Final Fantasy Legend - Retroview

Final Fantasy? Not Quite, But Still Pretty Interesting

By: Robust Stu

Review Breakdown
   Battle System 6
   Interface 5
   Music/Sound 4
   Originality 6
   Plot 4
   Localization 2
   Replay Value 2
   Visuals 3
   Difficulty Medium
   Time to Complete

12-15 hours


Final Fantasy Legend

   Many people have the mistaken belief that Final Fantasy Legend is a real Final Fantasy game. It is not. In fact, it is the first game of the Saga series, which included later names like Romancing Saga and Saga Frontier. This game set the Saga standard of gameplay and character building over storyline. Do you hate the fact that almost every RPG these days is like watching a movie with bits of gameplay scattered in between? Then this is the game for you.

   The story of this game goes that your band of four warriors seeks to get to the top of the Tower, where it is rumored that Paradise exists. To this end, you must make your way through four worlds (one each for earth, water, air and fire), find the magic sphere in each, and get to the top of the Tower to see if that Paradise truly exists. Despite being gameplay oriented, this game has a few surprisingly good storyline elements scattered here and there, and includes some pretty shocking plot twists.

   The battle system is turn based, and is pretty standard fare, except for the fact that all weapons, items and magic have a limited amount of uses, after the expiration of which you will have to buy new weapons. This has screwed over many a penniless adventurer who uses up the last of his or her weapons and is forced to scrounge, sell the armor off your back, and run from battles in order to get some new equipment. Other than that, you have your standard Fight and Run, and it's your party of four against the enemy party. One downside to the battle system is that for each group of enemies, you can only hit the one in front with physical attacks. In other words, if you are fighting three rhinos, your physical attacks will only hit the one in front, and only after that one falls can you hit the one behind it. This makes things a bit more difficult, but is tolerable.

A grappling hook won't help you get over these mountains
A grappling hook won't help you get over these mountains  

   While nothing to bang your head to, the music was pretty good for a Game Boy game. There were several different pieces of music in the game, enough of a variety to get by without seeming like they got a composer at cut rate. Most of the music was very emotional and was very fitting to the locale. The sound effects, on the other hand, were scarce and poor. None of them sounded realistic, and in fact sounded kinda hokey.

   This game was fairly original, in that it brought RPGs to the Game Boy, plus it introduced the concept of races to console RPGs. That is, there were three classes of party members you could have, Humans, Mutants (both of which came in male and female varieties), and monsters. Humans, while having to manually have their levels raised by using items, are great fighters and can make use of nearly any weapon in the game. Mutants have constantly changing innate powers, most of which are useless, but a few come in handy. Plus, their stats raise automatically. The downside, of course, is that they can only hold four items to the human's eight. Monsters can upgrade by eating defeated enemies meat, which mutates them into a different monster. Unfortunately, they cannot hold any items, and are limited to the attacks they come with.

   The localization was poorly done. A lot of the lines sounded awkward, and often made the storyline and dialogue in general hard to follow. You really kind of needed to get a strategy guide of some sort to figure out the puzzles, since the clues given were very hard to decipher by virtue of the poor translation.

   The ability to use different character classes adds a little bit of replay value, but other than that the game is pretty blah. Going through the exact same game with different character types wasn't enough of a draw for me that it was enough to warrant a second play. There are several floors in the Tower between the four main worlds where you can pop in and kind of mingle with the people there and do a few extremely tiny mini-quests, but they're more of a diversion than a reason to play again. I wouldn't give it a second play if you have a stack of games waiting for your attention.

The Hero Statue
The Hero Statue  

   The visuals weren't too great, being that it was a Game Boy game from 1989, so I guess you could call it standard fare. You could make out what everything was, which I guess is all you can ask of a black and white, late 80s Game Boy game. If you're looking for good graphics, go with the second or third game, because this one certainly doesn't have what you're looking for.

Other than level building, which there is surprisingly little of, Final Fantasy Legend is a fairly short game. You could probably get through it in about fifteen hours stopping at all the in-between floors along the way.

It's kind of hard to think of closing words for this game. On the one hand, it's a Game Boy game, and the first attempt on that platform by Square, so compared to what you'd find on the NES it sucks pretty bad. But then again, it was the first Game Boy game by Square, and one of the first games to hit the Game Boy, at least in the US, so you can't beat it up too much. Plus, if you value gameplay over storyline, you might be interested in this game. Give it a try if you've never seen it, but the later games in the series, even the Game Boy ones, are much better, so play them first.

Recommendation to avoid.

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