Review by Saikyo Ki
Reviewed: 06/26/01 | Updated: 06/26/01
This first generation GB RPG is still fun to play even today.
Although the game could have been a little longer, FFL1 is great because there are so many ways you can play it. It will take a long time before you consider this one tired and worn out. Many interesting gameplay aspects that were pioneered by this game are the reason that this is still one of the best RPGs on GB.
Four worlds are connected by a humongous tower. Noone knows what is inside of it, but rumor has it that if you can make it to the top, you'll find a paradise in which you can live the rest of your years in. One warrior wants to try and conquer it.
The best part of the story is the beginning. As it progresses, however, many details are left out, making you wonder why certain things happen the way they do. Some things that happen just flat out don't make sense.
Good thing that this game is fun to play regardless of the quality of the story. When you first start out, you are alone and have no money. You can go to the guild to recruit up to three allies to come with you on your quest. You can also go it alone if you wish. You and your allies all start out with just one weapon/attack each. Here are the types of characters that you can have in your party:
Human: The most useful advantage which humans possess is that they can carry more things on their person than any other character class. This saves room in the communal backpack and lets you use more items in battle (for instance, a character has to be holding a healing potion to be able to use it in battle...it cannot be pulled out of the communal backpack). Instead of getting stronger as the fight goes on, they have to drink special potions which increase their strength, agility and HP. While this is a strange way of strengthening a character, it lets you have freedom over what you want to make better about the character. The biggest disadvantage of having a human is that they will *never* be effective magic users. If you pick a Human as the main character, they start out with a little bit of armor.
Mutant: Mutants gain power from fighting, but they don't level up in the traditional way. After a fight, a random stat may or may not have risen. This means it takes a while to make them well rounded characters, but it is well worth the time and effort. Not only does a mutant's strength, agility and HP increase, their magic power and DEFENSE increase as well. Yes, mutants gain natural armor as time goes by, although this stat increases slower than all the others. They can use all the weapons, items and armor that humans use, but they can't carry as many items on their person. Mutants also have the ability to learn up to 4 spells/special attacks. Each spell has its own MP, which can be restored at an inn. In addition to being able to learn these special skills, mutants may also acquire immunity to certain types of attacks. The downside is they can also acquire vulnerabilities to attacks, and the immunity/vulnerability takes up a space where a skill could otherwise be. One must be careful and save often if you get a skill/immunity you want to keep for a long time, because sometimes a mutant may lose a skill and gain a new one that is worse or not needed as much. If you pick a mutant as the main character, they will start off possessing an ability which helps them make surprise attacks on enemies.
Monster: A great advantage of having a monster is that all their attack points are restored when they rest at an inn, which means you won't have to buy as many weapons and armor. Monsters gain strength by eating the corpses of other monsters. Depending what type of monster a monster is, the reaction will differ. It can change into a much stronger monster or a much weaker one. It is fun to experiment and find combinations that will yield the strongest monsters. There are some extremely powerful monsters that you will never face as enemies, but can be in your party if you eat the right meats.
There is a vast array of weapons your party can use. However, each weapon you buy has a limited number of uses before it ''breaks'' and you have to buy another. This makes the game more realistic, because weapons aren't indestructible in real life, but it's not realistic when you know exactly when the weapon is going to break beforehand. There should have been a quality rating for each weapon (percentage chance of the weapon breaking, the chance could slowly get higher as you used it). One interesting thing about the weapon system is as you keep using the same weapon, you get better at using it and your damage increases slightly. There are also many armors (helmets, body plates, gauntlets and shoes) to use and find. You can buy spell books as well (which break just like weapons when used enough times), but some spells are only able to be used by monsters/learned by mutants.
Walking around in towns and on the world map is no different than any other RPG that was made at that time. Battle scenes look a lot like the ones in the first Dragon Warrior. You see your enemies in front of you and you choose what each character will do. The round then begins and characters with the most agility go first.
The ultimate goal of each world is to find a special sphere which has the power to unlock one of the four main doors of the tower. Beating a boss doesn't necessarily mean that the sphere will fall right into your lap afterwards.
One of this game's biggest flaws is that the game world is not that big. There are four ''worlds'' in the game to explore, which sounds alluring, but they are not that big. Exploring in the tower is fun, but all the combat can get boring after a while. Also, you have to beat the worlds in a set order. Things would be interesting if you started in a world other than the one at the bottom of the tower. Then you would have to go down as well as up to see everything, which would make things a lot more interesting not to mention much less linear.
The overworld graphics are just fine. The place where this game shines visually is during battles. The only thing you see is the opposition, but all enemies are very well detailed. Unfortunately, every enemy doesn't have their own graphic (e.g. Zombies and Wights look the same). Battle animations could have been better, but spells look decent. The effects seen when main bosses die are quite cool.
The sounds are fine, but nothing special. The same goes for the music. They fit required moods quite well, but are repetitive.
Typical RPG control set...A button for performing actions, B button for taking back actions, Select and Start for menus. No problem.
Replay Value: 10
Here is where this game excels!! There are so many weapons, armors, spells and items in this game that you'll grow old and grey trying them all to see what they do. Plus, there is an almost unlimited number of party combinations. NOTE: If you get this game with the manual, do not listen to the parts that tell you not to try playing with certain combinations. You will have fun playing and will be able to win no matter what combination you choose. The hardest party I have beaten the game with so far is 1 human. To add to the replay value, more than likely after you have beaten the game the first time, there will still be secrets to uncover, especially inside the...well, I'm sure you'll figure it out. :)
If you own a GB, are an RPG fan and don't have this game already...you scare me. This will always be one of the all time greats as far as GB RPGs and even among 8 bit RPGs as a whole. You may frown at the small, semi linear game world, but the fact that the world is small doesn't mean you can beat the game once and discover everything. The replay value of this game will keep you coming back for more for years, which is why I give it a 9.
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
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