Final Fantasy I WSC Hands-On

We give you our initial impressions of the rebirth of Final Fantasy I on the WonderSwan Color.

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Today, many marvel at the well-designed user interface and the high-quality graphics of the Final Fantasy series, but in its early days, the games' production values left a little to be desired. There were only black backgrounds during battle, the characters only attacked designated enemies, the magic spell effects were plain, and the interface was confusing. That's what Final Fantasy I for the NES looked like 13 years ago, and the game has finally received the remake it deserves in Final Fantasy I for the WonderSwan Color. It is not a cut-and-paste remake like Final Fantasy Anthology for the PlayStation, but a complete remake from scratch. Final Fantasy I for the WonderSwan Color boasts a level of graphical quality that is on par with Final Fantasy V for the Super Famicom (also released under FF Anthology on the PlayStation) while keeping most of the gameplay from the original intact.

The GUI throughout the game has been revamped into something that will be more familiar to the modern-day Final Fantasy fan. In the original, when entering shops or inns, the screen simply showed your party, the store clerk, and a shabby counter over a black background. Now, the interiors of shops are detailed, and they allow you to walk around freely. In the original, when purchasing items, you had no idea which party member could equip what, you couldn't buy in bulk, and you couldn't sell weapons in the armor store. The remake has made things easier for players, adding the necessary information and convenience to shopping during the game.

The same can be said for the battles, as they make use of the current Final Fantasy format. Previously, damage induced, status, and so on were all displayed in text messages, but that has been switched to the more straightforward numbers and icons that pop up near the characters' heads. The sizes of particular monsters have been expanded, so now big bosses fill up the majority of the screen. Magic spells are also more colorful and vibrant than the original game's. Despite the WSC's hardware limitations, some of the more powerful spells are quite eye-catching. Key events throughout the game are now played out with higher production values, including more character movement and added or revised dialogue.

Final Fantasy I was not an easy RPG, but the remake has added new options that might lower the difficulty level. You can resurrect dead characters during battle, allow characters to run around dungeons, and "auto-target" during battle. In the original, your character only attacked the enemy that was designated. In other words, if someone else killed that enemy first, the other character wasted one turn. The original game didn't allow you to attack an alternate enemy - or auto-target - during that turn because you did not designate it. That option is now available in FFI for the WSC.

Other features have also been integrated into the game. You can't turn them off, but you can choose not to use them. The "quick save" feature allows you to save your progress anytime during the game, even inside dungeons. Be aware that it's only a quick save, though, so if you load a saved game, you will lose the quick save data. Also, earning money has become easier now that the number square game has been added. Solving the number square under two minutes will earn you a hefty 10,000 gil, so it's almost like a cheat code for infinite money.

Despite additional tracks such as boss themes, the music and sound effects aren't as much of a dramatic improvement as the graphics are. For those who have experienced the recent Final Fantasy titles, this may be a good opportunity to look back at the classics and learn the roots of the game. The revamped Final Fantasy I on the WonderSwan Color is currently available only in Japan.

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