Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Spotlight: Final Fantasy

Welcome to my first, in hopefully many, articles on past games! I want this series to focus on a game that either was important to me or did something important for gaming.

Final Fantasy is one of the most important Japanese Role Playing Games (JRPG) and one of the most influential. Today, JRPGs are in a tough spot in the American market because of the advancement of the Western Role Playing Game (WRPG) such as The Elder Scroll Series, Mass Effect and Fallout. That wasn't always the case though.


As many hardcore RPG fans know, Final Fantasy was made by a fledgling company called Squaresoft. They made a number of games on the Nintendo Entertainment System such as  3D World Runner and Rad Racer. While these games had some success, the company was not doing well financially. Thus, Final Fantasy was born. According to this article, the name Final Fantasy stemmed from Sakaguchi's plan to quit making video games if the game did not do well.


Final Fantasy told the story of the Light Warriors. The world is on the verge of destruction. The wind no longer blows, the seas crash and the earth decays. These four warriors mysteriously arrive with an Orb (crystal in later versions) of each element: fire, water, earth, and air.

What made Final Fantasy different was its long, epic story. Many gamers were used to simple games with simple stories. Mario had you rescuing a princess. Even though Zelda had a long back-story in its manual, the game had little story elements while playing. Final Fantasy had you rescuing the princess as the first quest of many. After finally defeating Garland, the

disgraced knight who captured the princess, I thought I had beat the game! No, my journey had just begun.

Venturing into the unknown, the heroes you created began unraveling the mysteries of the world. Saving the Elf King, meeting the council that told of the mysterious four fiends and meeting the legendary dragon Bahamut.

After defeating the four fiends and saving the land you learned a terrible secret, the fiends were sent here from the past! There was only one way to stop them, go into the past and kill them there! Venturing back into the very same spot where you saved the princess, the Light Warriors were sent into the past. Traversing this strange castle, the warriors met and fought each fiend and destroyed them. The truth would be revealed to young gamers when they reached the center of the castle. Garland had been sent back in time by the four fiends, when he arrived back in time he would then send the four fiends to the future creating a time loop and letting him live forever. How this paradox started, who knows but it was time for the final battle with Garland who was now the demon Chaos! The world saved and the time loop destroyed, the heroes could now rest.


Final Fantasy had you start your quest by choosing four classes for your party. You could choose the brutal Fighter, the nimble Thief, the tough Black Belt, the healing White Mage, the mysterious Black Mage and the versatile Red Mage. This allowed such a great deal of customization and re-playability. After meeting Bahamut and completing his quest, your warriors would be promoted to upgraded versions of their base class.

The combat system used a turn based menu system and a primitive combat screen. There were some things that gamers learned real fast about the fighting. The people towards the top of your party would be attacked more than the bottom. If two people attacked the same monster and the first person killed them, the second person would waste their turn attacking the darkness! This was changed in later versions but this did add an element of strategy.

Each new town had better equipment for sale and spells. There were no magic points in Final Fantasy. Spells were divided into spell levels and as you gained levels, you could caster higher level spells and more of them. Your mages could only know three spells for a spell level. This made you choose which spells you wanted carefully and made sure to ration their use during long dungeons.

Final Fantasy had a very deep combat system for its era. Item choices, spell choices and class choices let the player have a engaging experience each time they played.


Final Fantasy was very popular when it came out and brought gamers a series of memorable games. Many elements from the original Final Fantasy have be reused in other games. The idea of elemental crystals, many musical themes and minor quirks would show up in the series. If you haven't, pick up this game or one of its many remakes. Check out this Let's Play to see what the game is like!

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