Final Fantasy

 Garland vs. the LIGHT WARRIORS
Now this is what FF1 should look like.
    Gamers being the impassioned bunch that they are, there has always been a demand for remixes and rereleases of classic games. Unfortunately, since many companies have eyes only for the future, only a few games (notably the 8-bit Super Mario Bros. games and the first Dragon Quest trilogy) have received the treatment in the past. However, with the advent of more powerful handheld game systems such as the Game Boy Color and the WonderSwan Color, remixes have become more prominent, and it was only a matter of time before Square decided to embrace their rich gaming past and redo a handfull of their classic games as well, starting with the game that started the company on their road to greatness: Final Fantasy.

"Even the spell effects have gotten a makeover."

    Not content with the fairly simple game + FMV ports that resulted in Final Fantasy Anthology, Final Fantasy for the WonderSwan Color is a true remix, much in the vein of Enix's Dragon Quest I-II and III remixes. The most notable feature of the game is the updated graphics. While many players have fallen in love with the little 16x32 pixel, 4-color sprites in the past, characters have been updated to 16-bit SNES quality. Likewise, the monsters have been totally redrawn as well, making them not only more impressive on-screen, but also truer to their original Amano concept designs. The simple battle graphics of the NES release have been thrown out the window as well, replaced with full-screen backgrounds similar to those seen in Final Fantasy VI, with the spell and attack effects being re-done as well. Finally, though the world which these characters and monsters inhabit will look very familiar to those who have played the originals, Square has abandoned the extremely tiled look of the originals for background graphics that rival many 16-bit games, making the world of Final Fantasy I much lusher while retaining the simple elegance of the original.

    Of course, all of these graphical improvements would be for naught if the rest of the game was not improved on as well. The old-style menus have been updated to the current style, as seen in Final Fantasy IV and beyond. Everything from magic management to equipping new weapons will now be done in a style that players are not only more familiar with, but one that has proven to be more effective and easier to manage. Things that players almost take for granted now, such as the game showing the new attack level when equipping a new weapon, have been incorporated, fully taking this classic game up to current standards.

The stores and inns actually have interiors now.

    Final Fantasy will take advantage of the WonderSwan Color's more powerful sound capabilities as well. The classic themes, such as the Prelude, the Bridge-Crossing Theme, and the ever-popular Victory music, are present, though are now presented with updated quality. Although this will be one of the lesser improvements, it is a welcome one indeed.

   Luckily, two of the things that Square does not seem to be altering at all are the basic gameplay and storyline. Once again, four nameless Light Warriors chosen from six available classes (Fighter, Thief, Black Belt, Red Mage, White Mage, and Black Mage) embark on a journey to save the world from destruction. They must hunt down and defeat the four elemental Fiends in order to make the Orbs shine once more. While the plot is simple (and even cliché) compared to today's epics, it is the basis for what has become one of the top RPG series in history.

 Garland - not quite the MAN, but close.
"I, Garland, will knock you all down!!"

    Many of the fine details of the remix have yet not been revealed yet, such as any possible tweaks in the difficulty level, but it can be assumed that whatever Square chooses to do, the game will be true in spirit to the original. Likewise, a release outside of Japan has not been confirmed, but given Bandai's intentions of releasing the WonderSwan Color in North America, Final Fantasy seems like a shoe-in for localization. In the mean time, impatient gamers can look forward to a WonderSwan Color Final Fantasy Limited Edition Set from Japan (including a white WonderSwan Color unit), or can head to their local used game store or to the GIA's retrospective to experience the original 8-bit version.

Preview by J.T.Kauffman, GIA.
Final Fantasy
Developer Square
Publisher Square
Genre Traditional RPG
Medium Cartridge
Platform WonderSwan Color
Release Date  Dec. 2000
Famitsu rates Final Fantasy WonderSwan Color
14 screenshots, 6 pairs of comparison screenshots
Limited Edition packaging, promotional material