The original Final Fantasy has returned once again, this time as Final Fantasy PSP. This adventure has been told many times before with this being the fourth time it's seen the light of day in North America. I have to ask at this point, is there anyone who has not played this game in some form or another? For the small minority of gamers who have not played this game, prepare to experience the classic tale of the Light Warriors and their journey to restore light to the crystals.
This game features a party of four which you must create by selecting from six different job classes: Warrior, Monk, Thief, White Mage, Red Mage, or Black Mage. These job classes offer the same set of skills as prior incarnations, so there's nothing new here. Your Thief is agile, but has no option to steal anything. The Monk is still a powerhouse that needs no weapon. The characters are the same generic run of the mill, mute personas that can be named whatever you like. I chose random names and jumped right in.
The gameplay seems to be unchanged from the Dawn of Souls version seen in 2004. The difficulty is still geared toward an easier experience than that of the older versions such as the original NES one. Like the GBA version, spells use magic points, not limiting the number of spells that can be cast per level. Spells still have to be bought and mages can only have three spells per level, but the use of MP makes for a more manageable time. The gameplay at its core is the same as that found in Dawn of Souls, so those that enjoy the classic feel of the game will not be disappointed.
"Final Fantasy PSP doesn't offer a brand new experience; it just offers a prettier one."
Don't think that everything in Final Fantasy PSP has been done before. The art work within the game has been completely reworked and is presented in the 16:9 widescreen format of the PSP. The game uses a beautiful, seemingly hand-drawn look for characters and backgrounds. Spell animations have been updated graphically as well, making the experience seem grander. Also in areas such as Cornelia, an occasional shadow from a cloud overhead will darken the sky. In the town of Elfheim, instead of clouds you can see rays of sunshine beaming down from above. Added along with the wonderful in-game graphics are CG movies that were initially found with the Final Fantasy Origins version of the game. The overall visual package of Final Fantasy PSP is the best of all the remakes to date.
Uematsu's music is still here with some slight remixing. The music remains intact through the minor changes, so purists shouldn't worry about a complete overhaul to the soundtrack. Other features include a bestiary that is available at any time and also the ability to switch from English to Japanese text from the in-game menu. Thanks to the widescreen, the text has been changed to a larger font than in prior titles. This makes it easier to read on the smaller portable screen.
Final Fantasy PSP doesn't offer a brand new experience; it just offers a prettier one. Those who have played this game many times before shouldn't expect a ton of new content. Though, one new thing this version has that the GBA game didn't is load times. Loading times are not bad, but those few extra seconds it takes to load a battle or a menu were not present in the cartridge-based Dawn of Souls. Even the new dungeons from Dawn of Souls are available here. There is a brand new dungeon at the end of the game that should prove a greater challenge than anything offered before, so that is something to look forward to.