Anyone that has even the remotest interest in console Role Playing Games should be familiar with the Final Fantasy brand. Back in 1987 not even the creator of the franchise could foresee what an impact the game would have and because the company that made it, Square, was on the verge of bankruptcy the “Final” part of the name was very apt. Of course today Square is one of the biggest names in the gaming industry and the Final Fantasy series is already well into the double digits where sequels are concerned but this is the game that started it all. Since this game has made such an impact on the gaming landscape Square has decided to dust it off, add a new layer of polish and release it on the PSP as a “20th Anniversary” remake. This is not the first time this venerable title ahs been given a make-over but this “definite” version has its good and bad points. Which side of the argument you support will depend on how much you love this franchise.
Square hasn’t tampered with the storyline at all so if you are expecting some of the grandiose plots that more current installments boast you’ll have to bear in mind that this game is older than some gamers! The plot basically entails your four chosen heroes bringing harmony back to a world that is out of balance but apart from a nice new intro FMV clip don’t expect anything on the scale of what the series is now renowned for. Don’t get me wrong this game comes from an age where simply saving a princess was sufficient plot development so this was another area where the game was considered groundbreaking for its day.
The gameplay is obviously archaic by today’s standard which is ironic since many of the features that we take for granted in modern RPGs were actually pioneered by this title! What hasn’t changed is the sheer addictiveness and Final Fantasy is just as hard to put down now as it was back then, if not more so. The simple but engaging combat almost feels like a break from the statistics loaded games of today and with all the rough edges smoothed out (they have had 20 years to perfect the formula after all) this game has a level of charm and polish that puts more recent games to shame.
Graphically the game looks superb with redrawn characters and backgrounds not to mention same cool new effects. Of course the PSP’s widescreen resolution makes things look even more sumptuous. The camera view has been elevated a bit for a better perspective but this is still a 2D game through and through. The gameworld is quite large and even with the map it’s easy to lose track of where to go next due to the absence of a quest log. Luckily you now have the ability to save anywhere in the game even the dungeons which makes for a less frustrating experience. It’s still impossible to walk five steps without encountering yet another random battle but overall the game is much easier than I remember. There are of course some nice new dungeons to sink your teeth into if you consider yourself a hardcore player but these are purely optional. The music is still classic Final Fantasy and sounds better than ever, especially through earphones.
The biggest draw of this game is of course nostalgia but its debatable if players weaned on the more recent titles is going to appreciate this game as much as the longtime fans. To make matters worse this isn’t the first Final Fantasy remake and both the PSone not to mention Gameboy Advance versions had Final Fantasy 2 included in the package. Why PSP owners have to pay twice for that privilege is a mystery.
Still as far as trips down memory lane goes Final Fantasy was certainly a blast and well worth adding to any respectable collection. Provided you don’t already own a multitude of other versions of the game.
*Review originally published 2008.