by Marty Demarest & r & & r & Final Fantasy
Rated Everyone 10+; PSP & r & & r & "You've brought in a copy of Final Fantasy!"
"Yes, I found it while cleaning out our son's old room in the basement. He finally moved, and I don't know what to do with all his videogames. I thought they might be worth something...."
"Well, you've got a genuine antique on your hands. Did you know that this particular game is more than 20 years old?"
"Really! I didn't realize it could be a valuable antique. I just think of these videogames as toys."
"They are toys. But increasingly these days, videogames are being appreciated as works of art. And this game, Final Fantasy, is one of the reasons why. Take a look at the copyright date -- 1987. The Nintendo Entertainment System -- the NES -- had already been available for a few years, but by 1987, the games hadn't really progressed beyond Super Mario Bros. At the time, nobody was making any games that looked as good as Final Fantasy. Sure there were Dungeons & amp; Dragons-type videogames, just like you'd find today, with a gang of adventurers setting out to defeat evil in a magic kingdom. But what Final Fantasy offered that the other games lacked was a sense of visual polish. Final Fantasy used the NES's processing power to entertain players with special effects and graphics. Magic spells made colorful explosions, and weapons actually swung from the hands of tiny characters. It was nothing fancy by today's standards, but it was enough to earn the game a cult following."
"A cult following! I had no idea it was so popular. I just found it in the basement, hoping that it was worth something."
"It was popular enough, especially in Japan, to generate a slew of sequels. It was during these subsequent Final Fantasys that most of the series' trademarks first appeared. Characters having "jobs" instead of inflexible "classes." And chocobos, the big yellow birds that characters ride like horses. All of these things came after the first Final Fantasy. But the graphical polish and the series' psychedelic fantasy style both stem from this original. This is a classic videogame."
"I'm so excited!"
THE GOOD: "This version is particularly beautiful. The widescreen presentation of the PSP adds a final touch of opulence. Some of the cleaned-up graphics are lost due to the handheld system's smaller size, but the neon-confectionary colors and miasmatic special effects have been boosted to 21st-century levels of vividness."
THE BAD: "Unfortunately, someone paid $35 for this version of the game, which is a 20-years-later adaptation of the original for Sony's handheld PSP system. It's really more of a widescreen version of the old PlayStation adaptation published in Final Fantasy Origins, which is available on eBay for $10. But a real purist would want a copy of the NES game, a much simpler and more primitive version than this one. Online, it sells for about $15."
THE BOTTOM LINE: The 20-year-old skeleton of Final Fantasy gets fleshed out enough to compete with almost any current hand-held role-playing game.