Final Fantasy
Box Shot
Final Fantasy
Platform: NES
Publisher: Nintendo
Designer: Square
Genre: RPG
Players: 1
Published Date 1990
Reviewed by: Kurt Kalata

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.)