Final Fantasy review
Good old Final Fantasy is back


It’s the game that started it all. For those of you who aren’t in the loop, Final Fantasy was released in 1987 for the Nintendo Entertainment System and for developers Square Soft (now Square-Enix), it was more than just a game. It was THE game that would not only save their company from bankruptcy, but also shape the future of the Japanese Role Playing game. Fortunately for those nerdy, Japanese genius’, it was a huge success, selling almost half a million copies (initially) and giving them all a job to come back to.

So what is it about this classic that fans loved back then? It’s hard to say when you compare it to Role Playing Games today, as its simplicity and repetitive nature will steer many modern gamers away. Whatever it was, the fact is that it’s still being played around the world, and has so far been the basis of several successful ports and remakes. The most recent of which is the iPhone version that I will be focusing on today. It’s actually more of a port of the Final Fantasy: Dawn of Souls remake on the Game Boy Advanced, which we’ll talk about later.

The world is in terror, as an evil force is set to engulf the planet in darkness. Who will save the day? The four Warriors of Light of course. That’s the premise, and the game doesn’t dive much deeper than that. The player controls four warriors of light on their journey to find and harness the power of the crystals. The plot is as basic as they come, and the main characters are all without any form of personality. While far from a riveting tale, it had to start somewhere.

There really isn’t much in the way of customisation. You choose out of six classes at the start of the game (warriors, white mages, theifs, etc.) which dictate your stats. Then there’s the traditional; Kill enough enemies and you’ll eventually level up. Additionally, you’ll have a choice of weapons and armour to equip. The only real level control over your characters progression comes from the magic that they can equip (assuming their class allows it). Each level of magic (1 to 8) has four spells. You can choose to learn three of the spells. Most of the time there’s only a couple of useful spells per magic level, so don’t expect to be racking your brain over which ones to choose. This is a very basic level of customisation, but you can’t expect too much from the game that started it all. Below is a image of the menu screen.

The battle system is also simple, and has had an average adaptation to the iPhone device. The battles are entirely turn based meaning you enter your commands, and then the characters perform them. As shown in the image below, the player can use the touch screen to select the command, and then point to the enemy to perform it. This is however a bit of a problem as you will be in LOTS of battles and having to press attack then point to the enemy, then attack, then point to the enemy (and so on) becomes quite tiresome. A pleasing alternative would be a simple second tap on the attack button to target to the closest enemy. Apart from this, the system work well and captures the somewhat enjoyable simplicity of the original.

The rest of the controls work well and don’t come close to cluttering the screen. There’s a simple D-Pad on the lower left of the touch screen, and a sprint button on the lower right. To enter the menu, you take your fingers off the touch screen for a couple of seconds and a menu option will appear. One thing that they don’t tell you is how to enter the world map screen, which is absolutely vital for navigation. This is performed by simply holding the menu button for a couple of seconds. You would probably be more likely to develop a brain tumour from the frustration before finishing the game if you didn’t have access to the map. I had to do a little external research on the Internet for a solution, which really makes me wonder how many people are trying to fly their airship around without a map. Those poor, poor people. They are the only issues however, and in the end I consider it a successful port. Below is an image of the airship flying around the world.

So what’s new? How does this game differ to the 80s classic? As mentioned before, it’s a port of the GBA remake; Dawn of Souls. This edition features a re-mastered soundtrack, a graphical enhancement and four extra dungeons around the world. These dungeons provide quite a challenge (as if the game wasn’t hard enough) and feature random floors (from a selection of several) rather than fixed floors present in every other dungeon in the game. In addition, they feature optional super bosses that are far stronger than the main boss in the game. I wasn’t a fan of the fact that you cannot save in the dungeons, or even exit them for that matter (until you reach a certain point). This sets the requirement of doing the entire dungeon without saving, which is quite a task, especially when one of the dungeons exceeds 30 levels and that most bosses require you to be a pretty high level. If you’re up for the challenge, good luck!

I said it before; this game is difficult. I for one like to pick up and play games on my phone for short periods of time without having the obligation of playing through an entire dungeon in order to reach a save point. With this in my mind, I was pleased to see that after exiting a game, you can resume at the exact point that you left off. This is a vital addition to the port, but it also destroys the difficulty of the game, as turning the game off (entering the iPhones home screen) mid battle, will return you to your position in the dungeon prior to entering the battle. How is this a problem? Well if you’re about to die, you can just hit the iPhones home button, re-enter the game, and you’ll be as good as gold. I know this is cheating, but the option is there, and I couldn’t resist.

Final Fantasy is a classic, and I am happy to see that it is now available for an even larger audience. This game is nearly 25 years old and as a result is very simple in every regard, so don’t expect a modern masterpiece. Despite a few minor problems, the port was successful and I had a ball turning it on for a quick game while my girlfriend entered her 100th bra store. If you don’t mind forking out between $10 and $20 for the game, then check it out.

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