Square has joined Rockstar in the attempt to bring the eighties back through video games. Their effort may not be as graphically impressive, but that is all part of the experience. Final Fantasy was the game that brought many North Americans to the RPG genre, and it brought joy to console gamers around the world with its class system, gameplay style, and world-traversing vehicles. Its sequel, which has never been officially released in English before, followed suit in these last two areas. Now, they're together on one disc entitled Final Fantasy Origins.
These games were not considerate of any feeble sensibilities gamers might have had. They were all about building up the strength of the characters, turn-based battle after turn-based battle. This remains unchanged. The two games have different ways of going about it, though. In the first, the player has to choose his or her character classes at the beginning of the game. There are six choices, and four party members to apply them to. The choices stick for the rest of the game, until a certain event upgrades the classes into enhanced versions of themselves. Experience points are accumulated in the standard fashion. In Final Fantasy II, it is a bit different. There are no levels or experience points, but what happens in battle makes certain attributes go up. For instance, attacking with magic raised the character's magic rating, and getting hit raises defense and hit points. It is not unlike the system used in the Saga games, except that it is much more direct. In both games, magic spells are acquired by purchasing them at shops.
Final Fantasy II brings, er, brought some new things to the table. First off, characters join the party according to events in what is called a "story." The characters still have classes, but they are no longer generic, and have their own personalities. Talking to people is encouraged, especially with the keyword feature. The player will have to keep an eye out for special words in his of her adventure, and have the party memorize them for later use.
Video game interfaces were still a relatively new element back then, and, as a result, the games wern't exactly user-friendly. Square, however, takes great pride in excelling in this area, and they're not about to let interface faults persist. The ability to see the strength of weapons and armor in shops, and having party members automatically choose another target after their original quarry was slain by another member that turn are among the new conveniences added to Final Fantasy Origins. To clear up the stories a bit, new cut-scenes have been added with decent graphics. Final Fantasy's new translations should also help. The relative difficulties have also been addressed. Final Fantasy has a new Easy mode, which gives the game a difficulty comparable to later Final Fantasy titles. However, any player choosing to play under this mode will be instantly subjected to the scorn of elitist fans. On the other hand, the lowered difficulty allows players to try strategies that would have otherwise been unfeasible. As for Final Fantasy II, the difficulty has been tweaked only enough to make it unnecessary for the player to indulge in self-assaults to build up defense and hit points, which many players found they needed to do in order to succeed in the Famicom version. In addition, both games will have a "Memo" file feature, which are basically temporary quicksaves, in case of unfortunate death.
Those familiar with the previous Final Fantasy re-releases, Anthology and Chronicles, will know what other features to expect. There are new CG movie introductions and endings, as well as some "collections." These are unlockable bonuses that include a photo gallery, an art gallery, a bestiary, and an item collection. Collecting everything adds replay value to the games. Also, the graphics have been upgraded to a 16-bit level, although in the next-generation age, it is unfortunate that the PlayStation's abilities were not used to make enhanced spell effects at least.
These classic games may be over ten years old, but they still hold more value than just plain nostalgia. A good game is a good game, and those who crave more Final Fantasy, and are able to get past the dated graphics, will find themselves very happy. What could be more fun then fetching random items and going on quests to defeat the Empire and recover the crystals? Final Fantasy Origins comes out on the eighth of April.