The First Fantasy
A beautiful remaster of a classic Nintendo game that transitions well to mobile gaming platforms and Steam. The absent loading times and quality of life adjustments will have you flying through this game. However, the overall rebalancing of the game leaves more challenge to be desired.
Roughly thirty-four years separate the initial release of Final Fantasy and Final Fantasy Pixel Remaster. All of the magic and wonder of the original release is retained in this beautiful remaster of the classic game. It is much more than just an update of the character and enemy sprites. Quality of life adjustments and the lack of loading times make experiencing this adventure more enjoyable than ever before. However, once the journey really gets moving, the challenge quickly disappears. This remaster is far more forgiving than its Nintendo counterpart. That does not mean that this is not a journey worth taking!
Available on Steam and Mobile.
Reviewed on the latest Apple iPad Pro 11-inch model.
Despite being a very faithful remaster of the original Final Fantasy, there are quite a few changes. Of course, the most noticeable being the remastered sprites and environments. All of the character, enemy, and object sprites have been completely redrawn and are much cleaner than their original counterpart. There are additional details that really separates them from their Nintendo version, yet remaining loyal to their original design. Environments are more alive than ever with additional effects and bright color. It feels much more align with later Final Fantasy titles released on the Super Nintendo.
Along with the graphics being remastered, the soundtrack has been overhauled. The composer took the original melodies and gave them a new life. It is, quite honestly, music to the ears. One of the best improvements over the original is that the music does not reset when entering random encounters. No longer will players need to hear the few opening notes of the over world theme on repeat as they return from relentless enemy encounters.
Although many of the changes from the previous remakes are not present in this version of the game, there are a few that carried over. The script of this remake is retranslated for the better. Even the grave marker easter egg now displays the translated Japanese text, "Here lies Link." Although the story is still pretty wonky, it is much more understandable in this translation.
The overall game has been completely rebalanced. As discussed later in this article, enemy encounters are far more forgiving. Random encounters, while still very common, seem to be less than the original. As seen in previous remakes, purchasing goods from various vendors throughout the world is far more affordable. Additionally, players can now purchase phoenix downs, which were not available in the original title. All of the goods sold at the desert caravan match the goods sold on the PlayStation Portable version of the game. Meaning, players can purchase items that temporarily boost stats during battle.
All of the classic gameplay elements of the original are here in the pixel remaster. Starting a new game, the player must select a party of four. The party can consist of any combination of warrior, thief, monk, black mage, white mage, and red mage. Selecting the default party of a warrior, thief, white mage, and black mage will ensure an easy experience and all four of the party members will be able to use magic after upgrading. Warriors, thieves, and monks have no special abilities but excel in other ways. Warriors and thieves can learn limited white and black magic respectively once they are upgraded to knights and ninjas. Red mages can use better equipment than their mage counterparts. They can also learn both black and white magic. However, since magic users can only learn three spells per magic level, players must choose carefully.
Once players have selected their party, they will gain control of them. The controls of this remaster work wonderfully on both Steam and mobile. On mobile, moving using finger swipes feels a little clunky. However, the "tap to move" feature works brilliantly. Navigating menus and selecting battle commands are implemented very well, especially compared the original version of this game. One downside is the lack of controller support on the mobile versions of this game. This could be enough of a deterrent for players to pass up on this title.
If players need a nice diversion, the 15 Puzzle makes a return in this remaster! In the mobile versions of the game, players need to enter the boat, turn on the "tap to move" feature, hold one finger on the boat and tap with another finger numerous times elsewhere on the screen. The game is pretty straightforward as the goal is to order the squares from one to fifteen. Though, there appears to be no rewards for completing the mini-game in this version.
Every remake of Final Fantasy has modified the combat system from the original in order to align with later entries in the series. However, the original battle system has made a triumphant return in the pixel remaster. The only differences are a major quality of life addition, beautiful combat backgrounds, and of course, remastered enemy and party member sprites.
The only major addition to the combat is the ability to speed up combat and repeat the last move of every party member. Pressing the fast forward icon will increase the speed of the battle and automatically select commands for each of the party members based off of their previous selection. This can be done immediately as soon as the battle screen is loaded. The dreaded random encounters no longer hold this title back. Dungeon crawling and grinding are a breeze as long as you make sure your party is healthy. Once you aquire the Healing Staff, you will rarely even need to ensure that the party is healthy.
The magic system in the original game was inspired by Dungeons and Dragons. For each level of magic the party member acquired, there was a set number of times spells could be cast from that tier. All of the previous remakes of Final Fantasy changed this to the MP system, which made these remakes considerably easier. This edition reverts back to original system. Players need to be conservative with magic, especially early in their journey, if they want their mages to be useful. However, items like ethers are fairly common in this version.
Although these are certainly welcome in this version of the game, the difficulty of the game appears to have taken a hit as a result of the rebalancing. In the original, it was not uncommon to be wiped out by a random encounter. The game was very unforgiving. In this version, it seems like it is relatively easy to recover from even the toughest of ambushes.
Raising the level cap to ninety-nine is another decision that lessened the difficulty of this title. After grinding for a few hours just to encounter the superboss Warmech, the party leveled up into the seventies. By the time they encountered the intimidating machine, they were able to wipe it out with a few commands.
Time to soar!
At the onset of the adventure, the party will embark on foot but will quickly aquire a boat. The world opens up pretty quickly and that could be a bit jarring for some players. Progressing the story, the world becomes even more accessible. Before long the player acquires the canoe. At this point, players can sequence break and head straight to aquiring the airship and then upgrading their characters. The game really soars at this point.
With the airship in hand, no load times in sight, and the ability to speed through battles, the remaining game is a breeze. Tackling sidequests, revisiting previous towns and dungeons, and discovering the previously unknown is no longer a tedious task. In previous versions of the game, this large chunk of the game still seemed very time consuming. It's only a matter of time before speed runners take advantage of how much faster one can complete this remaster than the previous editions.
All of the sidequests from the original game are present here. However, all of the additional content from earlier remakes of this game are not included. For gamers that have never experienced any of the previous remakes, this could have been an excellent opportunity to explore this additional content. For the price point of this remaster, it would have been a welcome addition. Alas, we are given a game that never leveraged this content to make the title more appealing for those on the fence about picking this up.
- Beautifully remastered!
- Quality of life improvements and no loading times.
- The remastered soundtrack is wonderful on the ears.
- Many of the original gameplay elements retained.
- This is the best version to experience the original Final Fantasy.
- Mobile does not support controllers.
- Much less challenging than the original.
- None of the additional content from previous remakes.
- A little expensive for a title that has been remade numerous times.
I am currently playing through the Pixel Remasters of Final Fantasy II and III. Reviews for those will follow soon!
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