Final Fantasy - the Original Computer Game Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

Final Fantasy - the Original Computer Game

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The world is veiled in darkness. The wind stops, the sea is wild, the earth begins to rot. The people wait, their only hope a prophecy...
When in darkness, four warriors will come...
After a long journey four young warriors arrive, each holding an Orb

So begins the story of Final Fantasy, the game that raised Square1 out of their financial crisis and won them an eternal place in gaming fame.

In 1986, Square was in dire financial straits. Putting all their eggs in one basket, they created a revolutionary game for the Nintendo Entertainment System, one the likes of which the world had never seen before. It was to be their 'Final Fantasy'.

The Story

Final Fantasy begins in a world that is starting to come apart at the seams. The forces of entropy are working in overdrive. The four Orbs, which the Light Warriors hold, represent the four basic elements: Earth, Fire, Water, and Wind. Before, these Orbs shone with light, but now they are dark. What begins as a simple quest to rescue the Princess of Coneria, the capital of the world, from Garland, a good knight corrupted by the forces of evil, turns into an epic quest that takes the four heroes over land, under the water, and even through time to defeat the fiends who stole the elemental powers of the Orbs and are using them for destruction.

The Characters

Final Fantasy was a pioneer both in the existence of a class system and also of having a 'party' of multiple main characters in the game.

At the game's start, the player chooses four warriors from the pool of character classes. The selection is made up six different archetypes. Later on in the game, the player may accept a quest from Bahamut, the King of Dragons, the prize of which is a class change for each character.

  • The Fighter is a master in close combat and weapons use. After the class change, he becomes the Knight, with added ability to use simple White Magic.

  • The Black Belt is a martial artist who needs no weapons. Once he undergoes the class change he becomes the Master, the most powerful physical character in the game.

  • The Thief is a crafty, quick character who is good at escaping from battles. Later on he becomes the Ninja, who can use nearly every weapon in the game and has the added bonus of being able to cast low-level Black Magic.

  • The White Mage is the party's main defensive-spell caster and healer. Later on the White Mage becomes the White Wizard, who can use all of the most powerful healing and protective spells available.

  • The Black Mage is the party's offensive-spell caster. Though weak physically, his Black Magic more than makes up for his inadequacies. After the transformation, the Black Mage becomes the Black Wizard; he can then use all of the most powerful destructive spells in the game.

  • The Red Mage is the last and most versatile character class. He can use large weapons; though, he is not as adept with them as the Fighter class. The Red Mage can use both Black and White Magic but not with the effectiveness of their respective Mages. He also cannot learn many of the more powerful spells for each magic type. After the class change the Red Mage becomes the Red Wizard. The Red Wizard is more powerful in each of his strong points, but he still lacks the physical powers of a Knight and the magical abilities of the White and Black Wizards.

The Gameplay

The Battles

The most revolutionary aspect of Final Fantasy is its battle system. Battles begin randomly while the characters are walking around the world map or in many of the caves, dungeons, and towers in the game. Once a battle begins, the characters line up on one side of the screen, and the enemies - anywhere from one large enemy to nine small ones and any number of combinations in between - line up on the other.

The player determines what he wants each of the four warriors to do, whether it be fight, cast a spell, use an item, or run, and then a round of combat commences where each friend and foe step forward and takes their action sequentially. This occurs repetitively until either all the foes have been vanquished, the heroes escape, or they are killed.

The battle is only lost if every character is killed. At least one of the four must survive to continue, but the fallen members may be resurrected later.


After each battle, the surviving characters are awarded experience points. These experience points add up over time. After certain amounts have been accumulated, the character goes up a level, and that character's powers increase. 'Levelling up' is a necessity because the monsters get continually harder throughout the game, and the party must grow in power in order to defeat them. This simple system, or something very similar, has been used in innumerable games from then on.


As play progresses, very little of the gameplay changes. You're still playing the same way when you enter the Temple of Fiends for the very first time to fight Garland and rescue the Princess as when you enter the Temple of Fiends later to travel back in time and eliminate the Chaotic forces once and for all. In fact, a lack of variety is the most common problem gamers will agree on.

The game was not made for people with short attention spans. Unlike more recent Final Fantasies, where the story moves quickly to make up for the lack of gameplay variation, the story in Final Fantasy moves at a steady, and altogether slow, pace. Modern emulation provides a good solution to this, since every emulator worth its salt has a manual frame rate control, so a player can accelerate the game to speed through any of the slower parts.

In Conclusion

Final Fantasy, when released, quickly rose to cult status in the United States. People who have gone through it too many times using normal rules will impose additional regulations on themselves. The most outrageous example of this would be going through the entire game using a party of four White Mages, a truly horrendous task.

The game has, to date, spawned nine other titles of the same name and several others, which moved away from the numeric system, such as Final Fantasy Tactics. Of all the Final Fantasies that have been released, the original is the only title that has sold better in the United States than Japan. Despite this fact, Final Fantasy II, III, and V never made it to the United States and have only recently bridged the gap through emulation. The games that were released in the United States under the titles of Final Fantasy II and Final Fantasy III were actually, in Japan, Final Fantasy IV and Final Fantasy VI.

Final Fantasy was the launching point of one of the most successful series in gaming history. Square's gamble paid off, and their final hurrah became the launching point of their greatest line of titles. Their 'Final Fantasy' was anything but.

1Square Co Ltd, Square for short, is the name of the Japanese mother company. From this, four wholly-owned subsidiaries spawn: Square Soft (founded 1989), Square USA (1996), Square Pictures (1996), and Square Europe (1998). Square Soft is the US branch that releases Square Co Ltd's games in America.

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