Final Fantasy: Origins
Review By: Jeff

Gather around children and hear the tale of simple game developer, Squaresoft, and its creation that sparked an interest in a genre only few dared to embrace. A genre so unheard of at the time that many simply took the idea as foolish and nothing more than a crazy man's fantasy. However, soon those people would come to learn what the faithful had known all along. As the sun rose on that fruitful day in 1987, the populace cheered and rejoiced for Rad Racer had arrived. Ah, memories...but let's talk about Squaresoft's other game for a moment. I think it was about a duck.

Recently I picked up Final Fantasy: Origins for no apparent reason. I'm not really much of a fan of the series, I only liked three of them and Tactics, but I guess I just couldn't pass up the price ($30) seeing as you get two games and all. Anyway, Origins is the third game from Squaresoft to contain PlayStation ports of its earlier Final Fantasy games. The first was Anthology, which included Final Fantasy V and VI, the second was Chronicles with Final Fantasy IV and Chrono Trigger and this one features the very first two games in the series. This review will cover the first Final Fantasy not because I haven't yet played the second, but because if I covered both then there's no telling how long this would be.

The first thing you have to do in this game is create your party by giving them a name and one of six character classes (Fighter, Monk, White/Black/Red Mage and Interpretive Dancer). I created the classic Fighter/Monk/Red Mage/Black Mage party and aptly named them Hannibal, B.A., Face and Murdock but due to the six-letter limit, I had to shorten Hannibal and Murdock to Hanibl and Murdoc.

Once the game began, my group was standing in the first town with a guard blocking the only exit. I tried to attack him but quickly remembered that this wasn't Ultima and so my entire game plan of wiping out each town one by one had to be changed. Instead I talked to the guard and he took me to the king where I was told to save his daughter from a rabid dog or something and then he kicked me out of the castle. I then went back to town to buy some weapons and spells but seeing as I couldn't afford the 20,000 Gil pointed sticks, everyone had to settle for cheap quality 20 Gil rocks except for B.A. who pities the fools who use weapons.

I then left town and started aimlessly walking around the world map, getting into random battles to gain experience, until finally seeing a dilapidated castle that looked like a good place to make some extra money so I can pay to have Face revived after being killed by a Fire Squirrel. Once inside, I made my way into the middle room only see some guy, a woman and a couple of bats in there. Not wanting to know what they were doing, I went to leave only to have the guy say "GRRRR, IM GONTA KEEL YOU NOW!!!! PHLIEF" and then a fight broke out. Nobody had any MP left so I just kept selecting Attack from the menu and after about three hours of constantly missing their target, Hanibl and B.A. were able to kill that sick fuck with the bat fetish - but not before he killed Murdoc.

Afterwards, the girl from the room turned out to be the king's daughter and we all went back to the castle where my group was given a Lute for all their trouble and told to travel the world re-lighting the four crystals of the elements so they can save it before Greenpeace is founded. Now some may argue that I just spoiled part of the game with all that but in reality everything that happened is part of the intro and the real game doesn't begin until you cross the bridge north of the castle.

Ok, let's get down to business here. If you've played Final Fantasy when it was first released for the NES then you should expect the same inflated prices and insane amount of random encounters, but some things were changed. The random enemies and mini-bosses all have the same stats but the main bosses' HP have been doubled so battles with them are a little longer. Also you can now buy items in bulk instead of having to purchase everything one at a time so this alone will shave a good ten hours off your game.

Dashing has been added to make those long dungeon treks a little more tolerable and auto-targeting means the end of your party members attacking nothing. Finally a Memo File function has been added, this allows players to temporarily save anywhere they want. Let's say you're about to fight Liche, the Earth Fiend, but you're not sure if you can take him. Just Memo Save in his room then fight him and if he beats you then reload the Memo File and try again. There's also a Bestiary, Item List and Concept Art Gallery that grows as you progress through the game which gives the perfectionist out there something to shoot for.

Now that all that crap's out of the way, let's talk about how the game was prettied up. The graphics have been overhauled and now everything gives off a nice 16-bit appearance with bright colors and redrawn sprites for everyone. On the sound front, the music is pretty good, as all the songs have been redone to take advantage of the CD format, while the effects seem to be lifted from the other 16-bit Final Fantasy games. As for the controls, well, it's an RPG so don't expect anything more complex than pressing circle and start to view the map.

So if you're new to the game then give it a shot, you might like it, but if you've already played through it back in the day then it might be best to rent it first unless you really want Final Fantasy II.

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