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Monday, August 17, 2015

Final Fantasy (ファイナルファンタジー)

I "missed" out on the NES because I was blessed with a Sega Master System as a kid. All those hours playing awesome games like Zillion and Astro Warrior could have instead been spent on blowing cartridges and pressing reset like a million times. I still remember going to some kid's house and watching him trying to play his NES and I was like WTF? Also Kung Fu on the NES is so shitty that it makes Kung Fu Kid look like the best game of all time.

Anyways, what I'm TRYING to say is that's my excuse for missing out on Final Fantasy until I played the PSP version recently. I started this thing where I decided to play stuff in order. That way, by the time I catch up to the latest entry, it'll already be like 8 years old and cheap. (In other words, I'll never catch up but shhhh, I'm in denial about my backlog).

10 year lag in my case aka BDS (Backlog Denial Syndrome)
However, I'm not as crazy as to play every version of the same game so no indepth look at how this game has evolved over time or platform differences. Having said that, does the 2007 PSP release of this 25+ year-old game hold up to the test of time?

To be blunt. No.

At least they added a nice cool new intro in the PSP version. Of course, the game looks nothing like the intro and from what I understand, is pretty much the same game as the earlier versions with better sprites (correct me if I'm wrong).

SPOILER: Game looks nothing like the OP

This is another one of those "classic" turn-based RPGs where the gameplay mostly consists of walking a few steps, then holding down one button for a while for each random encounter. As usual, the only thing that requires even looking at the screen is to heal your party every once in a while. A perfect example of a multitask title for the gym, commute, or in my case, another (better) game.

I can imagine that if you're a kid with endless hours to kill, FF1 is a great game as it's filled with a wonderfully high encounter rate and is extremely coy about where you're supposed to go next (yeah yeah, retro, I know, but it still sucks). There's a dancer in the first town that tells you what to do next so even though it was a pain to go back there (no Chocobos yet), at least you could progress. But eventually, even she stops giving hints and just wants to dance (no thanks, sprites are not my thing). So unless you want to waste countless hours wandering around with that god awful encounter rate, gamefaqs here we come. You can even miss the class change without a guide, which is probably the coolest part of the game.

The craziest part of the game was when I spent probably HOURS trying to figure out how to navigate the lava in the volcano. Turns out, you're supposed to just WALK on the lava, take the HP hit, and just SUCK IT UP. Talk about some hardcore adventurers.

Too hot? YOU WIMP!! Lava is like only 1,000 C degrees!
The story was actually interesting in its simplistic and rudimentary way. It has everything you can imagine. Of course Elves and Dwarfs but then it busts out vampires, witches, a sunken palace, the works. I guess it's pretty good for its time. The last boss was certainly creative and unexpected. In today's standards though, its pretty bare. Not much more story than even a Ys game especially given that your generic 4 heroes have absolutely zero character development.

The music was good of course especially if you're an addict of that FF nostalgia juice but that sound before each random encounter was just irritating as hell as if to rub in your face: "Here's ANOTHER random encounter, SUCKA!"


I guess the only real saving grace of this game is that it's fairly short. The PSP version has a bunch of extra dungeons and whatnot you can do but unless there's some story involved (which I doubt given the light story of the main game), the tedious gameplay is simply not rewarding enough to merit torturing yourself any longer than necessary.

Score: 1.5 meh at least I got to workout at the gym while playing out of 5.

Optional +.5 bonus for its legacy and maybe it was great for its time? factor.

Scale
0 - Awful
1 - Bad and not worth your time
2 - Has some flaws but still enjoyable
3 - An average enjoyable experience
4 - A great game
5 - Masterpiece of a caliber only found very rarely

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