Square's Tom Sawyer

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 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.

Square no Tom Sawyer
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


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.[1]

Reception and legacy

The game was never localized outside Japan, and was noted by IGN as an example of racism in video games.[2] In 2010, UGO ranked it as the #4 most racist video game in history.[3] The portrayal of black people as blackfaced caricatures with huge lips has been noted about the game.[4] 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."


  1. Chris Greening (2011-06-01). "Nobuo Uematsu". Square Enix Music. Archived from the original on 2013-04-04. Retrieved 2013-02-25.
  2. Levi Buchanan (2009-03-06). "A History of Insensitivity". IGN. Archived from the original on 2016-02-25. Retrieved 2013-02-25.
  3. "The 11 Most Racist Video Games (2010-11-30)". ugo.com. Retrieved 30 December 2016.
  4. 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.
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