Final Fantasy Anniversary Edition Hands-On

We spend some time with Square Enix's upcoming Final Fantasy remake for the PlayStation Portable.

Already available in Japan, Final Fantasy Anniversary Edition is currently scheduled for release in North America next month--almost 20 years since the original game debuted in Japan. The Anniversary Edition of Final Fantasy will add a number of enhancements to the original's winning formula, including all-new widescreen visuals, new dungeons, an enhanced soundtrack, and a Pokémon-style bestiary detailing every type of enemy (there appear to be more than 200 in total) that you've encountered and defeated on your travels thus far. We recently had an opportunity to play through the first couple of hours of the game, and although that time offered very little in the way of a challenge, we still had a lot of fun.

You can choose four character classes to play with from the six available.

After checking out the all-new rendered intro movie, you'll be invited to create a party of four characters to play with. You can choose any combination of character classes from the six available, which include warrior, thief, monk, black mage, white mage, and red mage. The first three are melee classes with different strengths and weaknesses, while the three mage classes specialize in offensive spells, defensive and healing spells, and using a combination of the two, respectively. Charter advancement in Final Fantasy isn't nearly as complex as in some of the series' subsequent offerings, but there's still some room for customization, courtesy of equipment upgrades and additional spells to learn.

Equipment such as weapons, shields, helmets, gloves, and body armor can be upgraded almost constantly as you progress through the game, either by finding better gear in treasure chests or by purchasing it from the stores located in all of the world's towns. The equipment in Final Fantasy isn't as varied as that in more modern role-playing games, but you'll still be forced to make some tough decisions from time to time, prioritizing accuracy or attack power when choosing between two similarly powerful weapons, for example. If that sounds like too much work, you can simply hit the "optimal" button, which will automatically equip your chosen character with the best (in theory) gear. When browsing equipment in a store, helpful icons make it easy to tell instantly which characters in your party are able to equip what, as well as whether or not the new gear is better than what they're wearing or carrying already.

When playing with mages, you'll have still more freedom to customize your characters as a result of the way that learning new spells is handled. To learn a new spell, you simply have to find the store that sells it and purchase it over the counter. Black and white magic spells are organized into levels that determine how powerful they are and how much they cost. There are four spells per level for each discipline, but the catch is that your character can only know three of those four at any one time. So, for example, when purchasing spells for a low-level white mage, you might find yourself in a situation where you have to choose between a healing spell and one that deals damage to all undead enemies on the battlefield. It is possible to unlearn and subsequently relearn spells if you find that your mages are ill-equipped for a particularly challenging battle, but there's a significant cost involved, so it certainly isn't something you'll be able to make a habit of.

Cornelia's towns have plenty of stores for you spend your hard-earned gil in.

Final Fantasy's currency, gil, isn't hard to come by since every monster you defeat will drop some, but if you're anything like us, you wouldn't relish the prospect of "grinding" random battles on the world map simply to make money. If you've ever played a Final Fantasy game before, you'll be familiar with the concept of random battles--encounters with enemies that can't be seen as you explore the world map--and you likely either love or hate them. If you visit message boards populated by fans already enjoying imported version of the game, you'll almost certainly find a thread or three complaining about how frequently random battles occur, but in truth it varies a great deal, so you might walk across half a continent with very little action and then have to fight through several battles in a short space of time. The random battles can certainly be frustrating if you're en route to a dungeon and want to conserve as many of your health and magic points as possible before going in, but there are plenty of items that you can use to ensure that your party is at full strength. Consumable potions are the most obvious, of course, but you can also regain the aforementioned points by using sleeping bags, tents, or cottages while outside on the world map.

Like those on the world map, most of the battles that you'll fight inside dungeons and caves are randomly generated and can pit your party against up to nine enemies simultaneously. Combat in Final Fantasy is an uncomplicated turn-based affair in which you'll give orders to all of your party members at the same time and then watch as your instructions are played out. The combat animations--especially those for enemies--are functional rather than flashy, but the character sprites and backgrounds are nicely detailed.

Enemies we've encountered to date include the usual assortment of goblins, wolves, skeletons, zombies, ogres, spiders, and the like, as well as some aquatic adversaries that pop up from time to time when traveling in a boat. All of the monsters in the game have a weakness waiting to be exploited, which can be to certain types of elemental magic or specific weapons. Lightning attacks are effective against the aforementioned aquatic enemies, for example.

Final Fantasy's story revolves around the exploits of the prophesied Warriors of Light.

To talk too much about Final Fantasy's storyline seems like an exercise in worthlessness at this point. If you've played the original game, you already know it, and if you haven't, we're not going to be the ones to spoil it for you. What we will tell you is that the four members of your party are thought to be the prophesied "Warriors of Light" who will save the world of Cornelia from eternal darkness by locating and restoring light to four crystals. There are plenty of subquests for you to complete en route to that objective, and after just a couple of hours playing, we've already rescued a princess and saved a town from pillaging pirates.

Clearly, we've only scratched the surface of what Final Fantasy Anniversary Edition has to offer, but we look forward to bringing you more information closer to its release.

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Discussion

124 comments
soo224
soo224

FINAL FANTASY ROCKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tman92092
Tman92092

looks pretty fun. I'm addicted to the final fantasy games.

vorpal8
vorpal8

PS: I'm an RPG Maker XP/VX fan and I think a Final Fantasy RPG Construction Kit for PC would be awesome. It would include tons of all the 2d enhanced character/monster/spells/battle system and the like with it. HEH.. I'll never happen..

vorpal8
vorpal8

Ye another remake eh... Well, if this is called "Anniversary Edition" shouldn't a release like this include all classic FF games? I think so. The collection should include; FF1-3 Original NES versions enhanced, FF4-6 enhanced in their original 2d SNES versions. They would also have to be made for all 3 major consoles and both the PSP and DS at least, if of course they would all fit on a DS and PSP, that way there would be no more need to try and cash in. They could move on. I did not like the fact that FF3 for the DS was turned into a 3D game. It wasn't a 3d game to begin with and that kills the original concept. I thought I was going to get a nice, missed out on FF Origins remade enhancement of the game. I was wrong. 3D games do not look very good on the DS. FF1-6 are classic 2D games, enhance them with 2D elements and not 3D elements. I am also going to be sad as well about Dragon Warrior 4, 5 and 6 because they too will be in ugly looking 3d on the DS. That's another thing, a proper Dragon Warrior/Quest Anniversary edition which included all the classic DW1-6 versions would be very appreciated if they too were remade and enhanced in 2D form. IN English, that is. :)

JasonNexus6
JasonNexus6

I have never played the Final Fantasy games on the games consoles they were originally released on. I have FF 3 on the DS Lite, so to get FF 1 and FF2 on the PSP is great. Why should anyone complain about these remakes on the PSP. To make FF1 and FF2 3D wouldn't be good. These are 2D games not 3D so if you don't like the idea of a retro 2D release of the games on the PSP, then just don't buy them.

LsTr_Of_SmG
LsTr_Of_SmG

Enough with the remakes already! Christ...

ManOfTeal
ManOfTeal

I played the originals and I enjoy the remakes. Keep em comin Square.

ERoBB
ERoBB

I'm sure the people responsible for this remake and the people making FFXIII are completely different groups of people. One doing something takes nothing away from the other...

ag_04
ag_04

well thx square-enix for sucking more money from people. i mean sooner or later you will pay for this treat to all fans who claim for new and GOOD ideas for the series. don't know really how FFXIII will be, but it's enough! stop releasing stupid remakes, and put ALL your effort on making FFXIII a real good rpg, like in the old times, plz!! I'm not talking of psp remakes only, i am speaking of FFIII, FFIV remakes for ds and so on and mediocre games like Children of mana and all that mobile-phone stuff that sucks.

leonheart_z
leonheart_z

square's losing it.....i hope blizzard does somethin for the psp soon

ERoBB
ERoBB

Will the battle scenes be animated, or like still frames like the original versions? Hope they will be, but I'm guessing they're not...

akaado
akaado

To tell you the truth... I would like to see a remake of FFVI... That's all...

DexterRS1980
DexterRS1980

I've own this on the NES, PS1, and now the PSP. Simple economics here guys, It's obvious Square Enix holds the market share of RPG releases. I think they are keeping the (FF series) sales record at an equilibrium for Nintendo and Sony with the release of these two games. For the consumer I'm still buying it! A true Final Fantasy gamer will play this on any console. Cloud is overrated on FFVII for a character, but nothing beats the original FOUR LIGHT WARRIORS!

Nightraeven
Nightraeven

Sheesh, can't Squeenix put a little more effort in it? I mean come on, the PSP can easily handle full 3D games, so why are we RPG lovers stuck with 2D 'remakes'. Throw FFVII, VIII or IX on it for god's sake, you don't even have to remake those, just compress them on a UMD.

legandary_ACE
legandary_ACE

when is square-enix gonna remake Final Fantasy 3, 4, 5 ,and 6 for the psp

big-joe-cool
big-joe-cool

Hey has anyone noticed how they're selling English versions of both Final Fantasy I AND II on eBay? They're from Hong Kong mostly but they are in English and can be played on any PSP due to the region-freeness (is that a word?) of PSPs. Why isn't gamespot just buying a copy of eBay (for about half the retail price btw) and reviewing that? And why aren't we?

halmosgabor
halmosgabor

FFtactics. looks like they only made an emulator for it:p although i never played this one. but looking forward to it.

chisoxrule
chisoxrule

May have to dust off the ol PSP and get this for my annual trip to the OBX with my family plus I never played the original FF.

bobert3000
bobert3000

seriously, how many final fantasy I/II rehashes has sqenix made already? i'm a big fan of final fantasy, but this is just a cash in.

KingKoop
KingKoop

A FFIII clone if you ask me.

Goffee71
Goffee71

Just finished the Jap edition, just over 24 hours of play - and didn't spend much time in the extra dungeons... Never got to play this first time around so I appreciate the chance to give it a go and experience some gaming history... Roll on no.2,3,4......

camzoo
camzoo

JUST BUY THE JAP VERSION. ITS IN ENGLISH, WHY WAIT?

rogermao
rogermao

lol, i agree with mamodoking, they keep on remaking games on different systems, can they not make up a new game?

LongShot42
LongShot42

if they are going to make a remake of another Final Fantasy why not do it with Final Fantasy 7... come on guys lets see it

mamodoking
mamodoking

In God's name, how many more remakes of Final Fantasy does a person need? Enough is enough already. It's bad enough that they have to dummy down the magic system, from the 8-bit original, but extra dungeons? Big deal. You want challenge, then try the original with 4 white mages.

GarethJacob
GarethJacob

i've already imported this from hong kong.......its awesome

Solid_Acid
Solid_Acid

I am looking forward to buying this when it hopefully gets released in Australia.

jeremey9905
jeremey9905

the game looks goood i will have to buy it

Nomad013
Nomad013

looks like 16-bit graphics, but depending on the price, i may pick it up to try to complete the series...

CloudStrife9288
CloudStrife9288

Gogandontas07: they already have a game based on the second movie, it was made in '97 buddy, I think they called it... final fantasy VII really, cuz i thot the movie was based on wat happened after wat happened in ff7 buddy. wow

CloudStrife9288
CloudStrife9288

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Setsa
Setsa

Unimpressive...

Gogandontas07
Gogandontas07

they already have a game based on the second movie, it was made in '97 buddy, I think they called it... final fantasy VII

kitty
kitty moderator

cant wait for it

PHeMoX
PHeMoX

It looks crappy, definitely a 'no buy' so far ... :( I want a Final Fantasy game based on the 2nd movie!!!

StarOceaner
StarOceaner

I want to import it but I really don't have the money for it right now. But I cannot wait for the US release. And knighthawk, the FF7 and 8 graphics were pretty good. I don't know what you are whining about...

laggarticus
laggarticus

"Why not make a remake with up-to-date graphics instead of using the original graphics?" KnightHawk has obviously not played the original. I don't have an NES anymore, but I still have the cartridge I received for my 10th Birthday, and trust me KH, these graphics are much more advanced. Though to be honest, from the screenshots, it looks like they just ported the same remake they ported for FF Origins (then again, I could be wrong... Haven't dusted off my copy in a while). Now that I think of it though, I wouldn't mind an original graphics release. The 8-bit version had its own unique flavor. Considering what they squeezed out the NES, the game was positively gorgeous...

XxKnightHawkxX
XxKnightHawkxX

Why not make a remake with up-to-date graphics instead of using the original graphics? .... If they make a remake of FFVII or FFVIII with the original graphics that would be really retarded

sacatash
sacatash

I think I'll pass. I'll just pickup FF Tactics for the PSP later this October...more value for the money.

DexterRS1980
DexterRS1980

If they are going to make a remake on the 20th Anniversary they should at least include new monsters and extra towns and dungeons for side quests

emanthechamp
emanthechamp

im not a final fantasy guy. i'll get a final fatasy game when you can play as cloud on the new the new systems.

MB_E102
MB_E102

Wow... how about some Final Fantasy XIII please. I mean, I've seen Final Fantasy 1 on how many consoles now? Lets see... NES PSone Wonderswan Color Gameboy Advance and now Sony PSP all remade or retooled somehow. This freaking reminds me of Street Fighter II... lol.

RaiKageRyu
RaiKageRyu

Think there was some new dungeons

Vergil010
Vergil010

hey fire_of_contee, this is the game, this is the reason why squaresoft is still in business, if they woulndt have made this game there would never be any finalfantasy, so shut ur stoopid mouth plz

decoy1978
decoy1978

Will they be including anything extra?

budboarder
budboarder

I remember when I used to play this game, hours upon hours of entertainment. One of the all time greats. I want to get this one, I havent played it in years.

Fire_of_Contee
Fire_of_Contee

COME ON, FF 1 sucked the first time and it'll suck now. Lets redrawl Final Fantasy IV or VI if we're going to do one. (PS Final fantasy II sucked also)

JechtBlack
JechtBlack

I'll probably get this game, but I'm really looking forward to FFVII Crisis Core.