Review by Black_Crusher
The best $75 I ever spent
Well, to be completely honest it was when it first came out in the early 90's but still! By now, everyone who's anyone in gaming knows about Final Fantasy. Even now, there are fierce debates about "the split from the old-school RPGs" that happened with the release of Final Fantasy 7 that apparently defined the new-school RPGs. I myself am not a huge fan of 'most' newer RPGs but the one that started it all also happens to be one of my favorite games of all time. Let's get to it!
The basic premise might be sorta' complicated if you get too much into it, but basically a great evil in the past named Chaos is trying to destroy the world of the present. Enter the Light Warriors, 4 brave men (yes, even the white mage although that's another arguement LOL) who take up the task to save the world once and for all by slaying the 4 fiends who guard the 4 Light Orbs and THEN travel back in time to fight pre-historic versions of the fiends AGAIN and then finally Chaos himself. Shew! I think that's all of it. Along the way, you'll encounter elves, dwarves, fairies, and even mermaids to assist your quest.
For what they had to work with, the graphics for Final Fantasy are nothing less than stellar. The overworld does not look like a bunch of tiles thrown together (like Dragon Warrior) but like an actual, living place. The real money maker about the graphics though are the incredible enemy sprites. Each enemy looks to have been carefully drawn and colored. Sure, there are some palette swapping victims here like almost all old RPGs, but it doesn't bother me in the least. Even the item names have little pictures next to them to tell you what type of item it is if you're not sure, Like the Defense Sword.
The Light Warriors themselves look very good for the 6 colors or so they had to choose from. Plus, they even have completely new sprites for when they undergo the class change promotion later in the game. And a different sprite is also used on the game screen depending on who is leading the party, which is a nice touch.
You know what's funny, is that the actual music in this game is above excellent but the sound effects are not. Fire up the Nintendo and you'll hear an awesome opening theme song while the backstory reads out. Everything just seems to fit perfectly music-wise. Caves sound either mysterious or just plain creepy. The overworld has a great adventuring feel to it. You'll even get a different song if you're sailing the ship or flying the airship! And the battle theme should get a 10 all by itself! The sound effects are just weird though. Most annoying is the sound you get when one of your party is poisoned and you try to walk around. This alone will make anyone want to stock up on pure potions to cure the poisoning! There are some other bad sounds to be found throughout the game, but it's not a total loss- listen to when one of your Light Warriors gets attacked and you'll hear a bassy noise that's very good.
I never seemed to have any control problems while playing Final Fantasy. They allow you to reposition your characters at will and open up and check on your party's status with the press of a button. To select an option in the menu driven battle screen, a giant "Arod hamburger helper-esque" glove appears as the cursor. I'm a Red Sox fan so this part is sorta' funny to me.
What a game! The number one best part about this game comes at you within the first 5 minutes of playing it- the Light Warrior selection screen. As far as I know, this is the only Final Fantasy in the series that lets you choose any 4 man party that you want from a possible 6 classes. And I mean ANY party. You want a Fighter, Red Mage, Blackbelt, and White Mage? You got it! How about 2 Blackbelts and 2 Black Mages? Yep! FOUR WHITE MAGES?? Yes you can!! This is the main selling point for me as far as replay value goes. With hundreds of different party combinations you can never get too bored of this game!
And what a cast of characters we have! We have the Fighter, who can use almost every weapon and armor and has super high hit points. Then there's Red Mage who can use some weapons and armor and cast spells from both the white and black schools of magic. White Mage can cast all sorts of heal spells and ones that can kill undead creatures like ghouls and skeletons. Blackbelt can hardly use any weapons or armor but can pummel the crap out of anything for the most damage with only his bare fists. Black Mage is a master of all magic featuring death and destruction. And lastly there is Thief, who is brown. The only, ONLY beef I have with the characters in FF is that they made Thief utterly useless! And he could have been so cool too! Firstly, he can't you know, STEAL anything. And he can't pick the locks on the locked doors you'll find either. It's a good thing he gets a ton better after class change!
Yes, the class change. During the game you can choose to partake in the Trial of Ordeals from King Bahamut. If you succeed in returning with proof of your courage, your party is awarded a class promotion and the benefits are largely amazing. All of your characters (barring Blackbelt) gain access to new weapons, armor, or spells. The good thing is that if you don't want a class change, you don't have to do the quest. It's completely optional, which is a very nice touch in a game like this. And if you had a Thief make the change, he turns into a very powerful Ninja who can cast tons of spells and even use heavy weapons and armor. Finally, he pays off for his previous suckitude!
Keep saying to yourself, "The goods outweigh the bads, the goods outweigh the bads". If I was to have reviewed this game when I first got it, it would have scored a 10 easily. However, with the advent of the internet (thank you, Bob Dole!) information about the game's many flaws has now become commonplace. There are just so many bugs to be found throughout that they must be mentioned to truthfully give this game an honest review.
The one that I picked up on long ago was the "Special Weapon Damage Bug". You see, there are certain weapons in the game that are supposed to do bonus damage against certain types of enemies. The coral sword vs. seafaring foes, the were sword against werewolves, etc. Anyhow, I always would notice no significant difference increase at all. There was a good reason for this I found out years later- they didn't work properly! Yay! So I wasn't nuts afterall! I decided to delve a bit deeper into these mysterious glitches and bugs from our own GameFAQs site.. Some SPELLS don't even work? A battle retreating glitch? Intelligence doesn't actually DO anything to help spell damage? (Although maybe that's what the programmers wanted, I don't know for sure.)
There are also some annoying parts of the game that everyone will come up against. For whatever reason, the powers that be must have thought nobody would ever have much need of heal potions because you can ONLY BUY ONE AT A TIME!! And it's a slow as hell process too! I used to dread having to buy 99 heal potions, but I had a way around it. I just changed the TV channel and watched some show for 20 minutes while I constantly hit the 'A' button. Not a good thing to be sure! And if one of your party has been poisoned, they are automatically sent to the back of the line. If you're not paying attention, you could have your weaker members like mages suddenly thrust into battle standing on the front lines! This is easily fixed by re-arranging your party, but it IS annoying after the tenth time you have to do it.
Another annoying thing has to to with the undead. To be more precise, the STUNNING variety of undead. I'm telling you, this has got to be one of the most annoying points of the game for sure! There is a chance that you'll be ambushed by a pack of roaming undead, and they'll all get to attack your party first. And I'd say you have roughly a 95% chance for ALL of your characters to get paralyzed by them, making you sitting ducks! Ah yes, you will sit there for an agonizingly long time while your party members are slowly beaten to death. Now, of course the paralyzation wears off after a few rounds- only to be immediately paralyzed AGAIN by the very next enemy. It's not any kind of glitch- just a crappy gameplay element.
Then you get to the section of the review that encompasses parts of the game that might annoy some but I actually really like. First, we have the "ineffective" attacks. This happens all the time in battle mode. You see, at the start of each round you must input your Light Warriors' commands and then the game executes both your party and the enemy party's actions depending on agility. What happens though is if someone goes to attack an enemy that has just been killed by someone else it won't count and you'll get the "ineffective" message. The game does not redirect the attack to the next living enemy automatically like every other game I can think of. I actually think this adds a lot of (unintended?) strategy to the mix. Now you must plan ahead and keep track of which enemy has been wounded the most, and which spells you should cast and when. If an enemy has low HP, don't waste you Fighter's strong attacks against him as he could be killing a fresh one.
The second thing some people don't like is the magic system. Final Fantasy takes a page from the Wizardry or Dungeons and Dragons book by granting spell charges by magic rank instead of the traditional magic point system. Each character who can cast spells has up to 8 ranks of magic which he learns throughout the course of the game. Furthermore, each caster can only buy 3 spells from each rank of magic, so you have to decide carefully before you buy one because once you buy it you're stuck with it forever. Yes, strange as it seems you actually BUY your spells in Final Fantasy rather than learn them through gaining experience. Don't worry though, because you can only gain spell charges for each rank by leveling up. Another bother is that because damage based spells like FIR1 aren't affected by a caster's intelligence, the spell will never grow more powerful. This means you'll be stuck with a lot of low level magic charges late in the game and won't want to cast them because it's basically pointless. There are also some magic items you can use in battle that cast powerful spells at no cost to your party. This might seem good, but it basically makes casting characters not as useful as they should be.
The game also lacks sense of direction. Now dont' get me wrong, I'm all for non-linearness and all, but this game IS a linear game, for the most part. The difference is that it may be hard to figure out where to go next as a lot of times the next place you're supposed to show up at is located halfway around the world. Just make sure that you talk to everyone you see, and hopefully you won't have too much trouble with it.
And finally there are also really rare enemies that you might find while adventuring. The first one I found by accident was a T-REX, and he kicked my ass good. You may also find the elusive Iron Golem, but I haven't yet. And let's not forget the grandaddy of them all... WARMECH!! Warmech is a super-powered death machine that likes to cast NUKE on your whole party! It likes to appear when you don't want to see it the most, usually when your party is running low on HP while running to the fiend Tiamat. Of course, if you actually TRY to find him it will take approximately 10 hours to do so!
It's weird, but if you learn where to go and what to do, the challenge basically boils down to whatever party you chose at the beginning. If you pick a party of 3 Fighters and a White Mage, it's going to be cake. If you chose 3 Thieves and 1 Black Mage, it's going to be hard. To further challenge yourself, people have since invented different ways to make the game harder. Solo quests are not uncommon nowadays, as is the famous 4 White Mage party. You can even attempt to win the game being as low a level as possible or without doing the class change!
There are just so many different character combinations that each time you play you'll get to experience the game in a whole new light! It really is this game's biggest positive point, it's just too bad none of the following games really let you do this in the same way.
+Great Story for an old NES RPG
+Great graphics, especially the enemies
+Amazingly good party creation system that allows hundreds of possibilities
+5 of the starting classes rock!
+You can get your guys promoted to powerful new classes!
+The music in the game is just incredible
+You can sail a ship, row a canoe, and fly in an airship
+Ineffective Attacks add a lot to the strategy
+The magic system is awesome
+Warmech is a badass
-The thief sucks
-The sound effects aren't that great
-The special weapons don't work like they should
-Some spells also don't work like they should
-You may ask yourself "where do I go now?" a bit too much
-You can't buy more than 1 heal potion at a time
-Death by the paralyzation squad SUCKS!
Even with it's shortcomings, this is an amazing classic NES game. I really enjoyed some of the other sequels like Final Fantasy 4 and 6, but this will always be my favorite one. The replayability factor is second to none! It's still worth the $75 price tag today!
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
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