Gamers worldwide are eagerly counting down the days in anticipation of the highly awaited release of Final Fantasy XVI on June 22. But before embarking on the new saga with Clive Rosfield, let’s take a moment to appreciate the game that started it all: Final Fantasy.
Released on the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1987, Final Fantasy was a last-ditch effort by a struggling Japanese developer that would ultimately pave the way for the rise of Squaresoft, now known as Square Enix.
Despite its age, Final Fantasy remains a game worth playing, thanks to recent Pixel Remasters and previous remakes. Its significance lies not only in its historical context but also in its contribution to the RPG genre and the overall franchise.
Final Fantasy I embraces its Dungeons and Dragons roots by allowing players to create their party of characters and choose from classic roles like Fighter, Thief, White Mage, and Black Mage. This level of customizability was impressive for its time and continues to hold appeal today.
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The game takes players on an epic adventure against the Four Fiends, traversing a vast world on foot and gaining the ability to soar through the skies in an airship. While the story unfolds episodic, with players journeying from town to town and dungeon to dungeon, there is no grand overarching narrative.
The characters in Final Fantasy I largely remain silent observers of the world’s events, yet their victories in combat ultimately bring peace to the realm. It is worth noting that Final Fantasy even incorporated a time-traveling twist at the end, hinting at the franchise’s affinity for blending fantasy with science-fiction elements.
By today’s standards, the first Final Fantasy may seem simplistic. Still, when viewed through a cultural lens, it becomes evident that this game laid the foundation for the entire Final Fantasy series and the JRPG genre.
Final Fantasy’s notable departure from its 1980s counterparts was its battle system. While most RPGs of the time featured first-person battles, Final Fantasy introduced a clear distinction between player characters and enemies.
Battles took turns, with each side attacking until one emerged victorious. Despite minimalist character animations, this system breathed new life into RPG battles .
Final Fantasy I adapted the pen-and-paper combat style of Dungeons and Dragons using a finite spell system based on character levels rather than MP. Grinding is necessary for any version of Final Fantasy, but the readily available Pixel Remaster offers a smoother experience, particularly in the challenging final encounters.
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Ultimately, Final Fantasy I is an essential part of the franchise’s history, and any fan owes it to themselves to experience it at least once. Its archaic systems will foster an appreciation for how far the series has evolved.
Moreover, repeat playthroughs, such as challenge runs with all-White Mage parties, can offer a fun and unique experience. The Pixel Remaster’s speed-up options make the game more accessible and enjoyable for modern players.
Furthermore, even spin-offs like Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin and its accompanying DLCs are better appreciated when familiar with the original Final Fantasy. Despite its off-the-wall nature, this spin-off successfully leverages its source material, making it deserving of recognition.
As the countdown to Final Fantasy XVI continues, let us remember the game’s significance that set it all in motion. Final Fantasy I remains a timeless classic that shaped the franchise and continues to captivate players with its charm and foundational role-playing gameplay.