Final Fantasy 1+2 Advance

Round three of remakes for the two games that revolutionized console RPGs.


The Lowdown

Pros: New dungeons and a slight gameplay tweaks for two classic RPGs.

Cons: After their third re-release both games feel a little worn out.

Purchase at Play-Asia

When the Final Fantasy remakes came out for Bandai's ill fated Wonderswan it looked that the GBA's main competitor had a chance. Every gamer wanted to pick up the 16 bit remakes of the classic Final Fantasies. Eventually both games were prepackaged and released in the US under the title Final Fantasy Origins. The package left a mixed taste in people's mouth. Gamers who started playing Final Fantasy games on the Playstation were left in dismay by the simplicity of the two titles, while gamers who loved the original game were pleased with the two games. In commutation of the Final Fantasy 1+2 package on the Famicom Disc System Square Enix released Final Fantasy 1+2 Advance. Which is essential a package of the two classic titles, with a few tweaks here and there.

Final Fantasy 1, the game that pulled Squaresoft from going bankrupt to one of the most well known companies around the world. In Final Fantasy you can choose between six types of familiar classes: Fighter, Monk, Thief, Red Mage, Black Mage and White Mage to form a party of four light warriors destined to save the Earth. The plot of the game starts with a villain known as Garland who captured the princess of Coneria. As previous of doing good deeds the team of four warriors stands up to the challenge of rescuing the princess. Little do they know, that saving the princess is the easy task. They soon encounter the journey of finding four elemental crystals to save the world. Like the story in Final Fantasy the game is pretty bare bones. You have your basic RPG walking from place to place and from dungeon to dungeon. Square has added a nice dash feature to make running less of a chore. The amount of battles in the game are plentiful, but are necessary so you can level up your characters. Speaking of the battle system its as simple as an RPG can get. You can choose from fight, item, equip, run and if you can cast magic, magic. After awhile the seemingly myriad number of battles can get frustrating and the lack of battle options / tactics makes battling enemies problematic.

Final Fantasy 1 does have a couple of tweaks to the battle system to make it more accessible. The first one, which makes the game much easier is your characters will auto target the next enemy if an  enemy is dead. In the original FF you had to have a general idea about how much HP enemies had left because if your characters attacked the already dead enemy the would just miss. Another major tweak to the battle system, new to the other upgraded Final Fantasy versions, is that mages use MP. Instead of having the awkward level magic system, each spell is assigned MP like in other Final Fantasy games. Mages become a lot more powerful with MP, by level four a black mage will have over 40 MP, which will allow them cast fire up to eight times! White mages at level four can cast Cure about ten times, instead of just four times. The balance speeds up battles and lowers the gameplay difficulty just a tad. One other feature that does make the game easier is the fact that you can save anywhere at anytime. The original game only let players save their game at the Inn, or if they had a Tent they could save on the overworld. To make the game more portable the save anywhere feature was added, which does drop the challenge of the game a little bit.

The major feature added to Final Fantasy 1 are the randomly generated dungeons in the Soul of Chaos mode. You can first access Soul of Chaos after you beat Lich, the earth fiend. By then your characters should be around level 20 and have a chance of surviving in Soul of Chaos. The Soul of Chaos dungeons have new enemies, most notably monsters from other Final Fantasy titles. You can battle against classic fiends like the Phantom Train from Final Fantasy VI, Gilgamesh from FFV and Rubicant from Final Fantasy IV. These new monsters drop occasionally drop all new ultra powerful weapons. Playing through Soul of Chaos is a new challenge and reason to power up your characters to level 99. Completing Soul of Chaos is important to unlock all of the pictures in the monster gallery.

Final Fantasy II has a little more story than the original game. You start off by playing four orphans Firon, Maria, Guy and Lionheart who are attacked by a group of knights. After they are badly beaten they awake in Phin, minus Lionheart. They quickly take the opportunity to join a small rebel group started by Phin to fight the ever growing power of a dark empress. Final Fantasy II added a number of features to the series like chocobos, a rotating NPC that joins the party and an innovative level system. The level system whether you love it or hate it was ahead of its time. When you used weapons your characters would randomly gain strength and they would increase skill in what ever weapon they were using. If your characters used magic they would increase the level of the spell they used and occasionally get an intelligence boost. Getting hit would increase your characters HP and defense. Many players realized that this system could be abused by attacking your own characters. Doing this would allow for faster character increases than having to fight random monsters. Players that were accustomed to doing that will be in dismay when they find out Square Enix removed that feature. In replacement of "cheating" leveling up your characters from fighting enemies is much easier. You gain weapon and magic skills almost twice as fast as before and random upgrades are much more profuse.

That still doesn't make the number of random encounters easier on the player. You'll be fighting enemies almost non stop in this version of the game. The rebalancing seems almost necessary though since you can't do the "cheat" anymore. Fighting random enemies is also important for players to do so they can level up their NPC characters. After you beat the game you will be able to play a new dungeon with four of the NPC characters: MingWu, Josef, Richard and Gordon. The new dungeon is a nice addition. It ties up some loose ends on what the four other characters do with their lives. Although playing with the four NPCs isn't anything special. They don't have any unique abilities that differentiate them from the other characters you already have in your party.

On the Game Boy Advance both games play just how you would expect a 16 bit RPG to play. You have the same graphics that the PSX version has, sans the FMV movies. The graphics are quite an upgrade from the original games. All of the characters have a lot more detail, a lot more colors and a lot more style. The graphics also improve upon the look of the dungeons and towns giving them actual background objects and areas you can walk into. Some of the upgrade in spell effects don't look as great as they did in the PSX version. For some reason they look more pixelated and at times just less impressive than its PSX cousin. The best translation in this version is the perfect transition of the rearranged MIDI music. The catchy battle themes and overworld fanfare sound great.

The two game package isn't going to attract players who didn't like the old school feel of the Origins package. For gamers who enjoyed playing the classic titles will enjoy the two extra dungeons. If you didn't already pick up the Playstation versions of the games or the Wonderswan versions this is a sure addition to your collection.

Import Friendly? Literacy Level: 5

Menus, story and important text are all in Japanese. This can make the game a challenge if you don't know the games inside and out or if you don't have a complete FAQ.

US Bound?

Nintendo did announce it at E3 and displayed an English version of the game, so even though its unannounced, it seems inevitable.

Overall

The two new dungeons are a nice addition for fans, but they may not be enough to warrant another purchase of the same games.