Two decades later and Final Fantasy is still kickin'.
Despite years of progress passing it by and countless sequels offering more sophisticated gameplay, this simple adventure remains appealing due to the purity of its gameplay. No other role-playing game embodies the old-skool style more than Final Fantasy and that alone makes it worthy of consideration.
Of course, great games go beyond nostalgic whims to deliver compelling interaction and it's by this standard that this classic reaches its limits. In being reshaped with touch controls on iPhone and iPod touch, Final Fantasy loses the effortless tempo that made it magical on other devices.
Guiding the four warriors of light in their quest to restore the ancient crystals and usher an age of peace is obviously done via touch. A virtual directional pad moves your party, while a contextual action buttons enables you to run through towns and dungeons, as well as chat with other characters. Alternative control schemes – touch to move, virtual analogue stick – are curiously not offered.
Sparking a conversation is unfortunately fiddly and often requires extra tapping or adjusting your character's position to hit the right spot. It's not a deal-breaker, but it does make the process annoying. Tapping directly on a character helps, though not always.
The battle system remains untouched, though reconfiguration of the controls changes the pace. You're no longer able to just mash on the attack button and have the game automatically target foes for you; instead, each action must be input manually. Every basic attack requires tapping on the enemy you wish to target.
It's a good thing because it ensures that you have control over your actions during battle and the targets of your attacks. In fact, tapping on an enemy is more intuitive than scrolling through a group with a directional pad. Yet, this slows battles down because of the time required to direct each action. There ought to be an option to hold down a finger on the attack button to quickly instruct party members to hit the nearest enemy so that easy battles can be quickly finished.
These quirks prevent this iPhone and iPod touch version of Final Fantasy from being the best iteration, yet it remains an entertaining play. The updated graphics are charming (it doesn't look anything like the same game that was released in 1987!) and bonus dungeons extend a decently long adventure.
Despite nagging control issues and simple gameplay, Final Fantasy still manages to satisfy that old-skool craving.