featured in GameSpy's retrospective overview of the Nintendo Famicom; Benjamin Turner and Christian Nutt's Square column concludes that "one of the most amusing Square games that didn't come [to the U.S.] was Square's Tom Sawyer, an RPG starring the happy-go-lucky boy wonder that featured a...racially insensitive...character."
The presentation of Square's Tom Sawyer only loosely mirrors that of traditional Japanese role-playing games. The game's sidescrolling navigation is less open-ended than most RPGs, while the absence of an overworld map separates it from games like Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest. The game retains a traditional battle system, where character performance in combat is determined by numerical values for attributes such as health, power, and speed. The values of the characters' attributes increases as the characters gain experience through successive battles. Although Square's Tom Sawyer boasts a large item inventory, it eliminates the system of equipment; players instead fight monsters using their fists.
Plot and setting
Square's Tom Sawyer takes place on the Mississippi River in 1855 the fictional St. Petersburg, Missouri (modeled after Twain's boyhood home of Hannibal, Missouri). The game features the iconic whitewashed buildings from the novel and retains most of the main characters. Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn, Jim, Injun Joe, Aunt Polly and Sid are all present, although Becky Thatcher is replaced by a girl named "Amy", possibly Amy Lawrence, Tom's ex-girlfriend. The game centers around Tom's search for treasure.
Square's Tom Sawyer was scored by famed Final Fantasy composer Nobuo Uematsu, who is described as taking a more "scenic" approach to the game than his previous works. Later Final Fantasy IV active time battle system designer Hiroyuki Ito worked on Tom Sawyer as the lead designer.
Reception and legacy
The game was never localized outside of Japan, and was noted by IGN as an example of racism in video games. It was also noted by 1UP.com for its "horrible stereotyping". In 2010, UGO ranked it as the #4 most racist video game in history. The portrayal of black people as blackfaced caricatures with huge lips has been noted about the game.
- Chris Greening (2011-06-01). "Nobuo Uematsu". Square Enix Music. Retrieved 2013-02-25.
- Levi Buchanan (2009-03-06). "A History of Insensitivity". IGN. Retrieved 2013-02-25.
- David Ngo (2008-01-25). "Just the facts, Jack". 1UP.com. Retrieved 2013-02-25.
- The 11 Most Racist Video Games, UGO.com, November 30, 2010
- Tristan Donovan (2010-04-20). Replay: The History of Video Games. Yellow Ant Publishing. Retrieved 2013-02-25.
- (Japanese) Square Enix Square's Tom Sawyer Page