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  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Here.
  • Anticlimax Boss:
    • Borghen, the foul arch-traitor who assisted the Empire in taking the heroes' hometown and thereby resulting in the deaths of their parents, turns out to be the weakest boss in the game by a mile. In fact, the boss monster the party just fought, the Adamantoise, was far more dangerous. Moreover, after his death he sets off a trap that causes the death of Josef, meaning that this wimp also gets the honor of being the first Final Fantasy bad guy to kill off a playable character. Zig-zagged by the zombified version of Borghen you can encounter in the final dungeon, who is one of the few bosses in the game who can't be nuked instantly with a Matter spell or the Blood Sword (the former of which aren't worth using due to a quirk of his defence stats, and the latter of which will actually heal him), but otherwise is very easy for an endgame boss.
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    • The Emperor also fits this trope when you fight him in the Cyclone, where he's a pushover, though he turns into a killing machine for his turn as the final boss. Makes one wonder if he didn't throw the fight on purpose as part of his Evil Plan.
  • Awesome Music: The ending theme, "Finale," is one of the most tender and moving for any Final Fantasy title. It was also released as a vocal version titled "Love Will Grow."
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: The giant beavers at the bottom of the Ice Cavern. Aside from giving a chance to helpfully inform us that "Guy speak beaver," they have absolutely no relevance to the plot or to anything else in the game, but nevertheless you must talk to them to proceed. They were meant to have been the series' first appearance of Moogles, one of several races encountered in the world, but were ultimately Dummied Out.
  • Broken Base:
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    • The character progression system is what either makes or breaks the game for most people. For patient gamers who enjoy number-crunching, the fact that you can create character classes out of thin air and micromanage any stat adds replayability to the game. For people who prefer a standard level system or simply want to plow through the story, they'll probably quit at around Kashuan Keep. The version ported to the 25th Anniversary box set had to ramp down the difficulty because so few fans were willing to sit through it.
    • The need to grind up certain spells can become a nuisance, especially with the ever-changing fourth member of your party.
  • Complete Monster: Emperor Mateus, the primary villain, is the ruler of Palamecia. A tyrant defined by his arrogance and greed, Mateus unleashes the Legions of Hell to attack the innocent peoples of the world and aid him in his quest of total global domination, seeking to destroy all those who won't submit themselves to his iron-fisted rule. In order to remove the threat of the island of Deist and their Wyvern-riding warriors, the Dragoons, Mateus poisoned the Wyverns' water supply, wiped out the creatures, then exterminated the weakened Dragoons. He also enslaved the peoples of Salamand and Bafsk, the latter of which he forced to construct the Dreadnought, an air warship which he uses to rain death upon cities that oppose him. Following the Dreadnought's destruction, Mateus instead uses a massive Cyclone to completely obliterate the towns of Paloom, Altair, Gatrea and Poft, killing all within. Dying in the attempt to wipe out Fynn as well, Mateus's soul was split into a dark half and a light half. The dark half conquered hell, returned to the world of the living, murdered the last Dragoon, Ricard, and revealed his new intention to destroy the world with his newfound power. Meanwhile, Mateus's light half seized the throne of heaven, and, after briefly pretending to be a pure being to tempt the souls of four heroes who had died in the war against him, vows to grant them eternal suffering once they realize the light half of Mateus's soul is just as evil as his dark half.
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  • Contested Sequel: Among fans, the quality of Final Fantasy II as both a game and a Final Fantasy I sequel is a matter of heated debate on account of its unusual take on stat progression systems, in which you can only upgrade stats by undertaking specific actions (which can lead to Violation of Common Sense strategies like attacking yourself to increase multiple stats at once). While its plot is generally considered a huge improvement over the "Dungeons & Dragons with the Serial Numbers Filed Off" approach of I, audiences are at far less of a consensus on the actual gameplay.
  • Critical Dissonance: Reviews for the game are largely positive, while fan reception is mostly negative.
  • Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: Between the Anyone Can Die story, the NES hardware limitations, the quirky game design and the unreasonably cruel difficulty, the overall feel is of wandering through a dying world. NPCs continually insult your party and tell you that you're all useless teenagers (though they warm up quickly), and some, counting the numbers, have pointed out that over half of the world's population is killed over the course of the game. While the heroes save what's left of the world, Leon still believes that he and his four friends can't go back to the way they were before, although Firion holds out hope that Leon will return. The crushing despair of this game may have been why Final Fantasy III went very twee and fairy-tale-ish.
  • Demonic Spiders:
    • A few creatures fit this description, but Chaos Riders from Soul of Rebirth are the worst example. Insanely high defence and magic defence (you'll be lucky to inflict any damage at all); maxed out spells like Confuse, Slow and, worst of all, Osmosenote ; a tendency to attack in groups and a powerful draining physical attack if it were to run out of MP.
    • Anything that can inflict Confusion. They usually target everyone, cast it almost every round, and unlike in later games, your characters don't snap out of it upon being hit. Your confused characters will never target the enemies and take quite a few rounds to return to normal, and late in the game you're often doing so much damage that your characters can kill themselves in a matter of seconds, meaning that navigating certain dungeons is a matter of whether or not you get ambushed by these things. (The Mysidian Tower is the worst, having three enemies that can do this- Imp, Devil's Bloom, and Vampirette/Vampire Girl.)
    • Cockatrices make their glorious return from the original Final Fantasy I. They still inflict stone, which is still an effective instant-kill. They do this on contact. And come in packs of 6. Your party size is only 4.
    • Sorcerers and Wizards that first appear in the Coliseum halfway through the game. You have a 3/64 chance of running into them (along with Captains and Sergeants, which are hard on their own), and they love party-wide status and damage spells, such as Curse, Toad, Stop, Confuse, Break, Warp, Death, Osmose, Drain, and Flare (most of which they drop as tomes upon defeat). Sorcerers can also cast Haste on the Captains and Sergeants to kill you, and Wizards have high HP and defense. If you didn't get the Ribbon from the Lamia Queen, you're as good as dead.
    • The Hill Gigas in the Deist Cavern hits as hard as the Captain, if not harder, and has tons of HP compared to other enemies in the dungeon, and can appear in groups of two. If you can't run or inflict Curse on them, they will crush your entire party.
    • Death Riders in Pandaemonium have absurdly strong physical attacks which drain their victim's HP. Death Riders can break the damage limit and critically injure their victims in just one hit no matter what kind of armor they wear. Fortunately Death Riders are not without weakness. A properly leveled Fire magic or physical attacks will make fighting them easier.
    • Mythril Golems (also in Pandaemonium) have absurdly strong physical attacks and defense, along with high HP, which means they can easily kill off your party members one by one if the battle goes too long. Fortunately, a properly levelled Bolt/Thunder magic will make fighting them easier.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Minwu. The developers took notice and turned him into a Breakout Character in the remakes, making him the focus on a secondary storyline unlocked after the game that takes place in the afterlife. Tetsuya Nomura even wanted to include him in Dissidia Final Fantasy (2015).
    • Ricard Highwind, the last of the Dragoons, has also garnered quite the following. Like Minwu, he is predominantly featured in the secondary storyline in the afterlife, and was the inspiration for Final Fantasy IV Memetic Badass Kain Highwind.
  • Esoteric Happy Ending: The ending warmly states that the wounds of the war would heal "in time." Given that about half the world's population centers have been totally wiped out, it's probably going to be a real long time.
  • Evil Is Cool: The No-Nonsense Nemesis, afterlife-conquering Emperor inevitably gained a sizable fanbase. Many fans consider him to be one of the franchises most underappreciated baddies as well.
  • Franchise Original Sin: Later games in the series got knocked for confusing, unintuitive, or easily broken mechanics, as well as the party members feeling incredibly similar due to an overdose of customization. All that started in II—it's just that II was generally seen as an Oddball in the Series rather than the start of a trend.
  • Game-Breaker: Here.
  • Fanon: Firion gets very few lines in the game overall, but usually speaks up during particularly plot-important moments and when dealing with the latest entrant into the fourth character slot. However, it's Maria who asks Gordon to join them in Kashuan, while Firion doesn't say a word. Some fans interpret his silence as disgust, if not outright hatred.
  • Good Bad Bugs:
    • In the original and PS1 versions, if one selects a move and then cancels it, the game treated it as if you had performed the move, for the purposes of raising stats. Thus it is possible to get astronomically high strength and magic skills almost as soon as you start the game, if your fingers can take it.
    • When facing single foes if you set a damage spell to multi target you do 1.5 times as much damage (The formula for the damage is the normal damage plus 50% divided by the number of foes).
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • Given that Leila is effectively the Han Solo to Firion's Luke, that she is the only party member who suffers a Disney Death is now quite ironic.
    • The subtle Gameplay and Story Integration of Ricard's initial specialization in swords (at least in the NES version) casts an extra layer of melancholy over the fact that you can only obtain Excalibur, the legendary ancestral sword of the Dragoons, by bringing news of Ricard's passing to Elina in Deist. Ricard will never be able to take up his knightly order's treasured weapon, despite having the makings of a great wielder for it.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: When Firion and the others are tasked to destroy the Dreadnought, Gordon laments his weakness compared to the heroes and wonders what a pathetic coward like him can do. Guess who accompanies the party when they finally blow up the Dreadnought?
  • Launcher of a Thousand Ships: Firion has a share of fanworks that pairs him with Maria, Hilda, Minwu, and The Emperor. And that's just outside of the ships from Dissidia.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • The Emperor's weird death cry in the Japanese version: "UBOAR!" (And to a lesser extent, the English version "UNGAAHH!") Tidus lampshades it in Dissidia Final Fantasy, as seen here.
    • Firion's scene with Hilda (well, actually a Lamia Queen) is popular in Japan as well. His reaction to Hilda's seduction ('Gulp...') has led to him being called 'doutei' or 'virgin' (which rhymes with the Emperor's title, 'koutei').
    • Guy speak beaver.
  • Never Live It Down:
    • While the unorthodox level system has been refined by remakes, to this day this is the Final Fantasy game known for being the one where you level up by having your party members attack themselves. Unfortunately for the game, this is a perfectly viable strategy too — weapon skill and spell level increase the more the character attacks with the weapon or casts the spell, and shield skill levels up by defending against attack. And since your party members are much more durable than most enemies, especially in the early hours of the game, the most efficient way to level grind is to drag out battles by having your party members hit themselves.
    • Firion being seduced by the Lamia Queen disguised as Princess Hilda, it only happened once in the entire game, but it didn't stop the Japanese fanbase from calling him "doutei"/"virgin" and Dissidia Final Fantasy making the inability to talk to women a part of his personality. (The fact that Firion actually gets very little dialogue compared to other characters undoubtedly helps this moment to stand out.)
  • Newer Than They Think: This game was the origin of a lot of Final Fantasy standbys. Elements like Cidnote , chocobos, etc., which weren't in Final Fantasy I—this comes as a surprise to a lot of people.
  • Older Than They Think: Many of the plot elements—the Evil Empire, Bishounen villain who's seeking godhood, essentially, party members being Killed Off for Real, and even the presence of any plot at all—which many people seem to think only started in the SNES and PS1 era.
  • Player Punch: The towns you visit visibly go through the wringer over the course of the game, thanks to imperial troops and bombarding airships. After the Cyclone, however, they are gone: just a patch of ruins on the overworld that you can't enter. After being able to visit these places and see their trials for the whole game to that point, knowing that they've been wiped off the map with no survivors... ouch.
  • Polished Port: The many remakes and ports of the game do add some content and reduce the annoyances. That said, they don't bring enough improvements to keep the game from being contested even among classic fans.
  • Scrappy Mechanic: Here.
  • "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny: It really cannot be overstated how ahead of the curve this game was in terms of story. A large cast of characters, an epic plot, and a charismatic and intelligent villain all in a NES-era RPG. You might also recognize these tropes from damn near every JRPG released since then. Unfortunately, anyone to have played nearly any other JRPG since then will probably not be impressed, and nowadays the lack of characterization in the game (especially among the main cast, who are all very flat) is one of the biggest complaints about it.
  • Self-Fanservice: Fanartists seem to have reached the consensus that beneath the robes, Minwu is absolutely shredded.
  • Sophomore Slump: Final Fantasy I is a revolutionary, if flawed, game that helped popularize the RPG genre on home consoles. Final Fantasy II is considered by fans to be one of the worst games in the franchise due to a variety of issues with its gameplay. Later games from the classic era wouldn't make the same mistakes and are all generally well-received.
  • Viewer Gender Confusion: Despite explicitly being called a man in his introduction, Minwu is often mistaken for female. It may have something to do with his looks, wearing a top that exposes his navel and a long white skirt, and being the only male White Mage in the franchise..

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