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Final Fantasy - Retroview

Birth Of A God

By: Desh


Review Breakdown
   Battle System 8
   Interface 7
   Music/Sound 9
   Originality 10
   Plot 7
   Localization 7
   Replay Value 7
   Visuals 9
   Difficulty Medium
   Time to Complete

15-25 hours

 
Overall
8
Criteria

Title

   Square just recently reminded us of its continuing success story that is the Final Fantasy series by releasing Final Fantasy X and having sales go off the charts. However, back in the day, Square was in dire straights, and was faced with a difficult challenge: create a highly successful RPG, or get ground into the dust, never to be seen again. This was how the game Final Fantasy got its name. It was for so many different reasons that it was not truly the "final" fantasy, and it has earned its place as a true classic in gaming history.

   Final Fantasy introduced a battle system that has held for over a decade. With your party on one side of the screen, and the enemies on the other, a turn-based battle erupts. The norm that most RPGs have adopted was born here. However, the system was not perfect. The major problem that has been uttered by all who have played it is the "innefective" condition; if multiple characters are slated to attack a single enemy, and the monster is defeated before all the characters have had their shot at it, they will not move on to another monster - they just won't get an attack in, and will waste a turn. However, it does force the player to develop some strategy other than holding down "attack" and waiting for the battle to end.

   The Nintendo system was famous for providing games with the most horrendous menus conceived of. While Final Fantasy does have a few confusing commands in its menu, compared to games like "Swords and Serpents" and "Ultima: Exodus" it is heavenly. One inconvenience is that only one item can be used or bought at a time. Well, when everything's at stake, you don't have the time or technology to fix every problem...


Gathering info
Gathering info 

   When the Final Fantasy crew was amassed, Nobuo Uematsu had not the fame that he has now, and was picked as musical director/composer just because. He is one of the very few who has worked on every Final Fantasy to date, and has had the most impact on the series than anybody else. Final Fantasy was the beginning of his fame in the gaming world, and his compositions, while few, enhance the game like in no other for the Nintendo at the time. Unfortunately, there aren't very many different songs, and the sounds are not spectacular, but it is the best-sounding RPG of its time.

   As for originality, this game defines the very cliches that has plagued games since its release. Nothing speaks for a game's originality better than the cliches it sets, and Final Fantasy's have passed the test of time. Desperation, apparently, was a great conduit for creativity and innovation.

   Compared, once again, to "Swords and Serpents" and "Ultima: Exodus," this game has an amazing plot which has been redone countless times. However, most of it is done in the prologue and epilogue. The people in the game have one text box in which to talk, but Square made that enough to make do. What it lacks in quantity, it makes up in quality. However, the need for quantity leaves the player more interested in destroying anything that moves than saving the world.


The very first airship.
The very first airship. 

   Everything that can talk or leave a message in the game has but a single text box to say what it needs to. However, that means one good thing - easy translation! The translation is very well done, as a simple job was needed. There were very few errors, and what errors there were did not warrant confusion or notice.

   Final Fantasy is a great game, and very addictive. One great thing about it is that it uses the class system to determine your party before starting. While the game is extremely linear and sometimes disconnected, there are always different ways to try to play through the game. There are literally hundreds of parties to play with, including the infamous white mage party - a party of four white mages! VERY difficult, but good bragging rights if you win with them.

   The graphics were stunning for a Nintendo RPG. Final Fantasy started to optimize the graphical quality that the Nintendo could produce for them, and Square has continuously kept up that tradition with every system it uses. The monsters, in particular, are very well detailed and realistic. Compare them to the cartoony enemies in previous games (and later games, for that matter), and you'd be much likely to be more scared of these monsters than theirs. Colors are well-used, and never disgusting, and movement is smooth throughout.

   Now, back in the day, there wasn't enough memory on the Nintendo cartridges to make different difficulties for most games. So, every game was made hard. Final Fantasy is no exception, although it isn't impossibly hard - that would have made Square unpopular and die. However, there is a good chunk of necessary leveling, so the game was not meant to be a piece of cake.


Zeromus' cousin
Zeromus' cousin 

   For a Nintendo game, five hours was usually more than enough to finish the game from start to finish. Not so in Final Fantasy. It was by far the longest game to complete in its time, although by today's standards its just enough to get started. Had there been secret areas or side quests, it may have taken longer, but twenty hours was sufficient to make a thoroughly good game.

   Overall, Final Fantasy was a huge success. This is most obvious by looking at Final Fantasy's X and XI. It contributed to the RPG world by creating massive amounts of cliche, plus the ascensions of Uematsu and Sakaguchi. While, by today's standards, it looks cheesy, that view is very mistaken. There are many historical reasons to play Final Fantasy, but moreover, it's a fun, addicting game. If you manage to find somebody with a working Nintendo, this is probably a game they still have, sitting right next to The Legend of Zelda.





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