Review by gmo7897

Reviewed: 03/12/10

The game that started the greatest RPG series of all time...now available for your iPhone/iPod

To many gamers the words “Final Fantasy” say a lot. Many people started playing Square-Enix’s flagship series with its seventh installment (Final Fantasy VII) and only played the original NES release after it had been ported onto newer generation systems. I was one of the gamers that actually played the original Final Fantasy on its original system when it was first released in 1987. This game literally bought a struggling video game company out of the gutters, and the series made Square-Enix into one of the elite gaming companies.

It all started with this game, and now it’s available in its entirety to anyone who has an iPhone or iPod Touch for a relatively low cost.

Gameplay:

Gameplay is fairly simple. You control four characters. Each character is assigned a certain amount of Hit Points (HP) and Magic Points (MP). Once your HP reaches zero, you’ll be knocked out of commission until you reach a Temple. If all four of your characters reaches zero HP, it’s game over.\

Magic is used pretty extensively in this game. There are two types of magic: black and white. Black magic is primarily used for attacking the enemy, and white magic is used mostly for curative and protective purposes.

The Classes:

You have your choice between six classes to start the game. You can also name your characters. The classes are are: Fighter, Thief, Black Belt, Red Mage, White Mage and Black Mage. Later in the game, your characters can “advance” to new classes. They are Knight, Ninja, Master, Red Wizard, White Wizard and Black Wizard, respectively. Each class (of course) has advantages and disadvantages.

Fighters/Knights are fantastic characters for both offense and defense. They also have a very high HP. However, they have no magical abilities until later in the game. And, once they do, the spells they can use are not very effective, since they are low-level spells.

Thieves/Ninjas are great defensive characters. They have a naturally-high agility rating, which helps them avoid enemy attacks. They can deal a fair amount of damage, but not as much as Fighters/Knights. Their drawback is the lack of decent armors available, so they are more prone to die if an enemy can land a good shot on them. Once Thieves become Ninjas, they can also use some low-level attack spells.

Black Belts/Masters are very cheap to equip with weapons. They do more damage with their hands than anyone else (except Fighters/Knights) can with weapons. He has high HP, which will help him stay alive longer. Black Belts/Masters big disadvantage is the time it takes to build one up well enough to be a good fighter. Because weapons don’t’ help them like other classes, their improvement is completely based on their level and their increases in their stats. Neither Black Belts nor Masters can use any type of magic.

Red Mages/Red Wizards are probably the most well-rounded characters. Red Mages/Wizards can use a wide range of weapons and armors, making them pretty good physical fighters, and they can use both black magic and white magic. A Red Mage/Wizard can kick some butt, heal your characters and cast hurt your foes with magic. They’re pretty good characters to have in a bind. However, Red Mages/Wizards are expensive to keep up with their weapons, armor and magic. They also do not have full access to all of the weapons and armors that some of the better fighting classes have nor all of the spells that the other mage classes have.

White Mages/Wizards are your healers and protectors. They have access to a number of spells that can cure your HP and remove dangerous status effects. They also can gain spells that can be used to help shield your characters or raise their evasion. They have access to a series of spells that is especially useful against un-dead enemies. White Mages/Wizards cannot use very many weapons, so as fighters, they’re just about worthless. They also don’t have much availability to decent armor, and their HP is the lowest in the game. As such, they are prone to being knocked out of battles without proper protection. Once their out of MP, White Mages/Wizards are fairly useless in battle.

Black Mages/Wizards are true magical attackers. They have access to some of the most powerful attacks in the game. They can use some weapons that White Mages/Wizards cannot. Black Mages also can learn spells with different “elemental” properties, which is useful is some situations. Fighting an enemy made of Ice? Cast a fire spell for improved damage. Though Black Mages/Wizards can use some weapons, their pool of weapons is rather limited. They also have a low defensive rating and low HP. Once out of MP, they don’t add much to the battle front, much like their White Mage/Wizard counterparts.

The Controls:

The game controls are simple, and I’ve not had any real problems getting around. There is a directional arrow in the corner of your screen that you touch to move around. If you’re moving around in a town or dungeon, a “button” will appear, and if you hold the “button” while you move, you’ll run to get around faster.

While wondering the different areas, you’ll encounter random encounters. The controls from these encounters is simple - just touch the command you want to perform, and voila! Command executed.

My one complaint about game play is with the combat system. When you swing at an enemy that has already been defeated by another team member, you still swing at the enemy that’s no longer there. This was a problem with the original, and it still is today. It’s nothing game-breaking to me though.

One thing I really liked about the iPhone/iPod version/port of this game was the ability to save anywhere (outside of battle) and the “quick save” feature if you have to quit the game quickly. Just note that “quick saving” does not replace true saving, and if you lose the game you’ll return to your last save point and not the “quick save” point. It’s a very helpful feature though.

Gameplay rating:

Very easy to play, both for the first-timer and the seasoned Final Fantasy veteran. It’s a fun game. 9/10

Story:

The story follows the four Crystal Bearers/Light Warriors as they travel around the world searching for the orbs of light that will end the darkness which has taken over the planet. There’s really not much deviation from this, nor are there many plot twist compared to what games have now. However, it is fairly basic and easy to follow. Just don’t expect to be blown away by exiting events. Remember this was originally done for the NES, and games just didn’t have that factor to them as they do now.

The story the game does have though is well told. You won’t lose yourself trying to figure out what’s going on.

For other current iPhone/iPod RPGs, the story doesn’t quite hold up though.

Story rating:

It’s the original. I love this game, but it’s still not extremely compelling. 6/10

Graphics:

Comparing the graphics on my iPhone to the graphics produced on my LCD TV would be a little ridiculous, and the graphics in the original game can’t hold a candle to anything produced now-a-days. So I will try to force myself to look at this from the standpoint of other iPhone/iPod games.

Probably the one problem with the graphics comes from the original release. The enemies are used over and over again with different colors, so you’ll see several wolves with different names that are just colored differently. I don’t feel that’s a big issue though.

Compared to what else is out there for the iPhone/iPod right now, this game has some of the smoothest graphics I have seen on my iPhone. They’ve replaced the original sprites that were used for the NES with actual polygonal characters with faces and everything. The characters move freely, and the game moves smoothly. During combat, your characters will not actually strike the enemies. They swing their weapons in the direction of the enemies, and the damage is done.

Graphics rating:

Nothing compared to my LCD, but for a phone, this is absolutely fantastic. 10/10

Sound/Music:

It’s almost hard for me to look at this game’s soundtrack with any objectivity. I am a huge fan of Nobuo Uematsu, and I’ve loved all of his work. However, this is a review, so I will do my best.

In all honesty, other than for nostalgic feelings, there’s not much to the music in this game. I think the Original Soundtrack has six or seven tracks to it, which is nothing compared to the eighty-plus tracks that can be found on most newer games. So, the music can get a little repetitive. However, the songs do set the mood throughout the game. Uematsu has always done a good job conveying the feelings of any area your party travels through, and he doesn’t disappoint here.

The sounds at times are a little corny, there really isn’t much sound to be heard outside of the music and the battle sounds. Again, these get a little repetitive at times.

You cannot play your iPhone/iPod’s music while you play, so you are forced to listen to the soundtrack or nothing at all.

The sound and music hasn’t really changed much from the original release though, and the iPhone/iPods do a pretty good job of playing it.

Sound/Music rating:

Nostalgic for me, but a bit repetitive at times. Well done for the port to a phone. 8/10

Playtime/Replayability:

First time you play this game if you’re not using a guide, it’ll probably take anywhere between fifteen and twenty hours to finish, which for a game on a phone is really good. That’s assuming that you’re moving straight through the story of the game and doing minimal side-questing.

However, the iPhone/iPod port has included some additional dungeons that were not included in the original release that were in some of the other ports of the game. There are new weapons and armors in these dungeons that are quite powerful. These dungeons add to the replay factor. After you’ve finished the game, you can go back and play again and go after those extra dungeons.

Playtime/Replayability rating:

I may like this game, and I can probably play it again and again. But, I’m a little nostalgic that way. However, with the new dungeons that have been added, it adds a bit to the game. 8/10

Final Thoughts:

I love this game. I always have. I wouldn’t buy an iPhone/iPod Touch just for this game, as there are much cheaper methods of getting this game. However, a lot of people carry an iPod or use an iPhone, and if you’re one of these people and you like RPGs, this game is a definite “must have”. The graphics are among the best I’ve seen on an iPhone/iPod, and the game is as good as it has ever been. Being able to “quick save” and pick it up right where you left off is an amazing feature. For the price (currently $8.99), it is probably the best thing I’ve downloaded to my iPhone.

Overall Rating: 9/10


Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Product Release: Final Fantasy (US, 02/25/10)

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