The World of Final Fantasy

The Games: Final Fantasy

Saving a princess was the usual theme of early console RPGs, and Hironobu Sakaguchi's "Final Fantasy", released in 1987, opens just with such kind of quest: defeat the evil Garland and save the princess. However, this is just the beginning of a more intricate plot. "When the world is veiled in darkness, four warriors of light will come"... The earth is dying, and you have to discover who is behind this disaster, and to defeat the ultimate evil. The story features some unexpectable turns and twists, previously unseen in a RPG, and also introduces an interesting concept of a time loop, where the heroes have to travel in time in order to defeat Chaos itself.

The original "Final Fantasy" remains until now the only Final Fantasy game that allows the player to assign classes to your characters before starting the actual game. You have a choice between fighter, thief, black belt, and three kinds of wizards (mages): black, white, and red. Later in the game, the classes are automatically upgraded: fighter becomes knight, the wizards turn into sorcerers, etc., each gaining new unique abilities. Once chosen, the classes remained set for the whole game, for all four characters. Other than their class, the heroes of "Final Fantasy" lack any other attributes: they are speechless, and have no personality whatsoever.

Like most other console-style RPGs, "Final Fantasy" features round-based combat. You "program" the actions of your party for a whole turn, and then watch how they perform those actions. If you ordered three characters to attack a certain monster, and that monster was killed after the first hit, the two other characetrs will "hit the air". This small imperfection turned many battles, even random ones, into pretty tedious affairs. The magic is classified in levels, and the usage of magic depends on the caster's current level, and not on his (or her) mana points. There is a limited amount of spells a mage can use, and each spell unit becomes inavailable after it has been used in battle, until the mage rests and reactivates his spells.

From today's point of view, it is hard to recognize the first Final Fantasy as a game worthy of its great legacy. It lacks the absolute core of later Final Fantasies: memorable, highly developed characters. It is difficult for the player to identify himself with the nameless protagonists of "Final Fantasy", and to take its trivial story seriously. The gameplay was extremely slow-paced and required enormous patience, since without excessive leveling up, it was nearly impossible to beat the game. However, "Final Fantasy" already contained many features typical for later releases, such as epic storyline, interesting regular monsters, dramatic boss battles, beautiful music, and some rudimentary references to Final Fantasy style and mythology, such as the usage of an airship (an obligatory vehicle for all Final Fantasies), or the appearance of Bahamut, the king of dragons.

Continued: Final Fantasy II

Table of Contents: The World of Final Fantasy