I’ve always hated Final Fantasy Legend. As a lover of RPGs, I’ve tried to play this game a number of times, but I’ve never been able to beat it. Even compared to 7th Saga, this game is difficult for me.
The game is built differently than most RPGs, even by today’s standards. Weapons can only be used a limited number of times, and leveling is handled differently for each of the three character classes you can choose from. Humans can only increase their stats by the use of items, while mutants level slowly and randomly at the end of every battle. Monster characters, on the other hand, transform into different monsters by eating the meat of defeated enemies, stepping up to become more powerful if the enemy was of a higher level.
These concepts totally blew my six-year-old mind when I first came across Final Fantasy Legend. However, the joy ended as soon as the game became an infinite grind just to keep my characters equipped. Ever since my original failure, detailed in the final Zack Huffman article, this game has been the bane of my existence—the one game I owned but had never completed.
That is, until now! I have realized the error of my plays and can now see the true beauty of the game that is Final Fantasy Legend. What turned me around about the first RPG for a handheld system? Let’s review!
The best part of the game is definitely the concepts employed. Considering the cookie-cutter formats of character leveling and equipment design that developers still struggle to break out of today, this game was way ahead of its time. The only thing really holding it back in the realm of creativity is the story, which was barely on par with other tales of the day, involving your nameless band assembled to defeat the generic evils of the world. I guess the budget ran out after developing the systems.
As Game Boy games go, this game’s graphics are definitely above average. The graphics are even comparable to those of many NES games that were out at the time, with full-sized monster images during battle and tiles that you can actually tell what they are. In fact, the game’s essentially the graphical equal of Dragon Warrior, only in hideous shades of moldy green. That’s a hardware problem, however, so I won’t hold that against it.
The music is similarly good, being held back only by hardware requirements. Compared to what other Game Boy titles have, the music of Final Fantasy Legend is surprisingly easy to listen to, so it gets a high score compared to contemporaries in its field.
As I mentioned before, though, the game can be a lot of fun or an exercise in masochism, depending on your play style. If your strategy is to always have the best equipment and never use items, you’re going to end up like me: stuck in a grind that gives World of Warcraft a run for its money just to keep your underpowered characters equipped. Break out of that loop and just play the game for fun, and you’ll find that it’s not too bad.
If you can stomach the bland story a second time, there’s definitely some replay value in the character variety. Try different party combinations, or beat the game with only one character. While it’s not a game that you’d likely want to play again and again, it at least has the option for interesting replay.
So, it’s a fun game for alumni of the old school of RPGs. The game could be of particular interest to developers, too, not just because of the concepts and the execution, but because of all of the bugs and ways to abuse the systems. Definitely check it out if you’re into indie game programming, because players will always find out that Blanca is temporarily invincible when he’s rolling.
In the end, Final Fantasy Legend boils down to reveal a valuable lesson: If you eat the meat of another creature, you’ll transform into something else. This game has been brought to you by the Vegan Gaming Society.