Other Characters

ARRYLON, THE DANCER!


The legend herself.


MATOYA


A blind, cave-dwelling witch whose Crystal of sight was stolen. When you return her Crystal she helps you out by giving you a special herb to awaken the sleeping Elf Prince, but then becomes inexplicably nasty. What an ingrate.


TALKING BROOMS


Like fifty times cooler than Chocobos and twice as cool as Moogles. Why they only appear in the first game is beyond me.


THE ELF PRINCE


He's been put under a sleeping spell by Astos and it's your job to wake him up so you can move onto more important matters. Elves suck.


DOCTOR UNNE


Famous linguist and baller of the Final Fantasy world. Everyone's heard of the U-Dawg, as he's known in Melmond.


THE CIRCLE OF SAGES


Twelve wise men led to Crescent Lake by stars and prophecy. As dispensers of wisdom, plot developments and canoes, the Circle is an okay bunch of guys by me. Tuesday is Bingo Night.


BAHAMUT


There was actually a time when Bahamut wasn't a summon spell. Wild, right? Warriors who want to prove their worth can seek out Bahamut in the Cardia Islands and submit to his test of courage.


THAT OTHER PIRATE


Son of a bitch.


AND SO, THEIR JOURNEY BEGINS...

Maybe you're not convinced. It's twenty years old, you say. It's unforgiving, unsophisticated, and kind of unoriginal. It's too clunky and to dissimilar to today's games to have any relevance anymore. Final Fantasy sucks. I beg to differ, and offer twenty reasons why.

1.) Vehicles. Final Fantasy had three of them, which is three more than you usually got in an NES adventure game. People take them for granted now -- especially airships. They've become a cliche at this point. These days it's strange when you don't get some sort of flying machine in an RPG. Final Fantasy was the first JRPG to give you one, and in 1990 it was one of the coolest things in a game ever.

2.) The bosses. Final Fantasy has some memorable ones. Just as you start getting the hang of fighting them after beating Garland, Astos, and the Vampire and are feeling confident, it throws Lich at you. I appreciate how Final Fantasy always ups the ante.

3.) While Final Fantasy doesn't have towns like Midgar or Zozo just yet, its cities are still more colorful than those of its contemporaries. Elfland, Melmond, and Crescent Lake are much easier to differentiate than Adventure of Link's Rauru, Saria, and Mido.

4.) Ancient high-tech civilizations are another JRPG cliche at this point. It took off with Final Fantasy.

5.) It's also taken for granted that you'll encounter villages or cities inhabited by races other than humans in most RPGs. Final Fantasy kicked this off as well with places like Elfland, the Dwarf Cave, and the Cardia Islands.

6.) Magic. Dragon Warrior has nine spells, Dragon Warrior II has thirteen, Magic of Scherezade has nineteen, and the NES port of Ultima IV has 24. Final Fantasy has 64.

7.) Some people give this game flak because there's no character development. Please. Don't try and tell me Rinoa, Selphie, Quina, Zidane, Tidus, Yuna, and Wakka wouldn't have been exponentially better without dialogue or personalities.

8.) Succeeding at Final Fantasy means knowing how to choose your battles. You have limited resources and no Guardian Forces or Limit Breaks to save you in a pinch. Strategy outside of combat is just as important as strategy during combat.

9.) This is Final Fantasy before Sephiroth existed, which means there are no moody bishonen types and/or Gackt clones anywhere to be seen. We were all better off without them.

10.) There aren't any gimmicky weapons, with the possible exceptions of the Katana, Xcalibur, and Masamune (the three strongest swords in the game). Some people may grudge Final Fantasy for that, but I kinda miss the days when a sword was just a damn sword.

11.) I like the spell "charges" in Final Fantasy. They probably would work so well in later games, but certainly do here. One of the reasons Dawn of Souls turned out so terribly was the massive tilt caused by the changes to the magic system.

12.) Final Fantasy has aged remarkably well. Better than Dragon Warrior, at any rate. Pressing "A" to go up and down stairs is a little too vexing.

13.) Class Changes are amazing fun. To the best of my knowledge, Final Fantasy had them first.

14.) Ice enemies are weak against fire. Fire enemies are weak against ice. Water enemies are weak against lightning. Only seems natural, right? Not before Final Fantasy. I'm fairly certain it also introduced the concept of elemental weaknesses.

15.) The final dungeon. It's nice form for a story to come full circle. I'm certain anyone who played Final Fantasy back in the day had a heart attack when Lich unexpectedly reappeared on floor B1, then had another one when they put two and two together and realized the other three Fiends were probably lurking elsewhere.

16.) Final Fantasy has pirates. About twelve of them.

17.) Before Omega Weapon, before Emerald and Ruby Weapon, before Siegfried, before even Shinryuu and Omega, there was the Warmech. You do not want to bump into this guy in the Floating Castle.

18.) That nine-note "victory" tune that's been remixed in just about every other Final Fantasy game. I'll never get sick of hearing it.

19.) God, I don't know. Uh...it has good graphics, given when it was released. The monster sprites look like they were copied right out of Amano's sketchbook.

20.) Garland.

Final Fantasy (NES)

Final Fantasy (NES)

Final Fantasy (NES)

Final Fantasy (NES)

Final Fantasy (NES)

Final Fantasy (NES)

OTHER VERSIONS

The original Final Fantasy has seen a number of ports and revisions. The earliest was on the Japanese MSX 2 computer system, and it's nearly identical to the Famicom version. The most striking difference is the game's colors. The MSX 2 has a better capacity for color than the Famicom, and the port takes full advantage of this (and looks somewhat gaudy by comparison). According to Wikipedia, there were also a few minor alterations such as switched dungeon themes, changed item prices, and a reworking of how the Black Belt's barehanded attack damage is calculated.

In 2000, Final Fantasy received a makeover and was ported to the handheld 16-bit Wonderswan Color. The WSC version is essentially a carbon copy of the Famicom/NES version with a major aesthetic upgrade. There are a few somewhat minor gameplay changes, and most are actually for the better. An autotargetting option can be toggled, making your characters attack a different enemy if the one they were aiming at has already been terminated instead of just taking swings at empty air. There is unlimited equipment space, enabling your party to carry more than only sixteen weapons and sixteen pieces of armor at once. Special weapons and spells that didn't work properly in the NES version have been fixed. Soft potions and revivification spells can be used in battle. Many enemies, including most bosses, have received significant HP boosts. There are also a few new tunes, notably a new boss theme.

This version was ported to the PSOne a few years later as a standalone release (Japan only), which then appeared in Final Fantasy Origins (with the similarly upgraded Final Fantasy II) in NA and PAL territories. The PSOne ports are almost exactly the same as the WSC version, but with some slightly polished graphics, a brand new arranged soundtrack, an opening FMV, and omake stuff like a bestiary and a concept art gallery. You can play with the original NES ruleset, or an Easy mode, which changes the magic system and upgrades the strength of your characters. All things considered, the PSOne ports probably do the most justice to the NES Final Fantasy.

In 2004, a modified Final Fantasy Origins was released on the Gameboy Advance as Final Fantasy I & II: Dawn of Souls. Its Final Fantasy I is a mess. The graphics are roughly the same, but the music is terribly downgraded and the CG cutscenes are gone. More importantly, however, the challenge is totally absent. The optional Easy mode introduced in the PSOne version is now the standard difficulty level, and it cannot be altered. The MP charges have been replaced with the now-standard MP gauge, causing the magic system to lose any semblance of balance. Game data can be saved in dungeons, which is convenient, but does little to make such a blitheringly simple game any less so. The GBA port's biggest selling point is the Soul of Chaos bonus dungeons, which contain troves of new items and equipment, as well as four sets of boss fights with memorable villains from Final Fantasy III through VI. Fighting FF1-style battles against Enchidna, Rubicante, and Doom Gaze is pretty cool, but traversing the dungeons themselves is so grinding and monotonous that it's barely worth the effort.

Finally, there is Final Fantasy Anniversary Edition, which was recently released for the PSP. FFAE is really just Final Fantasy I, based on the GBA version, with another coat of paint, restored omake and arranged music from the PSOne game, and yet another bonus dungeon. Even though its Labyrinth of Time seems a lot more interesting than the Soul of Chaos dunegons, Final Fantasy Anniversary Edition is still a revamp of a revamp of a port of a revamp of a twenty year old NES game and probably not worth rushing out and buying a PSP for.

MP3s Download here (Includes NES, WS, GBA, and PSOne)

Main Theme
Battle

VERDICT

Rudimentary as it may seem by today's standards, this is where Final Fantasy began. No matter how much better you think Final Fantasy VII or X is, the fact remains that they wouldn't exist without this game. For that matter, neither would Chrono Trigger, Secret of Mana, Final Fantasy Tactics, Super Mario RPG, Parasite Eve, and all those other Square games that have enhanced your sentient existence over the years. And given how influential Final Fantasy was on the genre as a whole, it's also a safe bet that without this game there wouldn't be any Xenosaga, Shadow Hearts, Breath of Fire, Lufia, Suikoden, the Tales series, Grandia, Phantasy Star, etc. -- or at least not as we know them now, anyway. I imagine if Final Fantasy had never emerged to counter the influence of the massively successful Dragon Quest, most developing JRPG series would have turned out much more similar to DQ. And that would have been a shame, because Dragon Quest is lousy and overrated.

Final Fantasy was -- and in many ways still is -- a remarkable game. Every JRPG fan owes themselves to play through it at least once, if for no other reason than to see the humble origins of the least humble video game franchise in existence. And seriously, stop moaning about it being too difficult. I beat it when I was in the second grade.

Final Fantasy (NES)

Final Fantasy (NES)

Final Fantasy (NES)

Final Fantasy (NES)

Final Fantasy (PSP)

Final Fantasy (PSP)

Comparison Screenshots - Map

NES

MSX

Wonderswan

Playstation

Gameboy Advance

Playstation Portable

Comparison Screenshots - Battle

NES

MSX

Wonderswan

Playstation

Gameboy Advance

Playstation Portable

Next: Final Fantasy II - The Terrible Two's

Back to Final Fantasy - Page 1

Back to the index