Review by DraimanBelieve7
"4 young warriors arrive, each holding an orb. REVIVE THE ORBS!!"
STORY/INTRO 10/10: Final Fantasy was the first Final Fantasy game and a huge step for RPGs in general. Before Final Fantasy you had Dragon Warrior on the NES and Phantasy Star pioneering the genre. Final Fantasy took what those games did, created quite a few new elements to the genre and made a game that was worthy of being one of the best RPGs on the NES. Square back in the day was on the brink of bankruptsy and in a time of of financial hardship. With a last ditch effort and possibly some gallows humor involved, they created the game that was meant to be their "Final" game. Where the name "Final Fantasy" came from but as we all know this was not Square's final game. It was just the first of a huge series of games that would span over 20 years and counting. The storyline is amazing for an NES game. I have never seen an NES game involve this much storyline into it. Usually your NES storyline was "defeat Gannon or Bowser and save the princess" type plots that would be revealed to you in the first 5 minutes of reading the game manual. This game has a "Save the Princess" type storyline too but only at the very beginning of the game, probably to crack a joke on the whole idea and say "watch this were gonna have an epic storyline". Final Fantasy's storyline is pretty epic for being on a 2 megabit cartridge at the time that couldn't hold very much data by today's standards.
Basically your the Light Warriors, 4 warriors which the prophecy said would arrive one day bearing 4 darkened orbs to save the world from destruction. The elements Earth, Wind, Fire and Water play a role in this game as well since they makeup the world in Final Fantasy. Your characters have to see that the elements that are being controlled by evil forces don't rot and decay the world around you and bring about the destruction of it. The storyline gets more intricate and more complex as you go through the game, talk to NPCs (Non Playable Characters) and get more information on whats going on as you go from town to town, dungeon to dungeon. One thing people complain about is the translation of this game but it was more because the NES cartridge memory restrictions and limitations that made more detailed parts of the story be cut or shortened. The story is nothing compared to what is in the newer Final Fantasy games that you could make multiple movies based off of but for its time this was about as good as it gets. The only other RPG that might have had a slightly better storyline from this time period was Phantasy Star on the Sega Master system but for the NES it was great. Easily one of the best storylines on the NES.
GAMEPLAY 10/10: This is where Final Fantasy really shines is in the gameplay department. When you first boot up a new game you will be presented with the option of being 4 characters with 6 possible job classes. Now this isn't the job system you would see in later games like in Final Fantasy III or V, this is a very basic job system and where they got the idea of having a "job system" from. Final Fantasy was the first game to give you the option of playing as 4 characters, naming them w/e 4 letter word came to your mind and giving them their own job class that would determine how your game played. You could pick between the job classes of Fighter, Black Belt, Thief, White Mage, Black Mage and Red Mage. You could use a balanced party like I did which most people do their first time through (Fighter, Black Belt, White Mage and Black Mage) or do something really messed up like an all Black Mage party or the insanely hard White Mage party. Based on what the original Final Fantasy manual says, there is a possibility of over like 100 something party combinations and some of the parties will be much harder to develop than others. Meaning you could make this game relatively easy or very difficult based all on who you decide to have in your party. You can also name your party so if you want to name one of your characters the "F" word or some other foul name you can, although I named mine Cid, Yang, Rosa and Vivi based off other FF game characters. The actual battle system for the time was pretty advanced compared to Dragon Warrior. You would stand on the right side of the screen with your 4 characters and your enemies facing you on the left. You had the commands Fight, Magic Drink, Item and Run which are kind of self explanatory.
There was no ATB (Active Time Battle system) like a lot of the other FF games, it was purely turned based. It was a very basic Final Fantasy battle system but it was also the first Final Fantasy battle system. You would go throughout the world like in the other FF games and to progress you would have to gain levels, experience, items, spells, equipment and gold which all could be obtained through fighting lots of battles and through the numerous dungeons and shops in the game. This game used the random monster encounter system which so many people love to hate. Basically meanining enemy encounters happened randomly every so many steps you took on the overworld map or in a dungeon. It wouldn't be till much later on when this system of random encounters would be changed a bit in RPGs. This game also is one of the hardest Final Fantasy games around. If you like your RPGs brutally hard, this game is for you. It would take insane amounts of leveling up to get through this game, you would go into dungeons only to die or to have to backtrack your way out of the dungeon (or later on Warp out) so you could heal at an INN or use a House. This was at a time when RPGs didn't hold your hand and they rewarded you leveling up for hours and putting in the hard work to get through it. To beat this game is an accomplishment in itself and if you beat the game with like lets say a solo white mage game then I salute you as a great Final Fantasy player. The gameplay is amazing and everything works fine from the solid controls down to the excellent programming.
GRAPHICS 10/10: Yes I am giving the graphics a perfect score even though it is kind of hard to. Final Fantasy hasn't aged extremely well and anyone who is expecting Final Fantasy VII-XII style graphics is gonna be very disappointed. When reviewing any game I feel its important to look at the time period it was released in and how it holds up against other games on the system it was made for. In 1987 we didn't have the technology we have today and compared to Dragon Warrior and Zelda this game had some really awesome level designs and environments. The character sprites are as charming and cute as they have always been. The towns you can tell are towns and the shops and Inns all have signs on the buildings with Icons. Its all very easy to recognize and the graphics do a good job of giving you that perspective. The dungeons are pretty cool depending on which one your in. The Air Castle dungeon was always one of my favorites. the Enemies in this game deserve to be noticed. They look like they were taken right out of Yoshitaka Amano's sketchbook and put right in the game with a lot of detail for an NES game. The monster designs are a piece of art and that is something to say for an old 8-bit Nintendo game. The colors aren't as vibrant as some of the remakes of this game nor are the graphics quite as nice as the PS1, GBA or PSP remakes of this game but the NES had limited horsepower and a very limited color pallette to work with. For what they had to work with they went above and beyond what they had to. It ultimately saved Square in the end from being a defunct game company.
SOUND 10/10: Sound is amazing like in all Final Fantasy games. This was the first Final Fantasy game and legendary Final Fantasy composer Nobuo Uematsu took up the daunting task of making an epic score for the game. There isn't a ton of music to be found like there is in today's RPGs like Final Fantasy VII or VIII but this is where the man behind the legend really started to shine through. Nobuo Uematsu is easily the Elton John (who is actually his biggest inspiration) or Mozart of video game music he makes epic scores for almost anything he touches. This was before he hit his prime and made unforgettable masterpieces of music like he did for the Super NES Final Fantasy games or even FFVII and VIII but what is here is really good. Some of the best music is the theme music that plays after you cross the bridge from Coneria to start your adventure and at the end of the game which went on to be called the "Final Fantasy Theme" and has made appearances in many other Final Fantasy games. The simple but very effective theme that you hear when you boot up Final Fantasy with the intro story being shown became very famous and is the "Crystal Theme" that would appear in many other FF games. The victory song that plays after you win a battle has been remixed and done over many time in the other games. It might not have 2 CDs full of music on it, but the handful or more songs it does have are very good. Remember memory back then was very expensive and didn't come in the capacity it does now so Nobuo only had a sliver of it to work with when composing these amazing songs. The sound effects are standard NES sound effects and they get the job done nothing extremely impressive but nothing really bad. Music is amazing and Nobuo Uematsu is a living legend.
RE-PLAYABILITY 10/10: This game is very re-playable although I doubt your gonna want to go through it again right after you beat it. Its the kind of game you pick up after not playing it for quite awhile. You have 4 characters and at the beginning of the game you get to pick 4 out of 6 permanent job classes for each one of your characters. The possibilities are almost endless with over 100 combinations of party making available to you. Do you use the Default party of a Fighter, Thief, Black Belt or Red Mage? A Balanced Party of a Fighter, Black Belt, White Mage, Black Mage? Or do you use a solo party of Black Mages or White Mages? You can mix it and match it anyways you see fit but the game will not play the same way it did your first time through if you go with a different party and the way you defeat enemies, use your gold or your strategies become much different. You will keep coming to Final Fantasy over and over because of this. Beats any Zelda Second Quest junk.
FINAL RECOMMENDATION: Buy this game if you can find it. Theres plenty of remakes of this game for other systems but nothing beats the original because it was the first. The remakes aren't the same, they sport spiffier graphics and tend to make the game less challenging. This is the way Final Fantasy 1 was intended to be played, not saying the remakes are bad they just aren't the NES classic. Since NES games are no longer made and the NES is over 20 years old it might not be easy to find but ebay and Amazon are good resources. I bought my copy for $20 with the game, manual and dungeon maps in mint condition. You will pay around $10-$20 on ebay for this game for just the cartridge and if your looking for a complete copy expect to pay good amounts of money. Its not nearly as overpriced as Dragon Warrior IV which will run you easily over $50 just for a cart. Buy this game if you still have a good working NES or at least check out one of the remakes for the PS1, GBA or PSP if you no longer have an NES or just hate 8-bit games.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 04/29/08
Game Release: Final Fantasy (US, May 1990)
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