Feature: Final Fantasy Origins

Final Fantasy II Japanese Box Art

Final Fantasy I North American Box Art

Welcome to our playthrough of Final Fantasy I and Final Fantasy II, originally released in Japan for the Famicom on 18 December 1987 and 17 December 1988, respectively, with later releases and remakes in North America and worldwide on the Nintendo Entertainment System, Wonderswan Color, PlayStation, Playstation Portable, and iOS, amongst other platforms.

Square’s release of Final Fantasy on the Famicom in 1987 has become legendary. A last-ditch effort by Hironobu Sakaguchi to revive the flagging fortunes of himself and his company, the name of the game itself alluded to the desperation of the director. However, the success was so immediate, and demand for a title so great, that Square would go on to produce two sequels for the Famicom, let alone a veritable avalanche of further titles in the series which continue to this day in media far beyond the realm of video games. However, the early days of Final Fantasy were formative for the series, establishing series concepts which would return in later games, eventually becoming central to the concept of Final Fantasy itself. The original Final Fantasy established the basics of a menu-driven battle system and a party of customisable characters which remains fundamental to most people’s conception of the Final Fantasy series, and introduced recurring themes such as elementally-aligned crystals and bosses, magical spells, character classes, airships, the dragon Bahamut, and a fantasy-medieval setting familiar to players of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. A year later in Japan, Final Fantasy II advanced further series staples such as Chocobos and the character Cid, which helped to ensure their centrality to the Final Fantasy series.

Altair in Final Fantasy II for the PSP

Cornelia in Final Fantasy I

Final Fantasy I was not released in a vacuum, borrowing concepts from previous role-playing games, including elements from tabletop RPGs. In fact, artwork and material from the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Monstrous Manual was used as the basis for many of the enemies in Final Fantasy. ChunSoft’s Dragon Quest (published by Enix), released a year earlier, doubtless provided additional inspiration, but Final Fantasy determinedly went further, with character classes and a party of four players fighting large groups of enemies, in an attempt to emulate the party-sized combat which was a staple of tabletop role-playing games. Generic characterisation added to that feeling, with the player avatars absent any significant character development so that players could personally occupy the roles themselves. Final Fantasy II, for its part, established a lasting series shift by presenting characters with names and an established backstories, so that players would instead inhabit predefined character roles and discover the motivations, histories, and fates of those characters by playing through the game.

Although Final Fantasy II did not initially see release in North America, 2003 saw an official North American release on the PlayStation in the Final Fantasy Origins compilation. Later releases on other platforms followed, including an expanded 20th Anniversary edition of both Origins titles, released individually on the PSP.

A Battle in Final Fantasy II Origins

The Pirate Battle from Final Fantasy I

Use the comment thread below to discuss your approach to the games, challenges you have faced, secrets you have uncovered, and what you are getting out of your playthrough. Do you feel that the Famicom presentation of Final Fantasy I and II has held up since the original releases in 1987 and 1988? Or, do you prefer the aesthetics and extra features of more recent remakes? How have your experiences with JRPGs released after Final Fantasy I and II, affected your impressions of these games? Tell us all about it and join in our discussion below! We will select some of the best comments, each week, for our podcast discussion.

The aim in this playthrough is to complete the entirety of both games in four weeks:
– Week 1: Obtain the crystals of Earth, the Airship, and the Class Change in Final Fantasy I.
– Week 2: Complete Final Fantasy I.
– Week 3: Complete the Colosseum mission with Gordon in Final Fantasy II
– Week 4: Complete Final Fantasy II.

Please join in, even if you are behind on the playthrough. Anyone and everyone is invited to participate, regardless of speed of play or familiarity with the series. Comment and tell your friends!

Without further adieu, it is our pleasure to invite you to join the Lusipurr.com staff members, guests,
and readers as we save the world twice over in Final Fantasy Origins: A Final Fantasy I and II Playthrough!

25 Comments

  1. Lusipurr
    Posted 2017.10.01 at 17:01 | Permalink

    I have been doing a side-by-side playthrough of the PS1 release of FF Origins and the PSP release of FF1. Note the PSP release is effectively the same as the GBA/mobile releases. My party is WAR, THF, WHM, BLM (named Cecil, Locke, Aerith, and Vivi).

    To reach Astos in Origins, with my party at least L.12 and fully equipped with the best spells and gear available up to Elfheim took approximately five hours.

    To reach the same point in the GBA/PSP/mobile release took one hour.

    The GBA/PSP/mobile release is much faster because levelling happens much more quickly and all gear/spells are cheaper. In addition, this version of the game uses MP rather than spells per day, which breaks the magical system and dramatically reduces the difficulty level. Finally, battles have been completely readjusted: expect to do much more damage and much more quickly, as MISS chance is greatly reduced and characters hit more often and harder from a very early level. In the GBA/PSP/mobile version, my thief was getting 2 hits per attack at Level 1! It took until around L.11 or 12 for my thief to do so regularly in the Origins version.

    In short, if you don’t care about being faithful to the original pacing/difficulty, play the GBA/PSP/mobile version. It’s much, much faster. But, if you want the feel of the original without the plodding and byzantine design (buying potions 1 at a time, not being able to see who can equip what weapons, &c.), then you should play Origins.

    I’m not sure which I will stick with at this point. I’m thinking the PSP version because we have midterms coming up and the last time I played through this game was on Origins anyway. I have not played through the GBA/PSP/mobile version since the PSP release.

  2. Tanzenmatt
    Posted 2017.10.03 at 14:57 | Permalink

    I’m going to find some time to play the GBA version of I this month, but I don’t have enough for the NES or PSX, the way you desribe it. I do own both, so maybe some year. How do you think the translation compares between versions?

  3. Lusipurr
    Posted 2017.10.03 at 15:06 | Permalink

    @Tanzenmatt: The GBA/mobile/PSP translation is much better than the Origins version. However, the Origins version is much improved on the original.

    There’s nothing wrong with the PSP version ‘as such’, as a game on its own (except that it is too easy). However, as a representation of the original, it isn’t very accurate.

  4. Tanzenmatt
    Posted 2017.10.03 at 23:45 | Permalink

    That’s goos to know, thank you. I really liked the original game back in 1990, the aesthetics of it all, but the mechanics were more frustrating than Dragon Warrior at the time. I never got past the Elf Village area back then due to the difficulty spike (for me, anyways).

    I just spent an hour on the GBA version, getting back to that point again, and really having fun so far. It’s much more in line with what later FF’s expect out of you, letting enjoyment being more important than challenge. I agree that the MP breaks the game, but the spells-per-day system was not cool. I need to cast level 1 Cure and Fire a lot; I don’t need to cast level 2 spells much.

    Do you have any suggestions for spells which are surprisingly good? I’ve found Sleep to be better than usual, for instance.

  5. Reetin
    Posted 2017.10.04 at 15:19 | Permalink

    I uh, got to level 5 because my hemorrhoids were giving me trouble last night and I couldn’t sleep. Woo for progress?

  6. Lusipurr
    Posted 2017.10.04 at 16:39 | Permalink

    I reached Melmond where it is quite easy to farm loads of gil and XP. This is an important thing to remember as it will help you at several points in the game:

    In the Earth cave (SW of Melmond), upon entering, immediately go left. There is a long rectangular hallway, two tiles wide, which runs North-South. Every single step in this hallway will put you into battle against giants. So, you can just step in and out of the hallway over and over to get into random battles with Giants. They drop loads of gold and a whole bunch of XP, and when you run out of cure spells to recover after battle, you can go back to Melmond, stay at the inn, and then repeat.

    Doing this you should be able to get many, many levels and enough gold to outfit everyone to the max and then some. This becomes even easier when you get the Giant Sword, which does massive damage to giant-type enemies.

  7. Adeki
    Posted 2017.10.05 at 00:18 | Permalink

    Just started playing today and now Garland is defeated! Hopefully I have more time either tomorrow or Friday so I can have a longer play session.

  8. Lusipurr
    Posted 2017.10.05 at 00:28 | Permalink

    I have reached the week 1 checkpoint on my PSP. Will do the same in Origins tomorrow. :)

  9. Lusipurr
    Posted 2017.10.05 at 00:35 | Permalink

    Important Note!
    The game becomes somewhat non-linear after restoring the Earth Crystal. You can do the next sequence of things in a variety of orders, but I strongly recommend the following:

    After you restore the Crystal of Earth in the Earth Cave near Melmond…
    1. Go to Crescent Lake and get the Canoe.
    2. Go to the Ice Cave north of Crescent Lake and get the Levistone.
    3. Go to the desert south of Crescent Lake and get the Airship.
    4. Fly to the town of Gaia and outfit your party.
    5. Return to the desert and reboard your ship.
    6. Sail to the Citadel of Trials and complete it for the Rat Tail.
    7. Return to the desert and reboard your airship.
    8. Fly to the Dragon Caves and speak to Bahamut for your class change.
    —CHECKPOINT REACHED!—

    For more details, a decent walkthrough that follows this particular path can be found here: https://www.retrowalkthroughs.com/final-fantasy-1/

  10. Lusipurr
    Posted 2017.10.08 at 11:35 | Permalink

    I have completed Final Fantasy I on the PSP, including all of the extra side stuff in the Soul of Chaos and a multi-hour foray into the Labyrinth of Time.

    Also, I found this nice post listing all the versions of FFI, and their differences, in case anyone is still confused.

    There is a similar post for the versions of FFII.

  11. Imitanis
    Posted 2017.10.08 at 15:30 | Permalink

    This goes nicely with the current playthrough: 8-bit Theatre.

    As of Sunday I’ve hit the first checkpoint.

  12. Lusipurr
    Posted 2017.10.08 at 18:57 | Permalink

    I have begun my plathrough of FF2.

    The first thing I thought was how nice it was to have a really clear, overarching antagonist (in the form of the empire) and defined protagonists with their own stories. There’s also the substantial improvement to aesthetics that comes with the fact that this is a later game.

    I like also that they start you out with a character who disappears in the game’s opening moments, the disappearance to be resolved later. That leaves a mystery constantly swirling in the air during the first half of the game or so.

    I do NOT like the levelling system, but I’ll manage. We all will, I hope.

  13. Dark-Stag
    Posted 2017.10.08 at 21:27 | Permalink

    Final Fantasy 2 (GBA version) was such a cool game.

    @Lusipurr I also loved the mystery aspect while playing, but the things that always stand out to me when FF2 is brought up is the scene when a party member is in the process of getting seduced by a later boss (I think) and a very bad-ass pirate queen (who I believe was a playable character).Well, good luck and have fun playing!

  14. Lusipurr
    Posted 2017.10.08 at 21:32 | Permalink

    @Dark-Stag: I’m sticking with the Anniversary Edition version of FF2 on PSP, which is downstream of the GBA version. The extra guaranteed HP increases every X number of battles helps me avoid having to beat on my own characters quite so often.

    Also the improved graphics for the PSP edition are really very splendid, and represent an even bigger advance on the Origins edition than FFI on PSP does.

  15. Adeki
    Posted 2017.10.08 at 21:59 | Permalink

    Just beat the Kraken! That’s three crystals back up and running all by the end of the day Sunday. Sunglasses emoji.

  16. Lusipurr
    Posted 2017.10.09 at 00:37 | Permalink

    Okay! I made it up to the Snow Cave in FF2, with everyone Mythril-equipped and over 400hp, so that’s pretty good for a few hours. Hopefully I’ll have some time this week to keep on keeping on. :)

  17. Reetin
    Posted 2017.10.10 at 12:55 | Permalink

    I originally posted this on the wrong chat. I killed a vampire then spoke with some old lady.

  18. Lusipurr
    Posted 2017.10.11 at 23:01 | Permalink

    @Reetin: You are further behind than any other staff member!

    Readers in Discord who complete either game by the date of the final checkpoint get a STAR ⭐️ next to their name until our next playthrough! Readers who complete BOTH games in this playthrough get a GLOWING star !

  19. Lusipurr
    Posted 2017.10.13 at 11:39 | Permalink

    I made it to the Wyvern Cave in FF2 last night, and I hope to have reached the first FF2 checkpoint a week early by the time the podcast records tomorrow!

  20. Durga Syn
    Posted 2017.10.14 at 04:16 | Permalink

    Having completed FFI with some time to spare I am playing through it again on easy to see how much..easier it is. So far, very! Surely I will be done before the weekend is over and ready to begin II

  21. Imitanis
    Posted 2017.10.14 at 08:59 | Permalink

    Rolled credits today with a LV46 party and 10.5 hours of play time.

  22. Lusipurr
    Posted 2017.10.14 at 19:50 | Permalink

    @Imitanis: That’s another ⭐️ awarded!

    I reached the first FF2 checkpoint this evening, so I’m exactly a week ahead of schedule! :D

  23. Lusipurr
    Posted 2017.10.23 at 18:54 | Permalink

    FINAL WEEK!

    On we go to victory over the Empire!

  24. Lusipurr
    Posted 2017.10.28 at 18:31 | Permalink

    Final Fantasy II… COMPLETE!

    I didn’t do the PSP-added side stuff because I don’t care enough about Richard, Mindu, etc.

  25. Durga Syn
    Posted 2017.10.29 at 20:13 | Permalink

    I completed II yesterday, I forgot to comment as much. Oh well! That was fun. Can we do Everquest next? I heard it is getting a new expansion this year.