A lot can go into a name. In today’s example creator Hironobu Sakaguchi had wanted to create a RPG for some time but only after the success of Dragon Warrior (known in the West as Dragon Quest) was he allowed to. Originally it was going to be called Fighting Fantasy, but because of legal issues that got changed to Final Fantasy since Hironobu thought it was to have been his final game. And since I earlier on reviewed Final Fantasy 14 you can see that wasn’t the case. Sgathaich: Final Fantasy 14
Final Fantasy is considered THE JRPG series, which until recently was also the RPG series but I’m not going to go into the differences. Somewhat similar to a dnd set up, you take control of 4 different people each a class you choose. They can be a warrior, a thief, a monk, a black mage, a white mage or a red mage. You also name them and…… none speak. They don’t really have any background to them, they are mysterious people each carrying a crystal showing they are the legendary Warriors of Light here to save the world, yeah the story is extremely bare bones so it’s amazing to see how much stories developed in the franchise from such basic beginnings.
And basic is the word to use. The game is fairly simple. Explore the world kill random monsters, talk to people, find out what you need to do and where to go, stumble about till you find the place you’re meant to go to, pick up item you need to pick up or beat boss, story continues. Even boss fights are fairly simple, boost up your guys with magic, hit face, I don’t really recall ever fighting anyone that had a fancy attack pattern.
I played this game on normal setting recently which was the original NES difficulty… Oh I should say I played this on the PS1 (yes I have one and I dug it out just for you guys) remake Final Fantasy origins which came with this and Final Fantasy 2… which I’m not going to play because it’s crap. Anyway, On this mode I found the game a lot more… grindy. Often I just had to run around in a circle around the towns and cities on a world map till I had enough gold to buy stuff or felt I had enough levels to get through dungeons. Magic points or MP doesn’t exist yet and instead each character can only cast a certain number of spells of each spell level which though increasing as you level up is still very low and can only be replenished at inns or in cottages (which is an item you can get). It’s also only using inns or the sleeping items (cottages being the best one as they also replenish magic) that allows you to save the game. On normal mode I actually found the bosses to be substantially easier than the random encounters in the area. The King of the Dark Elves was quite a lot easier than the Monsters in the Dungeon I had to go through to get to him.
What I’m saying is, play it on easy difficult, it’s not really an easy mode but more rebalanced so the game feels more entertaining to play. The random encounters aren’t as punishing leaving the bosses to feel more like a challenge (since you usually have to grind every major new town just so you can survive the dungeon to get to the much easier boss, given that the grind made the boss easier).
The game’s plot isn’t that complicated, it starts with you saving a princess from the evil Knight Garland then you set out, saving the elves before finding out about the 4 elemental fiends who are slowly killing the planet. There is a lot of exploring to find out where you’re going to but at no point did it feel too punishing. Nothing is ever counter intuitive like in Legend of Zelda (original) was. Worst case scenario you wind up in an area you aren’t meant to go yet and have to run away from the random monsters. In fact you’re rewarded for it. Half way through the game you can find a castle with a reward which in the end you give the Dragon King Bahamut (first appearance, yeah FF fans Bahamut predates Cid, future versions retroactively put him in but Bahamut was in from the beginning, point for dragons) and he will upgrade your classes making you more powerful. Nowhere in the story do I recall being told to ever do this.
Because of the basic and simple gameplay many people ended up doing additional challenges. Rather than just replaying the game with the classes they didn’t use, they have done play throughs like playing with 4 white mages, maybe not ever used a healing item, and probably someone played through the entire game in one go without saving… probably destroying their eyes and sleep schedule in the process.
While games like the original Legend of Zelda I would recommend passing over in favour of later more polished entries (the moment I can get my hands on a copy of Link to the past I’m reviewing it for you lot) Final fantasy original game is actually one I recommend playing. Though it’s simple and not as polished as later entries at no point did I feel it was punishing me for what it wanted me to do, no point did I feel the need to grab a guide to find a mandatory item just to continue the basic plot as playing the game normally was getting too difficult. The difficulty (especially on easy mode) steadily goes up rather than spiking plus for long time Final Fantasy fans it’s fun finding out what was in the first entry, given how much the series makes use of previously existing characters. Maybe you on your play through will smile discovering a character in the most recent Final Fantasy you were playing first showed up here in just a cameo role.