Review by LuckofLoki
"There are better Game Boy RPG's out there"
Final Fantasy Legend is at best a disappointment. One could attribute this to the fact that it was one of the first RPG's released for the original Game Boy. But even in 1989, this game did not stack up to other RPG's that had already graced the NES and Sega Master System (i.e. The Legend of Zelda, Dragon Warrior, and Phantasy Star).
Perhaps the biggest let down is that Legend is, in truth, not even a Final Fantasy game. Although it bears the Mother-of-all-RPG's moniker, Legend and its two Game Boy sequels are actually part of the SaGa series. These games were released in the United States under the Final Fantasy name as part of a sales ploy. Legend does demonstrate some of the typical Final Fantasy characteristics, such as traveling in a large fantasy over world, defeating monsters in random encounters, collecting loot, and spending newly-acquired treasure on more powerful weapons, armor, and items. But those expecting a Game Boy version of the original NES RPG will most likely be dismayed.
The heroes in Legend undertake a quest to climb a tower and find Paradise at the top merely because others have failed to do so. That's it. The game does not elaborate on the concept of Paradise, nor does it offer a reason why it should be sought. The question one may ask is, Where is the motivation? Perhaps the designers felt being stuck in a 2D, colorless world with nothing but weapon shops, item shops, and inns was motivation enough to look for something better.
The sparse dialogue and lack of character development in Legend do nothing to enhance the game's plot, either. Non-player characters demonstrate little personality or emotion and only spit out a poorly translated line here and there.
Game Play: 4/10
The controls in Legend respond well, and the menu systems, both in the overworld and in combat, are easy to use and understand because they follow typical RPG design. Players can choose among three character classes and design the composition of their four-character party. But Legend also has several drawbacks in this area. For instance, an adventuring party can only carry a severely limited amount of items, which can become extremely irritating. In addition, Legend has several unconventional character advancement methods that are at first a refreshing change from the standard RPG level but become less appealing as the game progresses.
Characters can be Humans, Mutants, or Monsters. In order for Humans to increase their statistics or hit points, they have to purchase and use potions, which simply adds to the expense of weapons, armor, and other items. Mutants advance rapidly by defeating enemies, but special abilities appear, disappear, and reappear randomly, often replacing abilities a player may have grown attached to. Monsters only grow stronger by eating the meat of more powerful enemies they have vanquished. However, it is not always clear what monsters are worth eating, and your Monster characters can actually end up in a weaker state if they ingest the meat of a feebler creature.
Despite these hang ups, Legend is a fairly easy game to complete. Players will always know where to go or what task to complete simply by speaking with townsfolk. The most difficult part may be slogging through it to the end. At some points, players will have no choice but to wander around, level up, and earn cash before going on to the next world, which becomes tedious.
The look of this game definitely won't blow your socks off, but for the original Game Boy, it's adequate. The sound is mediocre, as well, consisting of the usual blips, bloops, and bleeps. But this is to be expected of original Game Boy games, and one can only hope for a soundtrack that is not too repetitive and can be easily ignored; Legend at least pulls this off. Still, the graphics and sound in the Final Fantasy Legend sequels outshine the first in the series.
Play Time/Re-playability: 2/10
While one can defeat Legend quickly in terms of actual game play hours, the journey may feel a great deal longer. Only masochists and absolutely hardcore role-playing gamers who need a fix and have no other options will play through this game a second time.
Towards the end of this game, the little enjoyment you found in the beginning will ooze out of you as it is slowly replaced by an obsession with finishing the quest simply to get it out of the way. The next step, of course, will be recouping what you can of your losses by immediately selling the game.
I recommend borrowing Legend from a friend and testing it before taking the plunge and actually dropping money on it. Bottom line, there are better RPG's available, even for the original Game Boy. First try Final Fantasy Adventure or Final Fantasy Legend II, which are vastly improved games, and only play Legend as a last resort.
Reviewer's Score: 3/10 | Originally Posted: 07/21/04, Updated 07/21/04
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