Review by Zylo the wolf
"Even if I can enjoy it, I clearly understand why people thinks I'm strange because I do..."
I'm sure you all already know this, but even if the game got Final Fantasy in the title screen it's still not a real Final Fantasy game. Final Fantasy Legend is the first game in the saga series (most known for the two Saga Frontier games on the Sony Playstation), and in Japan the game is simply known as Saga: Warrior in the tower of the Spirit World. Just like the first Mana game, Squaresoft decided to rename it to a Final Fantasy title thanks to the success of the first Final Fantasy on the Nes. The only game in this series that I played when it was "new" was the third one, but since I've tried and enjoyed Final Fantasy, Phantasy Star and even Dragon Quest 15 years after the games where released I figured I should also give this game serious try.
Many other RPGs usually starts with that you get to know who the hero of the game is and how his big and epic journey started. This game is however a bit different than most other RPGs from Japan. The first you do is to create and name your main character. There are a total of 8 classes to choose from, and you will never be able to chance back once you've created a class. The world in this game is a huge tower which got different worlds on the different floors. Our Hero is curious to see what is at the top of the tower and decides to climb through the whole tower. But it turns out that in order to enter the tower he needs to find a sphere that will allow him to climb through a couple towers and give him access to the next world.
This is a very simple way to explain the plot. Just like in many of the early RPGs your characters will never develop as a character, but instead you get to travel through 4 different worlds and finish different quests in each. As you might figure out, each world has it's own story that will eventually lead to that you get a sphere and can go further in the big "world tower". You never get any characters that has to join your party, but you can already in the beginning of the game recruit three other party members (you also get to choose their class and name, but they will all be a little bit weaker than the hero.). You never get to change your character's class, but you can recruit new characters if one of them has fallen. A character can be brought back to life three times, after that you need to buy an expensive heart item.
The most important thing in this game is to select the classes that best fits your type of playstyle. Each class has it's pros and cons. The first class is Male Human, which I think is a little better with heavy weapons while the Female Human is a little better with the type of weapons that more focus on agility. This class can't learn any magic, but can instead equip a lot of different armor which makes it the best type when it comes to raw strength. Human doesn't get stronger by defeating enemies, instead you have to buy items that increases their HP, Strength or Agility. This makes Humans very expensive at the beginning of the game, but it might be a good idea to have a couple around later in the game when you get more money.
Just like when it comes to Humans, it's also possible to select which sex you want your Mutants to have. I'm not sure what the difference is between the two genders, but I recommend that you at least starts the game with two so you might want to make one of each gender just so two characters doesn't look the same. Mutants are different from Humans because they can learn magic, and also randomly gets stronger in some battles. However they can't use all kinds of armor, and since they also learn spells at random they also forget some spells since they can only have four. This class will be a huge help in the early parts of the game.
The last couple of classes are different type of monsters. They have the same stats and attacks as the enemies that you face, but they won't get stronger by winning battles or by using items. But sometimes an enemy might turn into meat when you've won a battle, and if your monster then eats that meat it will transform into the enemy that you just won over. This is a weird class which I never bothered to use, but I guess it can become pretty useful sometimes.
Another thing that really important in this game is that every weapon or spell can only be used a couple times. Spells are not a huge problem since they can be refilled when you sleep at an inn, but weapons is another thing. It usually works like this as well, if the weapons are stronger then you won't be able to use it as many times as the weaker weapons. This can get really annoying if you are in a middle of a dungeon and all of a sudden can't attack the enemies anymore.
As I said before the point in this game is to reach the top of the world tower, but in order to get further you have to found a world's sphere, then you can reach much higher floors in the tower where you will reach a gate to the next world, where you will after a few quests found a new sphere. What makes this concept to actually work is that every new world has a lot more advanced technology than the previous one. The world is without a doubt the best thing in the game which was what made me want to keep playing.
But the time you actually spent in the tower is far from fun. It's very easy to get lost, and there are a couple of mini worlds which actually are just there to confuse you. Sometimes the reward will actually be worth it there are even mini worlds where there is no reward, except maybe that the enemies are much stronger and therefore gives you a lot of more money. And you will always be short of money, even when you have fully trained your Humans because the stronger weapons can be very expensive, and they will also break after a very short time. The fact that you have to buy the same weapons over and over again is one of the main things that really brings down the score.
The second thing is that Mutants are so random, especially when it comes to the spells the learn and forget. You can win a couple of battles where your mutants got really good attack and healing magic and in the next battle they will be replaced with really crappy ones. I also really miss the classic level up system with exp, but maybe that just me that wants my RPGs to be to traditional? Finally the Monster classes seems to me to just be a really big wildcard and both the Humans and the Mutants will most likely be better anyway.
What really comes down to it is also that I'm a guy who loves this really old RPGs. Hey this game is now over 20 years old so of course there has to be a couple flaws, some which even quickly takes away the charm, especially when the game becomes really difficult. But if you are like me and loves jRPGs where you actually play and don't just press a button through walls of text, then maybe you will enjoy the first game in the SaGa series......Maybe.
Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 03/10/11
Game Release: The Final Fantasy Legend (US, 09/30/90)
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