Having played the original Final Fantasy on the NES, I feel a special nostalgia for this game. So when I had the chance to relive my memories, I jumped at it with a special zeal or fervor. Not many games can boast of launching a highly respected and successful line of games known for their exquisite plots, characters and gameplay. As I plugged my UMD into my PSP, I couldn’t help but wonder: Was it really all that I had remembered?
Four heroes appear out of the mist, each with a crystal and a single destiny to bring the world back to order. Really, the story is barely worth mentioning as there is little character development and even less plot devices to thrust the tale along. What really matters is the constitution of your party and how well you balanced out your powers as a group. And while you could feasibly play as four Warriors for the challenge, it just makes sense to include an adequate amount of healing, magic and brute strength to cull through the enemies the game throws at you.
It is hard not to judge Final Fantasy by today’s standards especially in the gameplay arena. This title is the definition of turn-based combat, with only minor thought-processes needed to calculate out how to best defeat your enemies. The game feels constrained with little room to explore and play. Compound that by the lack of challenge and you have a limited and linear game that doesn’t carry many wow factors. Even the elevation of my thief to a ninja barely registered on the interest scale for me.
Where the game does shine is in its beautifully rendered graphics that rival some current RPG titles on the PSP. Even where the graphics are lacking it has a certain retro feel that suits the material rather than detracts from it. In fact, the newly updated cut-scenes seem more out of place in the content than the almost minimalistic area mapping resident in the game. It holds to the memory of the game without compromising the integrity, and that is enough for me.
Overall time hasn’t been kind to Final Fantasy, especially being held up to contemporary titles. The game works better as a time capsule, a harbinger from a different world that deserves to be studied and remembered, and played by those who want to know where we have come from, to see where we are going. It is worth playing as a time-waster, it is worth playing for the perfectly balanced updating of the past, but those seeking some mystical glimpse of the beginning of things may walk away less than satisfied.