All great video game franchises have to start somewhere. The Final Fantasy series is one of the longest-running RPG series in existence. Not only does it have a solid main series, but it also has countless spinoffs that span nearly every console and genre imaginable. Though it has become one of the biggest franchises in video game history, Final Fantasy does have its humble beginnings. It all began with a relatively simple RPG on the Nintendo Entertainment System.
The Role You Play
You play as the four light warriors. They have gathered to fulfill a prophecy that the world will be saved when light is restored to the four orbs and the elements are restored to the land. The one detail that is left out of said prophecy is that there is no rule about who the light warriors are. This means you get to make up your own party of four from six different classes: Fighter, thief, black belt, red mage, white mage and black mage. Each class has its own specialties in terms of the types of weapons, armor, and spells they can use. You can have a party of any make-up, including multiple members of the same class.
The plot centers around a 2000-year-old prophecy where the light warriors will return and bring light back to the land. With the wind having stopped, the sea wild and the earth rotting, it is time for that prophecy to be fulfilled. The prophecy tells of four warriors, each holding an orb, to defeat the four fiends who are each in possession of the four elements to restore light to the four orbs and restore light to the earth once again.
Other quests have to be completed to accomplish this mission. This includes acquiring an herb to awaken a sleeping prince, acquiring TNT to blow open an obstructed waterway, and facing the Castle of Ordeals for a symbol of bravery to appease Bahamut, the King of Dragons.
The gameplay in Final Fantasy will require a bit of patience to get used to. The combat is turn-based with each character taking turns to attack. However, the turn-based combat is a bit picky. You have to remember to have each character select a different enemy. If you have your party members target the same enemy and that enemy gets defeated, your party members will not just automatically target a new enemy. The rest of your attacks for that turn will be ineffective, so it’s important to strategize every character’s attacks to make sure they are all effective and do damage.
It’s not something you have to worry about as much if your characters are using a spell or item that targets all enemies or if all of your characters are targeting one opponent.
There are four Fiends that you have to defeat overall, with some side quests along the way. There are also antiquated mechanics to deal with, such as having to buy potions one at a time. The combat can spike in challenge unexpectedly at multiple points throughout the game. You can find yourself at the mercy of an unexpected cluster of status ailments or deaths at any given moment. You will then need to backtrack to a save point or reload at least a few times during your playthrough. That being said, the game takes about 20 hours to beat from start to finish.
Most of the locations you travel to have their own tracks. There are a few that are shared, but when they are, they share a theme of travel and adventuring. While each town and castle uses the same gentle track to present itself as a safe haven, there are three separate overworld tracks for traveling by land, by sea and by air. There are also different dungeons, and there is some overlap in the tone used, with each track representing a type of dungeon whether it be a gloomy cave, a volcano, or an advanced technological fortress in the sky. Each one helps to enhance the atmosphere and set it apart just enough.
Item management in Final Fantasy can get especially tricky. Even though you can carry 99 of each item, each character is only given four weapon and armor slots. Since most of the best armor you find in the game is armor you find in treasure chests in the different dungeons, you’ll have very little room in your inventory to trade items and compare what you find with what you already have. There is also little room for error so if you sell or drop a piece of equipment and regret it later, you will have no choice but to reload your game, and because there’s only one save file, even that may not be an option.
The Talking Parts
The dialogue is presented very simply in Final Fantasy. Whenever you talk to someone, a single dialogue box of text will appear from whoever is talking. The conversation is always one-sided and there is rarely any deviation. Normally the information you receive is supplementary to the lore of the world. However, anything related to a key item or person will stand out because it will be capitalized. You’ll also know whenever you’ve accomplished a mission or acquired something important because there is a celebratory chime that accompanies the text box.
Z…We’ve Reached the End. Anything Else?
When it comes to the different mage classes, there is always a choice to be made. Each spell level has three spell slots but four spells to choose from, or possibly more for the red mage. However, some of the choices are usually easier than others because some of the spells are just flat-out broken. For example: spells like TMPR and SABR which are supposed to increase your attack power do not work at all. Another spell XFER which is supposed to remove an enemy’s resistances only works when an enemy uses it on you.
One spell which is glitchy, but in a good way is HEL2 which is actually more effective when it is used in battle than when it’s used in the field.
Final Fantasy is not a perfect game by any means. However, when you play it, you can easily see how it began to inspire a classic franchise. There are countless examples of spells, weapons and enemies that continue to appear in the franchise. Not to mention, it’s always good to revisit a classic game to learn how it all started. It may be imperfect, but I am glad to know where it began and where it will continue to go.