Final Fantasy Origins
With the immense success of the re-release of Final Fantasy Chronicles and Final Fantasy Anthology it was only a matter of time before Squaresoft put out both Final Fantasy and Final Fantasy 2. What is surprising is that Squaresoft chose to release it on the PS1, instead of the Playstation 2. As with Chronicles and Anthology, features added CGI intros and cut scenes and an improved soundtrack to go along with the 'slight'? face lift the game's graphics needed.
This title, even more so then the other re-releases, is for the hard-core Final Fantasy fans only. Even with the updated intros and added features, modern gamers will be put off by it's classic, retro graphics. As it is, Final Fantasy features a generic storyline with nothing noteworthy game-wise. Characters are fairly one-dimensional and the quests (remember, this game is from '87) are simplistic. However, the game's battles and the fact that this game boasted a globe-hopping quest complete with boats and airships (an unheard of concept for a console RPG at the time) and it's easy to see how the franchise developed into what it is today. Players can select four characters and battle through a turn-based combat system in an attempt to rid the world of the Great Darkness enveloping it. Like I said before, the storyline is a bit thin by today's standards, but it is neat to compare this game to others of the time (Zelda).
Final Fantasy 2 is everything right with the series. This is the game that started the strong character development, the exciting storylines that drew players in, and the coolest (and never duplicated) leveling up system of the series. Turn-based combat and simple controls while navigating the world are practically identical to what you see in more recent FF games. As players adventure and fight, characters' actions are reflected in their statistics. For example, if a character gets beaten up badly in a battle, his/her hit points will go up as they are improving their endurance and stamina. If a character becomes proficient with a weapon or magic spell then their attack or magical ability starts improving. Just like real life, as you do something more often, you become better at it. Final Fantasy 2 is the real reason to purchase this disc in my opinion. The game is clearly head and shoulders above FF1.
Musically, the game is awesome. Both games have new theme songs with a stronger sounding score. Other added extras are the bestiaries each game contains, detailing the monsters featured in each of the two adventures, extended scenes in the games plot, and of course the opening cinemas of each game.
I had a real hoot playing these games, as will many others. For some though, it will be a fickle experience. Remember, gamers should be looking past the graphics and more towards what these games really represent. In 1986, the folks at Square had no idea that they were making the first in a long line of massively popular console RPGs. Now, all we have to do is wait for the re-release of Final Fantasy III and gamers can actually own all of the games in this impressive franchise. Here's hoping that Square releases it soon and on the PS2.