Whenever a sequel to a game comes out, its only natural for newcomers to
look back onto the earlier entries in the series. Obviously I'm referring
to Final Fantasy 7 for the Playstation. It's a truly awesome game, so
there are probably some people that will want to look back on to the
previous Final Fantasy games. Although they'll most likely be please
by FF3 for the SNES, I have a funny feeling most people won't like Final Fantasy
1 for the NES, for reasons that will soon become apparent.
There really isn't too much of a plot in reality. Many many years ago
these good guys named the Light Warriors defeated the ultimate evil.
However, in the present day, things are looking bad again, with malicious
monsters lurking throughout. Prophecy was foretold that a new set of Light
Warriors, holding four darkened orbs, would return and save the world
from peril. And, of course, you control that party of Light Warriors.
Instead of starting with a predetermined party, you can choose four characters
out of six possible classes. Fighters are obviously the best at physically
hacking opponents to bits. Thiefs are decent fighters, but are also very
agile and can run away very easily. Black Belts are also great fighters
who do well without weapons. White Mages cast white magic, Black Mages
cast black mages, and Red Mages can cast a little bit of both. Yes,
there are two types of magic. White magic is primiarly for healing and
defensive needs, but there is an attack spell known as Harm that
will decimate undead opponenets. Black Magic is mostly offensive
magic, like Fire, Lightning, and Ice spells.
There is a small plot in the beginning of the game, requiring that the
Light Warrios save the local princess who's been abducted by the local
Bad Guy. Once that's all said and done, it's on to the real quest...
to light up the four orbs. Each of the four orbs represent the four elements
of the old world: Fire, Water, Wind and Earth. There are four major boss
characters that represent each element, and you've got to defeat them.
Then, it's off to find Chaos, the bad-ass source of all evil. Along
the way, there are several mini-quests you must complete. You'll need to
defeat a bunch of pirates to steal their ship, or find the correct items
to resurrect the ancient Airship hidden somewhere. There's also a subquest
that allows you to upgrade your current characters to higher levels
(turning your Fighter into a Warrior, Thief into Ninja, Mage into Wizard, etc.)
Your fighters lose their super deformed look and become pretty cool looking. Ultimately however,
there is no plot development, as all of the characters are faceless and
don't have any personality whatsoever.
Much like any RPG, you travel from town to town on an overhead map, completing
various tasks. On the overworld, you can get randomly attacked by enemies,
where in you can administed commands to each of your fighters. Unlike
Dragon Warrior, there is usually more than one monster to fight at one time;
sometimes as many as twelve. The first thing you'll have to get used to
is the way the fighting system works. If you tell someone to attack an enemy
that's already been killed, his attack is not redirected. In other words,
he will swing at nothing. This can get very annoying, as you have to
determine how strong an enemy is and which of your characters is best suited
to inflict the most damage, without wasting attacks. Hell can break loose
if you miss the enemy, which happens quite often...unlike most RPGs, you'll
spend a lot of your time simply not hitting your targets! It's not too infuriating,
but it seems to happen more often than it should.
Magic is not handled through magic points (MP) either. Instead, each spell
is classified in one of eight levels. You can only use a spell in each level
a predetermined amount of times. There's no way to regain these magic skills
once you've used them, unless you go to an inn or use a house. Another
bizarre thing is that you can save at any inn, but you can't save on the
overworld without a tent, cabin or house. Why not simply include a save
command for this?
The balance of prices and gold isn't worked out very well either. There
are some sections in the game that you must spend so much time gaining
gold simply to purchase the FIR2 Spell (which reminds me; since spell names
are limited to four characters, names are often very abbreviated. Lightning
is LIT.) And experience is hard to come by, as you'll often spend
lots of time gaining this so you won't get your collective ass kicked
whenever you enter a nasty cave or fight a big boss.
The overworld graphics are pretty bright and colorful, but everything in
the fighting scenes is very, very black. The only semblance of background
is a little looping pic at the top of the screen...not very much. Your
characters look kinda neat, and the animation's not bad. The enemies
aren't animated but are well-drawn, even if they're used several times over,
only with different palettes and characteristics. The music in the Final
Fantasy series has been done by the same wonderful artist, and they still have a very good ring to them.
The fight theme is memorable and catchy, and the cave themes are nice
and scary. However, the opening tune as the story is playing, sounds
downright awful. When playing the game, some people
complain that the battle text goes by to slow...this is because you didn't
set the Message Speed when you started the game.
Overall, while Final Fantasy is an addicting and enjoyable RPG, the few
quirks in the battle system tend to send newcomers screaming away, who've
been brought up on FF7's advanced combat. So it's not the greatest...it
doesn't mean it's a bad game. And yes, the fighting is a bit excessive,
but it's not so horrible as to bring it crashing down entirely. Building
up a powerful party and hacking your way through dungeons is still as fun
as hell. And there's a whole variety of weapons, spells, and items
for you to find and experiment with. Final Fantasy
is definitely worth a shot to any RPG fan, and it's much better gameplay wise,
than the Dragon Warrior games (in my opinion, anyway.)