Review by the ultimate68

"Ineffective?"

Final Fantasy for the Nintendo Entertainment System is a fun game, for awhile at least. It uses the traditional, turn-based battle system, however, carrying with it a few flaws. This is the first game in the ongoing series of about 15 games, but I’m not going to give it a 10 like others just because of this.

The game is a standard RPG; if you don’t know what an RPG is, tough luck. You’ll get to choose your team members and what job class you would prefer them to be. A fighter is, like the name implies, a good fighter and defender. A ninja is good with his fists, and can attack extremely well. A thief is quick, and can dodge things. A white mage specializes in defensive and support magic. The black mage is the opposite with offensive spells. Finally, the red mage combines a fighter, white mage, and black mage, getting a traits from each class. The red mage is the well-rounded job class. You can give them all names also. Halfway through the game, all the classes will be upgraded, and the abilities gained at each level will increase.

When you load the game, a screen of text will appear, telling you the story... Yes that’s right, one screen tells the entire “plotline.” Although the story is very intriguing in some parts of the game, it leaves much more to be desired. You take on the role of four light warriors, whom you choose, trying to save the world from destruction (where have I heard this before?...) There are four orbs, (earth, wind, fire, water) which were captured by four fiends that you must defeat in order to get the orbs, make them shine, and in turn saving the world.

Also, your characters say nothing the entire game. They have no personalities, ideas, thoughts, nothing. When you talk to anybody in the game, it’s a one text box response, without anything else said from you or them. It leaves so much to be desired, and I wish they could’ve added more. I don’t know if it was system issues, or what, but there’s absolutely no depth in that aspect.

(This will be a reenactment, sort of)Alright, our game is started, and we’ve chosen our party, and now we’re outside of a town... What are we doing outside of this town? Oh yeah, they didn’t tell us any story of why we’re here yet. Anyways, while we’re wondering around, you’ll get into some random battles. Alright, now we’re cooking, battles! Why is my party, and the enemies in two separate windows? Wow, my fighter just waved a sword in the air and it did damage to the enemy! It killed him! Why are my other characters attacking the air now? “INEFFECTIVE?”

In other words, the battles have many flaws to them. Your characters and enemies are on different windows. Why they couldn’t have just put them in the same box, I have no clue. Also, you can’t just hold down the attack button, because if an enemy dies, your other characters will just attack thin air. This can be really frustrating when you’re leveling up... And trust me, you have to do a LOT of leveling up. You’ll grow to loathe the word “ineffective.” On the other side of the spectrum, the battles are quite fun at first. In the beginning, if you don’t beat the bosses in one shot (in some cases, normal battles are more hard than boss battles), they can be quite fun. Thankfully there’s a lot of strategy involved.

There are four modes of transportation, which you’ll earn when you progress through the game. Just plain walking, which is extremely slow for some reason. I hate walking anywhere because it’s so slow. Getting to the other side of a town takes all day. The second you get is a ship, which is fast (thank goodness), however, you can get attacked while riding the ship. The ship can access any part of the ocean. The next mode of transportation is the canoe, which is fairly useless. It’s walking speed, plus it’s only used to get across a few one-pixel wide rivers. The fourth, and thankfully fastest is the airship. You don’t get attacked, which is a blessing, but you can only land on grass... No trees, sand, ice, etc. and trust me, there’s a lot of trees on the world map.

Overall, the graphics are spectacular for an old NES game. The world map is huge! Although, all the tiles are the same for each object (ie. trees, water, mountains, etc. are all the same if they’re used). However, most dungeons are fairly big, adding to the already large game. The graphics are misleading in some places. Some tiles just contain the edge of something next to it (hard to explain), so that means you can’t walk on it. Some passages that look 3 squares wide, you can only walk on the middle square. That can get annoying, but isn’t too bad.

The music that plays in the game is the usual 8-bit songs that the NES plays. Although there are only a few songs in the entire game, I found that I enjoyed listening to them all. The battle music was upbeat, and set the mood just right. The world map music was easy to listen to. Also the ships had their own music. This is the kind of music that you normally don’t find on the NES. You’ll actually want to turn the volume up, instead of down.

As for equipment, this is probably one of the worst aspects of the game. Each player can only hold four pieces of equipment, which doesn’t include the sword. You can also have four things equipped, which will be most likely the entire game. Anyways, everyone should have four things equipped, so when you open up a chest for equipment, you can’t hold anymore. If you want to, you can drop something you have equipped, and take a chance to see if it’s something better. Most of the time it isn’t, and you’ve just dropped a valuable accessory for a piece of cloth that’s entirely useless.

For the weaponry, it’s the exact opposite. Most of the time there’s only one weapon in each person’s slot, which can hold four also. Plus, there are many, many types of swords, hammers, nunchucks, staffs, etc. which you can equip. You’ll find many different weapons to equip, including weapons made for healing, or weapons made for dispatching certain foes. For example, there is a were sword for the were tigers, or the giant sword for giants. There are also elemental swords, like ice and flame. The weaponry was very well done, saving me from any more hassle the game provides in other categories.

The magic in the game, I don’t know if I’m for or against. It has it’s advantages and disadvantages. Of course, as always the disadvantages will stand out more because they’re annoying and bothersome, ah well. You have to buy each spell, instead of just learning them from level-ups. Spells become really expensive to buy. There are eight categories of magic. At level 1, it costs 100 gold to buy each spell, at level 8 it costs 65,000 gold. If you have two mages, that’s six spells, and you’ll have to go level up for a few more hours. There are 64 spells though, so you’ll have a pretty good library of magic to choose from.

Also, there are no magic points like in other RPGs. Instead, you have a certain number of times that you can cast each level of spell. Leveling up is the only way to get more times to cast spells. You won’t even be able to cast the level 8 spells until you’ve leveled up for a really good amount of time, let alone cast them more than once. Each spell has a graphic that occurs when used. They look pretty cool to watch, and it’s much better to watch that than to look at your party swinging swords at the box for hours.

Enemies will cast spells on you, which could include a lot of different categories. They pretty much know all the spells you do, with some foes using the magic a lot smarter. They can poison you, which gets annoying fast. They can stone you, which is even more annoying, considering you have to use an item that costs 800 gold. They can slow you down, or use black magic like fire and ice.

I’ve told you some about how much magic costs, but that’s not the entire picture. You also have to buy expensive [keyword: expensive] weaponry and armor... For each character! This becomes such a hassle early in the game that it’s not even funny. It seems like you’ll be gaining gold for ages by the time you have everything from that town, and can finally move on to the next dungeon. It doesn’t stop there though, as you progress through the game, you find money everywhere you turn in dungeons. You could walk out 200,000 richer from one dungeon. So, you go from being dirt poor, to living like Bill Gates. At the end of the game I had like over 1,000,000 gold. The gold system is screwed up from start to finish in everything.

And finally, I’ve left the worst flaw, in my opinion, for last. This is just terrible, and stupid on Squaresoft’s behalf that it’s scary. When buying items, you have to buy them each separately, individually. In other words, you can’t just buy 99 of an item, you have to buy each item, 99 times. Also, you can’t just hold in A like you can in battle; you have to be tapping it for some reason. In order to get 99 potions it would take 10 to 15 minutes. You might say: “That doesn’t seem too bad!” Well let me tell you, each dungeon you enter, you’ll probably use up 50 OR MORE of the potions. In other words, every time you level up or go through a dungeon, you have to spend 15 minutes buying those stupid potions again. The madness never ceases.

One thing that the average gamer might not get is the depth of this game. With six classes to choose from, and four fighters in each class, there’s tons of combinations to try. The replay value of the game is infinite, and I’ve never said that before to any game. If you had fun playing through it the first time, you can try a different line-up. Or, if you’re really good, you can try going through the game using just one character. That makes the difficulty extremely hard. So, as you can see, you shouldn’t get bored with this game ever really.

Now that I’m done boring you to death with all the flaws of the game, it’s apparent, to me at least, that this is a unique game for its time. Sure, you’re going to waste some time leveling up, but the game offers strategy and gameplay that no other game has at that time, save Dragon Warrior. Even Dragon Warrior lacks depth with an even worse storyline, and very short title. The difficulty of the game is easily acknowledged when you go from full health in a normal battle to everyone being dead. It is much harder than most of the games put on the shelves now, and I seriously don’t think I’ve ever played a harder game to this day.

Overall, it’s a good, fun, and unique game that’s very enjoyable. If you can live with the flaws the game carries, I would very much recommend you to buy the game. You can probably find it at a used game store for 3 - 10 bucks. It’s definitely worth the money spent. However, if you think that these flaws would be too annoying for you, I can easily see where you’re coming from. If you’re looking for a break from next-generation gaming, this is a good place to start.


Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 04/13/03, Updated 04/13/03


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