So what the heck is it?
Final Fantasy Origins is a single-CD game for the Playstation. (Not PS2, just Playstation.) It includes a complete remake of FF1, the game we all know and love, and also FF2j, which was released for the Famicom (NES) in Japan but never before released in any form in America (FF2 in the US was really FF4 in Japan).
Yep, remake. If you've ever played the WSC (Wonderswan Color) remake of FF1, FF Origins will be very familiar to you, because it's mostly just a straight port of FF1 WSC to the PSX. "Mostly", because there are a ton of new features and things that are like the WSC remake, but better. And of course, FFO is in English, so unless you speak Japanese you probably never played FF1 WSC.
Those of you who've played FF Anthology or FF Chronicles or the other PSX remakes of old SNES games may be thinking that FFO is going to suck. Well, FFC and FFA did suck, because they ran slower than a bucket of snails. 8 second delay to open the main menu, 10 seconds to transition into a battle, 10 more to transition back to the world map. Well, FF1 in FFO has none of that problem. FFO runs as fast as FF1 on the NES. Even saving is done very quickly. Thank you Square for not driving me insane.
Stuff that's changed.
One big change in FFO is the translation. FFO is a new translation of the Japanese version of FF1, not a copy of the translation of FF1 on the NES. Due to limitations of the NES, or perhaps just lazy translators, a lot of monsters and items in the NES were rather poorly translated from Japanese. Like the monster Wizard, who uses no magic. And Fighter, who does. Or MudGol. Or Frost D. Well this translation is from scratch, so you get MindFlayer instead of Wizard, Mud Golem, White Dragon, etc. Items and weapons are also retranslated. Somewhat unfortunately however, town names are ALSO retranslated, so you get Cornelia, Elfheim, Temple of Chaos, Gulug Volcando, and things like that. I would've preferred the original town names at least, but all in all the translation is truer to the Japanese, makes more sense, and sounds spiffier. There is also a ton of new dialogue in the game, much of which expands or explains the plot much better than the NES managed to.
In terms of gameplay, a lot of the little "bugs" from the FF1 version have been fixed. In battle, if two characters target a monster, and the first character kills it, the second one would stand around and do nothing. In FFO, the second character will auto-switch to another random monster instead like in the later FFs. Another battle change is the inventory; FFO has no character-specific inventory; instead there's just one big pool of equipment, ala FFIV for example. So in battle, any character can use any magic-casting weapon or piece of armor. However, if, say, your first character decides to use the Heal Staff, the second-fourth characters won't be able to use it; only one character can use a single item each round. But if the next round you wanted the second character in line to use that Heal Staff, you could. That makes things a bit more flexible in batte, and a bit easier. In general, battles go much faster in FFO than in the NES. Damage pops up as little numbers on the monsters themselves rather than having those big (ugly) text-boxes at the bottom of the screen. The text-display is pretty fast, which is nice because so, so much of your time in FF1 is spent fighting random battles.
In towns and dungeons, you can now hold a button to Dash, aka walk double-speed, which is a welcome change. The menu has been streamlined; one menu takes care of everything, including changing party order. Speaking of party order, when you get poisoned, you no longer get shoved to the back row. THANK GOD. Anyways, you can also set the trigger buttons L1 through R2 to "shortcuts" to go straight to, say, the magic or item or equip menus. Those buttons are customizable. And speaking of equip menus, there's now one menu screen that includes both weapons and armor, and gives you feedback as to whether a weapon or armor will raise or lower your stats. There's also an Optimal option to auto-equip the best equipment available. Very handy for when you find / buy new equipment.
Shopping has also been streamlined; no more hitting A 4,000,000 times to buy 99 heal potions. You can buy all 99 at once. Since you save your game to a memory card, you can have as many savegames as you have free slots, which is also a nice change from the single slot on the NES cart.
And speaking of saving, FFO comes with a quick-save option. This is different than the WSC's option; the FFO option saves your game to RAM, which means if you turn off the PSX, you lose the savegame. FFO also lets you do a soft-reset (mash the triggers, Start and Select) and reload that quicksave in mid-game. Since you can do a quicksave literally anywhere (in the middle of a dungeon, etc.), you can use this option to cheat big-time just like an emulator savestate. Quicksave before a boss, and if you die, reload that save and try again. You can still only do a permanent save onto the memory card by using a tent/cabin/house or by using the Inn though, so you can't cheat TOO much.
"What the heck, FF1 is too darn easy now!", you say? Well, most of those options can be disabled in the config menu, making FFO pretty much exactly like FF1 NES (except things like the new menus, the party-wide equipment pool, etc.). However, even for long-time fans, you'll probably find that the changes don't take anything away from the fun of FF1, but just make it a little bit less tedious. It DEFINITELY doesn't make the game "easy". Maybe a little easier, but not easy, by any means. See below...
Stuff that's NOT changed
The stuff in FFO that's the same as the NES version of the game is as important as the stuff they changed. FFO is still the FF1 we all know and love. The items in the dungeons are in exactly the same places. The same stuff is sold in the same shops in the same towns. Arylon, Underhill, Kope, mohawk-guy in Pravoka, they're all there. The maps are almost identical; I know the maps pretty well, and there are only a few little spots they changed a square or two of a dungeon. You can use the maps and charts on my site to play through FFO, actually, because so much of the game is the same. The monster sprites are changed, but they're only better-quality redrawings of the old sprites; all the monsters are instantly recognizable. Even the little blurb you see when you cross the Bridge is the same picture, complete with little flying birds.
FFO still FEELS like FF1. After a few minutes you'll probably find that you don't even notice a lot of the things they've changed.
Easy Mode vs. Normal Mode
FFOrigins has two modes for FF1: Easy Mode and Normal Mode. You pick the mode when you start a new game, and then you're stuck with it. Normal mode is true to the original FF1 in just about every way. There are some little changes though; some bosses have MORE HP than in the NES version for example. And some monsters regenerate hit points in battle (WERE-type monsters for example, and Warmech). However, in general it's the same as FF1 NES. Stuff costs the same in shops, level progression is the same, etc. etc.
For those who aren't up to some old-school I-don't-care-if-you-can-beat-this-game-or-not in-your-face FF1, there's an Easy Mode. Easy Mode is easy. Very easy. Almost unfairly easy. For starters, things the shops cost a little more than half of what they do in Normal Mode. I also seemed to level up much faster in Easy Mode than in the NES version; I was at about level 16 when I hit the Marsh Cave, and I never really leveled up that much at all. One of the biggest changes though is magic progression. The cap for spells/level in Easy Mode is 99. That means when you get to Elfland, you'll have about 20 shots of level 1 spells, for example. That's the one thing that makes this game disgustingly easy. Eventually, you can FIR2 / FIR3 / NUKE every single monster you fight without ever having to rest. I killed Tiamat by casting NUKE about 16 times on him. I have to admit that that was fun though.
Another thing that makes FFO easy, in both Easy and Normal modes, is the mini-game (the sliding-block one, on the ship). For beating it now, if you beat your top time, you get 10,000 G. You can take your good old time and keep beating your score forever and get a TON of money before you even reach Elfland. That pretty much unbalances the game, but oh well. No one is forcing you to use it, so if you want a more traditional FF1 experience, just skip the mini-game.
Anyways, in Easy Mode, you'll basically steamroll your way through the game, if you're at all good at the old NES version. But still, even in Easy Mode, FFO can be hard. They apparently decided the Ice Cave wasn't hard enough, so they made Mages and Fighters (the monsters) uber-strong. I got killed exactly 6 times by Mages in the Ice Cave, when they ambushed me and cast FIR3 4 times in a row before I could run (or even get a turn). The Sorcerers' paralysis attack also works a lot more often now, it seems. But still, Easy Mode for the most part is mind-numbingly easy.
Graphics / sound
As if the gameplay changes weren't enough, the graphics and sound in FFO have been COMPLETELY remade from the NES version. The graphics are basically a straight port of the WSC version of FF1. The sprites and battle sprites and maps are identical to FF1 WSC's. Soem of the spell effects are redone however, but still nothing that's going to knock your socks off. But hey, they look a lot better than the NES's little 4-pixel flashing line of fire / lightning. I was moderately impressed with the graphics, and in a way I was very pleased that they weren't TOO good. Full-fledged PSX-style anti-aliased destructo graphics wouldn't have fit with the game well. And I'm VERY pleased they didn't go the route of FF8 and make 14-minute-long spell animations. The longest spell animation is probably FADE (Holy), and it lasts maybe 6 seconds, and is still quite impressive.
The biggest change is in the sound and music department. The musical score is VERY good. The songs themselves are the same as the WSC's, so there are the new battle themes and whatnot, but all of them are full PSX-quality. In fact FFO's music is the best music I've heard on the PSX, perhaps tied with Chrono Cross. The sound effects are also brand new. The battle sound effects especially are immersive and very pleasant. None of the harsh grating sratchiness of the WSC has come through.
Just like the other FF remakes for the PSX, FF Origins has a lot of extra features. As you progress through the game you unlock the Bestiary, which lists detailed stats of all the monsters in the game. The stats aren't as detailed as I would've liked though. Not as detailed as this site's enemy section for example. :) But still nice, if only to see the sprites of the monsters any time you want.Also unlocked as you go is a list of all the equipment you've found in all the dungeons. For each dungeon it tells you how many you missed as well, so that you can be sure that you find all the treasure. It even lists key items like the Mystic Key, so it can aid you with the plot, if you need it. (What in the world is that extra item I never got in Mt. Druegar (Dwarf Cave)? *cough*Excaliber*cough*)
An artwork section is also unlocked as you go. Most of the artwork is line-drawings of monsters, which are very impressive. Also included is color Amano artwork of the Light Warriors, which is just amazing. Well worth the effort to unlock.
Once you beat the game, the fourth section is unlocked. It includes CG artwork of various stuff I won't mention because it might be a spoiler. Needless to say it is VERY impressive. To unlock all the stuff in the game, you have to fight every type of monster in the game at least once, and get 100% of the treasure in all the dungeons. And you have to beat the game in Easy Mode and in Hard Mode. (Once you beat the game once, it makes a system-save on the memory card, so make sure you watch the ctedits and save.) I have yet to beat it twice myself, so I'm not sure what all you get for doing that. And I don't want to know, I'll find out myself. :) The other addition is FMVs. There's only one (that I've seen so far), at the very beginning of the game, of Garland fighting a dragon. Don't ask me WHY Garland is fighting a dragon, just watch, it's spiffy. FFO also has all the little nifty cutscenes from the WSC version. They're exact copies, I'm pretty sure, but still entertaining.
FF Origins is a remake of the greatest game ever made. The NES version will always be my favorite, just because I grew up with it and I know it so well. But FFO lives up to the greatness of the original. And don't forget, it also comes with FF2j. And it costs about $35. You'd have to be stark raving mad not to get this game.
-- Dr Unne
Sound and Music:
The first ever Final Fantasy game brought a revolution. It was the beginning of a new game series. The game did offer as much as now-a-days but it surely was good. Therefore here is my review of Final Fantasy I...
| Story |
The story isn't that great, but then again it wasn't bad for when it was made. In the beginning you think the game is a simple quest but it actually turns to be out a far greater plot. When you finally blow up the damn after leaving the enclosed ocean the story really begins. Maybe next time the game should begin here too. You follow the story, you collect stuff, and then you go to the final boss. And there the story becomes a little bit fuzzy. If you read every line you can follow what has happened. If you miss a line you won't understand the story because it can be very complicated sometimes. That makes the game hard to follow and can make the rest of the game confusing. For these reasons the story is a 7.5.
| Characters (Classes) |
There aren't exactly characters in this game so I will talk about the jobs. Although you can only choose from six jobs those six jobs are great. When you create your party you can choose from the following classes: Fighter, Thief, Black Belt, Red Mage, White Mage, and Black Mage. Each class has its own specialty and because you can create a party of four characters you can create all sort of different combinations of party formations which are all capable or beating the game. Later in the game you can upgrade the classes to more powerful classes including Knight, Ninja, Grand Master, Red Wizard, White Wizard and Black Wizard. The upgraded classes are stronger and can use stronger spells, which are very powerful, but the strongest spells for the Black Wizard and White Wizard are hard to find. As you complete the game these new classes will help you a lot. As every character is good, I give the characters/classes a 10.0.
| Gameplay |
Battles, leveling up, buying equipment and interacting with your game world are the same as most RPG's but you will never beat a monster without the right tactic. You never can beat an ice elemental monster with ice, fire elemental monster with fire, etc... You must also use your magic wisely. Good tactics are also needed for the bosses. Luckily the maps are big and you can encouter enemies easily so leveling up is not a problem. Saving is a problem though, as you cannot save on the map unless you have a tent or cabin to use. On Final Fantasy Origins the saving system has been expanded with a memo-file. But if you shut down your Playstation you lose the memo file, so you will start from the last time you did a hard save, either from an inn or a tent or cabin. This is very annoying because some dugeons are really big, like the final dungeon. Because of the saving system the gameplay will recieve an 8.0.
| Music |
When Final Fantasy I first came out the music was amazing. Square did a great job on Origins too because the music is good there also. A creepy dungeon sounds creepy, the crystal bosses have good music and other bosses have other music. Inns and shops are always recognizable by their sound and a church sounds like a church. No disadventages, only great music. The music recieves a 10.0.
| Overall |
The music is great and the jobs are great but the save system and the story bring the game down to a level where it should not belong. This is a shame because it is a great game and every RPG fan will love it, or they should at least play it with great pleasure. The game could be better but it isn't becuse the technology wasn't available. So the Final Judgement is: 8.8.