Final Fantasy I

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The first entry into the then-unknown (but now lip-smackingly popular) Final Fantasy series, and the one that started it all.

You see, near the late 1980s, a little game publisher called Square had made failure after failure. It seemed like they couldn't do anything right. One day, the president decided to produce one last game and retire. Pouring nearly all of their remaining resources into the title, he fully expected it to be Square's last game ever.

He aptly named the game Final Fantasy.

The name had a few different meanings. From another point of view, it had to do with creator Hironobu Sakaguchi's personal situation: if the game had been a failure, he would have quit the video game industry and gone back to university. The word "Final" can also be a synonym for "Ultimate" or "Definitive".

All of that above? Urban legend. According to a presentation he gave in 2015, Hironobu Sakaguchi wanted a name that would abbreviate to FF for his fantasy game, and he discovered Fighting Fantasy had already been taken. Hence, Final Fantasy was born simply for the Added Alliterative Appeal.

The story focuses on the trials of the Light Warriors, four people who were either thieves, white mages, black mages, warriors, monks (black belts in the the original translation), or red mages. Each character class had different abilities in battle, and had a variety of weapons and armor to choose from, and to top it all off, one quest you can take has as its reward an upgrade of your classes into a more powerful version, most of them with brand new abilities. The game also had three modes of transportation besides walking - ship, canoe, and airship. This was mind-blowingly new and different for a console game. [1] Compare it to its main competition in Japan, Dragon Quest II, where you only had three characters with pre-set abilities and a single mode of transportation.

And then there was the plot: The Light Warriors had to save the world from the evil Chaos.

...Yeah, that's pretty much it. There really wasn't much of a story to back it up -- it was almost purely gameplay, with the extent of the story being: "Please save our town"... save town... go to next town... lather, rinse, repeat. Then again, the story was still more complex than the typical Excuse Plot.

But even so, Final Fantasy I helped change the RPG industry.

Tropes used in Final Fantasy I include:
  • Antidote Effect: Inverted in the original; for the price of learning the PURE spell, you can buy 53 Pure potions, which is more than you're likely to ever need.
  • Artifact Title: The game was originally intended to be Hironobu Sakaguchi's swansong, who intended to quit Square and leave the gaming industry if Final Fantasy didn't sell well. Although Sakaguchi now works for Mistwalker instead of Square, Final Fantasy itself has inspired numerous sequels and spin-offs.
  • Bag of Sharing: Downplayed in the original; everybody can only carry up to four weapons and four pieces of armor. Potions are shareable by everyone, though.
  • Baleful Polymorph: Those bats surrounding Garland at the beginning? They're actually the Sky Warriors, Lefein's honor guard, who tried to stop Garland and failed miserably. The enchantment on them starts to weaken once the crystals are alit once more.
  • Bishonen: White Wizard is the long haired type, depending on what gender you think White Wizard is.
    • The remakes have made him/her decidedly feminine, but there is always the originals.
  • Blind Seer: Matoya.
  • Bonus Boss: The elemental bonus dungeons in the Game Boy Advance version have four bosses to fight each, and they're all taken from later Final Fantasy games. Earthgift Shrine has Two-Headed Dragon, Echidna, Ahriman, and Cerberus; Hellfire Chasm has Cagnazzo, Barbariccia, Scarmiglione, and Rubicante; Lifespring Grotto has Gilgamesh, Atomos, Omega, and Shinryu; and Whisperwind Cove has Typhon, Orthros, Phantom Train, and Death Gaze. The Labyrinth of Time in the PSP version has eight different versions of Chronodia, based on the number of blue and red seals you open in the Labyrinth.
    • WarMECH. He could only be found through a long and useless hallway on the way to the fourth Fiend. Although he had half the HP of the final boss, he compensated by hitting twice as hard. This amounts to hitting about 200-500 damage per turn to everyone in your party. This has made many gamers curse the heavens when they accidentally run into it and get destroyed in literally two turns, tops.
  • Bonus Dungeon: In the GBA remake, there are four dungeons (Earthgift Shrine, Hellfire Chasm, Lifespring Grotto, and Whisperwind Cove) that are unlocked by killing the corresponding Fiend (Lich, Marilith, Kraken, and Tiamat, respectively). The PSP remake also has these, along the Labyrinth of Time, which is unlocked when you have access to the final dungeon.
  • Book Ends: Chaos Shrine, the first dungeon, is also the last one. And Garland, the first boss, is refought as the final boss, Chaos.
  • Boss in Mook Clothing: Several, like the Wizards/Piscodemons in the Marsh Cave, and especially War Mech.
  • Broken Bridge: Actually a non-existent Bridge...the Light Warriors must defeat the first boss, Garland, before it's built. It's changed to an actual broken bridge in later remakes.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The Lute is a reward given to the Light Warriors after they Save the Princess, but it doesn't come into play until close to the end of the game.
    • A slightly shorter example is The Crown - while you have to fetch it from the Marsh Cave, it's not actually used by the party until the Castle of Ordeals.
    • The mysterious black orb in the Temple of Fiends/Chaos Temple is used to transport you into the final dungeon, 2000 years in the past.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Garland's both the first and last boss you face.
  • Class and Level System
  • Convection, Schmonvection: The Final Fantasy tradition of playing this trope full force started early, because although wading through molten magma hurts, it basically does the same amount of damage as walking around poisoned.
  • Cosmic Keystone: The Crystals.
  • Cthulhumanoid: Wizards/Piscodemons and Sorcerers/Mind Flayers, both from Dungeons and Dragons.
  • Desperation Attack: The game itself was effectively one, one that worked out quite well.
  • Dracolich: The Zombie Dragons at the Castle of Ordeals.
  • Drop the Hammer: Hammers are the best offensive weapons aside from the Masamune a White Mage can use. However, due to their weight, they're very inaccurate.
  • Drought Level of Doom: Gurgu Volcano.
  • Eat Dirt Cheap: A talking stone giant blocking the path to get to the Earth Cave. He wants a tasty ruby to munch on.
  • Evil Only Has to Win Once: Played straight and inverted. There are two ways to break the Stable Time Loop: for Garland to beat you in your first battle, or for you to kill Final Boss Chaos in your last battle. In the first case, evil wins, in the second case, you win. It's stated that the loop has gone the same way (Warriors of Light beating Garland then getting killed by Chaos) thousands of times.
  • Face Heel Turn: A random NPC in Cornelia mentions that Garland was once a respectable knight of the realm. The circumstances behind his defection are never brought up though.
  • Fetch Quest: Pretty much the whole game, yep. The plot at the beginning of the game is basically "Retrieve/do something to the four Mac Guffins". And even before you can start rescuing the four Macguffins, you need to get out of the sea. To do that, you need to get the TNT in Corneria...which is sealed by a door that can only be opened by the Mystic Key held by the prince of Elfheim...who is in a magic coma, needing a potion from Matoya...who is bat blind without her Crystal Eye, which was stolen by Astos...who you need the Crown to confront...yay Chain of Deals!
  • Fifteen Puzzle: A hidden minigame, accessible only after -- and while -- you Get on the Boat. In remakes of the game, you can build up obscene amounts of Gil early in the game by playing repeatedly.
  • Fire, Ice, Lightning: Naturally.
  • Four Is Death: Four crystals, four fiends absorbing their power. The world is screwed.
  • Game Breaking Bug: In the original Famicom/NES version, the spells TMPR, SABR and XFER literally didn't work at all. LOK2 worked, but it increased the enemies' evasion rather than decreasing it as it was meant to.
  • Game Mod: The Mod of Balance for the Dawn of Souls version (Game Boy Advance remake), which changes things to not only make more sense (no Vox spell for starters) but retains the difficulty from the NES version.
  • Ghost Memory: The Lufenians pass down the memories of their ancestors in some type of ceremony, which seems to be why they're the only ones who know much about what happened 400 years ago.
  • Go Back to the Source: The Four Fiends were sealed in the Temple of Chaos. From there, they summoned the defecting knight, Garland, transformed him into Chaos, and had him send them into the future to overrun the world. The Light Warriors must then travel back in time to the Temple to prevent this Time Loop.
  • Good Bad Translation: "I, Garland, will knock you all down!" The GBA, PSP, and iPhone remakes retain this line.
    • Amusingly enough, in Japanese he says, "I, Garland, will kick you all around!"
    • Sadly, the European Dawn of Souls release altered it to "I, Garland, will cut you down to size!", leaving many nostalgia-loving fans wailing in pain. Because of that, it was left alone in the PSP release.
  • Gorgeous Gorgon: You meet these later in the game. They may have green skins and snakes-as-hairs, but they're also quite buxom.
    • Marilith, to some.
  • Gotta Kill Them All: The Four Fiends.
  • The Greatest Story Never Told: Defeating the final boss breaks the Stable Time Loop, which means that none of the events which could cause The End of the World as We Know It ever happen, and nobody knows for sure what the Light Warriors do.
  • Hair Antennae: The Thief's newer sprites have one of these poking out from under his bandanna.
  • Heroes Prefer Swords: Also because there's not much choice... the Black Mage can use daggers, the White Mage mallets and Simple Staff, the Warrior can equip An Axe to Grind and the Bare-Fisted Monk can use nunchucks.
  • Heroic Mime: For the most part, your entire party has no lines, and given their ambiguity, you won't really notice or care. However, reading the description for the rat tail yields a pretty funny conversation between them, where they almost consider throwing it away. "No!! Don't do that!!"
  • Holy Hand Grenade / Good Hurts Evil: The HARM spells. They only work against undead.
  • Infinity-1 Sword: EXCALIBUR! Made of Adamantium and forged by an ambitious dwarf blacksmith named... Smith.
  • Instant Awesome, Just Add Mecha: Warmech.
  • Instant Awesome, Just Add Ninja: Thief upgrades to this.
  • Instant Plunder, Just Add Pirates: Bikke and his crew start out as the straight plundering type, terrorizing the citizens of Pravoka, but once your party beats them, they end up hanging around town as The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything.
  • Interchangeable Antimatter Keys: Once you get the key from the sleeping prince of Elfland, locked doors will no longer be a problem to you. Averted as you only need the one.
  • It's All Upstairs From Here: You must climb the Mirage Tower in order to reach the Wind crystal.
  • Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: Several monsters were renamed in the original release, to prevent any possible lawsuit with TSR, then-owners of Dungeons and Dragons. Most prominently, Fiend of Fire Marilith, based on a high-ranking demon in D&D, became Kary.
    • In fact, the bestiary of Final Fantasy was essentially the same as that of 1st edition D&D.
    • Similarly, the Beholder sprite was altered and renamed Eye/Evil Eye
  • Level Map Display: Pressing a combination of buttons on the World Map displays its zoomed-out version.
  • Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards: The game manages to sidestep this. The physical fighters, even at the end of the game, can only hit one enemy at a time, making the mage characters more useful in fighting random encounters in the late stages of the game. However, the bosses tend to be resistant to magic, the final boss especially so, meaning the big fights are won on the strength of the fighters (admittedly, with some buffs from the casters).
    • And the fighters are ridiculously overpowered to start with.
  • Magikarp Power: Black Belts are rather weak in the beginning, doing less damage than thieves and red mages. What makes them unique is that they are actually stronger unarmed than with a nunchuck. Around level 10 you can just strip your BB from all of his equipment and watch him outdamage your fighter with multiple hits each round. A party of four Masters can destroy Chaos in a single round. (This was fixed in Dawn of Souls, however, where characters' damage is limited to 999 damage and Chaos has more HP.)
    • In the original NES Version, there was a Level 1 White Magic called RUSE. Its effect: Drastically increases evasion. And it stacks. Thus, if you cast it twice on any character in your party, that character will be immortal. Against Chaos, you have to use it 3 times, though. Through the use of this spell, it is possible for a single W.MAGE (White Mage) to solo the entire game.
    • Every version does this for the enemies too. If you play with 4 Fighters in your party, you can easily defeat almost anything. The problem comes when you encounter birds, due to their Petrifying effect.
  • Master of None: Red Mages are hit by this after early game, making them Crutch Characters. They are useful sources of buff spells that are basically either on or not, and if you give them the Masamune, they can fight pretty well, but yeah.
  • Monsters Everywhere: Among the earlier games that introduced the joy of traveling a world in which monsters grow like weeds absolutely everywhere. Well, except for inside towns.
  • Mythology Gag: In one of the Dawn of Souls dungeons, you have to becalm the shades of several foes you slew beforehand (and except for Astos and the Lich's vampire lieutenant, they actually do get becalmed). One of them, a Piscodemon shade, admits a wish that it could have used magic. The joke is that in the original NES translation, Piscodemons were renamed due to character limits. The problem is that their staves inspired a renaming to Wizards--despite having no spells whatsoever.
  • Never Say "Die": "I, Garland, will knock you all down!"
  • Nice Hat: This is the game the classical Black Mage look originated in, but most people's attention goes to the Red Mage's slightly nicer hat.
  • Nintendo Hard: Only the original NES version, the Wonder Swan Color version, and the "Normal" mode of the Playstation remake. Later updates to the game streamlined the inventory and equipment systems, and made certain battle commands easier. Plus, the casting system of "limit X uses per level per day" was replaced with the familiar Mana system in remakes.
    • Ironically, changing to a Mana system essentially depowered mages: in order to counter the fact that mages would be able to cast many more spells (Flare and Holy every round? HELL YEAH!), all enemies received a particularly large boost to magic defense, such that a black mage casting Flare (level 8 spell, 40 MP) is significantly less effective than a fighter smacking an enemy around with Haste (level 4 spell, 16 MP) and Temper (level 2 spell, 4 MP).
  • Ominous Floating Castle: A castle/satellite thing in space in the original versions. Later versions make it more of a traditional-looking castle in the stratosphere.
  • Ontological Inertia: Intererstingly, Time Travel apparently shunts you to an alternate timeline, and you keep existing regardless of potential paradox. One of the remarkably few games featuring Time Travel to do this.
    • The Light Warriors are returned to their own time (and forget the whole ordeal) in the remakes.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: The Cardian Dragons, human-sized yellow dragons that respect courage and bravery, and live in underground caves on a chain of islands. Their King, Bahamut, can power-up your characters if you bring him the Rat Tail from the Castle of Ordeals.
  • Outside the Box Tactic - Tiamat dies to one use of the instant-death spell BANE.
  • Peninsula of Power Leveling: The Trope Maker, and the Fan Nickname is the Trope Namer.
  • Pre-Ass-Kicking One-Liner: Garland - see the quote at the top of the page.
  • Random Encounters: It gets ridiculous in one path of the Earth Cave, where you have to fight a troop of one to four Giants every step! Appropriately named the "Giant's Tunnel", it is great for leveling, and, like the Peninsula of Power, was left in every subsequent version.
    • There are squares in many dungeons that will always trigger an encounter when you step on them. Sometimes the encounter will be a Boss in Mook Clothing, especially if the square is right in front of a chest with a particularly important item (They did this instead of using a Chest Monster). In the Temple of Fiends Revisited, you can fight against the four fiends an unlimited number of times in this fashion as well, not that you'd really want to since they give single-digit EXP and gold.
      • With two major exceptions (Wizards, notably in the Marsh Cave, and the four main elemental enemies), you can run from every single Chest Monster. In fact, in some cases it's advisable to do so.
  • Rapid-Fire Fisticuffs: Any high-level Monk/Master can do this, and it's quite a Game Breaker, since it allows you to pummel Eldritch Abomination Bosses into oblivion.
  • Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies: It's quite possible to be ambushed by a large group of Cockatrices or any other monster that has a petrification or instant death ability and annihilate you before you can take a single action.
  • Save Scumming: The Memo Save feature in the Origins version makes this possible. Memo save every few steps or before a boss, and when something goes wrong, soft reset and boot up the memo save. Memos are saved to the system's internal memory and are deleted after a hard reset or when the system is turned off, which makes it slightly less cheap.
  • Save the Princess: This is your very first task, as you save Princess Sarah from Garland. At the time the game was released, Link and The Descendant were rescuing royal damsels in distress as high priority missions; you get that out of the way before you even see the real title screen.
  • Self-Imposed Challenge: Probably the Trope Codifier. The most notable one is completing the game with a party of four white mages, although this arguably isn't as difficult as playing with a party of four thieves. Or one.
  • Sequence Breaking: You can sail to the Castle of Ordeals and complete the class change quest before most of the Fire Fiend plot.
    • You can get the airship as soon as you get the canoe. Final Fantasy I is apparently full of these.
    • You can actually postpone the Fire Fiend plot until just before entering the final dungeon. It makes the volcano dungeon much easier, too.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": The original NES release used different translations for many character's names, due mainly to space restrictions. The recent re-releases have changed them back, and you can generally tell how old a Final Fantasy fan is by whether they talk about "monks" or "black belts".
  • Stable Time Loop: The Four Fiends send the dying Garland back in time 2,000 years, where he becomes the demon Chaos. Chaos sends the Four Fiends forward in time to seize the Orbs and send the dying Garland back in time...
    • Which creates some rather odd grammar: 2000 years from now, you killed me.
    • It's also a case of Screw Destiny, since the time travel isn't literal "travel," but a variant in which all the events after a specific time are undone, with the traveler happening to be immune to any changes. Most of the time, this sort of time travel would be the practical equivalent to the standard kind, but in a Stable Time Loop, the repeated undoing "traps" everyone and everything in a specific period, going through it over and over, unable to progress. The villain Garland can only win if he defeats you in his first battle, and you can only win if you beat him in the final battle--each of which has turned out the same way thousands of times already.
  • Staring Down Chaos: It is very possible.
  • Take That / Grave Humor: In Elfheim, a tombstone reads "Here lies Erdrick" or "Here lies Link", depending on the version.
  • Technicolor Death
  • Technicolor Toxin: Purple poisonous swamps and green status.
  • The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: At least in the remakes. Did you do Sequence Breaking and fight the Four Fiends out of the usual order? Then their pre-fight dialogue mentions the Fiends you killed before them. If you leave Marilith for last, for example, she'll mention that you slew the Fiends of Earth, Water and Air.
  • The Maze: The second-to-last floor of the Floating Castle, with corridors that loop endlessly. If you don't know exactly what direction to walk in to find the transporter to the next floor, it's easy to get stuck here.
  • The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: The Temple of Fiends, Time Travel edition.
  • There Are No Tents: Averted, with names that change according to usefulness: Tent < Cabin < House.
  • Tin Tyrant: Garland.
  • Title Drop: The director of the game said that his final work would be a fantasy game.
  • Updated Rerelease: So, so many...
  • Upgrade Artifact: The Rat's Tail, which is given to Bahamut to obtain your characters' class changes.
  • Useless Item: AMUT cures your characters of Silence. That would be useful...if any enemy in the game cast silence. So it cures a status effect you can never even get.
    • Four enemies (Eye, Phantom, Wizard Vampire, and Grey Naga) have the Mute spell. For Eyes and Phantoms, it's the sixth or seventh spell in the spell cycle, and the odds of your party surviving to see it are remote. For the other two, it's not their first spell, and at the point in the game where you run into them, the odds of any enemy surviving the 2-4 rounds necessary to reach the second spell in its spell cycle are slim. So it's still useless.
    • In the remakes a few enemies now know Silence. However they are so few and far between, you have the gauntlets (which cast Bolt2 for free and aren't blocked by Silence) by the time you encounter any of them, and Silence disappears after the battle, so the spell is still fairly useless.
    • LAMP cures darkness/blind. In the original game, the darkness/blind status ailment didn't do anything, making LAMP equally useless.
  • Useless Useful Spell: Subverted, as many of the bosses were vulnerable to at least one Standard Status Ailment.
    • Several spells just plain didn't work, making them literal useless spells. One spell actually helps the enemies! Additionally, weapons with elemental affinities didn't actually do the damage they were supposed to.
    • The FEAR spell does exactly what it says: inspires fear in the enemies so they run away. Of course, anything after Crescent Lake/Gurgu Volcano is immune to it (except the final boss, but the odds of it actually working are microscopic), and you don't get experience for enemies that run away. It's only real use is in the Earth Cave if you encounter an enemy too powerful, or the Cockatrice (which can petrify you with ease). After that, well...hope you didn't need that spell slot (hint: you don't).
  • Vancian Magic: FFI directly rips off Dungeons and Dragons' "spells per day" idea, and there are no magic rechargers in the game outside of sleeping in an inn or tent/cabin/cottage. The remake uses a traditional mana pool and provides access to ethers.
    • It's worth noting that the white/red/black differences between the mages were probably inspired by Dragonlance (white and black are easy enough to derive on your own, but is red that obvious for the middle ground?).
  • Video Game Remake: The game is available on several platforms, including the Play Station 1, Game Boy Advance, PlayStation Portable, and iPhone.
  • Violation of Common Sense: To get through the volcano, you have to walk through magma. In fact, it's often a good idea to do so, since it prevents random encounters.
  • Welcome to Corneria: Started here (sort of), and referenced in Eight Bit Theater. Fighter likes swords.
  • Where It All Began: The first dungeon is also the entrance to the much more impressive final dungeon. On top of that, the first boss is also the Final Boss after pulling a One-Winged Angel.
    • The game started and ended with the villain Garland being slighted by the royal family and making amends with the royal family respectively after breaking the loop.
    • In the remakes, the Light Warriors are returned to the present, with no memory of the whole game even happening. Yes, that's your reward for completing the game: The story being erased from the canon.
  • White Mage: The first example of this trope in a console RPG, and the Trope Namer.
  1. Different party combinations yield different results.