The original PlayStation hasn’t had a decent new release in months, and it took no less than the Final Fantasy name to make us dust off our trusty old Sony-made workhorse one more time. Final Fantasy Origins is the latest in Square’s line of two-classic-repackaged-RPGs sets, following in the footsteps of Final Fantasy Anthology (Final Fantasy V and Final Fantasy VI) and Final Fantasy Chronicles (Final Fantasy IV and Chrono Trigger). As the Origins name implies, this new title reaches much further back into Square’s catalog, delivering the original Final Fantasy and Final Fantasy II, the latter of which has never been seen in North America. As PlayStation ports of WonderSwan Color remakes of old 8-bit NES games, the two games included in Origins may be short on presentation, but they’re certainly long enough on gameplay to justify the purchase price for any hard-core RPG fan.
Final Fantasy and Final Fantasy II hail from a time when console RPGs were young and the formula was still being worked out and improved upon, and as such they may feel a bit rough around the edges to players more familiar with a recent cinematic opus like Final Fantasy VII. The first game especially has a thin plot with no character development and hardly more impetus to complete your quest than “You’re the good guys, so save the world.” Your characters don’t have set names, nor do they speak–you simply choose four character classes and begin the game. Final Fantasy II has characters with actual names and personalities, and it features a more fully developed story than the first game. Neither of these games approaches the narrative depth of, say, Final Fantasy X, but considering their placement on the RPG time line, they do just fine.
The two Final Fantasies in Origins come from the dark ages of RPG gameplay mechanics, which can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your stance. Both games require you to level up your characters extensively before you can move on to the next dungeon or area of the world map, so you’ll spend a lot of time fighting in random monster encounters. Thankfully, the battles load quickly and the fighting engine is quite streamlined, so you can slay the hordes quickly to amass experience and gold. Raising levels is about as straightforward as you’d expect, and Final Fantasy II also features a precursor to the job system seen in some later games. In short, these are not easy games–they come from a time when RPGs really made you work to progress, which may seem vexing to newer players but will rekindle old feelings of satisfaction in veteran RPG fans.
It’s hard to tell from playing Origins whether Square actually ported Final Fantasy and Final Fantasy II to the PlayStation or if they’re simply running on an emulator, but whatever the case may be, the two games play much more smoothly than some of the games in the Anthology and Chronicles collections. A couple of those games had some slowdown, long load times, and sound problems, but you’ll find none of those in Origins. The games load quickly and everything runs smoothly, making the play experience a bit more seamless than in past rereleases.
- Published by: Square Enix
- Developed by: Square
- Genre: RPG
- Number of Players: 1
- Release Date:
US: April 9, 2003
- T for Teen: Animated Violence
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