Few games were as significant to my video gaming experience as Final Fantasy. I love RPGs, and this was the first great one that I played. I had played Dragon Quest, but that was just OK. No, this was the game that really got me acquainted with the genre. I had trouble with the level grinding (at eight or nine, you’re not very patient), but other than that, I always enjoyed it.
This remake is more than just FF on the go. It has improved graphics, sound, and some extra features. If you’re up to play this again, I heartily recommend this version.
Plot: 7 out of 10
Chances are, you already know what this game is about. It begins with your average “save the princess” story. But this isn’t the case for long. Your party of four people is called the Light Warriors. Each of them has a crystal (changed from orb in the original). The crystals represent what were considered the four main elements in ancient times: Earth, Fire, Water, and Air. Each element has been driven haywire by a fiend of the same element. Result? The fiends are causing destruction all over the world. So… why? What’s the point in creating chaos? This isn’t to provoke a surrender, because they’ve been at this for several centuries. So why a good rating? Three reasons:
1.) The Earth/Fire/Water/Wind angle creates an interesting twist on this. This is basically a storm paranoiac’s worst nightmare come to life.
2.) Some interesting subplots arise throughout the game, such as the ones involving elves and a town that is nearly destroyed by a vampire.
3.) Games originally made in the NES era rarely had compelling plots. What do you expect?
Graphics: 8 out of 10
One of the best-looking on the NES, but I’m not so sure I can be as complimentary of this version. Though graphics are improved all-around, some outdoor objects make a not very convincing attempt at looking 3-D. Still, this is a minor complaint and I must say that the cutscenes give a lot to this game.
Sound: 10 out of 10
Now, THIS is what FF does best, and this version does not disappoint. The fantastic tunes are there and improved. New songs are included for boss battles (the original version gave all battles the same song), and they’re pretty good as well.
Gameplay: 10 out of 10
You can choose the types (called “classes”) of your four party members. The classes are Fighter, Monk, Thief, Red Mage, White Mage, and Black Mage. They have different attributes. My recommendation is a Fighter, White Mage, Black Mage, and one of the three other classes.
Battles are not active. In contrast to the later games, you can take as long as you want. Still, some modern additions are in this version, such as the ability to run in towns and dungeons. One rare convenience in this version is the ability to save anywhere.
Those who got into the series with or after FFVII will be surprised to find that this game isn’t all that linear. You’re not as uncontrolled as a lot of old RPGs, but you’re free enough. This is preferable, for the game is not linear enough that you have no options, but is linear enough that it’s not impossible to tell where you’re supposed to go.
As usual with these remakes, the PSP version of FF includes some extra dungeons. These are well-designed and include new variants of the existing monster families.
In short, this game always had great gameplay, and in this version, it’s only improved.
Challenge: 5 out of 10
This is not the only FF to be remade on handhelds, but I do notice something peculiar: unlike all the others, this game gets easier with each remake. Monsters aren’t really easier; in fact, bosses seem far more powerful than the pushovers in the original. But you level up very quickly and spells don’t cost as much. I don’t actually mind an easy game that much. It can be quite relaxing. You just have to know going in that this game is fun, not challenging.
The big exception is that the extra dungeons are much harder, especially the bosses. While not insane, they require more grinding and cleverness than the rest of the game. Being challenged obviously has its strong points too and is preferable, if anything. The one thing I have to warn you about is that doors tend to close behind you. So if your only saves are in the dungeons, you may be stuck if you’re not high enough in level. That once happened to me. It sucks to have to start over for no reason other than a game save.
Overall: 8 out of 10
Despite this problem, I can recommend the PSP version of Final Fantasy. You might ask, “why buy this again?” My answer? “The same reason you bought multiple editions of Godfather or Star Wars movies: for all the bells and whistles.” Just make sure you use more than one save slot, just in case.