After a long hiatus due to starting school and unfortunately having some medical problems at the same time, I’m back and writing more for EGG! I’ll try to post more often now that life is kind of back to normal. Okay, starting review in 3… 2… 1…
When I decided to make one of my long-term gaming goals playing through all the titles in the Final Fantasy series, I will freely admit that I wasn’t expecting to get a lot out of the early titles. That’s probably just my experience as a gamer coming to the surface to prejudice me, since I only really started gaming when newer console systems were out, and they all have voiced games with prettier graphics. That’s not to say that I haven’t played old games and enjoyed them, but for some reason my feeling here was that this project really wasn’t going to heat up until I got to Final Fantasy VII. I am glad to say that the original Final Fantasy has proven me wrong.
I played the remastered PS edition of Final Fantasy, which is updated so it has SNES-style graphics. The story is pretty familiar to anyone who knows this series. The world is in peril, and only a select group of heroes can save it. In this case, those are the four heroes of light, who bear magical crystals that will give them the ability to send the bad guy packing for good. However, there are some features of this game that will seem unusual or out of place to players who started with Final Fantasy VII or higher (and maybe earlier, but VII was the earliest Final Fantasy I’d played until now).
Final Fantasy games generally seem to be all about characters and their stories, but this game is an exception. There are only four party characters, and rather than being pre-set template characters with names and stories, the player picks this configuration of characters. There are multiple classes, and you can select any combination of the four. I went with a pretty classic set-up: fighter, monk, white mage, and black mage. There are other characters, like the thief and the red mage, that I didn’t try, but beating the game with any combination of characters is feasible, although certain combinations will be more challenging. Each character class can acquire an upgrade during the game, provided you find a certain secret place and do a particular quest. So, for example, the fighter becomes a knight, and the white mage becomes a white wizard. Character stats go up at this point, and it also gives them access to new equipment and spells so you can take on the bad buy without any trouble.
Another thing about this game that players might find strange is that it is based on a more open-world style of play, rather than the linear style often present in the Final Fantasy series. Most Final Fantasy games have a pre-set story with limited windows for exploration and the like, until right before the final boss fight, when the game tends to open up and you can explore to your heart’s content. This game has a bit of what you might call a prologue, and then it basically sends you on your way. Some areas can’t be accessed without certain vehicles, so are off-limits until later, but otherwise, where you go is basically up to you. It’s more akin to a game like Skyrim than what players have come to expect from a Final Fantasy, but it was fun to explore. That being said, I did get lost several times and have no idea where to go, which was frustrating, although as a result, I was about ten levels higher than everything I was fighting for the rest of the game, which made it comparatively easy, so that was nice.
Although the story doesn’t feel nearly as epic as some of the later games in the series, Final Fantasy is really an enjoyable game, and deserves to be noticed by gamers, despite its age. It’s available for many systems now, including handhelds like the GBA and the PSP, so it’s still relatively easy to find, and won’t cost you an arm and leg for being a classic game. It’s also easy to see how this model of play developed into what Final Fantasy is today, and I’m looking forward to seeing how the games progress to the style I’m more familiar with. This was a lot more enjoyable than I expected it to be, and I highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in RPGs, and especially to anyone who is interested in classic games.
Which means I can now move on to Final Fantasy II! Honestly, I’m not sure when I’m going to get to it (that’s why this is a long-term goal), because I’ve gotten back into playing Skyrim again and I’d really like to finish that before I move on to another RPG, but rest assured, I will get there, and I certainly won’t stop posting about other games I play in the meantime.