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February 21, 2014

Final Fantasy

YES! This is officially the 25th game I am reviewing for my blog! This calls for celebration! Let's party! ...Oh, right, I partied a week ago. And really enough for a while. Eh, whatever. This is a special occasion, I'm one fourth through to having reviewed 100 games! ...Okay, that's not much, but still...

Name one of the most famous video game series of all time? ...Aside from the Nintendo ones? ...Yep, Final Fantasy. The game that saved Square Enix, so much that now we can't tell when the Hell is it gonna be the true final game. In fact, many reviewers out there have some hatred towards a number of the later titles. Among them Spoony, from The Spoony Experiment. Some of the  recent additions to the series were... um... lacking in quality, and that's to say the least. Regardless of this, any video game legacy had to begin in a way or another. And for Final Fantasy, it was a very regular game that proved to be a lot of fun. A game called... Final Fantasy.

Oh, but don't worry. You know me. When I'm negative, it's because the game really got me angry. It takes a lot to drive me mad. So, I won't be too harsh on this milestone of gaming, the one that began a gigantic series, the one that helped define a genre along with the first Dragon Quest game. Everyone says it's good, so how could I be harsh on it? Let's jump into Final Fantasy and see why people love it so much.

So, you create a save file, and then you get to the character selection screen. Huh, it's fun, you can select the classes of the four characters in your team. You get to choose between six classes: Fighter, Black Belt, Thief, Red Mage, White Mage and Black Mage. You have only four characters, which means you have to choose wisely. On the other hand, you can pick each class more than once, so you can make a team with four Fighters, four Black Wizards or four Black Belts...In other words, you have a LOT of different team combinations possible. Uh...

The quests for those four characters begins... with having to save a princess. Real creative. From an evil wizard. Oh, very creative again. So, the four appear near the little medieval village of Coneria...

No, that's Corneria. And that's a friggin' planet, not a village. Also, Coneria has only one R.

After visiting Coneria, the four heroes head to the nearby Temple of Fiends, where the evil knight Garland is holding the princess captive. Luckily, Garland is defeated pretty easily... which is weird... and so the heroes save the princess.

Well, that was quick. The princess is returned to the castle, and she offers a gift to the team: A lute. That old music instrument that reminds of a guitar, right? What will that be for? Oh well. So, the heroes must travel to the nearer continent, by using the bridge that the King built for them. You'll quickly notice that there's a lot of water surrounding the islands, and clearly at some point those bodies of water will have to be crossed for the adventure to continue. Therefore, the heroes need a boat. To get it, the heroes must first pass by Matoya's cave. Matoya is a witch who uses living brooms around her cave to keep everything tidy. (I just hope she's better at controlling them than Mickey.)

As it turns out, Matoya is blind without her crystal ball, so you need to find it. The group heads to the nearest village, Pravoka, which is being invaded by pirates. Not only that, but by speaking to Captain Bikke, he'll launch his entire crew at you; in other words, he'll Pravoka battle with the heroes. Once his crew is defeated, captain Bikke hands over his ship to the team. Hey, thanks!

On the way, you meet... Mad ponies!
My Little Pony jokes, you better not appear!
By the way, I better mention this right now. You'll notice that for an 8-bit era game, this game is marvelous. The land the heroes travel on is extremely detailed, with mountains, deserts, oceans, rivers, and lots of little details that make it look great. It's all about putting details in a time where it was much more difficult to do so because of technological limitations. Same can be said for the groups of enemies; many of them are very detailed, whether it be the regular enemies or the bosses. For its time, this game was an eye candy.

So, the Light Warriors start navigating the nameless seas of this world, until they reach the Elvish Kingdom. I always wondered if elves were very good at music. Maybe they could make sense of this Lute... Hey, maybe there's an expert in guitars somewhere at the Elvish Kingdom, maybe an Elvish Presley... When the Warriors visit the castle, they learn that the Prince has been put to sleep by a curse, and only a special herb can wake him up. Mayota has the herb. But she wants her crystal ball. Ugh, this is complicated. After a bit of leveling, the heroes head west to reach a little castle, with the very (un-)creative name of Northwest Castle, where a guy will offer his help to cure the Elf Prince, but only if the heroes bring him a crown. Damn!

Continuing west, the heroes finally reach the Marsh Cave, and progress through the cave (which is, by the way, filled with pretty darn powerful enemies), until they reach the lowest floor. They find the treasure chest hiding the crown, but it is protected by a group of evil wizards! And damn, those are dangerous! Seriously, when I played this game for the first time, I had to try again three or four times! It doesn't help that the number of wizards is randomly set, from 2 to 4... A damned hard fight.

So, the Light Warriors must make their way back to the Northwest Castle. They talk again to the benevolent person, who's then revealed to be... the evil one who cursed the Elf Prince! It's none other than the King of the Dark Elves, Astos! And he's real hard to defeat. Luckily, once the fight is over, he leaves behind Matoya's crystal ball. The ball is brought back to Matoya, she hands the cure (magic herbs), the team heads back to Elfland to cure the Elf Prince... Phew. Grateful, the Elf Prince then gives the party a key. This magic key and open any locked door, awesome! Let's loot the castles!

Also, while we're at it, I should mention that you can buy spells for your characters in the villages. There's a very large selection, and as such you can really give your characters a lot of spells to work with. The spells are ranked on eight different levels of power, and the stronger they are, the more Magic Points they cost, but the more useful they become in battle. There's also special spells such as Exit, to leave dungeons and the like. You can also buy all kinds of weapons and protection items for your characters. There's a problem, though; many spells have bugs in their programming, which means they won't work. It's kinda crappy, especially because many of those spells would be very useful. Same goes for special weapons that have additional effects; the effects won't be there. It sucks, but hey, if that's the main complaint so far, we have no reason to complain, right?

Its appearance in the later versions.
More badass than all Cullen!
Once this episode of major rule-breaking is over, time to continue on the quest. The party navigates the waters until it reaches a cave populated by dwarfs, who say that a material named Adamant would create a strong sword. Huh, no wonder Wolverine has this in his body. Continuing on their trip, the heroes discover a village named Melmond, where everything's gone wrong because of a strong vampire. The monster apparently lives in the Earth Cave, a very dangerous place. The party heads there, makes its way through the floors, and ends up meeting the darned vampire. Kill him, in the name of all the vampire haters! Once he's beaten, he leaves behind a Ruby, which will be of use later. It's weird, the vampire felt kind of lame... The team leaves the cave, goes over to a Titan who lets them pass when they give him the Ruby, meet up with a witch named Sarda who gives them a Rod, which is necessary if they want to progress further through the Earth Cave. Phew!

So, back to the Earth Cave, and now the group goes even further, eventually reaching the final room of the dungeon, where an Elemental fiend is waiting for them. The Earth Fiend, the Lich!

No, not that one! Though it would be pretty freaking awesome, I'll give you that. Especially if it was the final boss.

After the Lich is beaten, the group gets the Earth Orb to shine, which means that one fourth of their task is done! Now the team sails to Crescent Lake, located pretty darn far from where they are. Wow, they'll really go everywhere in this game. Anyway, this little town has a circle of sages who explain what the Hell those orbs are. There are four elemental fiends, each of which is guarding an elemental orb. The only way to bring back the peace is to defeat the four fiends and restore all four orbs. After this little meeting with the circle, there are three ways to go; an Ice Cave, the Gurgu Mountain (a volcano where the fire fiend is hidden), or a Cave of Ordeals. No, not the one from The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. By the way, the team gets a Canoe so they can go in small rivers where their ship cannot go.

Yes, it's a six-armed serpent-woman.
The mermaids' evil step-sisters.
If the group goes to the Cave of Ordeals, they have to go up until they find an item that will be important on their quest. They also have to battle a zombie dragon up there. If they go to the Ice Cave, they have quite the challenge before them, as this is one freaking dangerous place. There's also frost dragons down there. When you defeat the ultra-dangerous Eye, you recover the Floater, yet another important item for the quest; attached to your pirate ship, it will now fly you anywhere. That's quite awesome. Flying ships, hurray! Not only that, but by visiting some islands and bringing back the Cave of Ordeals' treasure, all your party members will gain an upgrade! Fighters will become Knights, Black Belts will become Masters, Thiefs will become Ninjas, and Mages will become Wizards. Epic. Time to tackle Gurgu Volcano, a very dangerous place. Well, duh, it's a friggin' volcano after all. Still, at the bottom of this red hot place is the fiend of fire, named Kari. (Note: That just doesn't sound as awesome as Lich.) Once defeated, the second orb now starts glowing.

The group heads to Onrac, and then to a waterfall where a dungeon is hidden. You have to go through this place to recover the Cube, which is necessary to reach the fourth fiend. Then they sail the air to reach a desert where a Caravan is located. They get hints as to where the third fiend might be. And back to Onrac we go! The party finds an underwater shrine, which they venture far and deep into until they reach the third fiend... the Kraken!

No, not that... Okay, kinda like that one.

The team also finds a Slab by that point. An expert in one of the previously-visited villages can translate it, which will reveal the location of the final fiend. What's the next stop? Another desert wasteland, except one with the Mirage Tower in its center. It is a very short dungeon compared to others, but it barely serves as a stairway to Hell; and by Hell, I mean the next dungeon, the Floating Castle, which could not be reached unless the team used the Cube found behind the waterfall.

Okay, I should mention right now that there is one infamous thing to know about this dungeon. Warmech. Every player who encountered this powerful robot on the way to the fourth fiend knows how much of a pain in the ass it can be. Yes, I just swore. It's THAT powerful. Everyone who knows the history of Final Fantasy knows about the goddamn Warmech. It's a memetically hard boss. You have very little chance to meet it, but if you do, you can just start praying. Even worse about this thing: Warmech is met near the end of the dungeon, therefore way far from the entrance...

Now that this inevitable subject has been covered, let's continue. The party moves ahead and meets the final fiend, a multi-headed dragon named Tiamat.

After he's defeated, the four Orbs have been restored! If you need information, know that those four fiends are still around because... because... why, exactly? Uh... It's kind of hard to tell, because of the ...Anyway, after this long adventure, the team heads back to Coneria. There's only one way to end this: The Temple of Fiends! Why weren't the fiends in it? ...Regardless, the party heads inside, puts the Orbs around a dark crystal, uses the lute (ah, it finally has an use!)... and all four get transported two millenniums back in time, when the Temple of Fiends was an immense place housing the four elemental fiends and their leader, Chaos.

If you show me a picture of something else than Final Fantasy 1's Chaos, I rip this review off of Internet, I burn this blog to the ground and finally I shoot my computer tower.

Ah, there you go.

So, as I was about to say, the Light Warriors travel through the Temple of Fiends (boy, something awful must have happened for it to be that way in the game's present times... I'm betting on a Godzilla Stomp.) First comes around a powerful enemy named the Phantom. Then we meet up with old friends: The Lick, Kary, the Kraken and Tiamat. Welcome back, we totally missed you! Luckily, they didn't change much, so... I guess it makes them weaker than before.

This is it, the final fight. The Warriors cross the doorway to the final room, and meet up with... Garland? Wait, did he time travel too? When the Hell did he do that? ...Eh, it doesn't matter. Seems like he learned his lesson from last time, because instead of him fighting you, he summons the Evil God Chaos. The last boss. Get ready for an epic showdown.

And... I'll have to admit... For as epic as this game is, and for as epic as Chaos looks... In the end, I actually thought he was kinda easy to defeat. Don't get me wrong, he wasn't easy to beat per se, but he sure wasn't as hard as a true final boss should be. Still, I believe that this is a pretty good way to end the story. Defeating Chaos and the four elemental fiends resulted in their influence on the present to have never been, and therefore the world of Final Fantasy is at peace, as it hasn't been bothered by demons since two thousand years.

The end.


Really, I totally see why this game defined a genre. It's an excellent game. First off, like I said earlier, the graphics are beautiful for the era and the music isn't half bad (though it, too, was limited by the technology at the time). As for the story, it has more depth than it first seems. The world where all this happens is very complete, having plains, deserts, seas and rivers, volcanoes and cold areas. There's a lot of nice touches, such as having a whole Elf village, pirates raiding the seas (until your party defeats them and gains their ship, anyway), and a community of wizards located further. The world's depth is shown when the heroes find stuff, learn about past events and get enough information about them, but never get to see the events unfold by themselves. As a result, if you don't pay attention, you'll miss important bits of information. Think of the Warmech. Why does it exist? How was it created? Why is there a chance to meet it on a bridge?

Beyond that, one could make the reasonable argument that the story is too simple on first sight. The heroes have to pick up four Orbs, each one representing an element, and these Orbs must be retrieved from the four Elemental Fiends. On the way, to even reach later areas of the game, the party has to find lots of lesser key items that are often as hard to find as the damned Orbs themselves. In the end, most of the story is “go get that item, then go get that one; wait, to get this one you need another one”, and so on. However, it's during this item search that the world's history gets expanded, showing that there's more than meets the eye. It's just a little sad that we get less explanation and we are stuck in this item chase... I'd dare say that there's a lot of exposition around this game's world, and though it is interesting to see beyond the current state of the world, it's still quite sad that we don't actually get to live or even see the so-called important events.

The selection of weapons, armor and spells is extremely large, and as such it is pretty much impossible to get everything in the game. There's lots of nice little secrets to find here and there, too; only walkthroughs can tell you where those secrets are. One example that comes to mind is the peninsula near Pravoka that houses ultra-powerful monsters near the start of the game. The only major complaint is the bugged spells and items that do not work the way they should, but in the end, it doesn't make the game unplayable. On the contrary, in a way it adds a bit more challenge, even if it was unintentional. If you can't use some spells because they're bugged, doesn't that mean that some enemies become harder to defeat? Oh well.

Truly, a masterpiece of its time. I definitely recommend it. Buy it, 500 Wii Points on the Virtual Console, have some good times visiting this world. Money well-spent.

And next week, we continue on our visit of fantasy worlds with the Legend of Zelda series. Or, to be precise, the Top 12 tools from the series. By “tools”, I mean those objects that you cannot complete a dungeon without. That usually means you also have to use it to defeat a boss.

See you soon!