The Final Fantasy Legend - Review

Nostalgia Wins!

By: MrChupon

Review Breakdown
   Battle System 7
   Gameplay 7
   Music 8
   Originality 8
   Plot 5
   Replay Value 8
   Sound 7
   Visuals 6
   Difficulty Medium - Slightly Difficult
   Time to Complete

10-20 hours

Title Screen

 Final Fantasy Legend was the first RPG I ever played.  It introduced me to a genre that would change my gaming life forever, and remains in Squaresoft's library as a classic.  Boasting a strange combat system and a somewhat iffy translation, Final Fantasy Legend may not be for everyone -- but it's certainly an entertaining change from your standard Final Fantasy fare.

The first thing you may notice about the game is that it drops you in the middle of nowhere (well, a town), without any sort of introduction to give you an idea of what you're playing for. To put it bluntly, Final Fantasy Legend has a very sparsely explained storyline. You're not really sure about what the mission is, or why you're fighting who you're fighting. This is definitely NOT helped by the fact that the translation is quite poorly done, or at least not very clear. (It's nothing horrible like NES Metal Gear's "Oh, the truck has starting to move!", however =)

The second thing you'll notice is that the graphics are... well, of low quality. Many of the tiles used to make up the landscape are bland and will result in you getting lost, and often. The map designers made landscapes too large, and thus they filled in the wide open areas with similar looking graphics. Perhaps more obstacles would give the player a more guided path?  In actuality, this is not as much a case of good graphics/bad graphics as it is of bad level design, and graphics being misused.

Come to the Guild, my friend, and begin the adventure"  

Before you start adventuring, you're able to form your own party from the start (much like the original Final Fantasy), at the "Guild." The classes are as follows: Both genders for humans, both genders for mutants, and three varieties of monsters. After choosing your main character, you go to the guild and can pick three other members to your liking. You could have all four monsters if you really wanted, although anyone who's played the game may scoff at you. Being able to customize your party this way makes you want to play the game again with different combinations for fun.

The battle system is different -- it's a turn- and textbased system, where you have limited uses of weapons. (One thing to note is that Final Fantasy Legend is actually part of the SaGa series, but Square changed the name to Final Fantasy in order for the game to be recognizable by Americans -- if you pay attention to Romancing SaGa's gameplay you'll see similarities.) You are presented with Fight and Run -- if you choose to Run, then you either end up running, or giving up a turn. If you choose fight, you can attack the enemy with one of many weapons in your arsenal. Yes, many weapons -- not just the standard "Fight" command as in normal Final Fantasy games, instead you have a list of swords, bows, axes, spells and items to use during battle. (This is one factor that set Final Fantasy and the SaGa series apart.) That being the case, the world of Final Fantasy Legend has many weapons for you to buy. You can have 4 long swords, a helmet, chest plate and a gauntlet, or 7 long swords and no armor. It's up to you and your wallet.

Raar, monster.  Raar.
Raar, monster. Raar.  

FFL boasts a unique battle reward: monster meat. If you have a monster in your party, and your foe leaves a edible meat behind, your monster can eat the meat. It will either stay the same, change for the better or change for the worse. Logically if you eat the meat of a weaker monster, you'll become weaker, and vice versa. It adds an interesting twist to the gameplay.

Adding the monster morphing, party-building and the vast amount of items you can acquire and buy, gives you an RPG that is highly customizable. The problem is that your inventory list is quite short, and lacks a "sort" option, so it's quite easy to fill up your item list quickly -- a lot of which is unnecessary.

The battles are a mix between dull and fun. Being text- and turnbased, where your actions are described in words in a window at the bottom half of the screen, battles aren't fun to watch. They're mostly spell effects and sword slash graphics on an enemy sprite. However, having a myriad of weapons and spells to choose from gives it some fun.

Leveling up presents problems, however. Mutants level up according to how they do in battle, which is logical. If they use a heavy weapon, it increases their strength from time to time -- if they use a light weapon, it increases their agility. Using magic increases their "Mana" (magical ability) and lasting throughout battles increases their HP. Mutants can also gain and change different magical powers throughout the game. Different and stronger (as well as weaker) magic powers rotate in from time to time. However, you aren't notified of your statistical increases. You also aren't notified of your magic shifts -- so you may leave a battle with FLARE and dive into a new battle with a dinky spell without even knowing. The only way to find out is to check your stats. 

But the mutant presents the least problems. Humans must level up by buying items. STRENGTH or AGILITY potions increase the respective human stats, and HP200, HP400 and HP600 increase human hit points up to a certain level (i.e. HP200 will increase hit points until the total is over 200, then from there on it only increases the total by 1). Now, this means that you either won't have enough money to level up, or that you'll be stuck with boatloads of gold and you will max out way too early in the game. This presents a MAJOR balance problem. What fun is it to go through an impossible game? What fun is it to go through a game that you can just plow your way through (actually it can be quite fun ;)?

Town Center
Town Center  

Those used to the recent FF games who are willing to go and find a copy of this old game will be unfamiliar to the strange new gameplay system FFL has to offer. Some may like it, some may say it's boring. I liked it, but as I said, it's not for everyone. It won't please those looking for a good story (or a good translating job, for that matter). It won't please those who like to play fast-paced RPGs like Chrono Trigger. It may please those who want to find a mix between old D&D dungeon crawler games and Final Fantasy games. It certainly pleased me because it had a lot of variety and innovation -- but, I'll say it once more, it may not be for you.

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