Final Fantasy I & II iPhone Review

Posted by Grey Friday, June 4, 2010

In 1987, Final Fantasy was developed and published by Square in Japan (only to be available in North America in 1990). The rest is history. And it is only a matter of time for this historical title, along with its even more technically acclaimed second instalment, make their way to iPhone.




FINAL FANTASY
Developed by: SQUARE ENIX Co., Ltd.
Published by: SQUARE ENIX Co., Ltd.
Price: $8.99
Size: 72.1 MB
Platforms available on: Nintendo Entertainment System, MSX2, WonderSwan Color, PlayStation, Game Boy Advance, mobile phones, PlayStation Portable, Virtual Console, iPhone OS
Released Date: Feb 25th, 2010
Genre: Role-Playing Games
Rating content: Apple: Rated 9+ for the following:
Infrequent/Mild Cartoon or Fantasy Violence
Infrequent/Mild Mature/Suggestive Themes



FINAL FANTASY II
Developed by: SQUARE ENIX Co., Ltd.
Published by: SQUARE ENIX Co., Ltd.
Price: $8.99
Size: 143 MB
Platforms available on: Nintendo Entertainment System, MSX2, WonderSwan Color, PlayStation, Game Boy Advance, mobile phones, PlayStation Portable, Virtual Console, iPhone OS
Released Date: Feb 25th, 2010
Genre: Role-Playing Games
Rating content: Apple: Rated 9+ for the following:
Infrequent/Mild Cartoon or Fantasy Violence
Infrequent/Mild Mature/Suggestive Themes


Having released back in February (that we even had an App Attack Double Bill on them), we will be the first to admit our tardiness in addressing this review this late in the month of June. The reason being that we have really, despite the insane amount of intriguing games from the multi-platforms waiting for us to review, stuck to our guns to follow through these two old-school epic RPGs to ensure an unbiased review. That said, do bear in mind that this review will not cover on criticism on basic gameplay and presentation of both original games, and will instead focus solely on how they look and work on the iPhone.

It is imperative to know that when conducting reviews for iPhone port of any previously released console games, we are primarily looking into the ported interface of the new product. Did it make the transition in one piece? Or have it transform into something else during the process? If that is the case, is it a positive, or a negative transformation? If it is a positive transformation, how is it as compared to the original?

These are very standards that we hold firmly to while conducting these reviews, and the earlier Street Fighter IV iPhone review went through pretty much similar process. With the original Final Fantasy and Final Fantasy II, as per the PSP ports, they belonged to a rare breed of console ports where zero changes occurred during the transition. And to our surprise, the iPhone interface has in fact made us think that the iPhone is a perfect home for traditional RPG.



Being a product from the early nineties and a major contributor that quite possibly shaped the very gaming industry that we know, Final Fantasy, originally published in Japan in 1987, and Final Fantasy II, exclusively published in Japan in 1988, with their respectively numerous ports to modern handhelds, mobile phones, PCs, and even the latest platforms (via the online stores), has proven their hallmark status in the classic gaming hall of the fame. With its legendary gameplay inevitably tarnished by the sands of time (no pun intended), there is one department both titles have no lack of: Nostalgic gameplay. Which is precisely the reason why we are focusing our critical eyes on the port itself.

Being mainly remake over the relatively competent PSP port, both the original FF and FFII looked every bit as good as their respective PSP versions, which are simply put impressive, given their ancient origins. The colors are suitably bright, a main factor that highly amplified the overall appearance of both titles.

Adding more credentials to the complete presentation of both titles, the on-screen text, be it the speech balloons of the characters, or the voice-over kind of text boxes, seemed to be sized accordingly with the iPhone in mind, as are those texts in the menu box. One of the most famous aspects of arguably the biggest and greatest franchise in RPG history would have to be the classic score of all its titles. The original Final Fantasy and Final Fantasy II are similarly, no pushover in these departments, and these iPhone ports successfully does justice to these features, ensuring players some of the best gaming sounds available on any iPhone games.

While casual gamers might have the erratic impression that control issues in a RPG are relatively insignificant given its perceived formulaic gameplay, any hardcore RPG players would take on debates as such in a heartbeat. Too often, potential RPG titles are ruined by mediocre control issues that burdened the gameplay right from the beginning to the end. Given their legendary status in the genre, the original Final Fantasy and Final Fantasy II enjoyed bare-boned traditional RPG control. General navigating are achieved by utilizing the virtual D-pad that are conveniently placed at the left of the screen. While RPG gaming generally do not employed the services of an articulate virtual joystick pad to complement the frantic breakneck-paced actions of a, say, fighting game, iPhone gaming, have unfortunately, associated with a reputation of sporting irresponsive control scheme via its much touted virtual D-pad, a reputation that has fortunately turned over in recent times by great titles such as the Street Fighter IV iPhone port. The D-pad here works tremendously and is sufficiently responsive, whenever you sliding your finger for directions or assessing intricate menu items. At the lower right side of the screen, there is another button with a multi-functioning purpose, from a general confirm button while conducting conversation with NPCs, to holding it in order to run across the terrain. In these titles, you will find yourself accessing the main menu in order to proceed to the save functions extremely often. Other than the usual saving, you can also handle item management by simply tapping away without the assistance of the D-pad.

As always in any given Final Fantasy, battle is a great combination of chess-play and turn-based combat. Therefore, more often than not, a competent control scheme is more required than ever while making those fast-and-furious killing decision. The iPhone touch control, thankfully worked greatly in battle sequences for both titles. Like many early titles in the Final Fantasy series, you can find a bottom row of buttons assigned to menu command for your tapping. These icon-based commands layout are intuitive and streamlined accordingly, adding to the basic functions. By tapping the 'Attack' button for attacking followed directly by tapping the individual enemy you would like to target for this particular attack. There are also buttons for 'Magic', 'Item', 'Flee', etc. Another point to note would be the equipment and item menus, which are also optimized for the iPhone, making it a breeze to heal entire squad or just a certain individual member, or when you are in a midst of equipping new weapons to your team members individually.

For those expecting philosophical yarns a'la Final Fantasy VII or existential tales like Final Fantasy VIII, please, this is only the beginning.

In the original Final Fantasy, players guide a party of four characters, collectively known as the Warriors of Light, on a quest to, what else, save the world. All characters remained unnamed, requiring players to name them and their respective classes accordingly.

Unlike its predecessor, Final Fantasy II featured four fully-named and classed playable characters from the get-go, Firion, an average Joe living in the country of Fynn; Maria, an archer and sworn-enemy of the Empire; Guy, a benevolent monk who can communicate with animals; and Leon, the stereotypical dark knight who is the resident emo guy.

With the hot iPhone gaming market on an unprecedented growth rate, all major gaming publishers are laying their eyes on the already imploding market. RPG in particular, proved to a dual-edged sword for developers, given their prerequisite requirement for players to follow the plot seamlessly, a factor that is problematic for players on the move and not having the time to invest in the build-up. This is in opposed to fighting games, sports emulators, or even action-oriented games. However, with the original Final Fantasy and Final Fantasy II, players can followed the relatively uncomplicated story with little to no difficulties while enjoying a bona fide RPG classic experience.



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The Rundown
In summary, the iPhone ports of both the original Final Fantasy and Final Fantasy II are top-notch professional work of which both time and effort are evidently put into, and not those run-of-the-mill mobile port that are rushed in only to catch on for the ride. Both titles enjoyed competent control, great sounds, and capable graphics that are overall, an outstanding improvement over their respective originals and even their subsequent ports. And while we are on the topics of other ports, if my memories served me as well as I wished them to, these iPhone ports contained all of the enhancements and additional contents that were added in all other ports.

Priced at nine bucks each, these ports definitely don't come cheap. For those who have played the recent ports in any form, there is absolutely no reason for you to buy them once again just to have them on your phone. However, if you have never played them before, and would like to have the most convenient versions possible, forget the PSP versions. The iPhone surprisingly worked perfectly for these ports and is arguably the best platform to play these traditional RPGs with its remote conveniences, enabling the best pic-up-and-play experiences. Imagine leveling up your team while waiting for the next bus?

The Good
- Updated artwork for the background, and recreated character sprites are gorgeous
- Incredible improvement over the classic, while maintaining smooth transition of the original
- Control scheme work perfectly on the iPhone

The Bad
- Leveling in Final Fantasy II are uneven, a problem shared by its earlier ports.

And The Game-killing Technical Fault?
While no obvious technical glitch are noticeable till now, it's a multi-tasking phone, for crying out loud. So please save your progress as diligent as possible.



OutstandingOutstandingOutstandingOutstanding
Outstanding

For a more transparent understanding on the Game Reviews here in The Daily Zombies, please check out "The Daily Zombie Rating System And Review Policy for Gaming".

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