Final Fantasy 1 isn’t the first thought when people mention Final Fantasy, despite being the first in the legendary series. It even got a Pixel Remaster recently! So it must’ve done something right… right?
Let’s delve in and find out. I typically like longer RPGs with enthralling stories. You won’t get that with Final Fantasy 1, however, I actually find that to be endearing here. It was Square’s first major hit, led by Hironobu Sakaguchi, who at the time hadn’t released any successful games. Much like Mega Man 2, which was a game that had love put into it so people could see what they wanted to make, the same happened with Final Fantasy 1. Sometimes, I like short RPGs. It’s nice to have a game where it’s comfortable, fun, and you just have a good time with for the short time you play it. Shortness also helps with it’s replayability. Long RPGs are great, but if you just want a quick burst of RPG that you can beat quickly, that’s another plus. That being said… the story is mostly non-existent. Four warriors show up in the kingdom of Corneria with four crystals because they’re the chosen ones. You defeat the fiends that are draining the crystals of their power and fight the villain who was controlling them all along in the end. There’s some bits and pieces here and there (and admittedly, a fairly decent twist if you’re unaware of it at the time) but overall pretty basic. And honestly for Square’s very first RPG? It makes sense. In fact I’d say the basic story plays into the short play time, it makes it so if you know what you’re doing, you can go about the game at your own pace..
While we’re on the story, since it’s so basic there’s basically nothing that could be problematic from a Catholic viewpoint: you’re just here to save the world. The biggest potential issue for some people is that there’s magic in the Final Fantasy series, but it’s not real magic and not how one would try to use it in the real world.
Gameplay: For gameplay there’s some things that – depending on the fan – they’ll either like or dislike. The MP system is back to how it was originally in FF1 of nine tiers of spells with so many casts of spells per tier. Level up enough and you can cast nine level 1 spells, nine level 2 spells, nine level 3 spells etc. etc. This actually can be quite beneficial: Say you have some strong spells in level 8 & 9, you don’t have to worry about running out of MP if you use all your low level spells before the boss and then can use them all on the boss. On the other hand, it does make the amount of times you can use spells much more limited, which is where the MP system is appreciated. For someone that’s used to the MP system I… I kind of wish they’d try this classic system again. It’s kind of neat, and with them throwing in Ethers to restore one spell use in each tier of spell? Works pretty well.
They’ve also thankfully fixed a ton of bugs that plagued the original release of Final Fantasy 1, and even previous other remakes so that’s appreciated. Intelligence actually works how it’s supposed to, mages have more use, and other bugs that were fixed. The six different classes do also help add a lot of replayability. While typically you want a more balanced team, if you want a team of four Fighters you can! Four monks? Can do that too! Or any combination up to four with Fighter, Thief, Monk, Red Mage, White Mage and Black Mage. There’s some overlap for what spells can be used and the equipment available but every class has something a bit unique to it. Thief can hit more times but can’t equip as good armor as Fighter can. Monk starts off not great but over time builds up. Red Mage can cast anything but not as well and less of it.
However, some of the places where the game wants you to go sometimes can be confusing and irritating. There’s one section in the game where you recover an item and an NPC tells you who you need to talk to… but not where. And it’s a town that is about 4-5 hours back in a 20 hour game, so a fair way back by this point. But, this is an NES game and as stated earlier, their first try at RPGs so it’s forgivable. It’s just a bit strange as there’s a few other sections that are somewhat vague but much easier to pick-up on. For those curious, I’ll only give vague allusions to them: desert, waterfall, where you get your airship. But… maybe I just didn’t do my due diligence of talking to everyone as much as I should have as well. Talking to all NPC’s twice in most RPG’s will save that problem, and I definitely don’t remember doing that here.
As for the music… as with the vast majority of Final Fantasies, it’s fantastic. We even get remixes of them with a full set of band instruments instead of using the chip tunes we got for previous releases on the NES, GBA, Wonderswan, PSP and a few others. And most of them turn out really well. There’s a few here and there that don’t sound quite right to me but overall I liked it a lot. You can see why some of the songs here went on to become staples in the entire franchise, the battle theme in particular. And if Square Enix let us buy a complete album of all the pixel remastered soundtracks, I’d do it. In particular the battle theme and final boss theme are quite good for the record.
As for the graphics, I personally enjoy them. They’re sprite based and when sprites are done well, they’re done REALLY well (looking at you Xenogears or Street Fighter 3). However, the sprites & graphics are more based on the Wonderswan/Gameboy Advance sprites & graphics, so some may like them (me, I like them) and some may want the more traditional NES or PSPS style. As well as some of the battle effects are really well done.
A Side Note:
The only other thing that’s a bit of an… odd choice is they took out the bonus dungeons. They said it was to keep it more in line with how it was originally released but… there’s no real reason to have kept it out. They were there, we know about them, it’s kind of a weird choice to take out all the extras from all 6 Pixel Remastered games. If they add them in as free DLC later, that’s fine. Need to buy it? No thank you.
I’ve had really good things to say about the game. But personally for me, I think the 80-100 range for games is too bloated. Games don’t have to be the best of the best. An average game is worth the amount of money I paid for it and I’d recommend it if someone asked. There’s too much emphasis on only top high scores being good and anything lower is bad. I find that quite silly. Personally, I’d say 40 or lower is when we get to the stinkers of games. The Sonic 06s, the initial release of Fallout 76 and No Man’s Sky. Or heck, even Big Rigs. We need to give games some room to breathe so we can be more honest with how they are.
Gameplay: 3/5 – Fun, but a little basic, the later games do add more things.
Graphics: 3.5/5 – Did a pretty good job of everything, looks good but will have some problems for people that don’t like sprites or this style.
Replayability: 4/5 – Since it is so short, it’s easy to get through, and you can do a different party each time.
Mostly not here. As mentioned earlier if you don’t like magic that’s something that could be problematic for you, but nothing awful. Some enemies do dress a little provocatively here and there but it’s not common.
If you’re curious I originally posted my thoughts about this on a livestream I did of Final Fantasy 1