Final Fantasy - Reader Retroview  

The First of Many
by Derek 'Roku' Cavin

10-25 Hours


Rating definitions 

   This review is based on the original NES version. Here it is; the first game in a very long and popular series. While later games in the series are far different from it, the original Final Fantasy still continues to be one of the best NES RPGs. Four light warriors gather an attempt to undo the rot the four fiends have unleashed upon the world. You travel from country to country setting right many wrongs and eventually confront the evil that's behind it all.

   Final Fantasy has an interesting battle system. You can choose from a handful of classes each with their own specialty, stat growth, and equipment types. Physical attacks are a little different than other games. The higher your hit rating is, the more times you can attack. High level Black Belts may be able to hit ten times in succession. Magic is handled differently as well. Each character that can learn magic can learn up to three spells of your choice in each magic slot. Each magic slot has its own MP value which increases as you level up. When a slot runs out of MP you must rest before you can cast from that slot again. You can use items in battle too, but your selection is very limited. There are, however, special pieces of equipment that cast spells for free when used as an item. You can eventually reach advanced classes which allow more spells and new equipment.

D is for Dragon...I think D is for Dragon...I think

   While there are some very annoying status effects and death spells, the game is pretty easy once you've obtained some protection against them. Of course, the difficulty is based heavily on which classes you select. If you have all fighters it will be very difficult to heal yourself. If you have all white mages it will be very difficult to destroy enemies. If you have a well balanced party, the game is pretty easy though.

   Final Fantasy has some decent interaction for the most part, but there are some problems. Some of the dialog sounds a little weird and treasure chests remaining in a closed position even after taking the contents is a bit annoying, but the most annoying thing is the targeting system. If an enemy that you target is defeated, you won't automatically target another enemy which is very annoying. Still, as sad as this is to say, there are many NES games with greater problems than Final Fantasy has so it's average overall.

   Borrowing only the basics from other RPGs, Final Fantasy creates several original elements. The battle system and advancing class system are examples of the more original ideas in the game. The plot is rather original as well and likely inspired other early games.

Awww, it costs money to save? Awww, it costs money to save?

   While the game begins with the cliché saving of the princess from the castle, it quickly evolves into something much better and incredibly well put-together for a NES game. Although many of the things you do on your quest may not seem to be united very well, there is a rather strong central theme and purpose for your actions. The game does a pretty good job of explaining itself which was rather impressive for when it came out.

   Final Fantasy can be one of the longer NES RPGs and even has a sort of optional boss. You run into it the same way you run into normal enemies and you can fight it several times, but it's very strong. If you want to fight it and collect all of the game's treasure you can expect to spend around 25 hours playing. If you know what you're doing and rush through quickly, it's possible to finish the game in less than 10 hours though.

   Most of Final Fantasy's music is extremely well done. There are a large number of tracks for a NES game and most of them are quite catchy. The downside to Final Fantasy's sound is the horrible sound effects. There are tons of beeping and weird screeching sound effects which are a real mood killer. Overall, the sound is still quite good, though some boss music wouldn't have hurt. It's a real shame about the annoying sound effects as the music is quite good.

   There are some very well-drawn enemies throughout the game. While several sprites are re-colored, there is still a very diverse and detailed selection of enemies in the game. Bosses are extremely well detailed, especially the final boss. It's very difficult to find better drawn enemies in other NES games.

   The game that started it all is one of the best NES RPGs. It manages to keep its fun value no matter how many times I play it, despite minor annoyances such as the extremely limited inventory space. I recommend this game to anyone, especially those that want to see how the series began. Even though there are many modern games that have better plots, graphics, music, etc. this classic is still worth checking out.

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