An odd difficulty curve and horrible Game Save mechanic keep me from thoroughly enjoying this game.
This is SQE's last delve into the classic Final Fantasy, that is to say, before they created the ATB and gave character's pre-destined "jobs". In this game, you follow Luneth, Arc, Refia, and Ingus, the 4 warriors of light, on a journey to save the world from darkness and Xande. It is a painful journey, as people along the way are taken from the characters, which helps to add some depth to the story. However, it doesn't have the emotional involvement that some of the other Final Fantasy's bring out.
The job system is good. Like Final Fantasy I, you have turn based combat, and the job system, allowing you to customize your characters based on how you like to fight, and along the journey, as you find each of the 4 crystals, you gain new, and more powerful jobs to help you. In addition, the magic system still has that annoying method of MP. Where instead of having a amount of MP and each spell costing a certain amount, you get a certain limit to the number of times you can cast spells from each rank (ranked 1-8). This system annoys me. I really don't know what else to say about it, since I know they've fixed it since then, because I live in the future.
The graphics are weird, to say the least. They are an incredibly blocky take on 3D characters, and, while letting you see facial expressions and physicality when fighting, always looks kind of weird, and sometimes, makes you want to go back to how the game looked originally. Also, though running around dungeons and towns works with the DS touch screen, combat doesn't. And I found myself running around with the stylus, then putting it away while I fought.
This game is hard. You will not be able to, what I call, power through the game without having to really take a breather. Eventually you will have to grind. A lot. And the mobs are difficult and don't give much experience, AND when you level, you don't get much of a reward. Especially in the way of HP, even after a few grinding sessions, by the end of the game, my HP was around 2400, which makes the final boss impossible. This feels broken to me, not that its too difficult, I enjoy a challenge and know one when I see it, but it feels more broken and cheesed than legitimately hard. There are times in the game where I can one shot mobs with my characters and get through each battle in one turn with no damage taken, and then the next dungeon will tear through my face. It's just really weird and annoying.
Finally the worst part of the game, which almost makes me want to give it a much lower score, and is the reason I did not beat the final boss and don't care to and will never try again. The Save System. Saving. Seems weird to critique, right? NO! The save system in this game is so broken an unnecessarily hindering it makes the game incredibly punishing if you die in a dungeon. You can only save on the world map, like a lot of Final Fantasy's. However, there are no areas in dungeons where you can also save. No rooms right before bosses to save. So if you die, its back to right outside, if you remembered to save before you entered the dungeon.
The reason I harp on it is the final dungeon. This is unforgivable and terribly frustrating. The final dungeon is incredibly long and arduous. In the end, you fight the final boss who, surprise, isn't really the final boss. You then have to fight four mini bosses, each one takes a long time to get to, and is incredibly difficult to kill. I pity players who don't use Vikings. After the four, you fight the final final final boss, who completely decimated my team, which took no damage from any of the 4 mini bosses. After dying, I had to start back from when I first entered the final dungeon, which is when I turned off the game.
Though it is a decent Final Fantasy, the save system is what Secretly destroys any fun you might have.