A VERSION OF A REMAKE
The Android version of Final Fantasy is a port from the PlayStation Portable remake of the original classic role-playing game for the NES. This version, like the Game Boy Advance version felt far easier, more enjoyable and streamlined than the original. If you’re looking for three dimensional graphics or updated mechanics like some of the other Final Fantasy games that were ported to mobile systems, you won’t find them here. Sadly this version doesn’t include the bonus dungeons as many say they do. I’ve gone through the entire game and never found them, so I assume they’re not in the Android version.
Since this game is on your phone, the game auto saves everywhere, and it also includes three save slots. If you switch to a different program or get a phone call, the game will need to reload, which is a hindrance when other games let you keep going. It could be that the Android version checks its license each time it opens.
All you really get with the Android and or mobile versions are updated graphics with a 16:9 widescreen resolutions. Some scenes have been updated to offer more of a cut scene to introduce them. Things like diving in your submarine to visit the underwater shrine has bubbles rising to the top of the scene with murkey sunken ruins. You’ll see a grander introduction to the game, a larger airship that rises from the sand, and a few more things like that,
STREAMLINED INTERFACE WITH TERRIBLE CONTROLS
With Final Fantasy being for touch screen devices, I felt like they streamlined a lot of the menus. During battles, you no longer need to click fight, instead you click the foe you want to attack or click the several other menu options. The menu outside of battles offers a quick close button. Equipping things has an optional choice to auto-equip the best gear. Purchasing equipment and spells in shops lets you easily select what you’d like to purchase and how many. It could still be better, but it’s leaps and bounds beyond the original NES version.
With that said, the largest stumbling block is the movement that uses a swipe with a giant directional pad. This pad is giant and obscures a lot of the screen, but it’s so giant because you cannot swipe past the pad or it will close and you’ll stop moving. I would have preferred something that lets you go beyond the pad so you can stay moving without being so exact.
There’s also a run button on the touch screen. Here’s the first problem with that, because it never tells you that it’s a run button. It’s just there begging to be pushed. The second problem is that your character is already fast to begin with.
To interact with something you need to face it so a dialog appears and then quick press the screen. Pressing into some townspeople seems to make them dart away from you, which can be frustrating to talk with them when you move so fast, need to line up with them and then press the screen.
A SERIES OF ANNOYANCES
To name some other annoyances, the airship often needs to land on a single square of grassland as it cannot set down on trees, forests, deserts or marshes. Your character moves fast and the airship moves even faster. If you just want to swipe over a single tile, my swipe was mistaken for a press, which caused the vessel to land. A swipe that’s too long will move it several tiles.
Even without an airship it was the same problem trying to get through a doorway. It becomes a bigger issue when going through lava or spikes.
Beyond that, Final Fantasy has some narrow paths that seem to get clogged with villagers, bats and brooms. You’ll need to politely wait for them to move out of the way and it did feel like the game tried to have these blockages move quicker when you pressed into them, but quicker in which direction? Even moving quick, if they’re trying to move quick into a wall, that doesn’t move them out of the way any faster.
To top that off, the fonts felt very narrow and difficult to read. Then again, for someone like me that’s gone through the game countless times, reading doesn’t matter. For newcomers it might matter, especially for people with smaller devices.
A PARTY OF FOUR
You kick off the game by picking a party of four. You’ll get to name each character, but it’s all irrelevant since no one in your party will ever speak. The game lets you auto name them with randomly selected names. For this play through I named mine FIGHTR, FJGHTR, BLACK, and WHITE so I don’t forget their classes. Normally I’d name them AAAA, BBBB, CCCC, and DDDD.
A SENSELESS STORY
These are four placeholders in a story that seems devoid of story. The party of four are the legendary Warriors of Light that will save the world. Well that’s awesome, because you can have a party of four mages who would then be considered warriors still. They are amazingly weak at first as if they fell out of the sky or started a video game. Your first quest is simple, defeat a knight that has kidnapped a princess. In return, she’ll give you a lute that you won’t need until the last portion of the game to tie it all together.
Along the way you’ll fulfill the Warriors of Light’s destiny by defeating four elemental fiends and marching your way back in time to slay a monster two-thousand years in the past, but only after you defeat the four fiends a second time in their more powerful form. It’s a story that makes no sense and talks about time loops, and you’re really here for the grind of combat. I assume its the lute you’re given at the start of the game that causes a time loop as you go back in time for the final dungeon to defeat everyone you’ve already defeated? Perhaps they’re growing backward in time to become stronger? Three decades later, and I’m still clueless here.
CLASSES AND COMBAT
There are six classes to chose from each has their own combat style. Warriors, thieves, and monks are geared more toward attacking with weapons equipped. White mages and black mages are best suited for magic. Red mages can use both black and white magic along with being a competent fighter as well.
Black mages have low health, while warriors have the highest. White mages have a good amount of health since they need to be alive to heal others. Warriors get the best equipment and there’s so much equipment that I found it best to have two at once. That way there’s no need to waste the excessive amount that you have. In terms of price difference, mages and warriors will cost a lot in weapons, defense, and magic spells. Monks and thieves feel less useful and downright forgotten in the early part of the journey.
Later in the game, you’ll be tested in a dungeon to find a prize where each character in your party will be upgraded all at once. Warriors become knights. Thieves become ninjas. Monks become masters and perhaps one of the strongest fighters in the game. The mages become wizards of their respective color. Once a red mage becomes a red wizard, they lack the ability to purchase spells that white and black wizards can. Some classes such as the knight will learn to use low level white magic while ninjas can use low level black magic.
TOWNS WITH ACTUAL INTERIORS
Like most role-playing games, there are plenty of towns to stop in and purchase things. The shops in the NES versions had no interiors, just a scene of your party purchasing things in a side view. This version lets you see the shop interiors, which feels like an extra step, but adds to the immersion.
The towns themselves are dull and the later towns have mandatory, yet hidden spots within them. Crescent Lake hides a meeting of the minds between scholars in the woods. Onrac has a submarine that will take you to the sunken shrine. Gaia holds a water spring known to have fairies. Lufenia has some of the most powerful spells hidden outside of town.
One of the more interesting settlements is a subterranean dwarf mine that you’ll need to give them Nitro Powder to detonate a land bridge so you can float your ship through. A dwarf smith can also make you a sword.
Throughout your travels you’ll discover several castles settled by friendly inhabitants that need your help. Things like the princess has been kidnapped by a knight and the prince has been put to sleep by a powerful spell. Several castles and the mining settlement have treasures that you can freely take as long as you have the key to get into their vaults.
A role-playing game wouldn’t be the same without dungeons and there are a diverse array of danger zones to tread through. You’ll raid castles, visit caves, trek through towers, hike into a volcano, plunge through a waterfall into a cove and so much more. The man made dungeons seem like the most labyrinthine and symmetrical while the caves try to have a wide open and random feel to them.
A lot of the dungeons have something to be desired, because many of them are big rooms with smaller rooms inside of them. The game manages to hide things in doors, which forces you to enter and or waste your time or health just to discover it was empty.
Dungeons will include lots of treasures to get you to pad out your play time. There are dozens of treasure rooms full of boxes that have either fabulous prizes or low level clothes to remind you that you’re not always a winner if someone died getting that treasure. Several deep dungeons have necessary items, such as with the sunken shrine, I dare say its far easier to stumble into the Kraken boss than it is to find the Rosetta Stone hidden away.
FOES, BATTLES, AND BOSSES
As you walk or boat through the world, you’ll encounter random battles every few steps. Final Fantasy has foes of three sizes. Big and small enemies can be mixed together to make for some diverse battles, even if it all boils down to attacks and black magic.
During battle, you’ve got a wide selection of things you can do: weapon attacks, use magic, defend, use an item and run. This system is setup intuitively as we’ve discussed your ability to touch the enemy you want to attack and you’ll be doing a lot of it. You select your characters actions and that commits you to those actions.
Thankfully the game has introduced a method that lets characters be smart enough to not attack a corpse if the foe you’ve selected dies before the character attacks. Sure that makes the game easier and less thought provoking, but on the plus side, it expedites what can be a grind. Each battle is easy enough with few foes really taking chunks of health out of your party. Most foes are weak and their entire group is dead within a round or two.
There are a few bosses such as a knight named Garland and a mage named Astos. Beyond that there are several guardians that have no placeholder on the map. These battles just happen when you step on a tile. These guardians include a harem of wizards, a giant eyeball, several elements, several dragons and so on. Then you have the four fiends (earth, fire, water and wind) as major bosses that are so massive, they take up the entire screen. Once you face the first fiend Litche, the game seems to forget about bosses.
After defeating each fiend, you’re able to make a crystal glow and then take a mystical transporter to spare you the hike of going back through the massive dungeon you explored.
LEVELING-UP FRO BETTER STATS
Like most role-playing games, when you defeat foes, you’ll gain experience that will lead your characters to level-up. What’s interesting here is everyone levels-up at the same amount of experience, so it was fun to keep my team at the same level as long as possible, before death ruined it. With each level-up you’ll get enhanced stats and having two warriors on the team of Warriors of Light, I was able to see their stats were different as they leveled-up. So the stats are obviously random within reason.
LOTS OF BACKTRACKING
This brings us to the big need to back track in Final Fantasy. Since some dungeons are devoid of bosses, you enter in point A, get to point B where you discover a fabulous item and then you need to exit back out point A again. Once you have a white wizard and the exit spell, this is less of an issue, but in the early going, it’s frequent. Things like in the earth cave, you’ll need to enter, defeat a vampire to get an object, then walk back out to use the object only to get forced to dive back into the same cave, going through the first half all over again. Perhaps if I had more fun or something was done to keep that same area fresh again, I wouldn’t mind so much.
BLACK AND WHITE MAGIC
There are two branches of magic: black and white. Black magic are offensive things. Damaging spells that will hurt an entire enemy group or things to enhance your own attacks like haste and temper. White magic is for healing your party, reviving dead allies, protecting them with defensive magic and shining holy light on the undead to damage an entire group of foes.
Magic is purchased in shops in towns throughout the world. There are several different levels of magic, with each level having four spells for each of the two magic branches. The twist on this is that each character can only have three spells per level. This forces you to pick and choose, but nothing felt painful like you really wanted all four spells. It’s a gentle reminder that you have a choice, even if 90% of the time that choice is always clear.
There are so many useless spells, such as fear that will make foes run away in fear. What about a spell that prevents the foes from even getting into battle with me? How about a spell so I can walk through lava and spikes without taking damage?
Enemies in general are weak, but they’ll attack with status ailments. These status ailments seem ineffective, perhaps to streamline the game. The darkness might blind you, but your attacks are still accurate. Paralysis and sleep will cost that character a turn. Poison and stone will cost you magic or potions to remove the status effects. Death can be revived.
Some foes will use status effects on the entire party, but they seem laughably ineffective. Quake is supposed to swallow and kill everyone, but it never killed anyone from the party.
Throughout the game you can learn spells that will result in status ailments as well, but the problem is the enemies die so quickly, that it’s just easier to kill them. Bosses seem immune from status effects.
EQUIPMENT AND USES
Stores and treasure chests will contain all sorts of equipment. Even purchasing something from a store means you’ll need to hop into the equip menu to actually equip it. Each character has their own headgear, body wear, weapon, shield and arm wear. Some equipment is geared to certain things like the ice brand will add ice damage to your attack. Fire armor protects against either ice or fire, I forget which.
To put a twist on things, some items can be used in battle to cast magical spells. The healing helmet will chant heal for a low level boost in health to your entire party. Wizards staff will chant confuse to make your foes fight among themselves. Stuff like this adds a new layer, but in this version, things were far too easy to just kill your foes and move on.
Beyond that there are consumables like potions for health and ether for mana. The later areas have X-potions for full health and dry ether for full mana. You can even purchase sleeping bags, cottages, and tents to use on the over world as a means to replenish the party’s health and mana. I felt like the consumables were only necessary for dire circumstances, but if you go at the game without any white magic users, you’ll get more mileage out of the consumables.
NO NEED TO GRIND
You can always sell items and equipment at the nearest equipment shops, but beyond the first few regions, money felt irrelevant. I always had more than enough.
I never felt compelled to stay in one region to grind to raise my party’s level. I just plowed through the game and explored every nook and cranny with no problem. Even parts that I remember on the NES that would force a grind let me breeze through. There were a few minor roadblocks and setbacks in the early game, like if someone would perish, I’d have to hike back to the nearest town. That was about it.
METHODS OF TRAVEL
The world will open up to you with different vessels. From the beginning of the game, you’ll quickly defeat a band of pirates where you’ll be given or steal their ship. I forget which. From there you can sail through most waters. You can only dock at harbors, so that limits the ship to the southern continents. In time, someone will give you a canoe so you can travel rivers. What’s nice is you’ll be able to take your canoe into a river from your ship. Once you earn the float and take it to a mystical desert, that ship will be forgotten as you’ll get your airship. With this you can quickly travel to anywhere, with the only catch being that you need a set down on grassland.
With the airship, the game opens up from southern continents to the later half of the game that features the northern continents. You’ll find lots of deserts, forests, swamps, islands, mountain ranges and mystery. Some townsman will always know something vague that you’ll have to hop in your airship to discover.
A MAP WOULD BE NICE
I went the entire game thinking this port forgot the map, but no, silly me, I had to visit the over world, press and hold down to open the map. Thankfully the entire map is easy to remember for the past thirty years, otherwise I’d still be looking everywhere for some forgotten secret.
DEATH AND GAME OVER
It’s tough to get a game over in this version of Final Fantasy. When a character perishes, you have phoenix downs and life spells to revive them. If you’re near a town, there are homes that can resurrect them for a small fee.
You can also save anywhere in game outside of a battle, just make sure that your game actually saves by double tapping.
A game over seems to restart from your last save, which could have been hours ago. So what you do is exploit the fact that the game auto-saves before each battle, if it looks like you’ll lose, just jump to a different program and come back. Sure you’ll spend time waiting for the game to load and check your license, but that’s far more palatable than having to restart from an hour ago
FINAL FANTASY FOR MOBILE
If you love old school role-playing games and have an Android phone, but don’t have one of the many other versions of this remake, then by all means buy this game. Try not to be disappointed when there’s no bonus dungeons that would give this game new life and interest seeing something new. It’s quite a heart breaker for some of us that have played other ports that included the content. Final Fantasy feels so much better here, minus the cumbersome swipe movement and it would be better with some basic instruction on how to use the run button. Even at a brisk ten hour play through, Final Fantasy had worn out it’s welcome nostalgia.