Final Fantasy Origins is a compilation of the first two games in the highly popular and influential RPG series released by Square in 2002 in Japan, and 2003 in the West. Not only were people drawn to the fact that both FF1 and FF2 had the graphics completely overhauled, it was also the first time that FF2 was seen outside of Japan. While it has been 10 years since this release and both games have been ported and further enhanced multiple times, what still draws people to this compilation is that these are the versions closest to the originals in terms of gameplay. They are also the only version you can play on your TV. What about the PSP enhanced ports you can connect to your TV? The games also feature a retranslated script, and also allows creatures and spells to be fully spelled out, as the text limit is much larger. Also mythological based items and monsters were correctly named as well.
Since this contains two games, both of them will be reviewed separately.
Originally released in 1987 in Japan and in 1990 in the US, it’s one of the earliest console RPG’s, and also one of the most influential in the beginnings of console RPG’s.
You play as the Heroes of Light, a group of 4 warriors, whose name and class you pick yourself, arrives at Castle Cornelia and the king tests your worth as the legendary heroes by rescuing Princess Sara who has just been kidnapped by the evil knight Garland. After saving her, the king repairs the bridge to allow your heroes access to the rest of the continent, and later the rest of the world.
Each warrior carries a darkened crystal, and your goal is to defeat the 4 evil fiends that hinder the power of the crystals, and banish darkness from the world.
While pretty generic and very thin compared to today’s standards, this was considered an epic in storytelling for video games in 1987. So while not as heavily story driven as later games, the adventuring aspects of the game was what gives it the appeal. So while the game won’t impress you much with its outdated nature, it’s fun to experience something that was considered revolutionary for its time.
A very textbook example of a traditional console RPG (well it did help write it) there isn’t really anything to explain that nobody already knows about. Though this does feature updates from the original game. One of the biggest updates that we take for granted today is auto-retargeting. In the original, when one character kills a monster and someone was already targeting it, your character will miss. So with auto-retarget, when the monster is killed before your turn, it will automatically attack different monster.
Also the mechanics were fixed so some of the spells actually work, and weapons and armor with special effects also actually work. They also added in a standard inventory menu instead of having each character hold the items. There’s even two difficulty modes: easy and normal. normal mode is the gameplay of the original, and easy mode gives you more experience, increased stats after level up, and lower prices at the stores. So if you’re looking for a challenge, then normal is for you, but easy is recommended if you want to spend less time grinding, and have a less headache.
One of the biggest downsides to this game is the random encounter rate, which is extremely high, regardless of which difficulty level you chose. On average, it takes about 3-5 steps (usually less) to get attacked, and it gets really irritating after awhile. This slows down trekking through every dungeon very heavily, and at times discouraging to find all the treasure in them when you’re getting attacked every 3 seconds. It feels really silly when you’re in a medium sized room with a bunch of treasure chests and you get attacked about 5 times just to open up 5 treasure chests in the same room. Dashing does not affect the random encounter rate, so if you’re using the dash option, then attacks will happen much more frequently as those 3-5 steps now take less time.
Another silly feature is how the spells don’t have much consistency. The spells give you a number range, and the spells will randomly work within that range, and they do not get stronger when you level up. So Ice 2 says “40-160 damange”, so in your first turn, it will inflict 150 damage, but it’s highly possible that in your next turn, it will cast 45 damage. This gets irritating in battle when you’re attacking a group of enemies and multi-target spells do various damage where one monster gets max damage, and the one next to it gets minimum damage. It can also get aggravating in boss battles as well, especially when you’re casting a level 3 spell and it did less damage than the level 2 spell.
Even though Origins was a very late PS1 game, and released after the PS2 had already been out, they intentionally made the game’s graphics look similar to the SNES. Probably to keep it similar in visuals to the SNES remakes of 4-6. So while not visually as impressive as FF8 or FF9, they’re still not an eyesore, and do look incredible compared to its NES counterpart. Dungeons and towns are much more detailed, and even the character and monster sprites look nicer. Also even the fiends look more terrifying as the NES versions looked kind of derpy.
The music has some very classic tunes, as it’s where the recognizable Final Fantasy Prelude and the victory theme got their starts.
Final Fantasy is a classic game for anyone who is a fan of retro RPG’s, especially with one of the earliest in the genre. Though definitely not groundbreaking for today’s standards, it’s a nice game to play for those who are either interested in playing a piece of history, or are just big Final Fantasy fans and want to play every game. Though while its random encounter rate is unnecessarily high, it’s still a nice experience.
Final Fantasy II
Originally released in 1988, Final Fantasy II features a handful of differences compared to the previous game, and are also the first appearances of Cid and Chocobos, with both appearing in every Final Fantasy game onward.
You play as four youths: Firion, Maria, Guy and Leon, whose town has just been attacked by the empire of Palamecia and the game begins with the four of you being attacked. Three out of the four escape and join a resistance group, and you then embark on a quest to receive new equipment and rescue other members of the resistance to stand up to the empire.
While definitely a step up compared to the previous game, it’s still a bit archaic for modern standards. It does seem more fleshed out than the previous games, and even some of the characters have more prominent roles in the game, unlike in the previous game where you meet them once and that is the end of the story.
It features many standard RPG gameplay and mechanics, but the unique feature of this game is that it ditches the experience points system. So to increase any kind of stat or skill, one must repeatedly use it to more or less “level” up. So if you want stronger magic, keep casting that spell over and over, and to increase your health and defense, let your character take a lot of damage. At times this can be a clusterfuck, and at times can be more time consuming than with the traditional leveling up system. It’s also ridiculously easy to abuse, as you can easily increase your character’s HP by making your own characters attack each other. While your characters can equip any weapon in the game, you have to repeatedly use certain weapons until they can actually inflict damage with it. Your characters do come with default weapons, so sometimes it’s easier to just stick to those.
The random encounter rate is a bit high, but definitely a step up from FF1, and the game does feature a more balanced battle system.
Another unique feature of this game is the “learn” system. Throughout the course of the game, you will learn a secret phrase or password, and using this will progress the game, as using the phrase will allow access to things like an airship, or someone will give you a special item.
Not much else to say that hasn’t been said with FF1 as it features many of the same updates.
Like the previous game, it features a rearranged soundtrack, though the soundtrack isn’t considered a classic like the original, largely due to the original game not being released, but does feature some solid tracks.
While personally my least favorite in the series, and I don’t really like this game that much, that’s not to say it’s a bad game. Like the original game, this is definitely a game for retro RPG fans, and someone who wants to play all the FF games. The appeal of this version is that fans get to play the first release of the game to the West, and a version that one can enjoy on their TV as opposed to a handheld.