Final Fantasy I and II: Dawn of Souls

The original game in the Final Fantasy series is kind of a legend. It was rumored that the company behind it was facing bankruptcy and could only make one more game. It was going to be a fantasy game, and the final game that the company would make. Then the game sold so well that it saved the company. I don’t really know how true that is, but I do know that this game was the genesis for a whole series of games, most of them pretty good, so that’s worth something, I suppose.

Since this game is more than 20 years old, I’m not going to feel too bad spoiling the huge plot twist, but you’ve been warned.

So it turns out that there is a group of four generic warriors who need to restore the light to four crystals. These crystals represent each of the four elements: earth, water, fire, and wind. Almost immediately they run into a king whose daughter was kidnapped, so you go find and kill the captor, rescue the daughter and continue. You end up battling your way across the world, fighting fiends that represent each of the elements. After that you end up having to travel back to the past because right before you killed the guy at the beginning the four fiends sent him back in time. In the past he sends them forward in time so that they’ll be there to send him back. Yep, we have a game that originally came out for the NES that contains a predestination paradox.

I didn’t manage to play this game until well after the NES had ceased to be. I held off because the used video game shops around here decided that this game was worth upwards of $45, and I didn’t think they were sane. So I waited until this game was rereleased for the Game Boy Advance (packaged with its sequel, Final Fantasy II). It would turn out that right about three or so hours into it, whenever I got the boat, I got really lost. What that means is that I fought lots of enemies, and what that means is that I got pretty powerful (overleveled, you might say). So the game ended up being a little easier than it could have been. I did enjoy it, though. Enough to play through the bonus dungeons at the end. They’re additional levels not in the original game that have boss fights from later Final Fantasy games.

In fact, I liked the game so much that I immediately went to play Final Fantasy II, it was on the same cartridge, after all, but thought it was pretty terrible. So bad, in fact, that I’m surprised the series made it to the third game, much less the upcoming thirteenth. The problem I had? The battles, and the story progression. And without both of those you don’t have much of a game.

The battling is the crux of any RPG, it’s where the player spends most of his time, and is generally rewarded with getting a bit stronger overall. In this game, as you battle with certain types of items certain stats rise. The problem becomes that what stat rises with each item used isn’t really intuitive and having to choose what items to use to have well-rounded characters is tedious. Tedium isn’t really fun.

The other problem is that in order to progress the story you have a set of key words that come up. Secret passwords and the like. You have to find the right person and tell them the right word to continue the story. Sounds kind of interesting, but what ends up happening is that you talk to every person you can find, ask each of them about all of the key words that you know, and pray that you happened on the right combination to move the story along.

And what is that story? Honestly, I can’t remember, and I can’t be bothered to look it up. It would be too traumatic for me to relive that experience. Playing Final Fantasy II has cost me 2 hours that I can never get back.

2 Responses to “Final Fantasy I and II: Dawn of Souls”

  1. Ray says:

    This is not encouraging.

  2. [...] There are two things about this game that I didn’t like, one is the combat. When you get into a fight (the crux of any role playing game) your little guy goes on autopilot. You just kind of sit there while the fight plays out. You get to be in charge of pulling off the occasional special move and healing, but the rest of the fighting is totally automatic (read: ‘boring’). Your stats go up depending on how you do in battle. Get beat up enough, and your defense goes up, things like that. Sounds familiar somehow. [...]

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