reviews\ Jun 21, 2007 at 8:00 pm


The year is 1987. After a string of poorly received titles, a small Japanese video game developer known as Square is facing possible bankruptcy. They employ the talents of Hironobu Sakaguchi, who creates a game called Final Fantasy, believing that the game will live up to its title and be the last game that the floundering company would ever make. This proves not to be the case, as the game is now a staple in video game culture, as well as the flagship series through which Square has made itself one of the premier publishers in the world.

Final Fantasy I on the PSP shows how Square is staying true to its roots, updating and releasing the one that started it all on Sony’s handheld. However, perhaps they are staying a bit too true (Final Fantasy I is at least the third such remake of the game to hit modern systems, fourth if you count the WonderSwan version which never came out in the US). Final Fantasy I is certainly not in danger of being forgotten, with competent versions on the GBA and the PS1 leading gamers to wonder what separates this one from the rest. The unfortunate answer is not much. Sure, the port has some nice graphical improvements over previous remakes, but it’s not really worth reinvesting in if you’ve already played through prior versions.

The story in Final Fantasy I is pretty simple, yet pioneering at the same time. You play as a group of four heroes sent to fulfill a prophecy by delivering the world from Chaos. You are each granted with four light crystals, and must balance the elemental shrines before taking on your final climactic enemy.

The gameplay is what you’d find in the other remakes. You begin by selecting your characters’ individual classes of which there are six: Warrior, Black Belt, Thief, White Mage, Black Mage, Red Mage. At a point later on in the game, you’ll be able to upgrade your classes, changing your special abilities and your character’s look to brand new advanced class.

The game is mainly an exploration and combat game, where you must find and complete the dungeons throughout the globe. You’ll need to acquire certain key items or vehicles (like airships) in order to progress to new areas. The combat system is simple and turn-based, with each of your characters queuing up an action and the performing it followed by your enemies’ attacks.

The basic elements are the same, but they’ve been slightly improved to make them a bit more “playable” for today’s audiences. “Ineffective” attacks are a thing of the past (previously, if an enemy died before your character’s queued attack, it would count as a wasted attack), so now you’ll never have to worry about the attacks falling on dead enemies. You can also “run” by holding down the circle button, allowing you to traverse dungeons much easier than before.

However, these updates have been around since Final Fantasy Origins hit the PS1, so they are nothing new. That’s the biggest problem with Final Fantasy I on the PSP, there’s really no incentive to pick up the game again if you already own a previous remake. Sure, there’s a tough new dungeon to play through in the later portions of the game, but the real fatal flaw in this version is that it doesn’t offer Final Fantasy II in remake pack (it’s set to be released later on this Summer), whereas the GBA and PS1 versions both have. So, not only are you getting a modest reinterpretation of existing remakes, but you have to buy a whole other game just to get the whole package.

Graphically, the game is improved from other remakes of FF1, offering high-resolution 2D sprites that look fantastic on the PSP’s great widescreen. However, those expecting a graphical update on the same tier as Final Fantasy III on the Nintendo DS (which completely recreated the game’s 2D graphics into detailed 3D polygonal models) will be a bit disappointed. The sound isn’t really an improvement over other remakes, using the same updated version of the original score as found in other remakes.

Final Fantasy I is not a bad remake. In fact, of the various ports of the game, it stands out as the most polished and best looking. However, the gameplay is the same thing that has been available for years now, and isn’t really anything to get excited about.

Review Scoring Details for Final Fantasy I

Gameplay: 7.5
The gameplay is concurrent with the updates featured in the Final Fantasy Origins remake, meaning that you won’t get an “ineffective” notice for attacking an enemy that has already been killed, and you can still hold down a button to walk faster. However, the game is still very rooted in the old-school boasting some barebones mechanics that may shy away those looking for more complex fare.

Graphics: 7.5
The game’s 2D sprites have been updated to look sharper, and show up quite nicely on the PSP. The world view is at a slight isometric shift instead of the top-down view of the original, but those are the only 3D elements to the otherwise 2D sprite-based aesthetic.

Sound: 7.0
The score and sound effects have been pulled directly from other Final Fantasy I remakes. The updated Uematsu soundtrack is pretty nice, but nothing that you haven’t heard before.

Difficulty: Medium
Whereas the game is a bit of a grind (only natural given it’s old-school roots), leveling up happens fairly quickly.

Concept: 6.0
Final Fantasy I on the PSP is only one of several remakes of the same game, with Final Fantasy Origins on the PS1 and Dawn of Souls on the GBA beating it to the punch by a few years and offering essentially the same updates. However, those were also coupled with Final Fantasy II (something you’ll have to pick up separately a bit later on down the line if you stick to the PSP), making Final Fantasy I on PSP the worst value of the bunch.

Overall: 7.0
A nice and polished remake of a beloved classic, Final Fantasy I is a good game for an RPG fan with only a PSP who hasn’t played any previous remakes of the title. However, if you already have, chances are you’ll want to skip this one, since it doesn’t bring anything new to the table.



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