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Final Fantasy (NES) artwork

Final Fantasy (NES) review

"It receives a lot of acclaim simply because of the name that it carries. It has very little to do with the other games in the series."

Final Fantasy for the Nintendo Entertainment System is the game that started the whole craze. It was originally released in Japan, but eventually found its way to the United States. The other two Final Fantasy games released in Japan for the NES weren't so lucky.

It's a bit of a mystery why they never did quite get over here. Final Fantasy 1 sold very well, and it got excellent coverage from the gaming magazine of the day (Nintendo Power). They remained in Japan though.

In Final Fantasy, you assemble a group of four warriors to save the world. You do this by defeating the four elemental fiends (earth, fire, water, air) and releasing the power that they stole and captured in orbs. You'll have a few additional tasks including this main one, but the gameplay is very linear.

The above description is the extent of the story. There's one major twist towards the end of the game, but for the most part, you can pick up all you need from the instruction manual. You can't really hold this against the game though, as no other RPG on the NES at this time had an outstanding story either.

The gameplay of Final Fantasy resembles Dragon Warrior 2 then Final Fantasy 3. A ''three point'' scale is implemented: max HP is 999, as opposed to ''four point'' scale's max of 9999, and most damage goes for three digit numbers. It's all turn based, as you and the opponent take turns whacking each other.

At the start of your journey, you get your choice from six character classes. The fighter is a powerful weapons master. The black belt's hands are lethal weapons, and he can evade attacks more easily. The thief combines the equipment ability of the fighter with the speed of a black belt. The white mage uses support and curing magic. The black mage uses attack magic. The red mage combines a fighter, white and black mage, although not as effectively in one aspect as them.

With all these different classes, it makes every trip through Final Fantasy different. There's no limit, so if you wish you can have four white mages or two theifs and two red mages, etc. The possibilities are endless, and heightened by the fact that half-way through the game you can upgrade your class' abilities.

There's tons of exotic weapons to sort through, from axes to swords to nunchucks. Name an enemy type (wolf, giant, magic user) and you can find a weapon made for dispatching them (Wolf Sword, Giant Sword, Rune Sword). Special armors, helemts, and gloves are also included in the course of the game. Keep in mind that each character only has four inventory spots for weaponry.

In a change from a lot of games, magic is bought at stores. This wouldn't be a problem, except that you're limited to three different spells at each level. This never becomes a huge issue because a lot of the spells are worthless and not worth purchasing. There's also a limit to how many you can cast. Level 1 spells are easier to get casting points for then say Level 7. So you have to budget your most powerful spells and save them for the truely hard enemies.

Items play a crucial role in the game. For the most part, you'll use healing potions to heal yourself, especially if you don't have a white or red mage. The menu interface in the item stores could have been better; you have to purchase each potion individually, which can take around 3 to 5 minutes to get 99 unless you have a turbo controller.

The monsters are much harder then other Final Fantasy game, but this is not saying much at all. It's still easier then a Dragon Warrior game. They're difficult but not impossible to beat, and an average gamer should be challenged but not overwhelmed.

With all of these things going for it, Final Fantasy sounds like a great game. However, there's two main issues bringing the fun factor down: the battles are mostly boring except for boss fights and there isn't enough gold to go around.

It would be fine if you could just hold down the attack button when battles started to automatically attack all your enemies. However, if you kill an enemy, your other allies are still set to attack that enemy. If he's dead, then they just strike thin air. This is incredibly annoying and frustrating, and forces you to manually choose who you attack each time. It doesn't help that these battles happen a LOT, each three or four steps.

The gold situation in the game is a mess. There's ALWAYS a need for gold. You have equipment, magic, and items to buy. It takes an exhorbanant amount of gold to obtain all these, and the monsters you slay don't help in this aspect. Most of them don't leave enough. You'll spend a lot of time killing monsters just to obtain gold.

Graphically, Final Fantasy has some nice features. Everything is bold and colorful. There's animations for each and every spell and weapon you might use. Unfortunately, there's no animations for any of the enemy attacks. Still, they're sharp for an early NES game.

The sounds are also strong. The main theme is prevalient throughout the game, and the music varies from place to place. The effects are not nearly as good, with a weak hodgepodge of blips and noises.

Final Fantasy is a good solid RPG effort on the NES, but it's not outstanding. There's many places it could have been strengthened. It receives a lot of acclaim simply because of the name that it carries. It has very little to do with the other games in the series. Neverthless, it is recommended that you give it a try. It can be found at most used game places for 3 to 10 bucks.

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Community review by sgreenwell (Date unavailable)

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