Review by Auron255
"A classic in the RPG Hall-of-Fame..."
Final Fantasy is one of the corner stones of videogaming history. Its outnumbered and outdone by nobody, and is probably the most widely known RPG in the world, next to Dragon Warrior and the Chrono series. It comes as no suprise however, that the first game in the series is how shall we say, unique, in that it certainly isn't good by any of today's standards but back then, when this game was released on the NES and Famicom, it was one of the greatest games ever made. It pulled a falling company out of it's hole, and began something so fresh, and so innovative, that it is only fair to give this game it's dues.
The mythology behind the first Final Fantasy is rather simple, but when you look at it, you need to think about what other games were around when this game was created. The most forward example, is Super Mario Bros. "Saving the princess from a bad turtle man" has nothing on this game. You play the "Light Warriors", who are sworn to protect the crystals that barricade the earth from impending doom. Every few centuries, new Light Warriors are born, and it becomes their job to do away with evil once again, and unravel a simple, yet delicate story. Now, there aren't very many twists and turns in the plot, but what is there, is magnificent for what it was. Named with whatever name you give them, the Light Warriors are a band of heroes, whom strengths and weakness you decide. You are the creator here, and it is up to you to chose what "class" each person will have.
The different classes include Fighter, Thief, Black Belt, White Mage, Black Mage and Red Mage. Each class has its own strengths and weaknesses. Fighters have brute strength, which inflicts massive amounts of damage to the enemies. The downside is, that they aren't very strong magic users, nor can they evade attacks very well. Thiefs and Black Belts can deal some pretty significant damage, but nothing compared to what the Fighters can do, and with this flawed strength, comes some increased defense and the ability to evade more often. White Mages are common RPG fare, whom have no strength, and some defense, but can cast extremely strong magic spells, both curative and offensive. Black Mages go hand and foot with the White Mage, where they have no strength, and some defense, but their main magic offense, is powerful elemental spells, and spells which are designed to weaken or impede the enemies progression in battle. Red Mages, though not common, are a combination of many of the said classes, with average strength, some defense, the ability to evade, and the use of both Black and White magic, though never stronger than any of these classes exclusively. Not only these, but later in the game, depending on which classes you chose for your party of 4, you will unlock new classes, (technically upgrades) which are even more powerful and open new abilities to your characters. Par example, the Fighter upgrades into a Knight, which shares common ground with what we know as a Paladin, a warrior with the ability to cast SOME white magic. The thief transforms into a Ninja, who aside from having amazing agility, can also cast some weak black magic of his own. Black Belts upgrade into Masters, and the Mages upgrade into Wizards, which doesn't do much other than increase the strength of the magic they can cast immensely. As you can see, even for such an infantile genre, this game had already taken the character production and progression system to new levels.
The amount of detail in the actual battle system itself is astounding. Even though the commands are basic, the number of spells you can cast, as well the number of status effects is breath taking. There are over 60 spells to cast, and all of which have different effects, and have different strengths and weaknesses, and are used in different situations. For example, the spell "TMPR" is an ability that increases your strength, so you can deal twice as much damage. A good use for such a spell, would be to dispatch of enemies with high strength, quickly and effectively, and secondly, would also be useful for an enemy who boasts a very high defense stat, which can only be broken using stronger attacks. Spells like HRM, are extremely powerful, but only work on undead enemies like Zombies. Other spells like the staple fire, bolt, and ice are all available, and all allow you to play off your enemies elemental weaknesses. These features, with several others, create something so intricate, and so finely tuned, that its amazing to think Square could fit it all in once neat little package.
The world map is huge, covering more square mileage than any game in it's time. The number of locations you can visit is astounding, and the different means of transportation through this world is something to behold. The world is complex, and you cannot just venture anywhere. You may see several locations hidden, or inaccessible by any normal means, which means you'll have to return once you obtained some of the vehicles, or even the airship to reach them. It adds the whole new dynamic of "side quests" to the game.
Visually, you would look at this game and scratch your head, pondering: "We used to think games like this looked good?". Well, the answer is yes. Final Fantasy was one of the best looking first generation NES games. The characters were fairly detailed, but still retained that digitized, bit-like, sprite type charm that came from all video games then. When in battle, the battle grounds though dark and limited in terms of their palette, still added something so "real" to the game, that it made everyone go ga-ga. This game features a huge world map, which bodes for well over 15-20 hours of gameplay, and even though minimal by today's standards, that was enough time to complete some of your NES favourites 3 to even 4 times over, which meant Final Fantasy had set a new standard for gaming lifespan. Don't be fooled, even though this game is ancient history, its still one to pick up if you still have an operating NES. If you're a huge Final Fantasy fan, then this glance into the looking glass of videogaming history, will fill you in on a past that isn't very well known, but should be. This game takes us back to our roots, and makes us appreciate how far Final Fantasy has taken us, how far it can still go.
Now, Final Fantasy has also been re-released as part of a compilation of classic Final Fantasy games, both remade to look as though part of the SNES generation of Final Fantasy games. Do not be fooled though, even though they are easier on the eyes, the games don't hold the original charm of the first. For nostalgia, be sure to look for the original Final Fantasy, on the NES; afterward, check out Final Fantasy Origins, and do the whole thing over to see just how much has changed, and how much is still there. If you're a Final Fantasy fanatic, I know there are a lot of you, you'd do yourself well to try and get your hands on this gem.
Final Verdict 10/10
For what it was, what it has done, and what its still doing, Final Fantasy is one the most influential games in gaming history.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 05/30/04
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