Review by fduboo

Reviewed: 02/07/00 | Updated: 02/07/00

A sleeper almost puts you to sleep.

Final Fantasy wasn't always the perfect franchise that old school gamers recall. I used to think that the series was flawless, until here and there I noticed small chinks in Square's previously impenetrable armor. Well, their first Game Boy FF release, Final Fantasy Legend, fits this dubious description.

Well, Game Boy graphics have always been to me a pleasant surprise: no real flash, but usually pleasant and easy to work with. FF Legend fits the bill, although kudos to Square for altering battle scenes from the traditional NES style they established. By removing the main animations and movements of the heroes from the battle scene, Square was able to make better drawn enemies and allow them to be displayed as largely as possible on the already cramped Game Boy screen. Blurring is pretty minimal, although reading the text in this game (and there is a considerable amount of it) can get tiresome.

Blips and bleeps. Seriously. The Game Boy's sound has always been a weak point, although the battle tunes aren't too bad. The world map music gets annoying very fast (especially on the first floor of the Tower...more on that later). The sound effects for the weapons in battle are also pretty lame. This game doesn't recall the rest of the series' wonderful soundtracks one bit (and I say this because the other GB FF Legend soundtracks are much better).

Square has never had a problem with control, and this game is no different. The worlds and various subscreens are easy to navigate, and the two button system is still as elegant and practical as ever.

FF Legend remains true to the early games of the series, while adding a few new elements of gameplay (with mixed results). There are three different general types of allies you may recruit for your quest: Humans, Mutants, and Monsters. Humans are adept at physical battle; in order to increase their base attributes like Max HP, Strength, and Agility, you must purchase these ''bonuses'' from the item shops and use them on that character. This is a little different from the usual ''increase by experience'' format used by most RPGs, and it is pretty interesting. The Mutants cannot make use of the Humans' items, and they are better at magical combat. Some spells may be purchased, although others are learned in a random way from battling monsters a lot. Both of these classes may use weapons (the Humans can use a larger number of weapons and some armor as well). These weapons may only be used a certain number of times before you must buy another weapon to take its place. This gets incredibly frustrating! The third class, Monsters, is an entirely different story. They grow independently of any items or magic; they advance by eating the meat of defeated monsters. At the end of some battles, monsters leave behind meat that you may choose to feed to your monsters. If you do, the monster may change into a stronger monster or an incredibly weak monster. It's a gamble, but it can result in a major payoff. You can assemble a party of four from any of these three classes. The Monsters and Humans are cool additions to the game, but the Mutants are annoying because of the random elements involved in their advancements. The gameplay overall is new and at times interesting, but also results in failure.

The story of the game is relatively simple: the four allies live on the bottom floor of a Tower, and there has been a legend passed down for ages that whoever braves the dangers of the Tower and reaches the top will reach Paradise. With stars in their eyes, the four brave heroes set out to reach Paradise. The Tower idea is cool, but it isn't that great and ascending the levels can get tiresome in case you have to backtrack. There isn't exactly an easy way to navigate the whole thing. At times the dialogue can be a little confusing as well. Make sure you pay attention. As a Final Fantasy game, this is not impressive.

Replay Value
There is a little replay value, since you can alter your party members and try different combinations to defeat the game, but after sludging through this mess once, would you really want to do it again? I beat it twice, and it was pretty bad the second time, even though I was constantly experimenting with my party of four monsters. The challenge is enough the first time.

Average (5/10)...FF Legend just squeaks into mediocrity by the skin of its teeth. It is a forgettable game and a noble but failed attempt at creating a worthwhile RPG for a portable system. The two sequels to this game are much, much better. I would find it hard to recommend this game to all but the most hardcore Square-philes.

Rating:   2.5 - Playable

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