Developer: Tose Software |
Publisher: Nintendo
Players: 1 Player Game |
Release Date: 11/29/04 |
Genre: RPG

Back during the NES days, Nintendo enjoyed the company of one of the greatest RPG developers of the time. Square helped shape the console RPG into the big business it has become today on the Nintendo Entertainment System, Game Boy, and Super Nintendo Entertainment System. However, after issues Square had with Nintendo and the lack of willingness to change media formats on the Nintendo 64, Square made history with Final Fantasy VII on the PlayStation. Since then, Nintendo has yet to see another great Square game on its console.

While the latest offering from Square-Enix, Final Fantasy I & II: Dawn of Souls, is a remake of the Japanese WonderSwan Color and PSOne games, something just makes it feel more magical on the Game Boy Advance. Perhaps I am reminded of my childhood when the original Final Fantasy captured my imagination and I kept it checked out for so long at the video rental place, that they called wondering where their game was. Despite aging visuals and very old-school RPG gameplay, Final Fantasy I & II: Dawn of Souls is just fun to play. Because you can quickly save, the game translates to the Game Boy Advance very well. Have a few minutes before bed? Waiting for a movie to start? Bored with your family during the holidays? Why not explore a dungeon and gain some experience? Dawn of Souls may be basically the same version that was released on the PSOne, but now you have the freedom to carry that adventure in your pocket.

The two titles included in this package are both the original Final Fantasy and the Japanese sequel we never got in the US back during the NES era. (In fact, the number II in the Final Fantasy series we got on the SNES was actually Final Fantasy IV Easy in Japan.) Players will find that the focus in both titles is to use a multitude of random battles to level up their characters.

FF1 allows you to pick a party of any four characters you want. These characters have no backstory and you must actively pursue NPC’s to find out where you should go next. Because of this, the game is very linear and some players who only started playing RPG’s Post-FF7 may find this to not be very fun. Even though the gameplay is centered on countless random encounter, I think all RPG fans should appreciate Final Fantasy I.

Final Fantasy II is a title I never got the luxury of playing back during the NES. While I understand the RPG market in the US was much smaller back then, it just makes me sick at my stomach that we didn’t get this title translated for us. Square begins to really lay the groundwork for what they will do in future Final Fantasy titles in part two. There is much more story and the characters feel much more alive. The battle system was also completely reworked from the first game. Characters will see their stats change based on what abilities they use during a fight or how a monster fights them. If you have a character that is taking a beating during a fight, he will slowly see his HP raise. While this system is subtle, it is an example of how Square continually tweaks the gameplay to keep the experience fresh for players. They continue to do this today. Take a look at Final Fantasy X and then Final Fantasy X-2 for further proof of this.

As players go through the first Final Fantasy, new, never before seen, dungeons will open up. These areas give players a chance to fight against monsters from all different Final Fantasy games, get special treasure, and more. Each of these four dungeons are randomly generated so you will get a unique experience in them each time.

In Final Fantasy II, players will find a new story line to go through after they get through the time.

Both features are completely new and you cannot find these in the WonderSwan Color or PSOne versions of the game.

Final Fantasy I & II: Dawn of Souls may be showing its age some. However, it is only fitting that the ultimate collection of these two titles finds its way home on the brand that gave this franchise life. Here is to hoping that Square will continue re-creating their RPG magic on Nintendo systems in the future. While they are at it, how about an original Final Fantasy RPG to play through too?

By Kaleb Rutherford – 12/06/04
ESRB Details: Fantasy Violence, Language

Screenshots for Final Fantasy I & 2: Dawn of Souls