Final Fantasy was a fantasy RPG developed by Square and released in 1987 for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). This game was so successful it kickstarted the franchise of the same name.
It all begun with Hironobu Sakaguchi, video game designer and producer, who wanted to create a western-style RPG.
The tabletop game Dungeons & Dragons as well as other RPG such as Ultima and Wizardry had a huge influence on Sakaguchi’s vision. Thanks to his brilliance, Final Fantasy became a hit and eventually saved Square from bankruptcy.
Because of its popularity, Square made multiple versions for consoles such as the Japanese WonderSwan Color, Sony PlayStation, and even the Game Boy Advance.
Square eventually published a Final Fantasy remake for the PlayStation Portable (PSP) in 2017. It featured better graphics, remixed soundtrack, a bestiary, and more dungeons. This article will focus on this particular version.
Final Fantasy’s setting is a fantasy unnamed world that consists of three huge continents. Four elemental orbs that rule over the elements (water, earth, wind, and fire) keep peace on these lands.
Over the past 400 years, each of the orbs darkened, with their correspondent continent falling into chaos as a result. Only 4 warriors of light can save this world that got completely thrown into disarray.
The game allows players to create the party’s characters and select their classes, and the end goal of these heroes is to purify the orbs to stop the chaos.
The first task we will have to accomplish is head off to the destroyed Chaos Shrine; fight the evil knight Garland, and rescue princess Sara.
When he gets defeated, Garland releases the four fiends of chaos, who then proceed to head to four different dungeons to guard the darkened orbs. It’s to the heroes to defeat these monsters and restore the orbs.
The plot feels a little underwhelming, but given the time of release, this story was something epic back in the 80s.
A year before Square published this, Dragon Quest was already out, and developers created Final Fantasy as a contrast to the formulaic plot with a deeper story.
As a result, Final Fantasy introduced and established many of the tropes inherent to the RPG genre.
When it comes to the PSP version, developers overhauled everything so the game could fit the generation at time of release.
The sprite work echoes the original game while bringing more to the table. Everything from overworld movement and attack animations to the menu screen got upgraded.
Like the Legend of Zelda, Final Fantasy sets the standard for chimes and menu sound effects, which would eventually become the staple in the following entries.
The presentation is solid. The original Final Fantasy was one of the pioneers of the RPG at its time, and this upgraded version does justice to a game with such a huge legacy.
The gameplay is the first version of the basic RPG. You’re going to travel the overworld from a zoomed out view. Battles happen at random, and they tend to pop up a lot. That’s useful when you need to level up so you can fight bosses.
But, once you’re ready for battle and want to go somewhere, these random encounters become a little annoying.
When you enter a battle, you have a chance of getting a preemptive strike or getting ambushed. The first situation allows players to attack first; the second would mean the enemy gets to make a move first.
This game invented the iconic screen that places your party at one side and the enemy in the other. Combat occurs in a turn-based system.
Players can choose six different classes for their party members.
The fighter dish out and receive most damage, the thief offers support and helps the party to run away from battles, and the monk is a classic glass cannon (hits incredibly hard but has a low defense).
Fighters can level up until becoming knights, which grants access to better equipment and even some magic too.
The thief can get promoted to ninja, which gives the character black magic and useful weapons.
Monks can become grand masters. At that point, their damage output increases exponentially.
The black mage specializes in damaging spells, the white mage can heal the other characters, and red mage is a mix of the black and white mage, filling support and offensive roles at the same time.
When it comes to the mage class, every time players level up their magic ability, they can only buy and equip three spells in that tier. So, you’ll have to buy spells and plan according to your current needs and the characters’ level.
A lot of this game comes down to grinding. Sometimes that could feel exhausting, which people can expect from such an old RPG. Also, the extra challenges are too long and tedious.
Final Fantasy won’t give too much trouble to experienced RPG players. This remake is decent enough to attract newcomers, but it doesn’t give veteran gamers many reasons to revisit this game.