|FF1 North American box.|
Released on the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1990 in North America, almost three years after it appeared in Japan (and the same year Square unleashed Final Fantasy III on eager Japanese gamers), Final Fantasy made a moderate impact on a small-but-devoted, RPG-starved American audience. The only thing American console gamers had seen that was anything like FF1 up to that point was the original Dragon Quest game, dubbed Dragon Warrior in the US and released just the year before. Unlike Dragon Warrior, Final Fantasy gave the player control of not one, but four warriors of varying ability. What’s more, the player could chose his or her team from six character types, allowing for 126 possible combinations. This is not counting the unofficial trio, duo and solo possibilities for gamers looking for more of a challenge, or the option to forgo the class change option halfway through the game and press on with the young, inexperienced versions of your characters.
|For those wondering, that leads to 418 possible combinations.|
With patience, know-how and a bit of old fashioned luck, any four-member combination (with class change) can finish the game, barring an unwelcome meeting with WarMECH on Tiamat’s bridge or a well-timed CUR4 by Chaos; just be sure to grab the Mas(a)mune sword, bury your hardest hitter at the bottom of the lineup, RUSE/INV2/White Shirt like crazy and pray, pray, pray.
|Many of the incarnations of FF1 available in North America.|
Things are much easier on the PSP and Gameboy Advance (Dawn of Souls) version of the game; ridiculously easy, in fact. The extras in these “upgraded” iterations feel tacked on and mismatched at best and completely game-breaking at worst. If you’re looking for the true FF1 experience and you’re not a little sissy baby who can’t handle a bit of adversity and leveling, the original NES cart or the PlayStation 1’s Final Fantasy Origins disc are the way to go. Also, Namco’s recent cell phone port of FF1 retains about 90 percent of the challenge of the original, so if you can stand squashed graphics and crippled sound, grab that mobile device and start saving the world.
|Classic. Epic. Flock of Birds.|
Speaking of the true Final Fantasy experience, players knew they were in for something special when the main credits began rolling only after they conquered the game’s first real challenge. Not many games bothered with cinematic elements in the mid to late 1980s, so when a screen popped up telling the player that the game has now truly begun as he or she crossed the first bridge into the unfamiliar, it really felt like you were about to embark on an epic adventure the likes of which had been hitherto unknown to the world of console gaming. The four Warriors of Light climb a hill as the sun sets in the background, looking back on the castle from whence they came and trudging ahead to the challenges that await them. Just like feeling one gets the first time they plug in The Legend of Zelda, the player suddenly felt like anything is possible. A vast new world was theirs to explore, a feeling that’s hard to shake even two decades later.
|Please don't make fun of my cell model.|
That is, unless I felt like it at the character select screen.
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