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Square's Tom Sawyer

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Square no Tom Sawyer
Squares tom sawyer package.png
Box art
Developer(s)Square B Team
Producer(s)Hiromichi Tanaka
Designer(s)Nobuyuki Hoshino
Hiroyuki Ito
Programmer(s)Keitarou Adachi
Kiyoshi Yoshii
Hiroshi Nakamura
Artist(s)Masaaki Miura
Masanori Hoshino
Takashi Tokita
Writer(s)Goujin Komori
Composer(s)Nobuo Uematsu
Platform(s)Family Computer
  • JP: March 19, 1989
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 produced by Square that was released exclusively in Japan in 1989 for the Family Computer (the Japanese version of the Nintendo Entertainment System). The game is directly based on Mark Twain's renowned 1876 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.


In this battle sequence, Tom and Jim fight a snake
In this battle sequence, Tom and Jim fight a snake

Players control Tom Sawyer and his friends as they join the party, such as Jim and Huck, and they each have RPG game statistics such as health, power, and speed.[1] Characters can equip no weapons, and fight with their fists, but there are a large number of collectible items.[1] Key cards and black magic are also present in the game.[1] The game features an enemy that triggers the reset button on a players controller bringing them back to the title screen.[2]

Plot and setting

Square's Tom Sawyer is based on Mark Twain’s 19th century book “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” and features many characters from that book.[2] The plot takes place in 1855 on the Mississippi River in the fictional town of St. Petersburg, Missouri.[2][1] The game begins with Tom Sawyer having a dream saying that in a southern location a pirate treasure is buried.[2] Aunt Polly wakes Tom the next morning, and Tom sets out to find the treasure.[2][3]


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.[4] Artist Katsutoshi Fujioka worked on the game title as well.[5] Around the time that Sakaguchi was writing scenarios for what would become the original Final Fantasy, Hiromichi Tanaka decided to make a game based on “Tom Sawyer” at the same time and formed a team to make it.[3] Takashi Tokita developed some of the graphics, and designed Tom Sawyer as well, but working on the game was difficult for Square to do as teams struggled to finish both games at once, and help was given by the different teams to complete the titles.[3][6]

Being released between Final Fantasy II and Final Fantasy III, the game was similar to Final Fantasy II in that there was no experience point system.[2] Many of the gameplay systems were later seen in an evolved form in the SaGa series.[2] Goto Komori, a detective writer, created the games scenarios.[2] The game had the name “Square” added to the front as another video game about Tom Sawyer came out earlier the same year.[2] Tom hunting for buried treasure is a plot point taken from the original story. [1] The game was not immediately released after it was completed, and came out a long time after according to Nobuo Uematsu in order to avoid big game releases by Square or their rivals.[7]

Reception and legacy

Speaking to Tom, Jim displays a typical blackface caricature
Speaking to Tom, Jim displays a typical blackface caricature

The game was never localized outside Japan, and was noted by IGN as an example of racism in video games.[8] In 2010, UGO ranked it as the #4 most racist video game in history.[9][10]

The portrayal of black people as blackfaced caricatures with huge lips has been noted about the game.[11] In GameSpy's retrospective overview of the 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." Artist Takashi Tokita explained in 2018 that when the game was made, there was not a “standards and practices” department to ensure that games did not contain materials that would be offensive in other cultures.[6]


  1. ^ a b c d e Hiefje, Shin (March 31, 2014). "Six Wild Japanese Games Set In Other Cultures". Game Informer. Retrieved April 20, 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i "「スクウェアのトム・ソーヤ」ガンホーの最新作「セブンス・リバース」の田中弘道氏プロデュースの意欲的システム満載のRPGを大特集!新しいRPG【ゲーム年代史】". AppGet. November 20, 2016. Retrieved May 31, 2020.
  3. ^ a b c Fumio, Kurokawa (November 19, 2018). "Interview". What’s In Tokyo?. Retrieved May 31, 2020.
  4. ^ Chris Greening (2011-06-01). "Nobuo Uematsu". Square Enix Music. Archived from the original on April 4, 2013. Retrieved 2013-02-25.
  5. ^ "The History of Square – 1992 Developer Interview". Dengeki SFC magazine. January 1, 1992. Retrieved May 31, 2020.
  6. ^ a b Szczepaniak, John (February 2018). The Untold History of Japanese Game Developers. 3. SMG Szczepaniak. p. 191.
  7. ^ "『キングスナイト』の曲は『ドルアーガの塔』を意識した──作曲家・植松伸夫が語るスクウェア初期作品の思い出". Den Faminico Gamer. December 14, 2016. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  8. ^ Levi Buchanan (2009-03-06). "A History of Insensitivity". IGN. Archived from the original on 2016-02-25. Retrieved 2013-02-25.
  9. ^ Jensen, K. Thor (November 30, 2010). "The 11 Most Racist Video Games". UGO. Retrieved December 30, 2016.
  10. ^ Dashevsky, Evan (February 4, 2017). "18 Bizarre Video Game Adaptations That Actually Exist". PC Magazine. Retrieved April 20, 2020.
  11. ^ Tristan Donovan (2010-04-20). Mortal Kombat - A Book Excerpt from Replay: The History of Video Games. Yellow Ant Publishing. Archived from the original on 2013-05-11. Retrieved 2013-02-25.

External links

This page was last edited on 26 May 2021, at 23:32
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