Final Fantasy - Review

Where It All Began

By: Robust Stu

Review Breakdown
   Battle System 6
   Interface 6
   Music/Sound 7
   Originality 8
   Plot 3
   Localization 7
   Replay Value 5
   Visuals 7
   Difficulty Easy
   Time to Complete

15-20 hours


Final Fantasy

   For as much as people always salivate after and endlessly debate the merits (or lack thereof) of each of the sequels, many RPGamers have not played this game. This game is as old-school as you can possibly get, and was the model by which most other RPGs were built on.

   The (very simple) storyline goes like this: the four once-powerful elements have been taken over by the four evil Elemental Fiends. Since that time, the earth has begun to degenerate. To this end, the four orb-carrying heroes begin their quest to defeat the Fiends and restore the elements. There really isn't much in the way of character development or plot twists, your warriors don't even talk, and the other characters in the game only get one window in which to say their piece. As such, it's really very difficult (almost impossible) to get attached to any of the characters. There is absolutely nothing in the way of side quests, although the game really seems more a series of side quests thrown together into one large game than a long, involved storyline where everything flows together.

   The battle system is very basic, but revolutionary at the time. It came before the Active Time Battle System, so there's no time bars that fill, or really anything special at all about it. It's totally turn based, you select your commands, and watch the battle unfold, then after every warrior and enemy take their turn, you pick your next commands. You get to choose from Fight, Magic, Item (which actually only allows access to the weapons and armor your character is carrying), Drink (which allows you to use a Heal Potion or a Pure Potion), and of course, Run. Even though there were different job classes, none of them carry any special skills that we saw in later sequels (except that the mages can use magic and everybody else, for the most part, cannot).

   The interface, like most of the rest of the game, is about as simple as you can get. The menu is broken down into the usual status, item, and magic, but rather than an equip menu, where you equip each character's weapons and armor individually, there is a "weapon" menu, and an "armor" menu. Each character can carry four weapons, and four pieces of armor. As such, you cannot carry around tons of weapons and armor with you, but you have to carefully pick and choose what you want to keep with you, which becomes especially difficult towards the end of the game.

The first airship in RPG history
The first airship in RPG history  

   The music was not spectacular by today's standards, but was better than most other games of the time. All the pieces fit the locations they went with, and the battle music really gets you into a tough fight, and lends a sense of urgency. The sound effects were basically nonexistent, as there was no sounds for weapon swinging, chest opening, or most of the other things you normally have sounds for in an RPG.

   When it comes to originality, you really can't get much more original than this. Even though it was preceded by Phantasy Star and Dragon Warrior, it is still one of the very first console RPGs to ever be released, and originated the "good guys on the right, bad guys on the left" battle system. While not THE originator of the console RPG genre, it came pretty close, which is why I gave it such a high originality score.

   The localization was pretty good for its time. All the lines made sense, even if they weren't memorable. The problem here was that there wasn't much to localize, so the translators had kind of an easy job.

   The replay value is debatable. While it is an extremely short game (especially by today's standards), there really isn't enough that's memorable about this game that would make you want to play through it again a second time, at least not right away.

Let's hope you don't have to fight Bahamut in this game
Let's hope you don't have to fight Bahamut in this game  

The visuals were very nice for an NES game. While the warriors themselves were very simple (even blocky), the enemies were nicely detailed, and conveyed the feeling of being evil monsters very well. The locations were all very beautifully drawn and made you feel like you were where you were supposed to be. From the corridors of the Temple of Fiends, to the mystical Sea Shrine, to the highly technological Sky Castle, the visuals were very well done.

The game, as I stated earlier, is relatively short, and is easily completed within 15 hours without skipping anything or being left with a feeling of having missed out by rushing through it. This is because it doesn't take much time to level up, and once you do the enemies become rather easy.

If you haven't played this game, you haven't missed much, but you might want to take a look at it for historical reasons. After playing Final Fantasy, it's very easy to see where all the features we have grown accustomed to in later RPGs had their roots.

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