Wow. There sure are a lot of ‘Final’ fantasies out there. Just like there sure are a lot of people who have already made this joke!
I’ve sort of been falling down an FF rabbit hole lately. Not only have I been super addicted to Final Fantasy 14, I also ended up sinking money into the HD Pixel Remasters of Final Fantasies 1-6. And then I found myself replaying a bit of 7, 9, and 10. And I realized that this little kick of mine wasn’t going to go away any time soon.
So I though to myself: “Fuck it! I’ll just play every main line Final Fantasy game and review them for the blog! I mean, there are only fifteen of them! Plus 10-2, 13-2 and 13-3. And two of them, 11 and 14, are MMOs! What could possibly go wrong?!
Oh god, what have I gotten myself into?
The plot is pretty simple. Four magic crystals representing the elements have been corrupted. Now your party of four Warriors of Light must purge them and save the day. Typical fantasy stuff.
Until it randomly becomes a time travel plot right at the last second. It’s an NES game, so I can forgive it. The plots aren’t especially important yet.
The presentation is fine. It’s an upscaled version of the updated FF1, meaning that we get those SNES style graphics instead of those good ol’ NES aesthetics. And it looks pretty good! Certainly better than the mobile ports we got a few years ago.
The music is… strange. The tracks themselves are really good. But some of them don’t really feel like they fit. A lot of the dungeon music sounds more like village music. And the only two memorable tracks are the iconic Prelude and victory theme, but I attribute that to the rest of the series rather than this one game.
There are also some weird resolution issues with the PC version. Whenever I booted it up, it was in windowed mode, even though the settings clearly were still on fullscreen. So every time I played, I had to go back into the settings and readjust the visuals. Again.
Also, why was the B/O button the default select button? Isn’t that usually the default cancel button? You know, A/X to enter and B/O to leave?
Now, we come to the gameplay. Which is actually pretty simple. At the beginning of the game, you create a party of four heroes, choosing from a pool of six classes: warrior, monk, thief, black mage, white mage, and red mage. From there, you enter into the world of Final Fantasy, where you explore wide open areas, numerous towns and dungeons, and slaughter hundreds of thousands of enemies to get money and EXP.
The combat is incredibly simple. Each turn, you’ll select an action for each of your four party members. Then the round will play, with each character/monster going at a set point in the initiative order. You can attack, cast spells to buff/debuff or just straight-up kill things, all that good RPG shit. Rinse and repeat until the encounter ends.
Then walk five feet and run into another one because it’s an early JRPG.
While the combat isn’t the deepest, most complex, or most challenging, it is surprisingly enjoyable. Hell, even the grinding isn’t all that bad! Just put a movie or something on, turn your brain off, and mash the attack button until you’re max level. If you want to turn your brain off, this is a decent game to go with.
Or you could go for a challenge run with how you put the party together! Can you get buy with a group of only black mages? How about healers only with all white mages? Or maybe you don’t care for magic; put together a whole team of warriors! Or you could rob the forces of evil blind with a team of thieves! Being able to mix-and-match your party right at the beginning of the game can make for some really fun, challenging, or straight-up broken runs!
If I have one major issue with this game, it’s exploration. This game does not always make it clear where you need to go. For example: in order to access the second-to-last dungeon, you need to get a fairy from a caravan and bring it to another area. This will give you a thing that you need to bring to an NPC from a city you visited a long time ago. This will give you the ability to go to another city, talk to a dude hidden way in the corner, and then you can access the tower that’ll let you into the final dungeon.
Here is everything wrong with that!
- There is no visual indicator for the caravan’s location on the overworld; you just step on a seemingly blank tile and then you’re there. How the hell was someone supposed to find that without a walkthrough?
- There is no clue about who you need to talk to after freeing the fairy. If you missed them earlier in the game, you’ll have to wander throughout every single area of the game until you find them.
- There is no indicator as to who to talk to in the town after speaking to the NPC mentioned in point #2; you just have to talk to everyone until you find the guy that gives you the thing
And that’s just one example. The game is full of stuff like this, especially later on. So… don’t feel bad if you need a guide. Because this game is not going to help you out.
Final Fantasy 1 isn’t an especially complex game. Nor is it an especially challenging or even memorable one. It can require a lot of grinding and it can be hard to discern where to actually go at times. But all in all, it’s a short enough game that its issues can be pretty easily forgiven. With a guide, you can probably finish it in a day or two. Maybe even less.
What an oddly simple and charming beginning to this series! Now, we move on… to… Final Fantasy 2…
I don’t want to play these games anymore.