Released on December 1987 in Japan and May 1990 in North America, Final Fantasy was originally going to be creator, Hironbu Sakaguchi’s swan song in the realm of video game design. After a string of non-hits for developer Square, he planned to leave the video game business if this game was a failure too. Instead, Final Fantasy became the first installment of what many people, myself included, consider to be one of, if not the greatest Roleplaying Game franchise in the history of video games.
The premise is a very familiar one to fans of Japanese RPGs. A player creates a party of four characters from six classes. Those classes include Fighter, Thief, Black Belt, Red Mage, White Mage, and Black Mage. This automatically made the game chock full of replay value, as the combinations of party members were mind-boggling, effectively giving the player a different play experience each time they started the game over. After selecting the party, the game takes on the standard format of JRPGs. The player walks around an over world map until happening upon a random encounter and then the screen switches to a turn-based combat view. The player then fights the bad guys until either the bad guys are the player’s party is defeated. Experience is rewarded along with treasure, rinse repeat.
Now of course the storyline of the game is a little more complex than just randomly wondering around a map with no goal. But for the few players who have never experienced FF1 before, I don’t want to spoil a single thing pertaining to the story. So suffice to say that the player is thrust right into the middle of an engaging story right from the very beginning.
Final Fantasy is one of the seminal games for the original NES. It was the game the brought Japanese style RPGs to the North American masses and has spawned countless sequels, spinoffs, ports and remakes as well as plenty of imitators. I’ve always preferred the more American style D&D type RPGs myself but there can be no doubt of the influence and impact of this game.
Final Fantasy was released in the U.S. in 1987, preceding Dragon Warrior by about two years. I always found Dragon Warrior to be far more repetitive and Final Fantasy to be the more interesting game. Final Fantasy was a huge critical and commercial success and is one of those NES games that every video game aficionado should try.
One way or the other, you should give this game a shot if only to see how it all started.