Cidolfas's RPG Reviews: Final Fantasy: Dawn of Souls (GBA)
NOTE: I'll be ignoring the NES game, which I currently view too painful to play, and concentrate on the GBA version of the game. This review is just on Final Fantasy, not Final Fantasy II.
You Are: Four nameless Light Warriors.
Your Goal Is: To revive the power of the ORBS! Er, crystals.
General System: The mother of all RPGs. Pick a class at the start and you're stuck with it. You walk around and get in random encounters. You buy magic at shops; there are 8 magic levels and eight spells per level (4 white, 4 black). Each mage can only use up to three spells per level, but they have to get to a specific experience level to use higher-level magic. Your fighters can attack and that's about it, although some can also use low-level magic after they do a "class change" halfway through the game. If a character dies, you can revive him at a church or using items or spells.
Battle System: Attack, heal, use items, run. No defend, oddly enough. You can also "use" equipment in battle, which may trigger free magic spells. There's a whole LOT more items in this version than in the original.
Graphics: Not awesome (a bit small), but easy enough on the eyes.
Music: Excellent. The original tracks have been remixed to great effect. Although it does get a bit repetitive, the tracks themselves are of great quality.
Story: WHAT STORY? The NPCs give some funny comments sometimes, which is welcome after the tedium of fighting battles.
Length: About 20 hours, or about eight times that if you want to get EVERYTHING from the Soul of Chaos dungeons.
My Thoughts: Eh. Although there are some nice upgrades to the game (such as hitting a different target if your current one dies), and the music and graphics are much more likeable, the game itself is still very blah. The encounter rate is still way too high, and the complete lack of story grates on you after a while (although the translation is pretty entertaining). The small screen means that dungeons are much harder to navigate without getting lost or overwhelmed. The extra dungeons are interesting but way too hard, tedious, and random.
Bottom line: If you're a masochist (and I know there are lots of you out there) you'll have lots of fun building up your bestiary and getting every single chest in the secret dungeons. If you want a dose of nostalgia, you should also try it out. Otherwise, I'd stay far away. There are much better GBA games out there.
Overall Rating: 5/10