The Final Fantasy Legend

released on Dec 15, 1989

The long-running FINAL FANTASY series hits the Game Boy with FINAL FANTASY LEGEND. Create your party by choosing four warriors from eight different character classes including humans, mutants, and monsters. Humans specialize in hand-to-hand combat and have access to most weapons, mutants wield magic like no other, and monsters can evolve themselves by feasting on the meat of fallen opponents to become new monsters! Venture your way through four different lands each with a unique fantasy theme to stop the wicked Ashura Devils from destroying the world. A beautiful fantasy soundtrack adds atmosphere to the experience and puts you in the right mood. This single-player RPG features battery backup to save your progress, and is compatible with both Game Boy and Game Boy Color. RPG fans on the go should check out FINAL FANTASY LEGEND.

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A very mediocre JRPG which doesn't resemble the Final Fantasy series outside of the job system.

I fully admit that I've always been hesitant to try out the SaGa series because of just how much I dislike Final Fantasy II. However, on a whim I decided to try this out because I wanted to play a bite sized simple JRPG, and I gotta say, it's pretty damn good. For this game to not only be the first SaGa game, but also the first RPG on the Gameboy, but also be such an early example of a JRPG (coming out only 3 years after the original Dragon Quest), and also be a follow up to one of my least favorite JRPGS, this is extremely impressive! This is a perfect example of a game where I had so many preconceived biases that I expected to absolutely despise it, and yet I'm walking away having had a pretty great time.
The setting here is very interesting, I always have a huge soft spot for games that meld fantasy and reality, but I also love world designs that just make no sense if you're thinking about them on a purely physical level. The idea of this massive tower at the center of the fantasy world you start out in that deposits you into worlds with completely different vibes seemingly all stacked upon one another in a geometrical nightmare just really gets my gears turning. Add to that the fact that your gear gets progressively more unhinged leading to a point where you can literally have Excalibur and an atomic bomb equipped at the same time and it's just a really exciting setting to wrap your head around. I think the hardware limitations help a lot in this aspect, just letting you fill in the gaps with your own fantastical assertions is something you couldn't do on anything other than a dinky little Gameboy in a game with not much dialogue and a shaky translation.
I did have my fair share of problems with the gameplay systems here. The character progression is extremely arcane and because I chose a really bad party at the beginning (2 monsters) it led to a lot of instances of feeling like I could only progress if the RNG didn't absolutely fuck me. I do think that each type of character having a completely different progression path is a cool idea I just think I had a particularly rough go of it. There were a few times where I felt as though I had been soft-locked, because I was deep into a dungeon with no way out but forward and I could not figure out how to progress with the party composition and items I had at that point. Add to that the astronomically high encounter rate as was the style at the time and I definitely had my fair share of frustration. There also doesn't seem to be anywhere in the game that explains what your items and abilities do, at least not that I found, so that led to a lot of trial and error and just buying the absolute most expensive thing at every store hoping it was the best option only for it to sometimes seem kinda useless. Honestly some of my gripes here might've been remedied if I had the instruction manual the game came with which I'm sure was the intention of the designers.
Overall I think this game is a really cool piece of JRPG history, just doing everything it can to go against established genre conventions this early on in the life of the genre is something I admire a lot. As a modern JRPG enjoyer who has become accustomed to said conventions after playing 3 decades of games following The Rules set forth by the original Dragon Quest I do think the friction this game provides can be a little unappealing at times, but I'm glad I gave it a shot because it's a truly singular experience. Possibly the earliest example of Punk Rock Game Design that I've played.

I interrupted playing Final Fantasy 2 to do this with a randomly selected party as part of <a href="> da april fiesta </a> and I will someday get to reviewing that FF2 once I finish, but I can't easily separate my feelings on both games because of them sharing a director and it being very obviously clear that they did. My party was two mutants, an esper and a monster, which as it turns out is exactly what I would have wanted to pick for a first playthrough.
So here's the thing! FF2 is good and neat despite being a bit of a second-game-in-the-series-on-NES black sheep. The haters simply cannot touch it. When I loaded up SaGa here and read up on the character types, I saw that mutants/espers were kinda doing the same thing as FF2. OR SO I THOUGHT.
FF2 is a game where using stats and abilities causes them to increase. That makes sense, right? Mutants almost do that, but so much more randomly. Plus their abilities come and go at random too. On paper it may look similar, but the actual feel of it, the way you have to interact with those characters in your play, is so different. I'm not designating one of these mutants as a magic guy and one as an attacker guy. That's pointless, I have no idea if that fireball is going to last another battle unless I do some loser save scumming shit. In one sense, both of my mutants are jacks of all trades. In another sense, they have differing roles depending on luck and context. Human characters just get stronger as you jam drugs into them, and monsters are also extremely cool and random but in a way that's still very manageable, plus they require almost no upkeep.
The mutants are my favorites as a result, even if my human ends up with the best overall stats. They are the most emblematic of the game: completely off-kilter. The most normal area in the game still has fucked up monster townspeople, because that's just normal in this world. As you climb the tower to heaven, the first habitable space you find is just an open area with free healing and some folk who hang out all day without having to work or care about things. Paradise, basically. The further you climb, the more unexpected things get. The more convoluted the stories. The more tragic and oppressive, eventually culminating in a shelter full of child corpses and an ancient example of the skeleton with a diary detailing it's last moments. Also there's an A-Bomb there you get to take with you.
Like a lot of older RPGs, combat is simple enough and the game is mostly a battle of attrition, which fits well with all the random bullshit being tossed on your characters and the weapon degradation and the limited lives. You'll never actually be in danger of being softlocked, technically, so it's mostly vibes, and the vibes are immaculate. Everything is weird and experimental and this is gaming. This is what gaming is. What could be better than this?
Additional credit for sick enemy sprites. Love a gunslinging skeleton guy

This game isn't exactly good, but c'mon it was the first rpg on the Gameboy. There's something really pure about it. I just think it's neat.

The Final Fantasy Legend, also known as the first SaGa game, is a unique RPG for the Game Boy. You start alone and visit a guild to recruit party members, whether they're humans, mutants or monsters!
One of the most noteworthy aspects of this game is that you don't increase your stats with level-ups. Instead, you buy stat-raising items for humans, and mutants increase their stats and learn new moves randomly after fights. Monsters are highly interesting, though. When you defeat an enemy, they can drop meat. When a monster eats the meat, they transform into a new monster, using all of that creature's attacks and gaining all of their stats. This approach to party-building makes The Final Fantasy Legend a unique experience, allowing for players to really experiment with what kind of party they want to build up throughout the game.
Of course, being that this is a Game Boy game, there's a lot of things that the game does not explain, like weapon and armor stats, and the effects of items you buy in shops. Some are self-explanatory, and you can easily assume that the more expensive the weapon/armor, the better it is. However, each weapon gains its power from one of three stats, those being Strength, Agility, and Mana. It is very possible to find yourself buying a Mana-based weapon, not realizing this is the case, and then equipping it to a human, who can't improve their Mana stat like mutants can. Things like this will have players referencing online guides often for proper loadouts. Thankfully, you'll get used to the rules of this game quick, and soon you'll be referring to guides less and less as you play. Certain weapon types tend to use specific stats, making decisions regarding equipment easier to make. For example, bows always use the agility stat, and most swords rely on strength.
Speaking of weapons, all weapons and items (except armor) have a limited amount of uses before they break. This keeps players on their toes regarding their equipment and encourages players to use a variety of weapons instead of relying on the same ones throughout the game. Once you reach the end game, this becomes a non-issue since by then you'll be very powerful and you'll have more money than you'll know what to do with. Until then, though, this system proves to be interesting and keeps you thinking about what you have on your characters.
The Final Fantasy Legend is a fun short romp that will keep you engaged from beginning to end, exciting you with powerful monsters to control as well as cool abilities and weapons to tear through foes with. With how customizable your party is, it feels like the game encourages you to try beating it multiple times with challenging parties or with self-imposed rulesets. It's not a perfect game by any means, but it is one that will stick with me for a while. Hopefully it'll stick with you, too, but I wouldn't blame you if He Don't it didn't.

Might be interesting to play it for historical purpose, but it really doesnt hold nowadays by any chance.