The original Final Fantasy game is not known for its incredible depth or deep gameplay. It helped to jump start the popularity of the RPG genre in North America and Europe with it's battle system and epic quest. Being born in 1992, I didn't play this game until it was re-released in North America on the Gameboy Advance. I've heard that I'm missing out on the harsh difficulty that came with playing the NES version, the crushing defeat of being one hit killed by a lowly Goblin. The Protagonists
The protagonists in this particular Final Fantasy are unique in that they are entirely mute. Throughout the entirety of the game not one of the main characters will utter a sentence of a syllable. This is likely due to the technical limitations and the amount of development time the team had to create the game. It's understandable why they focused more on gameplay than story. Back in the 80's, that's what it was all about. Still, whether it was intentional or not, the lack of speech creates an interesting connection with the main party on a personal level with the player.
At the start of Final Fantasy, you choose which class each of the main party members are going to be. You are given a choice between the typical Warrior, the offensive magician the Black Mage, the defensive magician the White Mage, an agile Thief, a Monk who is both agile and strong, and the less typical Red Mage who combines both offensive and defensive magic. After choosing four classes that suit your playstyle, you're given the option of giving each character a unique name or a randomly generated one. If you're anything like me, you'll spend a long time struggling over what to name each member of your party. Already at the beginning of the game, the party has become personal to you. After spending countless hours adventuring with them and powering them up, you'll feel like you've known them forever.
Since this game came from a simpler time, a time before convoluted License Boards and Sphere Grids, you bought your equipment and magic in stores. You could often find more powerful weapons and armor in dungeons, but the magic available to you at the time was limited to which towns you've visited and whether or not you've discovered the secret cave that houses Bahamut, the dragon king. Upon discovering Bahamut, your characters are powered up to their true forms, the Knight, Ninja, Master, Black Wizard, White Wizard, and Red Wizard respectively. Discovering this hidden cave was a treat and the upgraded sprites really made you feel as though your party had ascended to true hero status.
The characters of Final Fantasy are so flat, there isn't much more I can say about them. Allow me to move on to the second part of this first article and I'll begin to tell you about...
The antagonists of Final Fantasy are just as simple as the heroes they oppose. Before we get into describing them, I think we should explore the story of Final Fantasy, the problem that propels our heroes to journey and save the world. For unknown reasons, the crystals of the world are weakening. These crystals are the basis of all life in the world and represent the four elements, Earth, Water, Fire, and Wind. It was prophesized that these crystals would one day shatter, bringing about the ruination of the world. Only the four Warriors of Light, who were predicted to appear at the brink of the calamity, would be able to stop this. And so, the heroes set out to investigate each of these sacred shrines. Soon, they will come to find what horrible creatures lurk within.
Soon they are brought to the Earth Shrine. Within lives the Archfiend known as the Lich
, a massive undead wizard intent on rotting the Earth, spreading sickness and death to the nearby town of Melmond. He shrugs off most physical attacks and is only weak to fire and light magic. After an arduous fight, he is defeated, and the party continues forward on their journey. They party eventually reaches Mount Gulg, a great volcano that houses the Fire Crystal. Inside they find Marilith
, a great she-serpent, who has been awakened prematurely by the death of the Lich. She wields four swords in her four arms and attacks the party with fire magic. Eventually, the party moves on to the Water and Wind shrines, one located in the ocean and the other located in the sky.
After defeating the Archfiends that guard each of these shrines, the Kraken
respectively, the Warriors of Light have restored the crystals to their former glory and saved the world. Perhaps the Archfiends are reflections of corruption in the real world, the warriors of light a mirror of humanity prevailing over our darker desires. It's more likely that they're simply really fucking cool looking monsters with interesting powers.
As it turns out, the four Archfiends used the body of Garland, a corrupt knight the party defeats at the beginning of the game, and birthed within him an evil more powerful fiend, Chaos. They then sent him 2,000 years in the past so that he could send them back to the future, creating a time loop paradox. The party warps to the Chaos Shrine of the past and makes a long journey to the lowest floor where they encounter Garland. After a short speech declaring his ultimate power, he transforms into the ultimate fiend Chaos
and attacks the party. He uses every element of magic available and incredibly strong physical attacks. The party defeats him and returns to the present, peace attained.
I always found it interesting that Garland, the very first villain you encounter in the game, becomes Chaos, the lord of all darkness and the final boss of the game. Chaos makes an appearance as the main antagonist in Final Fantasy: Dissidia as well, and that boss fight can be viewed here.
Interesting battle music
on that Dissidia video, eh? Another Garland appears in Final Fantasy IX as a villain, though the only thing the two share is the namesake. A video of a battle against him can be viewed here. Thanks KD_Alpha!