Final Fantasy I & II: Dawn of Souls
Revisit the greatness of Final Fantasy all over again with the reintroduction of parts one and two on the Game Boy Advance!
Last year saw the release of Final Fantasy Origins on PSOne. A compilation pack of the first two Final Fantasy titles, the second of which had been previously unavailable in America, Origins gave gamers the chance to play through the first two entries in the series with a new coat of paint. Featuring updated graphics, full motion video cutscenes, several optional gameplay tweaks and more, Origins carefully walked the fine line of pleasing both veterans and newcomers to the games. With Dawn of Souls, Square continues to refine the old classics.
As with Origins, the versions of Final Fantasy 1 & 2 present in Dawn of Souls are based off the Japan-only WonderSwan Color remakes. This time around, the scripts were re-written and numerous additions and tweaks to the games themselves were made. Most noteworthy of these changes is the ability to save anywhere outside of battle, an important feature in a handheld RPG.
The focus of Final Fantasy 1 is less on the story and more on exploration and fighting. Those that have played prior versions will note that the GBA edition is more balanced in that it doesn't require players to stop and level up their characters to survive the next dungeon, resulting in a much more streamlined experience. The flipside is that the revamped FF1 ends up lacking the challenge of past iterations, a virtual cakewalk for those familiar with the game. The only real challenge is in the form of the four new dungeons. These randomly generated dungeons, which feature bosses from Final Fantasy 3-6, reward players with rare and powerful items once cleared. With each dungeon unlocked after the defeat of the respective Chaos, some may find themselves questioning if it's even worth the time and effort to reach the new content.
Of course, it's this lack of difficulty that makes the title perfect for handheld gaming, as you can fight a few battles, save and then restart where you left off hours, days, weeks or even months later without worrying too much about having to start over.
The other major change in FF1 comes in the form of spell use. Previously dependant upon a character's level, magic now utilizes the more popular MP system, helping to make the game more accessible to newcomers. Spells, much like weapons, must be purchased and require a user to be a specific level before they can be equipped.
Notorious for its unique leveling system, Final Fantasy 2 has also undergone several alterations. While characters still gain strength as they use an ability, you'll no longer need to rely upon attacking members of your own party to increase their hit points as this aspect has been more carefully balanced. A brand new epilogue, entitled "Soul of Rebirth," has also been added.
Of the two games, Final Fantasy 2 is the more story-driven, with a greater emphasis on character development. The stories seem a little tired and cliched, though that's mostly due to their age and influence on the role-playing genre. Fighting is handled by a traditional turn-based battle system, with random encounters occurring every so often outside of towns.
It's also worth noting that Dawn of Souls includes some of the most impressive music on the Game Boy Advance to date, ranking right up there with Castlevania: Circle of the Moon. With two games and a bestiary on the cartridge, it's a testament to Square's prowess that they were also able to accommodate such rich and detailed sound.
Though they may lack the depth and complexity of the modern games they inspired, Final Fantasy 1 & 2 are still quite enjoyable, and definitely worth playing if you're a fan of RPGs.
What's Hot: Improves some already excellent RPG games
What's Not: Seems a bit too easy