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Ironic Title in Retrospect
By: Jake Alley
The story of Final Fantasy is well known today. An unsuccessful game developer created an RPG as a last ditch chance at getting his foot in the door. While the result went on to spawn one of the largest and best known series of RPGs, the original Final Fantasy was one of the more obscure RPGs on the NES.
The most significant impact Final Fantasy had on the gaming world would be the innovations made in the graphics. In addition to being the first RPG to show your party in combat, Final Fantasy broke new ground in tile based graphics, giving smoothly rounded edges to features of the world map.
Other aspects of Final Fantasy's presentation fall a bit short however. The music is quite simplistic, even by NES standards, and dialog is restricted to only a few words per character.
As for the gameplay itself, Final Fantasy offers up decidedly standard fare. After forming a party of four generic characters from six classes, the player journeys around the world, fighting elementally themed bosses with standard menu based combat, in a quest to save the world. It should be noted in fairness, that at the time of the initial release, the fighting of four elementally themed bosses was far less of a cliché than it is today, but there is still precious little here that can't be found elsewhere.
Perhaps the single biggest problem with Final Fantasy is the hit and miss nature of combat. Regardless of experience level, or the point in the game, any given dungeon is home to at least one variety of monster capable of wiping out the party in the blink of an eye, thanks to an oddly balanced system of magic. A magic system which, incidently, gave mages a fixed number of spells per level, in the vein of Dungeons & Dragons, rather than traditional MP.
All in all, Final Fantasy is a solid but unremarkable RPG. While interesting from a historical perspective, it is a far cry from the rest of the series it spawned, and fails to offer anything that can't be found elsewhere.
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