Big things are happening on TV Tropes! New admins, new designs, fewer ads, mobile versions, beta testing opportunities, thematic discovery engine, fun trope tools and toys, and much more - Learn how to help here and discuss here.
Here it is: the very first entry into the then-unknown (but now lip-smackingly popular) Final Fantasy series.In the 1980s, a little game publisher called Square had made failure after failure; it seemed as if they couldn't do anything right. The president of the company decided to produce one last game and retire; he poured nearly all of his company's remaining resources into the game and expected it to be Square's last game ever.As a result of his belief, he named the gameFinal Fantasy.The name had a few different meanings. From another point of view, the title had to do with creator Hironobu Sakaguchi's personal situation: if the game had failed, 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".The game's story focuses on the trials of the Light Warriors, four people who were either thieves, white mages, black mages, warriors (fighters in the original translation), monks (black belts in the original translation), or red mages. note Different party combinations yield different results. Each character class has different abilities in battle and a variety of weapons and armor to choose from; completing a certain quest near the middle of the game allows players to upgrade the character's classes into a more powerful version (which gives them brand new abilities). The game also has three modes of transportation besides walking: ship, canoe, and airship. Final Fantasy I's main competition in Japan, Dragon Quest II, only had three characters with pre-set abilities and a single mode of transportation by comparison.And then we have the plot: the Light Warriors have to save the world from the evil Chaos....yeah, that's pretty much it. The game didn't have much of a story to back it up — it was almost purely gameplay, with your characters going from town to town in order to save said towns from nearby threats and such. Then again, the story still had more complexities than the typical Excuse Plot of your usual 8-bit fare at the time. That said, the game's plot did develop quite noticeably at the end of the game, Twist Ending and all.Excuse plot or no, Final Fantasy I saved the dying Square by becoming its first big hit — and it helped change the RPG industry to boot. Many more titles followed, but the name of the series has never changed: it's still called FinalFantasy, as an homage to the game that saved Square from bankruptcy.The fighting game Dissidia: Final Fantasy serves as a sort of prequel that gives events in this game more backstory and exhibition.The popular webcomic 8-Bit Theater loosely (and how!) based its story on this game; the comic also pays homage to the fact that Square lifted many of the game's mechanics from Dungeons & Dragons.
Final Fantasy I contains examples of the following tropes:
After the End: A few NPCs mention that the northern kingdoms used to be far more prosperous than Cornelia. While the southern kingdoms are relatively safe from the Fiends (outside of Melmond), the northern kingdoms were all but destroyed by Tiamat and Kraken, leaving the few towns that remain.
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. Given the mechanics of the game, however, the 53 Pure potions take about ten minutes to purchase and the PURE spell takes just a couple of seconds; besides, most level 4 White spells are otherwise useless, anyway.
Anti-Grinding: Thinking about beating up the Four Fiends in the past Chaos Shrine for EXP and Gil? Nope! Each of them only provides 1 EXP and 1 Gil per encounter! However, the Purple Worms on the first floor of the past Chaos Shrine are loaded with EXP and are relatively (for this dungeon) weak. Couple this with a Black Mage spell that warps you to the previous floor (in this case, the Chaos Shrine in the present), and you can easily grind a few levels out to get those last few stat points you 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, Lufenia'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.
Due to the way the game is coded, a miss is a block is a dodge. As a result, it's possible to see your Fighter/Knight, who has abysmal evasion, evade damage several times for no readily apparent reason, when actually, they're effectively blocking with their shield.
Elemental shields (and armors) are specifically strong against a certain element (oddly, the same element they have, contrary to later elements), but can never completely block it. So the fire shield reduces damage from fire spells and abilities, but you can never reduce the damage to zero.
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 Bonanza: In every other part of the game, each dungeon gets one boss encounter, although the Earth cave gives you a second boss when you return after unlocking more area. The final dungeon, though, has you fight all Four Fiends over again, in stronger form, plus the main boss. Technically a Boss Rush, but covered here to put all Final Fantasy examples together.
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.
Chain of Deals: A particularly long one makes up the first act. To escape the Aldean Sea (which is an inland sea), you need to get Nitro Powder to a dwarf who's building a canal. To get the Nitro Powder, you need the Mystic Key. To get the Key, you need to wake the Elf Prince. To wake the Elf Prince, you need the Jolt Tonic. To get the Jolt Tonic, you need to get Matoya's Crystal Eye. To get the Crystal Eye, you have to impress the King of the Northwest Castle. To impress the King, you have to get the Crown from the Marsh Cavenote This isn't as straightforward as it seem, though; for example, you meet Matoya before you find the Elf Prince, indeed, before you even get a ship and find out that you're stuck in the inland sea. Fortunately, while getting to the Crown takes quite a bit of Level Grinding to survive the trip, the chain is very quickly resolved once you have it.
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.
Difficulty Spike: The Marsh Cave (and to a lesser extent, the surrounding areas outside it and Elfheim) is widely considered to be a drastic and sudden leap in difficulty. Monsters hit harder and are often poisonous or can paralyze your party members, and many of them come in fairly large groups. It's made even worse by the fact that the equipment, items and spells you need from Elfheim are very expensive and random battles on average only give a few hundred gold at most. Prepare to spend a lot of time level and gold grinding if you want to survive.
Dracolich: The Zombie Dragons at the Citadel of Trials.
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.
Early Installment Weirdness: Compared to the later games in the franchise, the first game didn't use a mana/MP system at all; it used a "use spell X amount of times" system. The final battle also had no theme of its own and used the regular battle theme.
Easy Levels, Hard Bosses: The bonus dungeons are mostly a cakewalk filled with relatively wimpy recolors of common baddies (much tougher enemies do exist but are very rare). The bosses, on the other hand, will annihilate you pretty quickly unless you've been doing some serious Level Grinding.
Eat Dirt Cheap: A talking stone giant blocking the path to get to the Earth Cave. He wants a tasty ruby to munch on.
Eldritch Location: The Dawn of Souls dungeons and the Labyrinth of Time in the PSP version (included alongside the Dawn of Souls dungeons) are exceptionally strange. First, every time you enter one of them, you get a random permutation of floors, so each trip through is never the same. Furthermore, while many of the floors are standard underground areas, the selection of floors you get can have drastically different environments—you could be in a lava cave one floor and an ice cave the next. Finally, there are areas that have no logical reason to be in an underground dungeon. Oceans? Continents? Floating Continents? Inhabited towns complete with shops and inns?!
Elemental Tiers: The fire and lightning spells were on lower spell levels from the ice spells, and therefore the ICE1/Blizzard did more damage. This is probably due to influence from Dungeons & Dragons, where the iconic Fireball and Lightning Bolt spells are on a different level from the iconic ice spell Cone of Cold.
In a lot of FF games, there are more uncommon elements like Air and Earth, but are harder to come by or use and are a Useless Useful Spell.
You also fight the Four Fiends in order of their power, although elements are swapped around : Lich (Earth), Marilith (Fire), Kraken (Water), and lastly Tiamat (Wind).
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 BossChaos 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.
Expecting Someone Taller: Once Matoya gets her sight back, she expresses disappointment with the warriors' shabby appearance.
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.
Fairy in a Bottle: A desert caravan has a mysterious bottle for sale. Using the bottle releases the fairy trapped inside it. The fairy helps the party by drawing Oxyale from the spring, which enables underwater breathing.
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 Nitro Powder in Cornelia... 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 tonic 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!
Follow the Leader: This was intended to be a Dragon Quest killer. Although it didn't come close, as DQ is still more popular in Japan, the Final Fantasy series is the world's most famous JRPG series.
Four Is Death: Four crystals, Four Fiends absorbing their power. The world is screwed... at least, until the arrival of four heroes.
Funetik Aksent: The Dawn of Souls rerelease gives all dwarves an extremely thick Scottish brogue written out like this.
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.
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 Chaos Shrine. 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 Shrine 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.
Hair Antennae: The Thief's newer sprites have one of these poking out from under his bandanna.
Heroes Fight Barehanded: Can be played straight with a Monk/Master as a party member. Because of his unique mechanics, the Monk actually does less damage when a weapon is equipped, except very early in the game.
Inexperienced players often make it to Garland or further while doing this inadvertently, due to forgetting to equip their gear, especially in the NES original. None of the early game monsters are that hard to beat with your bare hands, even without a monk!
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's Tail yields a pretty funny conversation between them, where they almost consider throwing it away. "No!! Don't do that!!"
EXCALIBUR! Made of Adamantium and forged by an ambitious dwarf blacksmith named... Smyth. This ends up as the Infinity–1 Sword.
Masamune. The Infinity+1 Sword for a variety of reasons, not least of which is (slightly) higher attack power than Excaliburnote in the original game; in the remakes, Excalibur does increased damage to most enemy types, which makes it the stronger weapon in most situations, but the original game had type-specific damage bonuses bugged, and the fact that it can be used by any class.
The remakes that include the bonus dungeons add several much more powerful weapons, of course. The absolute strongest weapon is now the Barbarian's Sword, in terms of sheer damage output.
Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: Several monsters were renamed in the original release, to prevent any possible lawsuit with TSR, then-owners of Dungeons & Dragons. Most prominently, Fiend of Fire Marilith, based on a high-ranking demon in D&D, became Kary (though she went by her original name in later remakes).
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.
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).
Luck-Based Mission: The Cavern of Ice. While in the Cavern of Ice, you can meet three different types of enemies: Piscodemons, Mindflayers, and Dark Wizards. Dark Wizards can cast Death, which has a chance to instantly kill one of your party members, and at this point you still don't have anything to protect against it. Mindflayersnote they're actually pretty rare in the Ice Cave, but they do show up do minimal damage, but have a high chance of instantly killing a party member when they attack. Piscodemons aren't changed at all from the ones you encountered in the Marsh Cave a full act earlier, but because they are classified as boss-type enemies, you can't run away from them. They also like to show up in groups of 6 to 9. So you can randomly encounter an enemy that will kill you, another enemy that will kill you, and an enemy group that will beat you up severely because you can't run.
In addition, the boss of the Cavern of Ice, Evil Eye, has the spell Kill, that has a much higher chance to kill than Death. While it will use it infrequently in most cases, A.I. Roulette means that it could use it as much as it wants, and you're likely dead.
The Load: Thieves are underpowered, can't wear good armor, can't use good weapons, and don't get to hit multiple times until well after the Warrior, Red Mage, and Monk are doing obscene damage to single enemies. The only benefit of a thief character is that they have high evasion and help when it comes to running away. However, once they get their class change to ninja, they become engines of destruction that can outperform Knights, along with access to level 4 Black Magic.
Magikarp Power: Monks 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 disequip his weapons forever and watch him outdamage your Warrior 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 Chaos has more HP.)
Master of None: Red Mages/Wizards 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 still. (Somewhat averted in the Anniversary update, where they are the only class type aside from the Warrior/Knight that can wield the most powerful weapon in the game, the Barbarian's Sword, obtained from Chronodia at his most powerful. Obtain one for both him and your Knight, and even Warmechs are easy pickings.)
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.
Morale Mechanic: Enemies would start randomly fleeing from you as your party leveled up.
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": Zig-Zagged. There's Garland's famous line, that used to be quoted at the top of the page, but the game does use "perished" and "slain", which were apparently tame enough to get by NOA.
The Death spells in this game and some of its remakes were affected. In the NES version, Death was renamed "RUB", as in "to rub someone out"; similarly, the spell to grant immunity to instant death was "ARUB". An improved variation of Death, flat-out known as Kill, was renamed "XXXX". The PlayStation game, despite having more lenient translation policies, translated Death and Kill as "Reaper" (named after the Grim Reaper-like creature the spell summons) and "Doom".
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 WonderSwan 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.
One-Hit Kill: There are far more death spells in this game than in any other Final Fantasy title. The full list includes Scourge/Bane, Death/Rub, Break, Quake, Warp/Zap!, and Kill/XXXX.
Ontological Inertia: Interestingly, 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.
Pirate: 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.
Random Encounters: It gets ridiculous in one path of the Cavern of Earth, where you have to fight a troop of one to four Giants every step! Appropriately named the "Giant's Cave", 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 Chaos Shrine 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 (Piscodemons, 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.
Retcon: The sequel/prequel Dissidia: Final Fantasy has reports that seem to reword the mention of the "four warriors of light" to mention a single warrior, implying a revised Final Fantasy I continuity.
The same thing can happen if you are ambushed by a group of monsters that have a tier-2 or 3 elemental attack that hits everyone. If enough of them decide to use it, your party is likely dead no matter how much HP they have.
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 Token: Sleeping Bags, Tents, and Cottages, which are the only way to save outside of an Inn.
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 Citadel of Trials 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. This game 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 Crystals and send the dying Garland back in time...
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.
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 Flying Fortress, 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.
Title Drop: The director of the game said that his final work would be a fantasy game.
Unique Enemy: Warmech is a mixture of this and Bonus Boss, due to being a random encounter found in only one specific place in the entire game.
Updated Re-release: To date, this game has been released (with updates) on the Playstation, the Useful Notes/Wonderswan, the Gameboy Advance, the PSP, and the iOS.
Upgrade Artifact: The Rat's Tail, which is given to Bahamut in order to obtain your characters' class changes.
Useless Item: AMUT (Vox) 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 (Blindna) cures darkness/blind. In the original game, the darkness/blind status ailment didn't do anything, making LAMP equally useless.
The FEAR spell does Exactly What It Says on the Tin: 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).
In the NES version (and some of the older ports), all the standard offensive spells end up like this eventually. This is due to a bug that prevented the intelligence stat from increasing magic damage, leaving only the base damage. They remain useful for hordes of weak enemies, but otherwise you tend to be constantly striving for the next level of attack spell. For the black mage, these are still better than his physical attack until later in the game, but the red mage quickly finds it easier to deal with individual enemies by just hitting them.
Vancian Magic: FFI directly rips off Dungeons & Dragons' "spells per day" idea, and there are no magic rechargers in the game outside of sleeping in an Inn or a Sleeping Bag/Tent/Cottage. The remake uses a traditional MP 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?).