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Video Game / Final Fantasy

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This isn't their final fantasy. Not by a long shot.
The world lies shrouded in darkness.
The winds die. The seas rage. The earth decays.
But the people believe in a prophecy,
patiently awaiting its fulfillment.
"When darkness veils the world,
four Warriors of Light shall come."
After a long journey,
four young travelers did at last appear...
...and in the hand of each was clutched a crystal.
The opening note 

The first entry into the now lip-smackingly popular Final Fantasy series, released on the Famicom/Nintendo Entertainment System in 1987 in Japan and 1990 in North America.

In the 1980s, the Director of Planning and Development at Square was feeling dispirited about the game industry; after working on several games that failed to take off, he decided to produce one last game and retire.

The plot goes as follows: A series of elemental catastrophes have been threatening to plunge everything into darkness. Four mysterious Warriors of Light take it upon themselves to save the world by bringing the power back to four magical crystals (or "Orbs" in the NES translation).

...and that's pretty much it. It was almost entirely Dungeon Crawling, lifted whole-cloth from the first edition of Dungeons & Dragons: Your party go from town-to-town in order to save them from local threats and such. However, the plot had more complexities than the usual 8-bit fare: The party learns of "Four Fiends of Chaos" who are sucking the Crystals dry, receive wisdom from the Circle of Sages, uncover a Lost World populated by people who were driven from their home in the skies, and travel through time.

The player controls the aformented Warriors of Light, and picks their jobs at the start: Warrior ("Fighter" in the original translation), Thief (kind of a misnomer since they behave like Ninjas and can't "Steal" anything yet), Monk (previously "Black Belt"), Red Mage, White Mage, or Black Mage. Each have select types of weapons and armor they can use, and your spell list is also limited by their brand of magic, i.e. you can purchase the spells but not everyone can use them. Completing the sidequest near the middle of the game will promote them to Prestige Classes: not only does this change their appearance, it causes their stats to skyrocket and allows mages to learn stronger spells. The game has three modes of transportation besides walking: pirate ship, canoe (for nagivating rivers the ship can't fit into), and airship. Final Fantasy's main competition in Japan, Dragon Quest II, only had three characters with pre-set abilities and a single mode of transportation by comparison.

Final Fantasy saved Square from bankruptcy. The legend goes that Sakaguchi chose the name knowing the project would likely fail and that he and SquareSoft would retire from the video game business; little did he know that his bleak joke would become the longest-running oxymoron in gaming nomenclature. However, according to Sakaguchi, the team wanted something which could be abbreviated using the Roman alphabet. They were also set on something which could be condensed into four-syllables; Final Fantasy (pronounced “efu efu” in Japanese) fit both criteria. Though, “Final” wasn’t the team’s first choice: it was supposed to be Fighting Fantasy. However, they had to nix that title when they discovered that there was already a board game called Fighting Fantasy, which is based on a series of British adventure books.

After the initial Famicom release, it was first ported to the MSX2 in Japan in '89. A remastered version for the WonderSwan Color was released in Japan in 2000; the WonderSwan version was the basis for the 2002 PlayStation port as a part of the Compilation Re-release Final Fantasy Origins, and later the 2004 Game Boy Advance port. Like Origins, the GBA version (Dawn of Souls) was bundled with Final Fantasy II, but it added four new Bonus Dungeons. For the 20th anniversary of the Final Fantasy series, it was again remastered for the PlayStation Portable and the Japanese Nintendo 3DS eShop. There are also versions of the game for mobile phones. In 2021, this game was remastered as a part of the Final Fantasy Pixel Remaster series, which was released on PC via Steam and mobile devices. In 2023 the Pixel Remaster version was also released for Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4 with a few changes that take into account feedback from the Steam and mobile versions.

The NES version of the game was available on the Wii Virtual Console and the PSX version on PlayStation 3 PlayStation Network (which can also be played on the PSP) worldwide. The NES Classic in North America and Europe also included it (Japan got Final Fantasy III, instead), as did the Nintendo 3DS and Wii U Virtual Consoles in Japan.

The fighting game Dissidia Final Fantasy serves as a sort of prequel which gives events in this game a bit more depth and exposition, while Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin is an Alternate Continuity to this game.

Final Fantasy I contains examples of the following tropes:

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  • 15 Puzzle: A hidden minigame, accessible only after — and while — you Get on the Boat. In the original NES version, you only got 100 gil a pop for completing it, no matter how long it took you to complete. In remakes of the game, however, you can build up obscene amounts of Gil early in the game by playing repeatedly and stock up on valuable healing items. The Pixel Remaster version however removed the ability to earn Gil and you only receive a PlayStation trophy / Steam Achievement.
  • Acronym and Abbreviation Overload: The original NES version has this en masse due to space restrictions. The PSX version had way less space restrictions, but some things were still abbreviated. By the time of the GBA remake, there was enough space to display the full names for everything.
  • 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 untouched by the Fiends (with only Melmond showing any devastation), the northern kingdoms were all but destroyed by Tiamat and Kraken, leaving few towns — and only one that remembers even hints of the once-advanced past.
    • In the NES and MSX2 versions, a late-game twist makes it clear that a more traditional version of the trope is in play: the "Flying Fortress" in those versions is revealed on entry to be a full-blown orbital space station, meaning that the "prosperous nations" of the past had access to futuristic technology and that the scope of devastation inflicted by Tiamat and Kraken is much more extensive than you first thought. The robots you encounter on the way hint at this, but then you see the computer consoles in the Mirage Tower, and the Fortress itself is a Wham Episode showing just how far the northern apocalypse went. Later versions dilute this revelation, though, as the Fortress is heavily redesigned to be a more traditionally fantasy-flavored "castle in the clouds".
  • A.I. Roulette: Averted in the NES version. While the chance of using a physical attack, a spell (if the monster has them), or a special (if the monster has them) is random, the order they use their abilities are not. Each spellcasting enemy has a list of spells, and it always uses them in the same order, starting from the beginning if they cast all the spells on the list. The same goes for special abilities, which are on a separate list and kept track of separately from spells if the monster has both. Played straight by the Pixel Remaster version, since the enemy AI has been reworked to be less predictable and give returning players a new challenge.
  • Antidote Effect:
    • Inverted in the NES/MSX2/WSC/PSX/Pixel Remaster versions of the game. For the price of learning the PURE/Esuna spell, you can buy 53 PURE potions/antidotes, which is more than you're likely to ever need. Given the mechanics of the NES/MSX2 version 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. The SOFT/Stona spell and Soft potions/gold needles are the same way, with spell points being better spent on other spells.
      • Even ignoring the cost it takes to buy said spells vs. buying the items outright, the problem comes that some of these spells share MP charges with more useful spells. For example, Blinda and Poisona share the same MP charges as NulBlaze and NulFrost, which are useful magic defense spells (not to mention Blind goes away after battle). Even if you dedicate that magic to curative spells, you only get 9 charges at most.
    • Played straight in the GBA version onward, due to the shift to the mana pool system and how little MP the Poisona/Stona spells cost. Although buying the items is still useful if you're doing a challenge playthrough without a White or Red Mage/Wizard in the party.
  • Anti-Frustration Feature: Dawn of Souls lets you save anywhere, which is very helpful in a portable game. The Pixel Remaster version also adds a Quick Save option that can be used anywhere.
  • 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.
  • Apocalypse How: Each of the Four Fiends individually quantify as a Class 6 threat, threatening to end all life on the planet by their own means, be it Lich causing all the land to decay, Marilith interfering with the world's volcanic activity, Kraken churning the seas out of control, or Tiamat controlling the winds in the skies above. Chaos himself seems to be of Class X at the least, possessed of all their power and capable of warping the fabric of reality.
  • 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. Whilst this may still have partly influenced the name, Sakaguchi has since said that they would've pretty much settled for anything that stood for "FF", as apparently they wanted that acronym specifically, once intending to name it Fighting Fantasy, which was already taken.
  • Ascended Glitch:
    • The original Peninsula of Power Leveling north of Pravoka has been kept in all re-releases up until the Pixel Remaster.
    • In the original game, rather than their actual critical hit rates, weapons used their index number in the game's code instead. While likely a bug in its first appearance, this quirk has been kept in all re-releases.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Black Mage's magic attacks look cool and can deliver major damage at first, but the class runs out of charges quickly, and it's surprisingly weak when not targeting a weakness. Rereleases of the game fix these points and boost the Black Mage.
  • Back Tracking: In every other part of the game, each dungeon gets one boss encounter. The Earth Cave features a second boss (the Lich) after you return from killing his flunky (the Vampire, who was erroneously blamed for the rotting soil in Melmond).
  • Bag of Sharing: Downplayed in the NES/MSX2 versions; everybody can only carry up to four weapons and four pieces of armor. Potions are shareable by everyone, though.
  • Beef Gate: Early in the game, continuing to head southeast from Pravoka will result in you quickly getting curbstomped by monsters way above your current level. This is the game's way of telling you to use the ship you just earned and head west looking for the elf kingdom they were talking about in Pravoka.
  • Bilingual Bonus:
    • Mt. Duergar. "Dvergr" is Old Norse for "dwarf".
    • The English name of the "Kyzoku" enemy (later renamed to "Privateer" and "Buccaneer)" is a stylized romanization of "海賊note ", the Japanese word for "pirate". Considering the enemy's Japanese name is "パイレーツnote "—the English word "pirate" or "pirates", spelled out phonetically in katakanathis translation choice is actually very clever.
  • Black Mage: The Trope Namer, but certainly not the Ur-Example.
  • Blind Seer: Matoya the witch. She can't do housework, so she animated her brooms to do the work for her.
  • Blocking Stops All Damage:
    • Equipping certain shields allows you to block damage more often. Including poison damage. The rest of the series simply reduces the damage taken from attacks.
    • 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.
    • Averted by the elemental shields (and armors); they're specifically strong against a certain element (oddly, the same element they have, contrary to later installments), 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.
  • Bonus Dungeon: The GBA re-release added four optional 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 and iOS remake further added the Labyrinth of Time, which is unlocked once you have access to the final dungeon.
  • Boring, but Practical: Low-level Black Magic spells Haste (FAST), Temper (TMPR/Steel), and Saber (SABR). Haste, a Level 4 spell doubles the number of physical hits you can perform in a turn, Temper (Level 2) increases your attack power, and Saber (Level 7) increases your attack power and accuracy. On their own, not that significant. But: 1. Hits function as an attack multiplier, making it a core component of physical damage. 2. Temper and Saber are both stackable, meaning repeat casts will increase attack power and accuracy (the latter of which determines the base number of hits you do). Combine this with a physical attacker, and you will be extremely powerful. It's not uncommon to see attackers deliver four digits in damage late game through a combination of these spells.
  • Boss in Mook Clothing: Several, like the Cthulhumanoids (Wizards/Piscodemons) in the Marsh Cave, and especially Warmech. It can only be encountered randomly in a hallway on the way to Tiamat. Although it has half the HP of the final boss, it compensates 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.
  • Boss Rush: In the Chaos Shrine, you must fight the Four Fiends again, and the Final Boss right after.
  • Bowdlerise: Nintendo of America's censorship policy at the time was heavily opposed to religious references, so the churches where you bring dead party members to be revived are turned into clinics. This creates a bit of a plot hole when you arrive in Melmond and discover that a local vampire went and burned down Melmond's clinic. The remakes change the clinics back into churches.
  • Broken Bridge: Actually a non-existent bridge. The Light Warriors must first rescue a Princess before the king agrees to have one built. It's changed to an actual broken bridge in the remakes.
  • Brutal Bonus Level: The Labyrinth of Time, added in the PSP version, is a giant maze filled with the strongest monsters in the game and puzzles that you have to solve under a time limit (and how much time you have depends on which commands you choose to sacrifice — dashing, fleeing battles, use of items, etc.). To make things worse, you can't save or use Exit, and running out of time increases the random encounter rate. The game throws a bone by giving Chronodia (the hardest boss in the game) a debuff for each red seal obtained for inexperienced players, but you will need to deliberately do this at least 7 times for each full go through of the dungeon in order to complete the Bestiary and nab the boss drops.
  • Canon Identifier: The four Featureless Protagonists who make up your party are given the title of Warriors of Light, (also known as the Light Warriors) with the individual characters making up the group identified by their class. With the advent of Dissidia Final Fantasy the group would be represented by a redesigned Warrior/Fighter more accurate to Amano's artwork simply known as the Warrior of Light, who would go on to lead the group after the events of the 13th cycle.
  • Captain Ersatz: Pretty much every monster in the game is ripped straight from the first edition of D&D, though many names were changed for the English version, presumably to avoid legal trouble. Later versions of the game changed some monster designs to make their resemblance slightly less obvious, with the most notable example being the Beholder being turned into the Evil Eye.
  • 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 . 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.
  • Challenge Run: The Switch and PS4 versions of the Pixel Remaster provide the option to cut experience gain in half or turn it off completely alongside options for increasing experience, giving players a built-in option for making the game harder.
  • Chekhov's Boomerang: The Crown. You have to fetch it from the Marsh Cave, which triggers a boss encounter with the Fake King known as Astos. But it's not actually used by the party until the Citadel of Trials.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The Lute is a reward given to the Light Warriors after they save Sarah, but it doesn't come into play until close to the end of the game.
    • The mysterious black orb in the Chaos Shrine is used to transport you to the final dungeon, 2000 years in the past.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Garland is both the first and last boss you face.
  • Cloak of Defense: The Protect Cloak is worn in the shield slot, and is the only shield in the original version that White Mages or Black Mages can equip. Later versions added the Zephyr Cloak and the Elven Cloak.
  • Convection, Schmonvection: The Final Fantasy tradition of playing this trope full force started early, because although wading through molten magma hurts, it does the same amount of damage as walking around poisoned.
  • Cosmic Keystone: The Crystals. Restoring their light is the goal of much of the game, and they will open the way to the final dungeon.
  • Covers Always Lie:
    • The Warrior of Light depicted on the Famicom cover is based on Amano's old concept art for the Knight, and doesn't look much like any of the main characters or possible jobs (ironically except for Garland). He does tend to serve as an unofficial mascot for the game, though, and shows up in the opening cutscene of the PSX version and as the main repenstive of the game in spin offs.
    • Princess Sarah is featured quite prominently on the cover and you'd be forgiven for assuming that rescuing her is the main goal of the hero. Her rescue is completed before the opening credits and once she's safe at home she's not relevant to the plot in any capacity. Her presence seems to have been grandfathered in by most medieval fantasy stories featuring a knight going off to save a princess (a trope Dragon Quest fell headfirst into as well), more than any real plot relevance.
  • Crescent Moon Island: The town of Crescent Lake is named for the crescent moon-shaped lake located around it. The town is where the player finds the Circle of Sages, who tell them about the legends of the Four Fiends and the Crystals. Among these sages is Lukahn, the one who made the prophecy foretelling that the Warriors of Light would restore balance to the world.
  • Critical Hit Class: The Fighter/Warrior class in particular has much higher odds of getting a critical hit than the others.
  • Cthulhumanoid: Wizards/Piscodemons and Sorcerers/Mind Flayers, both taken from Dungeons & Dragons.
  • Cutting Off the Branches: The party makeup is player-determined, but spinoffs of the series consistently portray a Warrior as the party's leader.
  • Dark Reprise:
    • In the NES version, the Cornelia Castle theme blares inside the Western Keep and the Citadel of Trials. Origins and Pixel Remaster replace it with a hauntingly sad rendition.
    • For the Chaos Shrine in the past, a lower-key rearrangement of the Chaos Shrine theme is used.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: 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 doing nothing. Well, Bikke at least, by virtue of of no longer having a ship since he gave it to you and not having a crew anymore.
  • Degraded Boss: You fight the Vampire as a boss in the Earth Cave, but in the Mirage Tower, multiple Vampires can be fought. They have the same stats as the one from the cave.
  • Developer's Foresight: 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.
  • Difficult, but Awesome:
    • The Red Mage/Red Wizard. The difficulty is that it's a freaking EXPENSIVE class to undertake as you need the best weapons, armor, and spells, which is a massive strain on your funds if you've also got a Warrior competing for those expensive weapons and armor, and possibly another mage or two who also needs spells bought for them. Their stamina is shoddy, so their HP grows abnormally slowly, only marginally better than the Black Mage, and they don't have access to a number of spells (Heal-series, Dia-series, and a few others, are completely out of the question for them), and they can't quite use the heavier gear either. The awesome part is that they're an exceptionally versatile class. Their armor can help protect them pretty well, they're fast enough to go first reasonably often, they can do pretty good damage with their weaponry (and even have one or two unique to them especially in the remakes), and they can function as a backup White Mage/Black Mage if the situation calls for it. They aren't the greatest at any of these jobs, but you can find a place for them in many party set-ups.
      • Worth noting that Red Mage/Wizard with any physical class is highly useful, since they can cast Haste and Temper.
    • Thief. Not great options for gear in the early part of the game, bugged ability in the NES version, and hardly any more capable in a fight than the White/Black Mages. Get him promoted, and the resulting Ninja becomes a powerhouse, able to wield about as many weapons as the Knight, and capable of up to Lvl. 4 Black Magic.
    • Dawn of Souls and Anniversary give the Ultima Weapon if you're capable of beating Deathgaze on the bottom floor of Whisperwind Cove. Despite it having an attack value assigned to it, its true attack rating is equal to the wielder's CURRENT HP divided by 10...again, their current, meaning that it gets progressively weaker as its wielder takes damage, requiring that some dedication be spent to keeping their HP up in order to keep the Ultima Weapon powered up. However, given that the weapon typically goes to the Knight, who often reaches the HP cap of 999 many many MANY levels before the level cap, this probably isn't too hard outside of the occasional spellcaster nuking his face off.
  • Difficulty Levels: Only present in the WonderSwan Color and Origins releases. You could choose between two difficulties when starting a new game.
    • Easy/Extra Mode: Faster leveling, the level cap is raised to 99, stats grow more rapidly, way more spell charges for spellcasters, shop prices are cheaper. All the remakes after the Origins release are based on this difficulty mode, but with certain changes: spells-per-day is changed to a mana pool system, enemies and bosses have been rebalanced, and the party starts with a cheap starter weapon and piece of body armor.
    • Normal/Original Mode: Plays just like the NES version. Slower leveling, level cap of 50, stats grow more slowly, more limited spell charges, shop prices match the NES version. Phased out after the Origins release.
  • Disc-One Nuke:
    • In all versions, the Castle of Ordeals/Citadel of Trials. Due to a river near it, it's the one location on the northern continent that can be reached before acquiring the airship (though it does require getting the canoe, which requires beating Lich). While potentially difficult, the hostile fauna don't have nearly as many cheap tricks as some of the random encounters in the next two dungeons that the party is directed towards, the level layout is much simpler and less deadly (e.g. no floors that damage the party), and the equipment found inside is around on par with the best loot at the lowest levels of those two areas. Plus, the bosses of the Castle/Citadel are Zombie Dragons, which have several easily exploited vulnerabilities. Stopping by there before trying to defeat Kary/Marilith or acquiring the Floater/Levistone makes those two tasks significantly easier, both in terms of having more experience and better gear.
    • In the remakes, the 15 Puzzle can give out rather nice rewards, so that farming it to clean out Elfheim's shops is much more reasonable than the "grind for money against ogres and/or pirates" method needed in the original release. Its usefulness, however, wanes afterwards, as the weapons and armor found in chests are generally better than what's in stores. Although the items rewarded are well worth farming it and the money gained can either help buy more spells or be spent on items that aren't rewarded by the puzzle.
    • In the original NES/Famicom version, you can grind the money to purchase the Silver Sword in Elfland for 4000 GP. While this is a lot of money, the levels gained while getting it will make the Marsh Cave much easier, and the sword itself is the most powerful weapon for the Fighter until the Volcano/Ice Cave: stronger than anything you can find or buy, and with better accuracy (i.e. more hits) than most weapons in the first half of the game (and thanks to the glitch for critical hits, it will out critical most things for a long while). Every remake has removed it from that particular shop, putting it in the shop in Crescent Lake, where it's usefulness is debatablenote .
  • Dracolich: The Zombie Dragons at the Citadel of Trials.
  • Drought Level of Doom: Mount Gulg. The lava floors will sap your HP, making it difficult to make it through even if you have a dedicated healer and 99 potions.

  • Early Game Hell: The game's early dungeons, most notably the Marsh Cave, feature swarms of tough enemies at a time when you won't have many Herd Hitting Attacks or strong weapons. You also have to deal with the land and ship limitations of travel, which in and of itself wears away your resources to and from the dungeons, and wandering too far in certain regions is almost certain death if low level. By the time the airship comes into play, your party is likely finally coming into their own levels-and-power-wise, and getting the ability to use the Exit and Teleport spells after the class upgrade takes an extreme edge off of your dungeon-delving from then on.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Since the game is effectively an unlicensed adaptation of the first edition of Dungeons & Dragons, it's very different from later Final Fantasy titles. Most of the more blatant D&D elements were abandoned beginning with Final Fantasy II, and the series began to craft its own identity from there. Remakes also retconned in some more traditional gameplay and setting elements. The Pixel Remaster version deliberately retained the weirdness, though.
    • The game uses D&D's 'spells per day' idea: magic users are allowed to cast a certain number of spells of each tier, with each spell consuming one "charge", and they can only know up to three spells from each tier at once. Charges cap at nine and can only be restored by resting at an Inn or using a Cabin in the field. The remakes from GBA on converted this to a standard MP system and added Ethers to the game, and the Tent recovers MP when used as well (though not as much as the Cabin). The Pixel Remaster version reverts to the Vancian Magic system but retains Tents and Ethers.
    • There's very little recognizable Final Fantasy lore here — no chocobos, no moogles, no Cid, and the only Job Classes are the core six, some of which don't have the abilities they would become recognizable for (like the Ninja having no Ninjutsu magic or the Throw command). Later ports added Chocobo statues to the throne room of Cornelia Castle and the Lufenian that created the ancient airship was named Cid.
    • On the other hand, the Dungeons and Dragons setting influences are worn on their sleeve — the presence of elves and dwarves, Bahamut as the King of Dragons who gives the party their class change, and several enemy designs are directly taken from D&D, including the Mindflayer and Beholder. The latter was such a blatant copying that its sprite and name were changed after the original Famicom release, becoming the "Evil Eye".
    • The game is comparatively open-ended, with the player being expected to explore, talk to NPCs, and gather clues to what their next destination should be. This is a contrast to most later Final Fantasy games, where the narrative path through the game world is fairly linear, or at least the game will directly point you towards your next objective and give you an idea of how to get there.
    • There's no way to revive KO'd characters with items, Phoenix Downs don't exist, and resting with a Tent or Cabin doesn't revive anyone. You have to return to a town to visit a Church, or have a White Mage use the Life spell (which is field-use only). Later versions add in Phoenix Downs and allow Life to work in battle.
    • This is the only game in the series to use a series of Turn Undead spells, Dia, instead of the typical Revive Kills Zombie. Later games would eventually include the Dia series again, now considering them Holy-elemental magic.
    • The protagonists are all Heroic Mimes with no personality and no Canon Names; this would be changed for all future mainline games save for III, XI and XIV, with the latter two being MMORPGs (though the Onion Knights in III did still talk in that one and got some small backstory).
    • In later titles, the Crystals are often found resting in some sort of sacred altar, the Crystal Rooms. In this title the altars still exist, but there are merely altars that act as fonts for the power of the four elements, and the actual Crystals are carried by the Warriors of Light.
    • The game has a unique music track that plays whenever you enter the menu; all future games continue to play whatever music is playing in the field.
    • The battle interface has a noticeably more complex design, with 8 windows: One to show enemy sprites, one to show your party's sprites, one to show enemy names, one to show the list of commands, and one box for each of the four party members. Later games, as well as ports of this one, simplify this down to two windows at the bottom, with both player party's and enemy party's sprites all on one plane.
    • There is only one battle theme in the entire game, unlike later games. No matter whether you're fighting Random Encounters, a Mini-Boss, one of the Four Fiends, or even the Final Boss, it's the same battle theme every time. However, many of the remakes of this game add proper boss themes to be more in line with later games. The Pixel Remaster has its own boss theme renditions, but switching the music to the original arrangement only plays the original battle theme for all encounters.
    • The "Overture" theme that would go on to be used throughout the series, while featuring the same basic melody, is shorter and more simplistic than the version that most players will be familiar with. Notably, it lacks the song's chorus, which wouldn't be added until Final Fantasy IV.
  • Easter Egg: The ship has a hidden 15 Puzzle Mini-Game accessed by a secret button input, usually pressing two buttons together a certain number of times. In the NES version, it gives a pittance of Gil/GP, but later versions give you some sweet rewards if you finish the puzzle fast enough.
  • Easy Levels, Hard Bosses:
    • After the Marsh Cave, the dungeons start getting much easier, thanks to the introduction of harder hitting spells like Fire3 (Firaga) in Melmond. The bosses, however, will still kick your butt if you're not prepared.
    • 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 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: Something feels quite off about the Dawn of Souls extra dungeons, as they not only have the expected cave and ruins floors, but they also contain Floating Fortress floors complete with the aerial backgrounds, overworlds (one of which is a Floating Continent in the sky), and inhabited towns complete with shops and inns. Furthermore, the floors are shuffled every visit, save for preset boss floors and the entrance floor.
  • 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.
  • Everybody Lives: According to the text scroll at the end of the game, breaking the Stable Time Loop means you save everyone—including the queen of Cornelia and Garland (who by implication never betrays his kingdom or gets sent back in time.)
  • Evil Only Has to Win Once: 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.
  • 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 loyal and respected knight of the realm. The circumstances behind his defection are never brought up, though the ending implies that he was corrupted by the Fiends in the past in order to become Chaos, as breaking the time loop makes him a good guy again.
  • 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: Before you can start restoring the four crystals, you need to cross the sea. To do that, you need to get the Nitro Powder in Cornelia... which is sealed by a door which can only be opened by the Mystic Key held by the prince of Elfheim... who is in a magic coma, requiring a tonic from Matoya... who is bat-blind without her Crystal Eye, which was stolen by Astos... who you need the Crown to unmask and confront... which is only found at the bottom of the Marsh Cave, guarded by Piscodemons.
  • Fighter, Mage, Thief: A nearly verbatim example, though with two flavours of Fighter (Fighter and Monk), and three colours of Mage (Red, White, and Black).
  • Final Dungeon Preview: The first major fight in the game happens in the ruins north of Corneria, which ends up being an entryway to the much more-impressive Chaos Temple, that same temple 2000 years in the past. The Dark Knight who was holed up in the ruins turns out to be the leader of the Four Fiends.
  • Fire, Ice, Lightning: These spells make up the bulk of the Black Mage's offensive output. Fire and Lightning spells are of the same level, while Ice is one level higher than its Fire and Lightning equivalents.
  • Floating Continent: One shows up in the Whisperwind Cove in Dawn of Souls and later versions. A castle in the a cave.
  • Forced Level-Grinding: If the need to grind for experience and money is removed (such as with cheat codes or a ROM hack), the game can be completed in roughly one hour of play time.
  • Forced Transformation: 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.
  • Foreshadowing: A keen eye might notice that the Four Fiends all possess a common visual cue: purple and gold predominantly upon their person, be it as clothing or as part of their body, the very same as Garland's cape. This is because the Four Fiends originally spawned from him as incarnations of his hatred permeating the four elements of the world. Another giveaway in the ''Pixel Remaster" is that these Fiends are dubbed as the "Four Fiends of Chaos", indicating that they are the children of Chaos.
    • Another thing hinting to the same reveal is when you reach Lufenia, where after you can understand their language one of the denizens notes that they had sent five warriors out to stop the Fiends, only for them to be slain and turned into bats. While bats are in every dungeon, five bats are specifically in Garland's room at the Chaos Shrine, the only time in the game so many are accumulated in one spot instead of randomly strewn about, hinting at his central position for the Fiends.
  • Funetik Aksent: The Dawn of Souls re-release and Pixel Remaster give all dwarves an extremely thick Scottish brogue.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: In the original Famicom/NES version, the spells TMPR/Temper, SABR/Saber and XFER/Dispel literally didn't work at all, and in the last one's case, only enemies could use it. LOK2/Locara worked, but it increased the enemies' evasion rather than decreasing it as it was meant to. There's also a soft-lock in Castle of Ordeals in the original where if you took 30 or more teleporters or going up/down too many staircases in that dungeon, the game freezes up. Thankfully, this was fixed in future re-releases.
    • The original game is full of this, to the point where it's a miracle anything works. Int does nothing, run chance is based off something unrelated to what it's meant to be, elemental weapons and armour don't apply the bonuses they're meant to, and the list goes on. While most of these were fixed in remakes, the Int bug persisted until Dawn of Souls.
  • Game Mod:
    • The Mod of Balance for the Dawn of Souls version (GBA remake), which changes things to not only make more sense (no Vox spell for starters) but retain the difficulty from the NES version. The 3.0 version even goes so far as to split the 6 original classes and their promotions into 12 classes, while making the class change into an HP buff.
    • The original NES version receives a lot of mods, with one example being Final Fantasy Restored, which re-translates the game, fixes the game's bugs (unfortunately this removes the Peninsula of Power Leveling) and allows character names to be up to six letters. It also has "optional" add-ins, such as a redone random-number generator, different window colors and 8-bit renditions of the boss musics from the remakes.
  • Gender-Equal Ensemble: The Four fiends are split into two males (Lich and Kraken) and two females (Marilith and Tiamat). The player can also invoke this given the Ambiguous Gender nature of the Warriors of Light.
  • 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.
  • Good Counterpart: Four crystals, Four Fiends absorbing their power. The world is doomed... at least, until the arrival of four heroes.
  • Gorgeous Gorgon: You meet these later in the game. They may have green skin and snakes for hair, but they're also quite buxom.
  • Gotta Kill Them All: The Four Fiends must be slain to restore order.
  • 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. The ending outright claims that the only one that will remember is you, the player, and that your memory is the only thing that makes the adventure worthwhile.
  • Guide Dang It!:
    • In the original version, several important pieces of info were left out of the manual. For example, there are several items that can cast spells in battle (one of the most important—the White Shirt could cast INV2 (Invisira), a sixth-level spell that greatly enhances your party's evasion, for free), though the game and the manual give absolutely no hint as to what does what. Some could be guessed (the Thor Hammer casting LIT2 (Thundara), for example), but most required trial and error. Naturally, the Nintendo Power Strategy Guide issue about the game did mention all of these.
    • Of course, not just the manual but many contemporary guides, including the above-mentioned strategy guide, fail to explain how XXXX is different from the other instant-kill spells. (It's based on Power Word: Kill from Dungeons & Dragons, meaning that if a target has less than 300 HP remaining, it dies, period, unless it is outright immune to the "Death element" shared by XXXX, RUB and a few other attacks. This makes it significantly more useful than other instant-kills.)
    • Various players will think that the Monk is the weakest character in the game, without realizing that they were supposed to not equip monks with any weapon at a certain level in the game. Sure, the nunchaku will do the most damage very early on before Level 10, but it gets outclassed once you go barefisted.
    • There is a key item called the Rosetta Stone (or Slab in the NES version) that is necessary for progression. It can be found on the topmost floor of the Sunken Shrine, the dungeon where you fight the Fiend of Water. However, there doesn't appear to be a path leading to the room with the Rosetta Stone in a chest; looking at a map doesn't reveal the path either. The player is simply expected to know or realize that this particular map has a path along the top that loops like a maze in Pac-Man, despite there not being a single other map in the game up to that point that behaves this way. At least the map with the Stone has no random encounters...
  • Hair Antennae: The Thief's newer sprites have one of these poking out from under his bandanna.
  • Hard Levels, Easy Bosses: The original NES version balanced its difficulty around resource management. Dungeons are designed to drain the party of health, spells, and even party members in the case of enemies that can inflict instant death. Should the party get through the dungeon unscathed, however, the boss at the end of most dungeons can be easily defeated within a couple turns. The main challenge, then, became a matter of how many spells, items, and party members the player could conserve while traveling the dungeon, for the purpose of defeating the bosses in short order.
  • 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!
  • Heroes Prefer Swords: Largely because there's not much choice, once you reach late-game. Black Mages can use daggers, White Mages can hammers, both can use staves, a Warrior can wield axes, and Black Belts can use nunchaku. To top it off, the Infinity +1 Sword is, well, a sword, and can be used by any class.
  • 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!!"
  • Ice Crystals: The walls of the Ice Cavern are made of these.
  • Infinity -1 Sword: Excalibur, made of Adamantite and forged by an ambitious dwarf blacksmith named... Smyth. Though not the strongest weapon in the game, it is relatively accessible, since the Adamantite is easily available from a chest in the Flying Fortress. It is, however, restricted to being wielded by only the Knight, meaning it's utterly useless if your party doesn't have one in it. Later releases also added the Excalibur's intended bonus of doing extra damage to every enemy type in the game, a feature that the Masamune lacks.
  • Infinity +1 Sword:
    • Masamune, the game's original Infinity +1 Sword, holds the title for a variety of reasons, not least of which is (slightly) higher attack power than Excalibur, availability to any class, and the fact that it can only be obtained in the final dungeon.
    • The remakes that include the bonus dungeons add several much more powerful weapons, which usually require beating a difficult Super Boss. The absolute strongest weapon (in terms of sheer damage output) as of the game's Updated Re-release on PSP is the Barbarian's Sword, which is dropped by the most powerful version of Chronodia (herself the game's hardest Super Boss).
  • Instant Awesome: Just Add Mecha!: Warmech guards a passage in Tiamat's lair.
  • It May Help You on Your Quest: After defeating Garland, Princess Sarah awards you the Lute. It doesn't do anything until The Very Definitely Final Dungeon, where it's needed to reveal a staircase going deeper into the dungeon.
  • It's All Upstairs From Here: You must climb the Mirage Tower in order to reach the Wind crystal.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: The Masamune. While it's been dethroned in later releases, it remains a formidable weapon. There's also Sasuke's Blade, found in the Flying Fortress, and later releases added the Kotetsu, Asura, Kikuichimonji, and Murasame.
  • Lava Pot Volcano: Mt. Gulg is the home of the Fire Crystal that governs the balance of fire in nature, leaving it perpetually filled with lava even in its innermost recesses, restricting movement to maze-like paths throughout the volcano's interior.
  • Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: The bestiary of Final Fantasy was essentially the same as that of D&D 1E. Several monsters were renamed in the NES release to prevent any possible lawsuit with TSR, then-owners of D&D. 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 re-releases). Similarly, the Oculothoraxes (Beholders) were changed to the Eye and the Phantom (renamed Evil Eye and Death Eye in re-releases).
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: One of the NPCs in the remake bonus dungeons remarks, "I could get out of the way, but..."
  • Legacy Boss Battle: Starting with the GBA version, there are bonus dungeons featuring four bosses from most of the later 2D games. Earthgift Shrine has Two-Headed Dragon, Echidna, Ahriman, and Cerberus from III; Hellfire Chasm has Cagnazzo, Barbariccia, Scarmiglione, and Rubicante a.k.a. the Four Fiends from IV; Lifespring Grotto has Gilgamesh, Atomos, Omega, and Shinryu from V; and Whisperwind Cove has Typhon, Orthros, Phantom Train, and Death Gaze from VI.
  • Level-Map Display: Pressing a combination of buttonsnote  on the Overworld Not to Scale displays a zoomed-out version.
  • Limited Move Arsenal: Each Mage has three slots for spells per level. One spell is inevitably going to be left out, but they can always be forgotten.
  • Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards: Although the progression plays out like this, in the end melee characters usually remain the best single-damage dealers while mages specialize in nuking everything. Later remakes actually reverse this, as Temper and Haste will usually outdo any other strategy for pure damage.
  • Luck-Based Mission: 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  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/XXXX, which will kill any party member below 300 HP, as opposed to the random chance of Death/RUB, and can start the battle with it (but if it does, it can't use it again for at least another seven rounds).
  • Magikarp Power:
    • Thieves are underpowered and are considered almost useless compared to the other 5 classes. They have only mediocre equipment options, and their damage output lags well behind that of Warriors, Monks, and Red Mages. Supposedly, their high Luck and Evasion stats make them good at running away, but things didn't quite work out as planned in the original due to bugs. However, once they get their class change to Ninja, they become engines of destruction to rival their Knight and Master cohorts, along with access to Black Magic up to level 4. All that said, however, from the GBA version onward they got a decent stat boost and make them tolerable classes.
  • Magitek: Before the term was coined in Final Fantasy VI, this game introduced the concept with the Floating Castle, an ancient technologically advanced base (and depending on the version of the game and its translation, a satellite) protected by Mecha-Mooks, including the Boss in Mook Clothing known as the WarMech.
  • Master of None: Red Mages/Wizards are Crutch Characters in the early game, and can dish out good damage while learning the most important spells from both categories. Later on, however, they're heavily outclassed by the melee classes for direct combat, and by the other Mages for spellcasting.
  • 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 herenote .
  • 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 will start randomly fleeing from you as your party levels-up.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: The elusive Rat's Tail that Bahamut the Dragon King requires to give the Heroes of Light their upgraded classes seems to... just be a regular rat tail. Even the heroes, in a rare bit of personality, are a bit confused by this. One of the dragons lampshades the oddity, pointing out that in the end it only matters as proof that the heroes proved their bravery by going through the Citadel of Trials, not for what it is.
  • Mythology Gag: In one of the Dawn of Souls dungeons, you have to becalm the shades of several foes you slew beforehand (except for Astos and the Lich's vampire lieutenant). One of them, a Piscodemon shade, wishes that it could have used magic in your last encounter. The joke is that in the original NES translation, Piscodemons were renamed due to character limits. The problem is that their staves inspired Square to rename them "Wizards", despite them wielding no magic whatsoever.

  • Never Say "Die": There's Garland's famous line, "I, Garland, will knock you all down!", but the game does say your party members are "slain" at 0 HP, and on Total Party Kill, you "perished"; apparently NOA of the time was fine with this. Meanwhile, the Death spells have also been affected, and not just in the NES version; in the original, Death was renamed "RUB", as in "to rub someone out" and was themed as them being erased from existence; 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". The former examples may have had as much to do with spell name size (KILL would have fit, but DETH would've looked awkward) and taking a little creative inspiration from the D&D spell list itself, but the Origins names are simply a mystery.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Downplayed. Defeating Lich explicitly causes Marilith to awaken centuries ahead of schedule, threatening to wreck the world (further) with fire. Thankfully, though, Marilith will patiently wait for you to kill her before doing anything.
  • No Hero Discount: Despite people in almost every town acknowledging your party as the official Light Warriors who are prophesized to save the world, you are charged full price for everything.
  • Non-Indicative Name:
    • The "Thief" class can't actually steal from enemies or even hide.
    • In the original NES version, the Cthulhumanoid Piscodemon enemies are named "WIZARD"s... even though they never do anything besides physical attacks.
    • The track officially called "Sunken Shrine" does not actually play in the Sunken Shrine at any point. Instead, the Sunken Shrine's actual track played is the Chaos Shrine, the very first dungeon. The Sunken Shrine track only plays during The Very Definitely Final Dungeon, the Chaos Shrine in the past, the track being a lower-octave rearrangement of the normal Chaos Shrine music.
  • 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 BANE/Poison/Scourge, Death/Rub, Break, Quake, Warp/Zap!, and Kill/XXXX. Not that it matters, as most of these work about as reliably as a sword made of toilet paper.
  • 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.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: The Cardian Dragons are 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's Tail from the Citadel of Trials.
  • Our Sphinxes Are Different: Sphinxes appear as enemies, but are simply recolored manticores.
  • Outside-the-Box Tactic:
    • Tiamat dies with one use of the instant-death spell BANE/Scourge, but good luck getting it to actually land.
    • Marilith has a less lethal one — she's resistant to Ice (unlike everything else in her dungeon) and weak to Paralysis. Get a lucky shot with a Black Mage, and she can stay paralyzed for half the fight.
  • "Pachelbel's Canon" Progression: Cornelia Castle's theme, even sharing the same D Major key.
  • Peninsula of Power Leveling: The Trope Maker, and its fan nickname is the Trope Namer. Due to a bug in the original release, a couple pixels of a peninsula accidentally had the monster data for an area much further along, which allowed for massive XP gain if you knew what you were doing. It became an Ascended Glitch in further rereleases until the 2021 Pixel Remaster version removed it.
  • Point of No Return: There is no way to exit the Chaos Shrine in the past if you don't have the EXIT spell. The remakes add a warp back.
  • Powerful, but Inaccurate: The BANE/Poison/Scourge spell instantly kills its target, but doesn't hit very often.
  • Pre-Ending Credits: Exaggerated, the credits appear the first time the bridge of Corneria is crossed.
  • Predestination Paradox: 2000 years before the game begins, Chaos creates the Four Fiends and sends them into the future to send Garland even further into the past. Garland is sent back by said fiends before the Light Warriors can finish him off, and he eventually becomes the same Chaos who creates the Four Fiends. How the loop originates is never explained.
  • Random Encounters:
    • It gets ridiculous in one looping path right at the entrance of the Cavern of Earth, where you have to fight a troop of one to four Giants every step! Appropriately given the nickname "Hall of Giants"/"Giants' 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.
  • Randomly Generated Levels: The Dawn of Souls dungeons and the Labyrinth of Time in the PSP and iOS versions (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?
  • Rapid-Fire Fisticuffs: Any high-level Monk/Master can do this, and it's quite a Game Breaker, since it allows you to pummel bosses into oblivion.
  • The Red Mage: The Trope Namer. In this game, the class can learn up to lv. 7 in both Black and White Magic and has fairly strong physical attack power, though it falls off later on.
  • Resurrection Sickness: Unless you cast Full-Life, reviving a character only brings them back to life with a single hit point. This once again has its roots in D&D - Raise Dead is a mid-level spell but always leaves the recipient weakened in some way (though the precise fashion differs between editions), while True Resurrection is a high-level spell that foregoes this issue.
  • Retcon:
    • Averted, the sequel/prequel Dissidia 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. However, in some of those same reports in 012, it mentions three warriors who couldn't survive the purification process and perished in that world (similar to how Kain, Vaan, Tifa, Yuna, Laguna, and Lightning did), which meant Shinryu would have teleported them out of the cycle. It's also known that the Warrior of Light came after all three of them, and that each warrior only entered as another perished. NT would further clarify that the Warrior did indeed defeat Garland with three other warriors.
    • In the original version, the Floating Castle (AKA Flying Fortress) is an orbital space station, referred to as a castle in-game because the characters don't have any other vocabulary to describe it. This is why you can see the stars out the windows and it's full of robots and other high-tech trappings. The remakes changed it into a literal castle floating in the sky, instead, making the robots a case of The Artifact. While Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin reverted to having the Floating Castle as a space station.
  • Retronym: The game was originally called just Final Fantasy; some remakes would change the name to Final Fantasy I.
  • 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. 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 the Princess: This is your very first task, to save Princess Sarah from Garland. At the time the game was released, Link and The Scion of Erdrick were rescuing royal damsels in distress as high priority missions; here, you get that out of the way before you even see the real title screen.
  • Save Token: Sleeping Bags, Tents, and Cottages are the only way to save outside of an Inn. Remakes from Dawn of Souls onward avert this trope and allow you to save anywhere instead.
  • Sequel Hook: Downplayed, and "Prequel Hook" would be more accurate. The ending text for the Pixel Remaster briefly questions how the Time Loop began in the first place, setting the stage for Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin, which was set to come out later on.
  • Sequence Breaking:
    • Despite the implied "proper" order you're meant to fight the fiends in (Marilith -> Kraken -> Tiamat), it's possible to get the airship as soon as you obtain the canoe, allowing you to mix things up. You still have to fight Lich first though.
    • Ironically, despite all the bugged and unfinished coding, the game actually averts true sequence breaking. There are many checks made for key items at points you can never get to without having obtained them. For example, Sarda will not give you the earth rod if you don't have the ruby, even though getting to him requires feeding said ruby to the ogre. He even has a unique textbox for such an occasion which the player can never see without hacking. You also can't start the Castle of Ordeals without the crown, even though getting there requires the canoe or the airship, which can only be obtained after a series of item trades that begins with the crown.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: The Four Fiends were sealed in the Chaos Shrine. From there, they summoned the fallen knight, Garland, transformed him into Chaos, who sent 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.
  • Shout-Out: The NES version has one mermaid talk about how her friend Daryl grew legs and went amongst humans. This is reference to the movie Splash.
  • Signature Headgear: This is the game the classic Black Mage and Red Mage looks originated in, complete with their signature hats.
  • 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... Which creates some rather odd grammar. 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.
  • Stats Dissonance: Infamously, the Intelligence stat in the NES and PS versions of the game is bugged and doesn't work at all. As a result, magic spells don't get stronger, meaning that in the endgame, Squishy Wizards are just "squishy" without much "wizard". Another result is that the Red Mage, who is supposed to be a Crutch Character, instead becomes one of the best classes in the game; while their damage is mediocre, their spell-casting is just as good as the White and Black Mages, who were both supposed to have higher Intelligence to compensate (that said, there are some spells that only White and Black Wizards can learn)..
  • The Story That Never Was: This happens after the Light Warriors end the cycle of Garland going back in time and becoming Chaos. The Light Warriors are returned to the present, but it is stated that the Light Warriors' deeds at least live on in legend, and their own memories. In some of the remakes, they have no memory of the whole game even happening. Yes, that's your reward for completing the game: the story being erased from the canon.
  • Strong Enemies, Low Rewards: The rematches with the Four Fiends in the Chaos Shrine all only award 1 EXP and 1 GP/Gil.
  • Super Boss:
    • Go to the top of the Flying Fortress (that's the long narrow bridge leading to Tiamat), and there's a 3/256 chance of encountering a Warmech. If you do, you're in for a tough time; it has incredibly high stats, and knows Nuclear/Atomize and isn't afraid to use it.
    • The elemental bonus dungeons in the GBA version have bosses from FFIII to VI.
    • The Labyrinth of Time in the PSP and iOS versions has Chronodia, who has eight versions, each based on the number of blue and red seals you opened in the Labyrinth.
  • Super Not-Drowning Skills: Freeing the bottled fairy grants you Oxyale as a token of gratitude, which is then used to breathe underwater indefinitely when you arrive at the Sunken Shrine.
  • Suspend Save: Added to the PSP port and Final Fantasy Origins.
  • Take That!: In Elfheim, a tombstone reads "Here lies Erdrick" or "Here lies Link", depending on the version.
  • Take Your Time: Garland has kidnapped Princess Sarah and the four Fiends are ruining the world... but once the game has begun, you can grind in the wilderness for eternity before any of them will make things even worse.
  • Technicolor Toxin: Purple poisonous swamps and green status.
  • Thanking the Viewer: Since the game ends with everyone's memories being erased from the cancellation of the time loop that begins and ends your journey, the game states the fact that the player got to experience the adventure made it all worthwhile.
  • Theme-and-Variations Soundtrack: In the remakes, the miniboss theme, Four Fiends' theme, and the final battle with Chaos are all derived from the original random battle music and use variations of the same motif.
  • Title 1: All updates beginning with the WonderSwan Color version add a Roman numeral 'I' at the end of the title.
  • Tomorrowland: In the original version, the Floating Castle (AKA Flying Fortress) is an orbital space station, referred to as a castle in-game because the characters don't have any other vocabulary to describe it. This is why you can see the stars out the windows and it's full of robots and other high-tech trappings. It also means that the "prosperous nations" of the past had access to super-modern technology and that the scope of devastation inflicted by Tiamat and Kraken is much more extensive than you first thought.
  • Too Long; Didn't Dub: When meeting Bikke, he sics a bunch of pirates on you who called kaizoku in the Japanese version—kaizoku being the Japanese word for "pirate". Later on in aquatic regions, you can encounter what were called pairetsu in Japan and got translated in the NES version as... "Kyzoku". This got changed to "Privateer" and "Buccaneer" in later remakes.
  • Trauma Inn: The game has a Vancian Magic system where you characters could only cast each of their spells a small number of times before needing to stay at an inn to rest and recover their abilities. Staying at an inn is also one of the best ways to heal your party without wasting said spells. Staying at an inn does cost money, so you can't afford to keep going back unless you can consistently beat and loot the monsters roaming the world.
  • Truer to the Text: The Pixel Remaster is closer to the NES version in terms of content, lacking the new bosses and dungeons added to the Game Boy Advance and PlayStation Portable versions, and reverting back to the spell charge system for magic. The only things that were kept that were not in the original NES version are the opening sequence and bridge building scene from the WonderSwan port, new dialogue that references Cid and the new Battle Theme Music for bosses, the Fiends, and the final boss (the latter of which are disabled if you switch the music to its original arrangement).
  • Turn Undead: The Dia spells deliver massive damage, but only work against undead.
  • Undead Counterpart: The first game in the series has both regular and zombie versions of minotaurs ("bulls" in the original NES release) and dragons.
  • Updated Re-release: To date, this game has been released (with updates) on MSX, WonderSwan Color, PlayStation, Game Boy Advance, PSP, and iOS (among others).
  • Upgrade Artifact: The Rat's Tail, which is given to Bahamut in order to obtain your characters' class changes.
  • Useless Useful Spell:
    • AMUT (Vox) cures your characters of Silence. 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 this item cures a status effect you'll almost never get. In the remakes a few enemies now know Silence. However, they're few and far between, you have the Gauntlets (which cast Bolt2/Thundara 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. And, of course, even in the rare case where someone does cast Silence on your party, AMUT / Vox is useless if they silence the only person who knows it.
    • LAMP (Blindna) cures darkness/blind. In the original game, the darkness/blind status ailment didn't do anything, making LAMP equally useless.
    • 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 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. Its 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). And since the Pixel Remaster outright removed the morale system and made it so that almost all the enemies are scripted to have a chance of fleeing each turn regardless of level, there's no need to ever learn the damn spell in the first place.
    • In the versions before Dawn of Souls, 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 range. 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 late in the game, but the Red Mage quickly finds it easier to deal with individual enemies by just hitting them.
  • Vampire Vords: The vampire in the Cavern of Earth tends to speak this way in the remakes.
  • Vicious Cycle: It is implied that the Stable Time Loop that turned Garland into Chaos (he was sent to the past by the Fiends, who were then hurled to the future by Garland) has been repeating itself for a while ("Someone who travelled back 2000 years is the cause of the world's destruction. After 2000 years he will travel back again.... Then again....Then again.... Time will repeat itself every 2000 years."). Only by going to the past to destroy that "someone" the circle can be broken.
  • 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.
  • The Wandering You: Some of the areas seemed to be placed as far out of the way as possible, just to make travel take as long as possible and give plenty of time for random monsters to do their thing.
  • Welcome to Corneria: Most NPC's only have one line of dialogue. However, the trope name was invented by 8-Bit Theater — nobody in the game ever actually says the line.
  • Wham Line: When you confront the Final Boss, he introduces himself as Garland, the Starter Villain.
  • Where It All Began:
    • Chaos Shrine, the dilapidated first dungeon, is also the Final dungeon. And Garland, the first boss, is fought again as the final boss.
    • The game started with the villain Garland being slighted by the royal family, and ended with Garland making amends with them after breaking the loop.
  • White Mage: The Trope Namer, but certainly not the Ur-Example. This game also started the trend of them being Squishy Wizards, as previous White Mage-esque characters in tabletop games tended to be more resilient.
  • "X" Makes Anything Cool: The level 8 Black Magic spell Kill is listed in the NES release as XXXX, while the White Magic spell Dispel is called XFER.
  • Zerg Rush: Many enemies can attack in large groups of up to nine at a time when you can only have up to four members in your party. Bikke's gang of nine pirates is one of the standout examples, due to being required to defeat to gain access to a ship.

"Tceles Nottub Hsad. Swish-swish-aroo!"

Alternative Title(s): Final Fantasy 1