"Final? No, this was only the beginning of a fantasy"

Ah, here we go. Final Fantasy. The game that started one of the best and most successful franchises of all time. Final Fantasy was an interesting case. Square was on the verge of going extinct and so they focused everything they had into one game – Final Fantasy. With help from Nintendo's huge marketing campaign, Final Fantasy became an instant hit and Square has been a successful company ever since.

“When darkness veils the world, four warriors of Light shall come.” This prophecy from Final Fantasy 1 sums up the classic storyline quite nicely. The world is starting to decay and so it's up to four chosen warriors of light to save the world. This game has no regular characters which isn't entirely bad because this allows you to name your characters to whatever you want at the beginning. You start with a party of four characters and at the beginning of the game you have to assign each one of them a certain class. There are six classes to choose from. First is the Warrior which specializes in regular attacks and has good defense. Second is the thief who is less strong and tough than the warrior but is quick and agile. Next is the Monk who is a fighter that uses just fists. Also there ae the three mages being Black Mage, White Mage and Red Mage. Black Mage uses black magic like fire, white mage uses white magic like cure and the red mage has a bit of both magic. This was really huge back then and it still manages to convey a sense of a personal aspect even today by naming your characters and choosing their classes.

As you know from RPGs, you get stronger by defeating enemies and earning experience points. When you get enough experience points, you will grow a level. Growing levels is key because it raises your stats ranging from attack to magic to HP. You also earn gil from battles which are used to buy more powerful weapons, magic and items. Your characters go by a turn-based system in which every turn each character has several options to choose from. First is you can attack which you usually won't do too much with the mages but it's the main source of damage from the warriors and monks. Magic is what the mages use but unfortunately that takes up MP and if you run out of MP, you'll be forced to attack with crappy staffs. Oh well, magic usually does a good amount of damage. You can also use items which can do several things depending on the item. They can remove bad status effects, heal HP or restore MP. You can also equip during battle which you can't do in many Final Fantasy games. I also should mention that unlike many games, magic is actually bought at stores like weapons, armor and items. I suppose the irritating part of this game is the excessive, frequent, annoying encounter rate. Really, I am not that big of a fan of encounter rates but the game really suffers and loses that “fun factor” when the encounter rate is high. Had the encounter rate not been so high I can guarantee you this game would be more popular today. This isn't to say he game isn't fun, it's just the high encounter rates can kill you when you least expect it. A thing to note is that the theme of elemental shrines, specifically the four main elements (Fire, Earth, Water, Wind) really were an important part of this game and the elemental shrines would be used in many video games to come.

The soundtrack to this is classic. Nothing really outstanding by today's standards but it was a big deal back then. You must remember that these graphics are not today; it was at the very beginning of the NES. The graphics were good for their time, the towns and world map were drawn well, the creatures you fight were out of proportion but I liked it as it allowed you to see a creature with vivid colors and shapes. I was impressed; this game was a notch or two above other NES games. Like many NES games, Final Fantasy does prove to be quite difficult. You'll spend a lot of time level grinding which will get annoying after a while. I suppose it wasn't that bad back then when “level grinding” was a relatively new concept. The remakes of this game in Final Fantasy Origins and Final Fantasy Dawn of Souls are really a vast improvement upon this game with a lower encounter rate and an altered difficulty level.

The NES was the birthplace of many popular series. Final Fantasy, Zelda, Metroid, Metal Gear and Mega Man all debuted on the NES as well as Mario games that were actually good. Final Fantasy will go on to become one of the best series out there. While Final Fantasy VII really got the Final Fantasy series to a higher state, it was Final Fantasy that but the original fanbase and that original foundation is still what drives not only the Final Fantasy series, but RPGs in general today. For an NES game, Final Fantasy is damn impressive. It is quite obvious that Square really utilized the NES to its maximum potential for this game. And it's a good thing they did because the future of Square was riding on this single game and this single game is what saved Square from the depths of Hell. Or bankruptcy.

Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 12/04/06

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