Final Fantasy I: Dawn of Souls - Staff Retroview  

Dawn of Another Remake
by Michael "Macstorm" Cunningham

10-20 Hours


Rating definitions 

   Final Fantasy I: Dawn of Souls is part of the Game Boy Advance dual game remake of the first two Final Fantasy titles. While Final Fantasy I has been remade quite a few times prior to this release, Dawn of Souls is the first game to add anything new into the mix. With new bonus dungeons to explore, extra bosses to tackle, and a graphical overhaul, this Final Fantasy gives gamers a sample of RPG history in portable form.

   The story of the Light Warriors is not a complex tale by any means. Four unnamed characters set out to fulfill their destiny of restoring light to crystals that they just so happen to be carrying. It is difficult to become engrossed in a story where the characters have no backstory, no motivation for starting their quest, and no reason to keep fighting. The simple story of Final Fantasy I: Dawn of Souls has not changed since the original NES/Famicom version, so don't expect any new advances in that arena.

A blast from the past. This wasn't here 15 years ago.

   The portability of the Game Boy Advance has led to certain improvements in the interaction system of Dawn of Souls. The developers took into account that on a portable title gamers would need to be able to save at any point, so a save anywhere system was implemented. Whether right before a boss or sailing across the sea, gamers can now stop, save, and return to that point without their save being erased like a quick save file would be. Also, the equipping and organizing of items is easier with the implementation of an optimized equipping feature and item sorting; a staple in most modern RPGs, but lacking in the original version of years ago.

   Staying true to the original, players have four characters to which they can assign one of six different job classes: Warrior, Thief, Monk, Red Mage, White Mage, and Black Mage. Any combination of these classes will work, but some are much more useful than others. A White Mage has access to a wider variety of healing spells than the Red Mage and Knight, the upgraded Warrior. The Black Mage is the most powerful damage magic user, having tons of MP and access to all black magic spells, many of which target all enemies. Thankfully, developers have made some improvements to the battle system such as the changing to the modern magic system, where you are not limited to a number of times to cast a certain level spell. Attack rollover is another modern implementation, where characters that were targeting an enemy that has been defeated will now attack another available enemy, a missing feature in the original. Money also seems to come easier as very little gil hunting is required to obtain all needed weapons, armor, and spells.

Stop!  Hammer time! Stop! Hammer time!

   Little is original about the main part of the game, as it is merely an upgraded port of the original, but gamers are offered a little extra in terms of four bonus dungeons and extra bosses. These bonus dungeons become accessible as you defeat each of the fiends in the main story. Once inside the elementally-based, randomly-generated dungeons, players will work their way through floor after floor, gathering new items and fighting bosses from other Final Fantasy games such as Final Fantasy V's Gilgamesh and Final Fantasy VI's Ultros. While these dungeons are a nice way to lengthen play time, they are shallow and add nothing in terms of story.

   While this remake of Final Fantasy is much improved from the NES days, it still does not impress in its current era. Many other Game Boy Advance games, such as Riviera, Golden Sun 1 & 2, and the many Pokemon games, have far exceeded the graphical presentation of Dawn of Souls. It's not to say that the title is hideous, but the game is dated and there were no major graphical improvements made: characters sprites are small with little animation, enemy sprites are mostly palette swaps, and the cut scenes are gratuitous and laughable. On the audio side of things, fans of the original will be glad to know that Uematsu's original compositions are back with brand new arrangements. Thankfully, they stay true to form.

   Overall, Final Fantasy I: Dawn of Souls is a simple title with a non-existent story and unchanged gameplay. The difficulty of the original title had is gone, but the shell of the game is still the same. On top of all of that, it is still surprisingly fun to play. It would seem that the nostalgic feelings that this title evokes for Final Fantasy fans is enough to overlook its many downfalls. This classic title could still help introduce novices to the genre and legend that is Final Fantasy.

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