I had to do a bit of prep work before settling in to play Final Fantasy Origins
. I found my SNES and Turbografx 16, started playing games like Chrono Trigger, Donkey Kong Country
, and Bonk’s Revenge
. You see, Final Fantasy Origins is not for the new school kids who loved Final Fantasy 7
and everything else that came with the 32-Bit era. This collection takes you back to a simpler time, when you didn’t need a party of ten or more characters, when the story was simple, and the music was a synth masterpiece.
Final Fantasy Origins is a reworking of Squaresoft’s Final Fantasy 1
and the previously unreleased Final Fantasy 2. Both games feature updated graphics, some FMV, new soundtracks, the ability to run, and re-written dialogue, but is it enough to keep them afloat in the time of games like Xenosaga
, or Breath of Fire
? In three words, yes and no. Despite being quite simple and easy, the old school graphics and sound are something that will turn off a lot of gamers and that is quite unfortunate because these two games have truly been able to withstand the test of time.
Final Fantasy 1 follows the story of the four nameless heroes of the crystal, who are out to do a fine smiting to the forces of evil. You start with the basic party of four people, and are given choices as to which class you want them to be. Your choices include the bruiser Warrior, the lucky Thief, the ass-kicking Monk, the invaluable Whte Mage, the powerful Black Mage, and the jack of all trade magician, Red Mage. You’re able to choose four members in any combination. Want a party of white mages? Go for it. Of course withouth the proper balance of the party you’ll find yourself stuck in many predicaments which could end with your controller through the TV screen.
The graphics have recieved a very nice 16-bit level upgrade with all the characters getting new animations both in and out of battle. The monsters have received a piece of the graphical action and now look really good, however in order to keep things running smoothly still remain motionless and simply flash before attacking. Magic has also recieved some more special effects, no more three frames of animation for a Bolt spell.
The music is quite a step up from the synth days of the ‘80s. The music is not Nobuo Uematsu work but it is still quite impressive and fitting.
Buying magic? What kind of nonsense is this? Yep, in Final Fantasy 1 magic is purchased and fitted into one of three slots made for each magic level. Magic goes from level 1 to 8 and buying spells at times can be costly. And then there is the whole gaining levels in order to use the magic, so you can’t simply use it out of the box. The system is good, but it is something I don’t miss in the current Final Fantasy games.
If you remember playing this game in the past then you can’t possibly forget having up to nine enemies on screen at once. This doesn’t happen often but when it does you can expect the experience and money to be through the roof. This also cranks up the difficulty of the game considerably, especially when the enemies get pre-emptive attacks, and they will happen often. Simply put, this game is hard at times if you don’t know what you are doing. Fighting the bosses is easy, getting to them and leaving the dungeon after beating them is the hard part. Unless you’ve stocked up heavily on potions and made good use of your memo file, expect to get easily frustrated.
The story is wonderfully simplistic, four nameless warriors are out to save the world as evil gathers across the land. Each of these warriors of light bears a crystal that proves they are the chosen one. You are quickly sent on your quest as the King of Corneria asks you to find his daughter. Once the prologue is complete the game truly gets underway. But unfortunately the game and story lack direction which will leave you wondering where to go more often than not.
Of the two games I must say that I enjoyed Final Fantasy 2 more. Final Fantasy 2 focuses on four friends, Firion, Maria, Gus and Leon who lived in the town of Fynn, which has been sacked by the evil empire led by the emporer of Palamecia. Leon has gone missing after defending his friends and now the search is on to find him. Thankfully this story has better pacing than Final Fantasy 1. The clues you are given throughout the quest that you can memorize will be invaluable to making progress in your quest.
One of the very interesting things about this game is learning key words from people which later can get you into certain areas or more information on your quest. Another aspect of the game that deserves mention is the way characters are leveled up. There are no experience points. Rather your performance in fights will affect how you level up. The more you attack, the higher your accuracy goes up. However if you attack too much you start to lose black magic abilites. This also allows you to play how you want to play, much like Final Fantasy 1, although you’re not stuck with the class you choose right from the start. And once again magic is purchased at stores. However spells can be transferred between people, you can equip the spells to your party, rather than have them mastered by one person. Magic spells also have experience points that are gained every time the spells are used. The higher your level of mastery the more potent the spell will be.
The graphics of Final Fantasy 2 are noticably better than that of Final Fantasy 1, the characters are given a bit more detail, and their animation is better. But it still has the still model enemies which are capped at eight in this game. The world and area maps look really nice. Other than that though the graphics are a standard 16-bit fare.
The sound of the game is like that of Final Fantasy 1. Take some tracks, remix them so that they no longer sound like something that came out of a synthesiser and there you have it, quite fitting and beautiful if you ask me.
If there has to be a recurring problem with both of these games that people will complain about it is going to be the random battles. They occur at sometimes ridiculous frequency. Exiting a battle and then taking another step and getting into another fight isn’t the most pleasant experience and at times only serves to increase the time on the game counter. But compared to when Final Fantasy 1 was on NES, the pacing was slow enough that this was not a problem. Still, fans of the more current Final Fantasy titles will more than likely gripe about this to no end. That and perhaps the lack of an angst ridden main character. Yet another reason why these games are greater than that of today. In these games it wasn’t the whiny main character, it was the group fighting for a cause right off the bat. Some will argue the lack of character development, but its not needed in this game. Besides, the games were originally released in the ‘80s, character development wasn’t the important aspect it is today.
The graphics of old obviously stand no chance in today’s 128-bit world. But that shouldn’t stop you from picking up a piece of RPG history. For thirty bucks you can really do no wrong in picking up this game. Get ready to experience the fantasy that started it all. Havin' a little trouble goin' old-school? Then we recommend you check out BradyGames' excellent strategy guide to get back in touch with your roots.
Ah nostalgia, the greatest love/hate emotion out there. Plenty is present as Square kicks it... OLD SCHOOL with Final Fantasy Origins.