Final Fantasy: Anniversary Edition

This version of Final Fantasy was released to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the original release, but like other remakes, it lacks most of what made that game special.

For me, the biggest draw for renting this title was the novelty of the newly enhanced visuals, and the game didn't disappoint on that front. Sprites are more detailed than ever before while generally remaining true to the style of the original game. The bosses look particularly amazing, filling up a huge part of the screen and looking far more threatening than they actually are. There are a lot of little touches to improve the look of the game outside of battle, like sun beams shining down at the elf village, debris falling in the Dwarves' Mine and other caves, and a few other unique effects. Spell effects are generally pretty impressive, but I don't know if they've been significantly enhanced over the other remakes.

The PSP handles the game superbly with only the most minimal load times and a pretty quick startup. I was concerned that the screenshots I found online would not match up with the game running on an actual system, but those fears were unfounded. The clarity, brightness, and color quality are unbeatable.

And now for the inevitable. Most fans of this game already know how severely the difficulty has been reduced each time it gets remade, and this edition is no exception. This is the easiest version of Final Fantasy that has ever existed.

Leveling up is astonishingly fast. Just walking from place to place without running away from every battle will leave you extremely overpowered. If you spend the small amount of time to earn gold to outfit everyone with the best items, your characters will be Godlike from the extra fighting and equipment related stat boosts. You will be killing the Fiends with nearly the same effort it takes to win a random encounter and this is no exaggeration. A couple of stat increasing spells will have a black belt taking off 30-40% of a Fiend's HP with each attack.

There are more healing items than ever, they are extremely cheap, and now you can even restore MP with ethers at minimal cost. Sadly, the magic system now uses a standard MP cost formula instead of giving you a set number of charges for each spell level. This combined with the availablility of ethers means that you have virtually infinite ability to heal if you've got a Red or White Mage. This renders items nearly obsolete for these parties. If you don't have mages, there are now hi-potions, X-potions, and others to make your quest as boring as possible. On top of all this, you can now save anywhere at any time, and it's a permanent save, not a quick save. Any possible chance of a meaningful defeat is removed since you can reload without even the slightest setback.

The only real reason to play this at all is to enjoy the feelings of nostalgia without having to go through the effort of actually playing the game. As with most games, you'll stop paying attention to the graphics after a short time. Listening to the music and experiencing the story of Garland's ridiculous paradox with the Fiends was not enough to keep me hooked by itself and the only reason I even finished the game was due to it's relatively painless playtime of about 8 hours.

I've played FF Origins, FF: Dawn of Souls, and now FF: Anniversary Edition. I can take no more of this garbage. This is not the game I grew up with. This is Square's way of making an easy $30 off of modern RPG fans (that have the skill and attention span of a rock) without scaring them away from the series.

It should be noted that this game does have the bonus content from Dawn of Souls as well as a new dungeon. After suffering through the main game, I didn't have the patience to attempt them. But even if they are exciting, challenging quests, which I doubt, it simply does not justify what's been done to the classic game they're supposed to be commemorating.

Please, if you've never played Final Fantasy before and are curious, play the NES version. Give it some time and your patience will be rewarded. The alternative is a mindless game that you'll forget almost immediately after you finish it.