Still pretty fantastic

  Two classic NES adventures are repackaged for the GBA
By  |  October 24, 2005
 Final Fantasy I & II: Dawn of Souls
Published by Nintendo. Developed by Square Enix. For Game Boy Advance. Rated E for Everyone.

"When darkness veils the world, four Warriors of Light shall come…"

For anybody familiar with the Nintendo universe, this quote is as recognizable as that whole "One ring to rule them all" deal from Lord of the Rings. It is, of course, from Final Fantasy, one of the seminal titles for the Nintendo Entertainment System, now appearing on the Game Boy Advance as Final Fantasy 1 & II: Dawn of Souls.

Let it be known that this is essentially an outsider's review. I was born into an alternative household, where my brothers thrived on Colecovision. By the mid-eighties, while my friends were running on their Power Pads and saving Hyrule, I was playing Rocks, Paper, Scissors in Miracle World with Alex Kidd.

I had always heard of the Final Fantasy series, but frankly, when I see Roman numerals attached to anything other than the Super Bowl or Godfather movies, I get a little suspicious. As the years went on, and the FF series grew and grew, it was clear I had missed the Final Fantasy (air)ship. Those commercials confused me, and I didn’t realize until much later that the clips being shown were from the cutscenes, not the actual game (yes, yes, I’m a fool). My first introduction to the FF world was the not-all-that-bad Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within movie, which apparently had little to do with the series itself, and only added to my confusion. Fortunately, now I have the option to start from scratch.

Final Fantasy I & II: Dawn of Souls is not so much a re-release as a renewal of the original two games. The skeletal aspects of the originals remain, with improved fighting and interaction, and perhaps most importantly, the ability to save at any point in the game (and fans of the original will be happy to know that you can now select the quantity of items you want to buy, instead of buying them one at a time).

In FFI, there are six types of characters to choose from, Warrior, Thief, Monk, and the three Wizard classes, Red, White and Black (see? That equals six). For my first journey into Final Fantasy, I chose the three main classes, plus the Red Wizard, who holds the characteristics of both the Black and White Wizards. Being a FF virgin, I felt like this combination was the best way to start. How well acclimated to the FF world you are will obviously determine whom you place in your party. Each class has its own advantages; although as far as I can tell, the only thing the Monk is good for is dying. As Jurgen (my Warrior), Ratso (my Thief), and BigRed (my Wizard) fought their way through the land, poor old Art Monk usually ended up biting it right quick, leaving me with just three party members for most of the time.

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