Final Fantasy Anniversary Edition Review
This right here is genesis - 20 years on. While Dragon Quest came first, it's undeniable that Final Fantasy changed the face of RPG gaming forever, especially in the West. To celebrate 20 years of Final Fantasy, Square Enix has decided to remake Final Fantasy I again, this time for Sony's PSP system.
After multiple remakes on rereleases on everything from the PS1 to the GBA and Wonderswan Color, FF1 arrives in this, a version claimed to be the most essential. Despite the claim, it's difficult to view this title with anything but skepticism - almost everything here in this package has been seen before.
There's the cutscenes and remastered music from the PS1 version, the new translation and gameplay changes from the Game Boy Advance version and the base game from way back on the NES - it's all the same.
The big chance here is in the graphics - all those blocky sprites from Dawn of Souls have been lovingly translated to wonderfully high resolution artwork that animates wonderfully on the PSP's crisp widescreen.
It's certainly a very pretty game and yet manages to look just the same as the 8-bit game that it's a remake of. Every area, character and frame of every spell has been reanimated in the high resolution and really there is not a single negative thing that can be said about the artwork in this version of FF1.
Sure, it's not stretching the powerful PSP to its limits and it looks like an old-school game, but for a remake of a game that is now 20 years old, this is damn pretty.
There's little point in explaining the gameplay of Final Fantasy I, and all is as it was in Dawn of Souls which was similar to the NES original in itself. It's a testament to what an amazing game Final Fantasy that it's still enjoyable, engaging and addictive to this day, and everything that made it so 20 years ago is still present here.
Looking back now it’s surprisingly simple and in this respect FF1 is really showing its age. Some might see the need to complain about this, but it needs to be taken for what it is – a tribute, and not a reimagining of the classic title.
There are some issues for hardcore RPG fans in some areas - the difficulty in particular is as it was in the GBA version - pitifully easy. The game can be worked through with relative ease, with the necessary grinding for experience that was a staple of the NES version gone to make the game more accessible.
For hardcore fans the PSP version has one new addition, the "Labyrinth of Time" dungeon. This is a hardcore dungeon that is difficult as hell and is the only major gameplay addition for this version. This welcome addition helps to offset the sore feeling the easiness of the main game gives you if you're looking for a good challenge.
Like in Dawn of Souls the story is better presented that in the original NES title but it is still a simplistic, bare-bones storyline that merely directs you where to head next for the next big boss. In spite of this there's something about Final Fantasy that makes you want to continue and head to the next place - presumably the highly addictive, fun gameplay.
Like the graphics, the remastered music merely takes the classics and brings them up to date and sounds fantastic - there are no complaints there, either. We would've liked new arrangements entirely, but we'll take the PS1 FF1 soundtrack gladly.
This game isn't perfect - it does feel like a lazy port of a wonderful classic and lacks any really notable additions outside of the pretty new graphics. Almost everything here is recycled and it does have that nasty feeling of being a cheap cash-in.
At the same time this is a true classic and is a worthy purchase for anyone who hasn't played FF1 before and even for those who fancy a replay. Just don't go in expecting too much.