Title: Final Fantasy Origins
Developer: Square Enix
Publisher: Square Enix
Date Published: April 8, 2003
Platforms: PlayStation

Final Fantasy Origins is a remastering of the original two Final Fantasies, I and II (previously released in Japan only), as an opportunity to reintroduce newer gamers to the classics of the past.

Final Fantasy I

Final Fantasy I has seen some major re-toolings. There's an option to switch from normal difficulty, like in the Japanese original, and easy difficulty, re-tooled for novice players. Also, there's options to enable some functions that modern Final Fantasies have, such as auto-target switch. In the NES version, if two people attack the same target, and the first kills it, then the second person targets empty space, and does 0 damage. If the switch is on, a new target is randomly chosen. There's an option to enable the Life spell, among others.

The characters still don't talk, and they do what they're told (which is good, I guess), and not much of the story has changed. However, the graphics here have seen major alterations, enough to consider it a Super Nintendo game. The battle animation was also re-done, as well as the battle screen in general.

Final Fantasy II

Same as above, graphic-wise. There's been some minor adjustments to the story, to make it more clear what was happening, but several things remain unchanged, even to a fault.

The battle system is guilty of this. The basic premise of the battle system is that, as you use your abilities, they grow. This means, to grow all the stats in one battle, all the characters must be outright trashed, and on the brink of death, but not dead. They must have made several attacks, several magic uses, and so forth.

Except there's a big fat bug here. In the battle system, select a command, but don't execute it. The selecting adds 1 to the number of times this command has been used, and when this number gets to a certain level, the skill or stat goes up. Thus, all you need is to select, cancel, and repeat, for maximum stat boosting.

Sources: GameFAQs for the release date, and owning the game for all else.

Final Fantasy Origins has something of an interesting history. Square has been rereleasing old Final Fantasy titles in Japan for many years. It's something of a tradition that older Square games will be rereleased on new hardware, generation after generation. Final Fantasy Origins, known as Final Fantasy I + II Premium Package in Japan, might have passed without comment, were it not for a fan and retailer movement. The story of how it made it to the US explains, in many ways, why it looks and plays the way it does.

With the release of the Wonderswan Color in 2000, Bandai hit several third parties up for titles to make their fledgeling handheld. They did get a handful, including one of the few companies (then) still hostile to Nintendo and their Game Boy Advance: Square. (This is before Square Enix and the Game Designers Studio deal.) Square updated the first two titles in the Final Fantasy series, Final Fantasy and Final Fantasy II, to bring them to the graphical standard of the Wonderswan, and added some options to make the difficulty more reasonable. (The result is very similar to the SNES/GBC Dragon Warrior remakes.)

US gamers, who had up until then mostly ignored the Wonderswan, stood up and took notice, especially as Final Fantasy II hadn't ever been released in the US. Bandai, however, saw the Wonderswan as more or less a failure, and as a result chose not to bring their handheld to the US, so the fans would be frustrated for the time being. Square was also under pressure from Japanese fans to bring these remakes to a more popular platform, and, as Bandai lost interest in the fading Wonderswan, Square chose to bring these remakes to the Playstation (which was also a fading system, by 2002) in Japan on Halloween of 2002, but had no plans to release them in the US, owing to somewhat iffy sales of Final Fantasy Chronicles and the lack of shelf space devoted to Playstation titles given the ascendence of the Gamecube, Xbox, and Playstation 2.

American Final Fantasy fans weren't having any of that. They put into effect one of the few successful efforts to get a game released domestically in the US, as both fans and retailers (many of whom had a surprising number reservations and presales on a game that hadn't even been solicited or given a SKU yet) petitioned Square for a stateside release. Infogrames even saw this potential market before Square themselves did, licensing and releasing Final Fantasy Origins in Europe on March 14, 2003, a couple of weeks before the US release. By April, US fans had one of the last major-publisher releases on the Playstation, a pair of games that had crossed 15 years and three platforms to make it to US release.

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