The FINAL FANTASY series never really took off until FINAL FANTASY VII hit the PlayStation in the United States. But at that point, six games in the main series had been released in Japan, and three had been ported to the United States (I, IV and VI). Squaresoft has slowly been releasing compilations of these game for the PlayStation One, including FINAL FANTASY CHRONICLES (V and VI), FINAL FANTASY ANTHOLOGIES (IV and CHRONO TRIGGER, a non-FF game), the most recently release is FINAL FANTASY ORIGINS (I and II).
FINAL FANTASY ORIGINS brings the first two installments of the series to the PlayStation One for a whole new generation to play. FINAL FANTASY II has never been released in English before, so this will be big treat to FINAL FANTASY fans who haven't had a chance to play this gem. The first FINAL FANTASY was released on the NES and was one of the most difficult games I've ever played, I remember spending hours when I was in grade school merely leveling up by fighting Ogres, all in an attempt to equip my party with silver swords before entering the marsh cave.
There have been some annoying glitches in the game that are fixed, including allowing you to re-target new enemies if your current target runs away or is killed before you strike. That makes the game a lot easier, although you can turn off the gameplay fixes if you're going for a pure route through the game. There is also an easy mode for beginners that makes the game much more playable to the uninitiated.
FINAL FANTASY II is a bit different than any other of the games in the series that I have played. Your experience is directly related to using that specific ability (for instance, attacking gives more strength, getting hit gives more defense). The game itself is pretty cool, and it's weird to play a game that's this old like it is brand new. It's the highlight of the package for me.
In addition to all of the gameplay tweaks, Squaresoft has added galleries and bestiaries in order to make the game have maximum replay value and give you collections to attempt to build up. It's a nice touch that fans of RPGs and the FINAL FANTASY games in particular will enjoy quite a bit.
The graphics have also been given a big overhaul. The world maps look a lot more colorful and crisp, there are new CG sequences, and some parts of the game have been added/restored in this version. The battles have been upgraded to Super Nintendo style graphics, and the old black boxes of the original FINAL FANTASY are forever gone. The menus have also been updated to current standards along with all of the usual refinements (optimize equipment etc.). However, the graphics are still SNES age, and may turn off some gamers.
The music has been given a remix as well and sounds absolutely wonderful. The first time I heard the town theme in FINAL FANTASY I, well, there was a tear in my eye. The music sounds new while being familiar at the same time. If there has always been one strong point to the series, it has been its music. That trend is continued here.
FINAL FANTASY ORIGINS is a no-brainer for anyone that enjoys RPGS. The inclusion of FINAL FANTASY II alone is worth the price of admission.