Final Fantasy Origins Review

Title: Final Fantasy Origins
Developer: Square Enix
Game Type: PlayStation Classic
Download:  118 MB
NA Availability: 
Digital Download, Direct Download
EU Availability: Currently Unavailable

The PlayStation Vita has access to a lot of Final Fantasy games.  With the impending release of Final Fantasy X | Final Fantasy X-2 HD Remaster on the portable system in March of next year, many fans of the series will be revisiting it for both the fun of it and in anticipation of it.  While you have the hardcore fans playing all of the games again, we at the PlayStation Vita Review Network will be reviewing all of the mainstream games of the series periodically until the release of those HD Remaster titles.

Having already reviewed Final Fantasy IV, we move to the original titles of the series.  Final Fantasy started way back in 1987 on the Nintendo Entertainment System, and made history.  The PlayStation Vita has access to the first two titles in the series, both from the 1980s, in the form of the PlayStation Classic, Final Fantasy Origins.

This game took the first two games in the series, updated the visuals, music, and more for the PlayStation era, and packed them both together into one package.  With both Final Fantasy and Final Fantasy II, there is definitely plenty to do.  Here is out official review of Final Fantasy Origins.

Story


Story will be a little divided for this game, seeing as how it is a compilation of two games.  Final Fantasy Origins brings together the first two games in the series in one package, similar to what was done when the games re-released on the Game Boy Advance.  As such, we have two stories to cover, as neither of them continues into one another.  Dissidia’s story aside, every game in the series is independent and on its own.

The story of the original Final Fantasy is quick and to the point.  There is a legend for the world that states that when nature runs wild and darkness covers the world, four Warriors of Light shall appear in the world and conquer the darkness to restore peace.  It’s a simple enough plotline.  You take the role of the four Warriors of Light and must travel the world to restore light to the crystals of the world, and go on a journey to find the source of the darkness and defeat it.

This is where the story ends.  Final Fantasy is very, very light on story.  You’re given a brief summary of the prophecy and are thrown into the world.  There is dialogue, here and there, with NPCs, but your characters don’t say a word from start to finish.  You just go on this journey with people talking to you and helping you.  The game is much more gameplay-oriented than story-oriented.  It is an interesting story, but is very simple and doesn’t take the lead role in this game.

Final Fantasy II, on the other hand, is much more story-oriented.  In Final Fantasy II, we have an Empire, and the Emperor has launched a full-scale invasion of several nearby countries.  By controlling hordes of monsters and warriors, Emperor Mateus is continuing his onslaught as his troops strike down four orphans.  Near-death, the remaining three orphans, Firion, Maria, and Guy, are taken into refuge by a Rebel Army and go on a journey to stop the Emperor’s reign of terror.

The story of Final Fantasy II is leaps and bounds above that of its predecessor.  We have a much bigger focus on story as the game progresses and several characters temporarily join the party, each with their own backstories and the game even has a “Keyword” system that allows you to progress through story dialogue in specific ways.  All in all, there is a lot more story and character development to it.  The characters in your party also speak, which was not the case in the original Final Fantasy.

Both stories are good and interesting stories.  They are nowhere near on par with stories of today, but take into account that these stories are as old as the writer of this review, that’s saying something.

Gameplay

The gameplay of many of the early Final Fantasy games is mostly the same.  You are a 2D character set on a 2D plane and your goals are to explore the map and towns, fight your way through dungeons, fight bosses, and get to the next area to get to the next story event.  This is what is done in both Final Fantasy and Final Fantasy II.  Ultimately, you are going from town to town and dungeon to dungeon to complete tasks, obtain items, and progress the story.

The main differences between the two games are the party, class, leveling, and battle systems.  The party system is different in that your characters have classes in Final Fantasy, but do not in Final Fantasy II.  When you first start Final Fantasy, you choose names for your characters, along with classes.  These classes run in types.  You can choose Warrior, Thief, Monk, Black Mage, White Mage, or Red Mage for each character.  The goal is to create a balanced party, as each class has their own strengths and weaknesses.  Not everyone can use magic and only fully developed White or Black mages can use high level magic and only some classes can equip certain weapons.

You gain skills in the game to use, which mostly is magic for your mages by buying them.  In each town you encounter, there are various shops.  There is a shop set for weapons, one for armor, one for items, and two for magic.  The Magic shops are set apart.  One is for Black Magic, which is mostly offensive magic, and the other is for White Magic, which is mostly support magic.

Using Magic is also a unique aspect of Final Fantasy.  Magic Levels determine what Magic you can use.  As you level up your characters by fighting, they gain Magic Levels, depending on class, as well as casts for those levels.  You can only cast magic that is the level you have obtained, and you have a set number of castings you can use for each level before restoring them by resting at an Inn.  For example, let’s say you have Level 1 Magic Fire and Blizzard, and only have 6 casts for Level 1 Magic.  That means that, until you heal at an Inn, you can only cast Fire and/or Blizzard six times.  Leveling up will enable new Magic Levels as well as increases the casts for already-obtained levels.

Weapons and Magic work a little differently in Final Fantasy II.  Characters do have classes and can do anything.  You can equip anyone with any type of weapon, from swords to lances to bows to axes.  As they use these weapons, they can increase the weapon level and start to do more damage when using those weapons.  This also happens for magic.  Everyone can learn any magic, though you do it by using “Tomes”.  There are tomes you can buy from shops or find and when a character uses a tome, they learn that magic.

Tomes level their magic up the more you use them and, with each level a magic goes up, the higher amount of Magic Points (MP) they use.  MP is like HP, but is deducted when you cast magic.  You can restore this with items or by healing at an Inn.  The uses are not limited like they are in Final Fantasy.  If you have Thunder Magic that costs 5 MP to cast and have 100 MP, you can cast it 20 times, if you use it over and over.  It all depends on your remaining MP.

As far as combat is concerned, both games are turn-based games.  You are set up on a 2D plane with the enemy party on one side of the field and your party on the other.  You take turns selecting commands to use and then your party issues their commands, whether that be attacking, using an item, casting magic, or defending, and the enemies also do their commands.  Then you choose more commands and repeat the process.  There is no time limit, so you can take as much time as you need to decide what you want to do.  Once you defeat enemies you gain experience points to level up and increase your stats.

Increasing stats is different in Final Fantasy II, and one thing many do not like about the game.  Different stats increase for different things happening.  Your attack stat increases the more you physically attack an enemy.  These stats are easy enough, but increasing your HP and Defense and whatnot it harder.  HP and Defense increase the more damage your characters take.  So, if you want to train your characters and increase health, you will basically be having your characters attack each other and constantly healing each other.

Saving the game is one thing that is both different between the two games, but also different from Final Fantasy and the newer remakes of the game.  In Origins, there are two ways of saving.  You can use Memo Save, which is a temporary save file, which can only be reloaded once.  The only way to make a permanent save file is to rest at an Inn in a town.  Once you rest, you will have the option to save.  So, unless you go to an Inn, there is no way to have a permanent save file, in case you saved right before a boss and didn’t defeat it.  This makes the game a little harder.

Another addition with Final Fantasy is Easy Mode.  Final Fantasy II does not offer this, but Final Fantasy’s Easy Mode makes things a little easier.  You get more experience to level up and increase your stats.  Along with this, items in shops don’t cost as much money, and your stats increase more after you level up.

Controls

The controls are one thing that both Final Fantasy and Final Fantasy II share.  Each of these games originated in the NES era, where there weren’t very many buttons available.  If you recall, the NES controller has the D-Pad, A, B, Start, and Select.  That was it.  There were no shoulder buttons.  No buttons on the bottom of the controller.  No Analog Sticks.  So, with games from that era, control schemes are pretty basic.

When you’re traveling through the map, and pretty much everywhere else, you move with the D-Pad buttons.  The D-Pad is also used to traverse through menus in the Main Menu as well as battle menus.  The Start Button pauses the game, while the X Button confirms a selection in a menu or talks to an NPC, and Circle lets you go back one page when cycling through a menu.

It’s a very easy and basic control scheme.  Unless you’re not used to X being confirm, you will not have a hard time traversing and learning the controls.

Presentation


Visually, the game looks good or bad, depending on how you look at it.  The game uses 2D sprites for all of their visuals that were re-done from the original games and made for this re-release on the PlayStation.  The original had much less backgrounds for battles and had very low-quality sprites.  Origins puts out much better-done sprites, more in the vein of games like Final Fantasy IV, V, and VI.

What is the downside to this?  There are newer versions of Final Fantasy and Final Fantasy II that have much better-done sprites than in this version of the game.  The PlayStation Portable got remakes of both games and, for whatever reason; Square Enix never released them on the PlayStation Network for download on the PS Vita.  Those games look more like Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection, which looks magnificent on the Vita’s screen.    This version doesn’t look bad, but it is not what it should, especially since those PSP versions of Final Fantasy and Final Fantasy II are available on the Japanese and European PlayStation Network Stores.

As far as audio is concerned, it is done well.  The music from Origins was used in all future versions of the games.  While the originals used 8-bit music, the music was done over and sounded very improved.  While it doesn’t sound like it’s being done by a live orchestra, it’s got some fun music and sounds above the quality of some 2D RPGs of its time.

The music is well-done for the game, though there are not a lot of tracks from the game that will be memorable.  Final Fantasy II has more memorable tracks than Final Fantasy and, while those tracks are fast-paced and exciting during the big boss fights, it’s nothing you’re going to remember years down the road.  It’s good, but not great.

As far as loading and gameplay go, things are doing well here.  The wait time between going somewhere or going into a fight is very short, maybe a couple seconds.  It’s nothing like Chrono Trigger or some of the other Final Fantasy games that came out as PlayStation Classics.  If you’re impatient when it comes to load times, you’re in luck.

Overall

All in all, Final Fantasy Origins is a good way to explore the origins of the series.  While the save system can cause some frustrations, and the magic and stat systems definitely aren’t the most user-friendly systems the series has offered, it is a fun collection of games that any Final Fantasy fan will want to play at least once.

The PlayStation Vita Review Network Rates Final Fantasy Origins a 6.5/10.

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