20. The Final Fantasy Legend

The Final Fantasy Legend Game Boy Front Cover

Developer: Square
Publisher: Square
Year: 1989
Platform: Game  Boy

The first game in the SaGa series was the first ever handheld RPG and sold incredibly well, thanks in part to rebranding it as a Final Fantasy game stateside. However, there is really no reason other than nostalgia to play this game, partly due to its difficulty but mostly due to the general ennui the game elicits.

The story is standard fare for old RPGs, with heroes having to conquer some bad dude. Also like a lot of old RPGs, you can choose your party from a bunch of ciphers whose only purpose is to fight enemies and not engage meaningfully with other characters. There is some interesting variety as you choose between humans, mutants, and monsters. Humans can equip more items but cost more. Monsters cost nothing but have limited, specific abilities. Not that exciting, but it offers some variety for your preferences.

One aspect that can be frustrating is that weapons and armor have limited number of uses. As you can see in the picture below, Kris, has 50 uses for his Long Sword before it will break. Then, he’ll have to buy a new one or upgrade to a better weapon if he can. While this is workable, it can be frustrating planning long treks, not knowing if you need to stock up on extra equipment or not.

The Final Fantasy Legend Game Boy Encounter!

But the game’s main problem is that it’s really, really boring. The plot barely advances as you move along. Treks are really long and uninteresting, with more time spent on the game map than caves/dungeons. Knowing where to go next requires a lot of aimless wandering. And rarely does anybody have anything interesting to say, and they say it in broken English.

The Final Fantasy Legend Game Boy A Tough Spot

The game is truly difficult, especially in the final area. The final boss is oft considered one of the most difficult RPG bosses in history. On one hand, I appreciate this, since most final bosses are easier to kill than blue slimes. But the boss is difficult mainly due to its sheer number of hit points, and strategy will only take you so far before you have to just do a lot of leveling up, which is nobody’s idea of a good time.

With a good soundtrack and passable graphics (for 1989), The Final Fantasy Legend isn’t an embarrassment by any means. But I can’t imagine I would ever have a desire to play this again.

7 thoughts on “20. The Final Fantasy Legend”

  1. I think I played this. If I did, I didn’t for long. Were there shinto like buildings in this? I think I played two RPGs on the gameboy and didn’t play either for long. Don’t know if that was limited free time, they were boring or what. I think the other one I played had animal characters as part of the party and little kids.

    1. Were there shinto like buildings in this?

      I think so? I can’t be bothered to look it up. As for the other game, all of the Legend games had the option of having monsters in your party, but it was never required. Maybe you’re thinking of Final Fantasy Adventure? It’s a Zelda-like game.

  2. Yeah, I played this. I too was sucked in by the branding. I can’t stand final bosses that are difficult solely for HP reasons, either.

    However, my friend Leif would level characters up in perpetuity if he could. He plays RPGs and really nothing else, and his idea of a good time is leveling up SO much SO early that all challenge is eliminated. He once played FF XII and leveled Vaan up to the maximum before leaving the first area and gaining any other characters. Yes, I think he’s got a little OCD.

  3. While I wasn’t overly fond of this one, I *do* have a soft spot for ‘Final Fantasy Legend 2’. Though come to think of it, I’m not sure if I ever actually beat that one…

  4. I played all three of these to completion. FFL2 was my first RPG experience. The one great thing about this is the ending. You climb the tower, get to heaven and meet god, and he’s like “hey good job, you wont the game! oh didn’t know, your entire existence was a game?” Basically your party fights and kills him entirely out of frustration and disappointment at this revelation.

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