Final Fantasy - Review  

You are the Bringer of Light
by Elliot Guisinger

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   "When darkenss veils the world, four Warriors of Light shall come." And in 1987, they came and they saved the world, along with the fledgling company, Squaresoft, from bankruptcy in Final Fantasy. In 2003, they returned, this time on the PlayStation and with a new look and feel. Alas, in 2004, the heroes have returned again on Nintendo's GameBoy Advance as part of Final Fantasy I & II: Dawn of Souls. By taking a classic adventure and improving upon it several ways, Square Enix has provided a unique new experience, combined with a refreshing wave of nostalgia.

   When Final Fantasy first begins, the player is given four characters to play through the game with. All four characters must be named (or the player can just press the select button to have the game randomly generate a name) and have a job chosen for them. The player can use any combination of warriors, thieves, monks, red mages, white mages, or black mages to do his or her dirty work. Which jobs are chosen for the characters will directly affect how battles are played and won, as each job is specifically geared toward a certain aspect of battling (i.e. warriors for melee damage, white mages for restorative magic).

   Once in battle, the player has free reign to utilize his or her characters' abilities in order to emerge victorious. Anywhere from one to nine enemies may appear in battle at a time. Since Final Fantasy predates the Active-Time battle system, the battles are turn-based. The addition of magic points, or MP, is a welcome change; the deparure from having a limited, set number of spells to cast makes battles much easier to strategize for and is sure to save thousands of hairs from being pulled out in frustration. The battle formula is the typical RPG equation that most RPGamers have come to be familiar with, only heavily watered down; the difficulty of some fights is not nearly as low as the modern RPG. That being said, a character may go from slaughtering all of the enemies in an area without breaking a sweat to being demolished in seconds a minute later. Eventually, it may become necessary to stay in one area and engage in as many battles as possible for the sole purpose of gaining levels and strength. Though time-consuming, this tactic can greatly lower the game's difficulty level and, in some cases, is the only way to proceed past a difficult boss fight.

The entrance to a Soul of Chaos The entrance to a Soul of Chaos

   The audio and visual departments are where the most notable improvements from the original version lie. Overhauled from the original 8-bit Nintendo graphics, though identical to the Origins incarnation, the game sports a look that is more suitable to the portable gaming market of this day and age. The graphics are roughly on par with those of Final Fantasy V, if not better. New cutscenes can also be seen throughout the story. The score has been totally rearranged from the original game and has had a quality upgrade from the limiting four-channel NES sound hardware, to the much more capable GBA system. The same melodies that played over 15 years ago are still here, only better. Additionally, with Nobuo Uematsu having supervised the music production, players can rest assured that the new music is true to the original tunes.

   As previously mentioned, if the time is taken to stay put in one area and fight battles for several hours, strengthening the characters, the end of the game should be reached with little resistance. Even so, those who want to rush through the harsh dungeons and deadly foes may find doing so easier said than done. Though the difficulty level has been toned down from that of the original NES version, the game still provides a decent challenge for those unaccustomed to playing RPGs. However one decides to play, roughly 20 hours of gameplay can be expected to complete the game.

Hold your horses Hold your horses

   Final Fantasy begins with a kidnapped princess who needs saving. The game goes on to name the four main characters as characters foretold in a prophecy who are destined to "restore the crystals" and save the world from dark forces. Unfortunately, the complexity of the story doesn't go too much further beyond that. The game does have a general plotline, but the characters never speak, nor show any sign of emotion. They don't have personal reasons for saving the world other than "it was their destiny." That being said, Final Fantasy is still a great, memorable experience. Its simplicity and fun factor provide an unforgettable adventure that can be played over and over again.

   Final Fantasy is a fun and convenient portable game that gamers can take with them anywhere they want. The package as a whole is complete, leaving little to be desired. Final Fantasy is more than capable of standing on its own and is sure to not disappoint.
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