Review by japanzaman

"A game that commands respect."

Opening Confession:

It's difficult to grade these older games, particularly because we can't help but compare them to some of the more recent games of the same genre. Final Fantasy represented a seminal moment for Squaresoft and RPG's in general. It set into place many of the staples we now consider ubiquitous for an RPG game. Sure, we can find any number of flaws in the game if we look at it from a strictly technical perspective. But this game deserves more than that. We need to look at it as one of the key components that changed the way video games were made and experienced. Before Final Fantasy, video games were supposed to keep you entertained for an hour. Final Fantasy was one of the first to be released in the states that could keep you captivated for days.

Strong Points

1) Replay value. It seems amazing to me that a game from this time period has such a high replay value. The fact that you can customize your party right from the start leads to all sorts of variation and game play.

2) Solid game mechanics. Balanced experience gains make sure your party is leveled without being overly powerful. Items and spells are also priced very well to make sure you aren't sitting around wasting all your time saving up to buy one stupid weapon. Enemies are also balanced in terms of difficulty. The encounter rate is also set right where it needs to be.

3) Nice graphics. For an NES game, this game is done very well. Obviously having Amano on staff helps, but the overall design of the game is very consistent and well thought out. The enemies are also very well done.

Weak Points

1) Buying items takes forever because you have to buy each potion one at a time. I'm glad Square realized this in their subsequent releases because it's definitely the largest flaw of the game has.

2) Complete randomness when it comes to attack order. This is especially annoying in places with lots of undead monsters that can stun or paralyze you. It seems silly to have an agility stat and not have it be relevant to combat at all.

3) Non-auto target battle system. When you kill and enemy and have other characters targeting that enemy, they will attack the empty space the enemy left instead of another character. Very annoying, but some might argue that it adds another level of strategy to the combat system. I say it adds another level of unnecessary annoyance.

Final Decision:

Whether you liked the game or not, you have to give credit where credit is do. This is the game that, like it or not, spawned an entire genre and created the industry giant that is Square. Of course it wasn't the first of its kind, but it was the game that garnered enough attention and success that placed it as the symbol of RPG games. Of course, it never would have become the icon it has become if it wasn't a good game in the first place. High marks indeed.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 03/27/09

Game Release: Final Fantasy (US, 05/31/90)

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