Review by Sephirstein
"The game that saved Square is a legend in itself"
Final Fantasy 1 may not have flashy graphics or a state-of-the-art sound processor in its favour , but what the first Final Fantasy game lacks in these departments (by today's standards) is more than made up for by its simple, yet fun and challenging gameplay. And that, my friends, was more than enough to save Square, then a company on the verge of bankruptcy.
Graphics (10): For a NES game originally released in 1987, these graphics are unbelievable. Heck, even for a last generation NES game, these would have been fairly impressive. The characters looked cool and are easily distinguishable on the basis of character class. In fact, the design used for the black, red, and white mage classes are used by Square's artists even today with FF9.
The enemies, although a bit lacking in the animation department, are well-defined to the point that they look like what they're supposed to represent. The towns are sufficiently detailed as to be easy and moderately enjoyable to navigate. The world map is the most spectacular piece of graphical work found in FF1. It is very well designed and is light years ahead of its nearest NES competition at the time of its release, Dragon Warrior.
Sound/Music (10): Although I did say that the sound suffered because of the NES' pathetic sound hardware, Nobuo Uematsu manages it to make the most of it in his first videogame score. The music is catchy, well-composed, and for a later first generation NES game, it is both revolutionary and of unbelievable sound quality. The sound effects are typical NES fare. In other words, they are not worth commenting on.
Story (7): Although I'm being a little bit harsh here, one must consider that Phantasy Star 1, a Sega Master System RPG also released in 1987, has a vastly superiour story to FF1 and actually featured character development. Although the premise of creating four heroes known as the Light Warriors and saving the worlds by making the four elemental orbs shine again is still far more than what almost every console RPG had to offer back in the 1980s, the characters and enemies could have definitely used more life and personality.
Gameplay (10): Although FF3j first introduced the legendary job system that garnered immense critical and commercial acclaim in more recent FF games such as FF Tactics and FF5, FF1 allows one to create characters from classic FF classes (fighter, black mage etc.) which can be promoted to a better class about half-way through the game.
In addition to this primitive version of the job system, FF1 offers challenging and fun game play that can be rewarding, if slightly monotonous with the constant levelling-up that is required. Luckily, levelling up is not taken to a ridiculous extreme like in DW and Phantasy Star 2. The battle system is a simple turned based system that, like every other FF game, contains a slight twist. If a character attacks an enemy that has already died in the same round, the character's attack becomes ineffective, and they forfeit their turn.
Challenge (9): Like any pre-FF6 FF game, FF1
is definitely not a cakewalk. The enemies are very strong compared to one's characters and some of the bosses can be pretty brutal if one is not levelled up enough. Behind FF1, this is the most challenging RPG I've ever played that did not sacrifice fun and game balance to be challenging.
Replay (4/9): A slightly unusual score. Although not too many gamers will want to frequently replay this game on the NES, the cool hacks available for it on the Internet definitely make the ROM version replayable.
-Outstanding character designs still used by Square in FF9
-Nobuo Uematsu's first soundtrack
-Simple, fun gameplay
-Primitive job system
-characters can be promoted to cooler, more powerful classes
-Challenging but not unfair
-Cool online hacks for ROM version make it replayable
-Without this game Square would have gone bankrupt
-Story seems weak compared to Phantasy Star's
-No character development
-No incentive to replay cartridge version
-First Final Fantasy game
-Saved Square from bankruptcy
-Possibly the best RPG on the NES
-Made important contributions to the ROM hacking community
-Along with Phantasy Star and Dragon Quest/Dragon Warrior, FF1 Established the console RPG genre
Overall (9): Although not quite perfect, FF1
was revolutionary and is still fairly replayable. I recommend that you download the ROM because although the cartridge is worth buying, Nintendo and Square no longer make money off it and the hacks can only be applied to the ROM.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 11/18/00, Updated 02/22/01
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