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Final Fantasy Anniversary
Platform: PSP
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Square Enix/TOSE
Genre: Turn-Based RPG
Format: UMD
Released: US 06/26/07
Japan 04/19/07
Official Website: English Site



Scorecard
Graphics: 82%
Sound: 82%
Gameplay: 71%
Control: 85%
Story: 2%
Overall: 64%
Reviews Grading Scale
 
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Here comes the boom, ready or not.
 
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Is that my cuddly-wuddly hydra?
 
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YAAAAAARR!
 
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The spell effects really are much better.
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Ashton Liu
Final Fantasy Anniversary
06/26/07
Ashton Liu

Twenty years.

That's how long Final Fantasy has existed now, and it has come a long way since its humble beginnings as Squaresoft's last ditch effort to make their mark on the industry. Now, two decades and a myriad of sequels, spin offs, and some really bad merchandise later, Final Fantasy is turning the big two-zero. So what do we, the faithful fans who have supported the franchise over the last two decades get for the twenty year milestone of Square Enix's flagship video game series?

A port.

You heard right. Final Fantasy's big twenty year milestone and we get a port. To be more specific, we get a PSP port of a port of a port of a remake of the original Final Fantasy game. If that's not a total buzzkill, I don't know what is. If you're not familiar with it by now, Final Fantasy features the story of four nameless, silent, crystal-holding warriors whose destinies are to save the world. This was a deep and engrossing plot when I was the ripe age of 5, but 20 years later we scoff with indignance at any story that can be summarized with a collection of sentence fragments. Not that it's the game's fault; it's society's fault for putting undue pressure on games. Really. I mean it.

Being a port to PSP, Final Fantasy Anniversary features largely enhanced graphics from every port preceding it. The sprites are detailed, the colors are vibrant, and the environments are well done. The spell and attack effects, similarly, have been improved greatly, and are rather stunning. Playing the PSP version, expectedly, makes every port of the game before look washed out and dull in comparison. Similarly, the sound effects and music have been updated to take greater advantage of the PSP's hardware. The music sounds great, and the extra tracks they added of the various different battle themes of the Final fantasy series for the optional dungeons makes the music even more enjoyable.

The gameplay remains largely unchanged. Depending on your viewpoint, this may be a good or bad thing. At the beginning of the game, the player is allowed to assign names and jobs to the four characters they will be using. Each job is supposedly different, but really, they're just split into physical and magical jobs - one's for beating the crap out of your opponents and chugging potions with impunity, the other's for healing/attacking with magic. Combat is rather straightforward, with allies and enemies carrying out their actions seemingly in random order. There's really only four things you can do in battle: attack, use magic, use items, and run away. Technically you can also defend and change your equipment too, but I know of no man who uses these options and lives to tell the tale. And that's really it. The battle system is just attack, maybe cast magic if you have a mage, and get drunk off of potions and ethers when you run low on HP or MP. There's no real depth to the game at all outside of the obligatory 'use thunder spells on water based enemies or die' mechanic, but that's kind of old hat by this point. The game also lacks any sort of cues or help tags to tell you where to go to progress the game, so if you've never played the game before you'll likely run around like a headless chicken a few times before you accidentally hit upon what you're supposed to do next.

Of course, the normally short 15 to 20 hour Final Fantasy game can be further drawn out for another five to ten hours, if the player wishes, by tackling the extra dungeons that were included with the GBA version as well as the newly appended extra dungeon. Still though, if you've played the game (or one of its ports) already, it's not worth the time or effort to spend money on this game and the time it takes to actually get to the new material.

Twenty years of Final Fantasy, and all we get from Square is this port. Well, technically, this port and a port of Final Fantasy II. But considering that, not only did Square Enix release Final Fantasy I and II in the same game on both the Gameboy Advance and the PlayStation 1 already, and that both are still readily available for sub-$30 prices, giving us the two ports for $30 APIECE is pretty much as low as it can get. There's nothing especially wrong with Final Fantasy Anniversary, to be sure - if you've never played any version of the original Final Fantasy before, this is a good time to try it out, but if you've played any incarnation of it in recent years, the extra dungeon does not warrant forking over $30, especially when the games are a subtle way of saying "Hey, Final Fantasy is twenty years old! Give us more money."



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© 2007 Square Enix. All rights reserved.


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