Deeply basic, but still has the Final Fantasy experience buried away in there.

User Rating: 6.5 | Final Fantasy Origins PS
For most people, FFI and II should be played only as a historical curiosity, a means of seeing the humble beginnings of a mighty franchise. However, if you're willing to severely lower your expectations, not to mention spend dozens of hours fighting solidly, then you'll eventually be able to see why it is the series took off like it did. This review will be split in half, covering both of the included games - though the fact they didn't include FFIII, thus denying me the chance to ever play it, will annoy me til my dying day...


Final Fantasy I


+ Snappy Fighting: Given just how much of it there is to do, it's just as well the fighting is fairly compelling! The fact that it's strictly turn-based means they actually move along quicker than fights later in the series, and most of the classic attacks and magics of the series are present and correct.

+ Customizeable Party: Before the game even begins, you get to pick the classes of each of your characters, giving you an instant (and quite novel) level of freedom in deciding how your party turns out. The only problem is that you're irreversibly buggered for the rest of the game if you don't choose wisely...

+ Purity: If you want the essence of an RPG, distilled down as far as it can reasonably go, then this is it. Part of the reason the game is still playable is because it's so absurdly basic that it doesn't stray into anything that detracts too much from the gameplay!


- Excessive Fighting: You could argue this about any of the 2D games in the series really, but everything that follows tames in comparison to this! You will literally have no choice but to go out intentionally fighting endlessly until you can afford all the armour and items you need, and even when you're just trying to get through to where you're going, you'll have to put up with a whole lot of random battles - there was a section where I literally couldn't move a single step without getting into a fight, for about 6-10 times in a row!

- Plot: As I happen to have been born the year this came out, I can't say I know too well what game plots were like around this time. However, while there's still something to gain from the antiquated plots of FFIV and V, FFI literally has no overarching plot whatsoever, except for a confusing little splurge at the very end. It's just endless meaningless quests taking you from one town to another; none of your team members ever even speak a word of dialogue, and so plotless is the game that you have to come up with each of their names from scratch!

- Difficulty: In most other Final Fantasy games, you at least have a choice in whether you spend a lot of time pumping yourself up and buying equipment before moving on, or whether you just want to naturally evolve by going through the story. In FFI, however, you will be crushed horribly underfoot unless you dedicate hour upon hour of your life to hardening your party up, which can make for a fairly frustrating, repetitive experience. The irony of it is that I eventually beefed myself up so much that I had much less trouble killing the final boss than the normal monsters I'd been fighting a few hours before!


Final Fantasy II


+ Plot: In all honesty, the plot is incredibly flimsy, not to mention pushed aside for large tracts of the game, and the characterisation is either basic or non-existent. However, the mere fact that there is some sort of sustained plot in there at all, along with named characters (some of whom even come and go throughout the game) with dialogue, is something to be commended, and FFII was really the very beginning of the thing that always stands out in the best Final Fantasy games: the story.

+ Snappy Fighting: As with FFI.

+ Novel Levelling System: It has its flaws (which I shall address below), but the system of improving your skills and attributes based specifically on which ones you use in battle is a pretty interesting idea, one which remains fairly unique in the series to this day.


- Excessive Fighting: As with FFI.

- Flawed Levelling System: It's a nice idea, and could possibly have been made to work with some tweaking, but the fact that only the specific things your character uses will be improved means that it's all too easy to end up with either horribly specialized characters, or a whole set of fairly bland weaklings.

- Difficulty: As with FFI, with the addition of how hard it is to train an effective party only making things worse!


I warn you now, if you thought the later 2D games in the series were heavy on battles, you have a whole new world of pain coming to you; if you thought the story and characters were flimsy, prepare for a lesson in narrative simplicity; and if you thought the overall design and fighting systems were basic, don't expect to have your brain stimulated in the slightest by this. If you can handle these deficencies, however, you'll still find the core Final Fantasy experience is very much there, and you'll probably marvel at how it all took off and spread its wings from such humble origins. Of the two, while I think FFII is to be commended for introducing the building blocks of plot and characterization the series would come to rely on, its slightly iffy levelling system (given just how important fighting is in these two games) prevents it from being as satisfying and pure an experience as FFI. Give them a try, if you dare...