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A gamer for over 20 years, it shocks me how much crap I was willing to put up with when I return to games I adored as a child.
Waiting upwards of thirty minutes for a Spectrum game to load and the almost two-tone pixalleted 8-bit graphics of the NES now seem arcane. Yet true classics such as Tetris or Mario Bros. remain great fun.
The same is true of the 23-year old classic Japanese role-playing game Final Fantasy. Despite its age, and all the changes that have happened since, it retains the ability to impress.
Real heroes don’t use walkthroughs
The plot is fairly simplistic compared to its current RPG peers though, revolving around lighting up four crystals in order to restore peace to a world tormented by random battles and monsters.
To do this, your motley band of configurable heroes has to engage in fights across the huge gameworld, inside dungeons, and against rock-hard bosses, all the while playing a game of chicken with their health points and spells.
Whereas contemporary RPGs use regenerating health, plentiful item drops, and an almost limitless supply of magic, Final Fantasy is seemingly set up so that your four protagonists are frustratingly weak, especially during the early portions of the game.
The relatively sparse help means that any newcomers are almost guaranteed to be killed off in one of the many random encounters that take place on the world map.
Overcome this initially rocky period of painful deaths and multiple restarts though and the true brilliance of this conversion shines through.
Everything that was in the original game is present in this version. This isn’t a cut-down, low fat RPG for a quick blast on the bus, but a full-blown adventure for a cross-country rail journey ending up with a trans-continental flight and a taxi-ride to the hotel.
Thankfully saving can be done anywhere outside of a battle, with three dedicated slots available and a suspend option, making it well suited to play on the move.
The controls are also perfectly adapted to the platform, helped by the lack of the now ubiquitous Active Time Battle system from later Final Fantasy games.
Instead, battles are taken at your own pace with the first few hours generally spent selecting ‘attack’ and piling everyone to target the same enemy. These then slowly expand out into a balancing act between attacking, healing, buffing, and de-buffing (positive and negative spells, essentially) that have to be rationed carefully in case a later fight requires the item or spell more than the present one.
So if you’re not afraid of learning as you go, and receiving setbacks in the process, Final Fantasy is a great RPG for your mobile.
Despite being 'merely' a graphically updated version of a 23-year old NES title, there’s no denying that the underlying gameplay remains addictive and as enjoyable to play today as it was back in the day.
- Screen resolution: 240 x 320
- Game tested on Sony Ericsson K800i
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