November 2019 Retro Article: Final Fantasy (NES)
Final Fantasy is one of the most important and influential JRPG franchises of all time. This was my first real RPG game that I played that involved experience and turn based combat. The game starts with a simple story of four warriors who appear to return the four elemental crystals back to their glory and to restore balance to the world. From there the game takes you on a pretty long journey around the world as you bring the light back to these crystals. This is the game that got me into JRPGs and kept me interested in them for many years to come.
When you start the game you create a team of four characters from six different classes. You have your basic classes like fighter and black mage and some different ones like black belt. There is no restriction as to how you build your team. If you want four white mages, you can do that. I usually stuck with a more melee focused team with some magic. Your team composition will affect how you approach the game, but not the overall gameplay. One thing to add is that all of these classes get upgraded later in the game which allows them to equip different pieces of gear and new magic spells.
Nowadays the gameplay might seem a little slow paced, but I feel it still holds up today. You go around the world, visit towns, explore dungeons and defeat enemies. You gain experience and gold from defeating enemies and as you level up and get stronger, you use gold to get better gear, new spells and items. One thing I will note about the combat is that if you target the same enemy with two different people and the first party member defeats the enemy, the second party member will attack the same spot and miss. This might not seem like a big deal, but this did require some strategy unless you wanted to waste turns.
I still think the game looks good today. While the player characters and world map do look a little bland, the enemy designs still look very good. This is particularly true with some of the later enemies and the bosses. The music also holds up very well and is still fun to listen to. I would say the theme music for this game is one of the most iconic music scores in gaming.
Final Fantasy was spawned fifteen main series games since 1987 which includes two MMOs. Final Fantasy 4 and 6 for the SNES and Final Fantasy 7 for the Playstation 1 are regarded as the best in the series. There are sequel games, mobile, fighting and tower defense games released under the Final Fantasy name. There are movies based on the series, particularly based on Final Fantasy 7. This series has stood the test of time and I see it still standing for the foreseeable future.