Final Fantasy


(This trailer is for the PSone and PSP version of the game)

Developer: Square Enix
Platform(s): NES, PS1 (as part of Final Fantasy Origins), GBA (as part of Final Fantasy: Dawn of Souls), PSP
Release Date(s): Dec 1987 (NES), Apr 2003 (PS1), Nov 2004 (GBA), Jun 2008 (PSP)

Thirteen sequels later and a couple of dozen spin offs, it still seems massively ironic that Squaresoft decided to name this game Final Fantasy, believing it to be their final project before going completely bankrupt. In actual fact, this game was so successful, it dragged them completely out of bankruptcy and guaranteed the future of the software company to this day. But it’s best not to skip ahead. Let’s look at the original game:

The Set up:
When the princess of Coneria is captured by the fiend, Garland, the King employs the skills of four warriors, who set out to rescue her. These are the Warriors of Light, predestined to save the world once it has fallen into darkness. By undertaking this quest, the Warriors unwittingly set a series of events into motion that will decide the fate of the world.

Final Fantasy, for quite some time, enjoyed its title of being the epitome of RPG gaming. Some may feel it has lost it’s edge in recent installments. And, truthfully, it hasn’t quite made its mark at this early stage either. The first Final Fantasy is a fine game, there is no doubt about that, but it doesn’t do an awful lot that Dragon Quest didn’t do before it. It’s all about dungeon trawling, levelling up and random battles.

What Final Fantasy does do, and do well, is nail a really terrific story. Yes, it is old, and therefore standards may have been a lot lower back then, but it still holds up reasonably well. Every town you visit has characters worth talking to, with little quirks to make them more distinctive from others. And the over arching plot has some genuinely surprising twists in it for such an old game.

Levelling up your characters is where the most fun is to be had. As mentioned, you are given four warriors and are allowed to choose from six classes at the beginning of the game. These include Fighter, Thief, Black Belt, Red Mage, White Mage and Black Mage. Every character has unique skills to learn and finding a balance that suits you as a player is enticing. Although, only an utter fool would start a game without a White Mage. Like seriously. Come on….seriously.

These fighters level up by gaining experience from fighting battles. The monster designs are largely quite standard, but the bosses are impressive. The four Crystal Guardians in particular are very well designed (and show up again in more than one of the sequels). Many trends that are set in the main series begin here, including the acquirement of the now standard airship, which is one of the games finer set pieces.

The issues with the game fall largely to the way in which it has aged. Being a NES game originally, players were probably expected to finish the game in just a few sittings. The problem this leads to, on the more recent ports, is that you can easily forget what it is you were supposed to be doing next if you leave the game for too long. The only way to solve this dilemma is to find the last town you visited, hopefully, and ask around to see if anyone can hint at what direction to head in.

The other problem with Final Fantasy is that, although it is utterly forgivable at the time of release, it seems just too simple in comparison to more modern games. Progression is simply a matter of building up until you can kill your enemies with a single hit. There isn’t a lot of tactics involved if you employ this strategy.

Overall:

Despite these grievances, the original Final Fantasy has it’s charm. Whereas not making many strides forward as Dragon Quest, it does improve on an awful lot of their mechanics. The gameplay, while simple, is excellent, in terms of battles mostly. The early years of exploration on the NES left a bit to be desired, but it still functions quite well, so long as you don’t forget which direction you were going in. If you are a fan of the Final Fantasy series, it is certainly worth checking out the original, to see what it was the later truly stellar games evolved from. If nothing else, you will enjoy the quite epic story.

Awful Rating: 6/10

“The world is veiled in darkness. The wind stops, the sea is wild, and the earth begins to rot.
The people wait, their only hope, a prophecy….
‘When the world is in darkness Four Warriors will come….'” – Introduction

Shamelessly Awful Facts:

  • The version I had of this was on the GBA, and actually suited the system quite well. I remember buying the game on a school trip to Barcelona, fearing slightly that all the text would be in Spanish (though I was amused to think how that would make the villain Garland sound)
  • I befriended one guy in my Chemistry class when I overheard he had completed the game while I was stuck. Anytime I forgot where to go, I would ask him, in exchange for my chemistry equations. To this day, I think I got a good deal.
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