Sunday, January 30, 2011

Final Fantasy Anniversary Edition

Genre: Role Playing Game
Platform: Playstation Portable (PSP)
Credits: 2007 Square Enix, screenshots couresy of RPGFan

Final Fantasy Games
Final Fantasy Guides and Books
Final Fantasy Toys
Final Fantasy DVDs
Final Fantasy Videos
Final Fantasy Music
Everything Final Fantasy
Cover Description:
In Final Fantasy the tale begins when four young warriors each possessing a Crystal are summoned to bring the world back to a harmonious elemental balance. During their voyage they discover a nefarious entity has created turmoil in the structure of time in order to take control of the world causing the heroes to travel to places they never imagined possible. Remastered exclusively for the PSP system this all-new anniversary edition features all-new character art updated graphics new dungeons full 16:9 widescreen presentation and an updated camera view that gives players a new vantage point on such a timeless classic RPG.

This was where it all began... >>> by skysenshi
...Or was supposed to end. As video gaming history is concerned, the very first Final Fantasy, its name at least, was supposed to be a joke of some sorts. In 1987, Square had found itself on the verge of bankruptcy. Then director Hironobu Sakaguchi, believing that he lacked the talent to develop action games, realized that he was better at storytelling and decided to work on this turn-based RPG. He named it "Final Fantasy" because it could have been Nintendo's last video game. Of course, we all know what happened next: it became such a critical success that it propelled more than 10 sequels in a span of two decades.

At the time of the very first Final Fantasy's release for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), I was a kid who played table-top RPGs. When I became a video gamer, I was more interested in Street Fighter and Super Mario Brothers than any other game available in the market. My first brush with the first Final Fantasy was when it was re-released for the Sony Playstation. By then I had gone through Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy VIII and Final Fantasy IX. I had no idea that trying out the first FF on the Sony PS would also become a test of patience: I didn't even reach the second village. I died halfway through the world map with absolutely zero resources. The reason? Random encounters that occur with nearly every two steps. And I thought Final Fantasy V was bad.

I didn't realize at that time how spoiled I had turned out to be when it comes to video games. Heck, I finished the first Castlevania before I even graduated from elementary school...but I seriously doubt I could do it now. That's how it feels like to grow old and lose the laser-like attention span we once had as game addicted tweens. I did wish to complete the Final Fantasy series, though. Good thing, Square-Enix came up with anniversary editions of everyone's beloved classics.

So what's new with this installment? Well, it's pretty common for ported oldies to sport shiny new CG introduction sequences. They have it here. And if you would compare the screenshots above to the original screenshots below, you'd see that the developers had gone beyond simply recycling old assets.

Original battle scene with Lich, the Earth Fiend
(img credits: Wikimedia)

Square Enix have obviously taken pains to redevelop the assets, giving them more depth and texture. Honestly, though, I wouldn't mind it if they used the old assets. That would be such a novelty.

I noticed that even the menu options are different. The newer PSP version utilizes that Attack, Magic, Items, Defend system that can be seen in the late 90s FFs. What they did retain when it comes to the gameplay, however, is the chance to name your characters. You choose from 6 character classes.

From the game booklet:
  • Warrior (Advances to Knight). Can use a wide array of weapons and armor.
  • Thief (Advances to Ninja). Nimbly runs circles around opponents.
  • Monk (Advances to Master). Specializes in bare-knuckled attacks.
  • Red Mage (Advances to Red Wizard). Proficient in both black and white magic.
  • White Mage (Advances to White Wizard). Supports the party with white magic.
  • Black Mage (Advances to Black Wizard). Damages opponents with black magic.

I picked my favorite classes (too bad Blue Mage had yet to be invented in 1987): Warrior (because he's default), Monk (because he's cheap), White Mage (for obvious reasons) and the Red Mage. Although the Red Mage cannot cast the ultimate spells of the White and Black Mages, at least he can wield a sword. I had lots of fun building these characters, although I have to admit, I kind of miss the flexibility that was afforded by Final Fantasy II.

Original world map
(img credits: Wikimedia)

In terms of overall gameplay, I'm glad that they've lessened the enemy encounters in the world map. If they had not, finishing this would have probably taken me an additional 20 hours, as I'd be level-grinding my way to the second village. FF1, being the great grandfather of everything FF, is a no-brainer, especially since many of us probably grew up with FF7. You walk a few steps, encounter enemies, and take turns whacking each other to death. The final boss nearly did me in, though. All the other bosses, including the special/hidden ones, are nothing compared to the bloody massacre he is capable of. (My White Mage died just before my Monk delivered the final blow.)

When it comes to musical scoring, I guess FF2 has better recall. FF2's background music kept playing in my head even though I was already more than halfway through this. I guess Nobuo Uematsu had to practice on this before improving in leaps and bounds for FF2.

I heard that Final Fantasy's PSP version did not sell as well as its previous incarnations and I think that's a shame. There's a lot for the newer generations of video gamers to enjoy, especially the after-ending bonuses. I really appreciated seeing Yoshitaka Amano's concept art, which included sketches for the Bestiary.

I highly consider this a collector's item, if only for completion's sake. Thank you, Square-Enix.

COMPLETION TIME: To follow (PSP is currently charging, LOL)
HIGHEST LEVEL ACHIEVED: To follow (PSP is currently charging, LOL)
RATINGS: Gameplay 7; Battle 8; Story 7; Visuals 9; Characters 9; Sounds 7; Replay Value 8


  1. Old school ftw! Just recently I also decided to get to playing the earlier FF games. I'm currently playing FFVI at the moment and I already have my mind set on tackling on FFI onwards too.

    And oh gods, I also recall the pain of practically every step of getting into a monster encounter and dying just within a few steps from the village I just came from. XD

    I'm also thankful that I was able to adjust to the more old school version of the gameplays and the test of patience. I also felt that I've been spoiled with the hi-res graphics of today, but thankfully the stories helped me get drawn into the game. Hehe.

  2. Haha, well now the random encounters aren't so bad anymore. They seem to have adjusted the settings for aging people. Yikes!


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