Final Fantasy

aFinal Fantasy USA 188x266 Final Fantasy NES Nintendo Review ScreenshotDeveloper: Square
Publisher: Nintendo

Released: May 1990
US Cartridge ID: NES-FF-USA

Players: 1
Genre: RPG
Supported Peripherals: Controller

ROM Size: 2 megabit
Mapper: MMC1 (256k PRG)

Requires Flash10

The orbs of light that drive the world have gone dark, the balance they have long provided shattered. The wind ceases, the seas rage, fire engulfs the countryside, and the earth itself is beginning to die. As villages disappear and the desperate survivors are beset by Final Fantasy USA 055 256x224 Final Fantasy NES Nintendo Review Screenshotchaos, the people’s final hope rests on a prophecy.  The great sage, Lukahn, foretells the coming of four legendary warriors that would appear one day, destined to deliver the world from darkness. Four strangers from distant lands approach the city of Corneria, each carrying a lifeless orb, ready to face their fates.

Final Fantasy tasks the player with guiding these four warriors on their quest. In typical RPG style, they travel via an overhead world map dotted with cities and castles (where players may buy needed supplies, rest at an inn, or learn valuable hints that will aid in their journey), and caves and dungeons (housing fierce foes that wreak havoc on the populace while guarding treasure and vital quest items). The majority of the action takes place through menu based commands: a status screen allows the player to view important character statistics, to use inventory items, to cast spells, or to change equipment. The battle system is driven by a simple menu, prompting the player to fight, use magic, use an item, or flee.

Final Fantasy innovates a fair amount on the ideas in the games that it draws its direct Final Fantasy USA 087 256x224 Final Fantasy NES Nintendo Review Screenshotinfluence from (Dragon Warrior, Ultima). Interactions with people and objects are far simpler and more intuitive than in most NES-era RPGs. Stepping on a set of stairs will automatically move the player to the next floor, and to open a chest, speak to a castle guard, or read an inscription, the player need only to position their character in front of the thing to interact with and press the A button. This streamlining of play also impacts the battle scenes in a significant way: rather than being forced to read full explanations of each action, windows quickly pop up showing what action was taken and to what effect, dramatically speeding up the inherent crawl of a turn-based battle system. The changes to the traditional inventory system are welcome – though each warrior is limited to carrying eight pieces of equipment at a time, usable items are pooled into a shared inventory. The party can hold 99 of each item at a time, allowing the player to horde healing items for a particularly difficult dungeon if they so like. Final Fantasy also introduces a novel magic system. Rather than using magic points, spells are tiered by power and efficacy, and those capable of spellwork are granted a limited number of uses Final Fantasy USA 294 256x224 Final Fantasy NES Nintendo Review Screenshotof spells from each tier.

The biggest innovation made by Final Fantasy is in the way it lets the player shape their party. Before starting out, the player must choose which classes they would like each of the four party members to be assigned. The party can include fighters (heavy weapons and armor), black belts (little armor, but extremely fast and powerful when unarmed), thieves (good equipment, easily can run from battles), white mages (healers), black mages (offensive magic), and red mages (balance of physical strength and magic power, though not excelling in either). Each class plays differently, and any combination of classes can be chosen for a party, allowing for customization based on individual playing styles. After training with the legendary dragon, Bahamut, each of these classes will be upgraded, unlocking some excellent abilities and powers late in the game.

Final Fantasy‘s graphics are outstanding for an 8-big RPG, with excellent monster designs and detailed dungeons and building interiors. The music is fantastic, with many of the Final Fantasy USA 547 256x224 Final Fantasy NES Nintendo Review Screenshotseries’ most recognizable songs debuting in this first entry. The difficulty is usually reasonable, and the amount of time needed to train levels is minimal, preventing the experience from stagnating. The story is relatively deep for a game of its era, though it can’t rival the philosophical depth of some earlier RPG’s ported from the PC. Despite the fact that your characters don’t speak at all, the game provides enough clues to avoid making the player confusedly wander for hours without direction. The battle system, unfortunately, is riddled with programming bugs, making specific weapons and spells behave in unexpected ways, which does become an issue later in the game.

Though not perfect by any means, Final Fantasy is an impressive achievement that served to fuel the further development of the RPG. Great graphics, high-quality music, and well balanced play (along with the incredibly well put together instruction book and map packaged with the cartridge) make Final Fantasy a classic.

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