original guest post by Ocean is actually fine. Plus the game isn't exactly photogenic enough to be worth showing off a second time. Not that the art's bad, it's just that it's an 8-bit NES game and even at their best they don't tend to be eye candy.
This didn't even reach the West until 1990, well into the 16-bit era, so it must have looked pretty basic to Westerners even at the time. In fact the game didn't get a European release until 2003 as part of the Final Fantasy Origins compilation on the PlayStation. The first FF game released over here was actually Final Fantasy VII, which hit shops a full decade after the franchise began in Japan.
Uh, what was I even talking about again? Whatever, here's a
I've been given no stat points to assign or alignments to decide, but there are six classes I can choose from: Fighter, Thief, Black Belt, and three flavours of Mage. Besides the names there's zero hint here to what each of them is good at, so I decided to bring out a Fighter, a Black Belt, a Black Mage, and another Fighter (just in case), on the theory that the best defence is being able to obliterate all on screen enemies through the application of overwhelming force before they get a chance to really hurt me.
Well my instincts say 'fuck the city, I'm going exploring!' But I suppose I should check what's in my bag first.
Anyway I can't go out exploring like this, I'll need to get some shopping done first.
Huh, Coneria, isn't that the starting planet in Star Fox? Oh wait that's Corneria, never mind.
Annoyingly I can only buy one item at a time (so I can't just get Rapier x2 for my Fighter twins) and they have to be assigned to each character's inventory separately. Plus it doesn't give any info about who can equip each weapon, what kind of stats they have, or whether it's any better than what I already have.
I gotta do all this the hard way, getting the best sword I can afford then giving it to everyone in turn to see if they can even hold it.
Though I only made it about this far before the world went psychedelic and I was dragged off into a random encounter.
The way magic works seems to be a little more D&D than FF, with my Black Mage only getting a few shots from each spell level to fire off before he has to go home and recharge. Fire is a first level spell so I get to use it twice. Not twice in a battle, twice during the entire trip. This makes it even more annoying when he incinerates an empty space because he's too dumb to automatically target the next live enemy.
The Final Fantasy series is so strongly associated with Nintendo and Sony consoles that I was surprised to find out that the first game was ported across to Microsoft's MSX2 computer well before it was released on the NES in the West. This version has more colours and better music than the Famicom original, but otherwise it seems to be the same thing. Though I don't understand a word of Japanese so for all I know they could have rewritten the entire story to be about a gang of four thugs invading the peaceful Imp Kingdom.
You know it occurs to me that I still have no idea what I'm meant to be doing. The townsfolk seem to think the King wants to have a chat with me, so I maybe I should go over to his castle and say hi. Seeing as I'm in the area.
SOME EXPOSITION LATER.
Fortunately killing off all those imps along the way has sharpened my skills, literally giving me the experience I need to take my fighting ability to a higher level. I was already kicking their ass with 20 strength, wait 'til they see what I'm gonna do to them with 21!
I gotta say, the graphics are looking a bit... Game Boy inside this temple. Not really the most impressive visuals I've seen from a NES game. Still it's better than Dragon Warrior's top down look at least.
This version of the game was released as a launch title for the WonderSwan Color handheld in late 2000, 13 years after the original release, and Square seems to have prettied it up a bit in the meantime. The core game appears to be more or less the same, but they've reworked the shops and inventory to be much slicker and it looks and sounds far better. And like the MSX version it was only ever released in Japan so again I have no idea what anything in it says.
Speaking to Sara teleports us all back to the castle and that's the first quest over with.
This cutscene animation was added for the WonderSwan release and there's nothing like it in the original NES game. Which suits me as it goes on a little too long. Okay I get it, you've built a bridge and it's very impressive, let's move on already!
Yep, all that princess rescuing business was just the prologue, like a mini RPG before the main event. It's almost like the game's saying 'right, now we've got the standard cliché damsel in distress storyline out of the way, we're free to do something more interesting!'
Incidentally after the CGI intro's done with, the rest of the cutscenes in the game seem to be taken straight from the WonderSwan game instead. It's possible our spiky purple friend shows up again at the very end for an awesome victory cutscene, but somehow I doubt I'll be getting far enough to see it.
Oh crap, my guys aren't escaping and these ogres are knocking 20 hit points off at a time! They're really beating the shit out of poor Vivi. This is so tragic, I might actually have to use a health potion here.
I figured it out instantly because I'm smart, but it didn't help me much as pushing B and Select doesn't actually do a damn thing. Not here anyway.
Plus I kind of wish they'd given me some clue I had to be outside to use it, as I'd have never figured that out myself.
Each of the four Light Warriors is already carrying a crystal, though in the English translation they've been renamed 'orbs', so I don't think they're going to be any help right now.
The PlayStation game actually seems to be more or less a straight port of the WonderSwan remake, Square somehow resisted the urge to waste millions to give it a full FF9 styled makeover. I can barely tell the difference between the two except for the larger screen and taller sprites. Very very slightly taller sprites. It's got better quality music though and was actually released in English for once, which is a feature I definitely appreciate.
It's probably for the best really, as Bikke the Pirate has taken over this town and is terrorising the citizens and it's probably my duty as a Light Warrior to do something about that at some point. Unfortunately for him Light Warriors can only solve problems in two ways, fetching things and splitting skulls, and no one's asked me for any pirate repellent.
|Game Boy Advance|
It seems that every time this game gets an English release they have to go and re-translate it all. And this time around the writer has got the pirates making Cap'n Crunch jokes. Fortunately I get to beat the shit out of them all.
Fortunately the pirates were all totally useless and I cut through them all in a few turns. After sitting and waiting for them to make their nine crappy attacks... then five crappy attacks...
Alright my new mission is to go find a place that sells lightning magic, or whatever spell water based creatures don't like, then I'm coming back to do some fishing. You know, I think this may actually be the first JRPG to ever feature elemental weaknesses.
The NPCs tell me that Matoya can give me the HERB, but no one seems to want to tell me where Matoya actually is.
To be fair this is actually explained in the manual, using this very example in fact, but the thing is basically a walkthrough for half the game so it explains a lot of things it shouldn't have to, and I don't much feel like spoiling things by reading it.
But first, I need money for better gear, better spells, and health potions. Lots of health potions. So I'm going to have to do some grinding.
The PS1 version has changed the combat so that a character automatically aims at the next enemy along if their original target dies during the turn, which is more typical for a Final Fantasy game. It's nice to not accidentally waste turns hitting an empty space, but it also takes a bit of the strategy out of the game as I don't have to plan around the fact that the enemy I'm going all out on might not be around for much longer.
And by 'takes a bit of the strategy out' I mean I can generally win every battle just by holding down a button without even looking at the screen.
Annoyingly these potions still seem to be the only healing items I can buy and they only restore a tiny amount of HP so I need to carry a lot of them. But I can't just choose HEAL from the list and put the counter up to 30, nope I've got to buy them all individually. Like this.
|Game Boy Advance|
|Game Boy Advance|
Though what I actually do 9 times out of 10 is just hold down the button and win, because I don't know what they've done to this version exactly, but it feels way way easier. Also I'm sure the random encounters are more common, which kind of discourages the use of tactics and, well any thought whatsoever after a while due to the sheer monotony of it.
Can't complain about the GBA game allowing players to save ANYWHERE though. Even in the darkest dingiest depths of the dankest dungeon, no save point, tent or inn required.
Tactically though the battles seem to be playing out as they always have. I don't exactly have much in my tool box here except for the "fight" command. Only Mages get to have options in battle and all those options run out fast.
Plus the poor guy's almost always the first to fall and there's no phoenix down to resurrect him in this. Instead I need to drag him all the way back to a
|Game Boy Advance|
Man they're making me do a lot of running around in this, I'm just glad I got that ship. Oh wait, damn, the mystic KEY! I've been looking for that thing since Garland's temple right at the start (yellow square, top left). Now I can finally go around and open all the locked doors and claim the wondrous bounty sealed within.
Right, I guess now I have to go travel the land and find out who wants some TNT. Hopefully someone willing to give me something in return.
So here I am deep down in the dungeon kicking ass and taking treasure, but I have to stop every few battles to reorganise my team, as every time someone gets poisoned they get shuffled down to the bottom of the formation. Why, I have no bloody idea.
With my two heavy hitters still active I managed to fight my way back out of the dungeon, dragging the statues of my friends down the corridors the whole way, until I reached daylight and freedom! And then I was immediately attacked by a gang of geists who stunlocked my fighters and chipped away at their health 3 damage at a time until I lost. The end.
Final Fantasy definitely isn't the greatest JRPG ever created, but I can't help but like the game anyway. It's simple and I can't really say there's any real story to it beyond 'Light Warriors, we need you to fetch X to sort out Y', but I found it pretty addictive. I always felt like playing it just a bit longer to get the current dungeon finished off or earn cash for the next sword. Plus despite all the failed expeditions, pointless fetch quests, and dead end paths in dungeon, I never felt like I'd made a wasted trip as I always crawled back to town with some extra XP and little cash to spend on potions and healing, and ended up a little bit more formidable thanks to the lack of enemy level scaling. It doesn't take much work to get to the next set of gear fortunately and levelling up hasn't been a massive grind.
The game was always a little bit vague on what I had to do next though and I often had to talk to every single NPC in town until I reached the one with useful info, but I appreciate how it usually left me to do my thing without constantly dragging me into cutscenes. The closest the game came to exploring someone's back-story was when Arylon the Dancer told me she was called Arylon and was a dancer. I'm not saying cinematic storytelling and character depth are a bad thing, but after losing patience with Final Fantasy VII's heavily story driven Midgar chapter last month, I've learned to appreciate a game that just lets me get on with it.
Gameplay wise though, FF7 kicks this game's ass. Still, I can see myself playing this some more, so it's earned a gold star.
Hi, if you'd like to add your own opinions to the already beyond excessive amount of crap I just wrote, you're welcome to leave a comment.