Overlored – Final Fantasy 1, 2 & 3

It seems like some series have been going on forever, but they all have a beginning. There was even a time when Final Fantasy games didn’t come with a Roman numeral after it. The Final Fantasy series started way back in 1987 on the NES but for those of you who don’t cherish retro games here’s what you missed as we look at the lore from the first three FF titles.

Final Fantasy

The game may be ancient but the logo is still instantly recognisable.
The game may be ancient but the logo is still instantly recognisable.

Our story starts in a familiar setting – a world made up of three large continents filled with the usual humans, elves, dwarves, robots and dragons but also adding in mermaids because you might as well (they obviously weren’t that popular as they are far from a staple in the FF universe). Four teenagers are the heroes of our story, known as the Light Warriors. Way before game clichés became clichés they were interesting ideas, and that’s why each of the Warriors is in charge of one of the four elemental orbs. The four elements are, of course, fire, water, wind and earth (now don’t get too excited about the water temple just yet *rolls eyes*).

Learning that the princess has done what princess’ inevitably do and has been kidnapped, our heroes decide to help (because that’s what heroes do)

Unfortunately there’s a problem, after all, it’d be a pretty boring game if there wasn’t. Four hundred years ago a group of people used the wind orb to craft airships and even a floating castle (It was no Laputa but it was pretty good). Then the orb went dark and the country rapidly declined. Two hundred years ago a similar thing happened with the water orb; massive storms sank a shrine in the middle of an ocean civilisation and then the orb went dark. The fire orb darkened (are you sensing a pattern yet?) after a mass of wildfires swept across the land before the earth orb darkened post the destruction of crops in an agricultural town.

It turns out each of the orbs has been darkened by elemental fiends, and only by defeating them can the kids restore the orbs to their former glory and get the world in harmony again.

The Light Warriors begin their quest by travelling to Coneria, a kingdom with a decimated temple filled with fiends. Of course nothing is straight forward when you’re questing, so they soon find their journey hampered by the lack of a way through to the next town, Pravoka. Learning that the princess has done what princess’ inevitably do and has been kidnapped, our heroes decide to help (because that’s what heroes do). They rescue the princess from the evil knight, Garland, and the king is so grateful for the return of his daughter that he orders a bridge to be built to Pravoka. Problem solved.

When they arrive our heroes are shocked to discover another bump in the road (didn’t see that coming did you?); the town has been overrun by a gang of pirates led by Captain Bikke. After quickly cleaning up that mess our friends decide to liberate the pirate ship for themselves (they may be heroes but the lure of their very own pirate ship is obviously too great. I understand, I’d do the same thing). Using their ship to cross the landlocked Aldi Sea (it wasn’t a supermarket when this game was out, okay?) our heroes end up doing a few fetch quests which inevitably lead to fights which inevitably leads to booty. The quest chain eventually leads you to an Elf Prince who you can awaken from a curse with a herb you have obtained. This is done and he gives us something more than slightly handy – the mystical equivalent of a skeleton key, able to open any door in the world. One of the rooms you now have access to is the storage room in Coneria, filled to the brim with TNT. Some dynamite is used to blow up a small strip of land allowing the Aldi Sea to link to the rest of the world.

After doing a spot of sightseeing, the Light Warriors go to the predictable first elemental temple, the Earth Cave. After polishing off a vampire our heroes obtain the Star Ruby, which opens the way to the Sage Sarda’s Cave. After a quick rummage our heroes take Sarda’s Rod, a powerful weapon, and carry on deeper into the Earth Cave. They destroy the Lich and then it’s off to the fire temple with one orb restored.

Check out those graphics!
Check out those graphics!

They arrive at the Gurgu Volcano and make short work of Kary, the fire fiend. Embracing the freak weather the Light Warriors now swap to an airship (we know how FF loves airships) to reach the northern continents. Bahamut makes his first appearance in the series and demands our friends prove their courage by retrieving a rat’s tail from the aptly named Castle of Ordeal. Of course, nothing bothers our heroes (as long as you’ve levelled them up enough) and they soon comply. Bahamut imbues them with a promotion, and a fairy gives them a liquid that produces oxygen. Thankfully, this is just what was needed and with it the heroes are able to defeat the Kraken in the Sunken Shrine. Whilst there they also find a slab with strange squiggles on it. After showing it to a professor it becomes apparent that this is the language of the wind people from long ago, and once our heroes have mastered some key phrases they are able to get to the Floating Castle, otherwise known as the wind temple. After destroying Tiamat, the last fiend, all of the orbs are restored, and a mystical portal appears. The Light Warriors go through it and arrive 2,000 years in the past. They discover that the fiends sent the evil knight Garland, who has become the archdemon Chaos, back in time, and he sent the fiends into the future. Obviously this created a paradox so they could all live forever (if this is sounding suspiciously similar to some of the thinking in the Nova Crystallis series I think so too. I guess they thought enough time had passed). Of course, the epic boss battle of the game now takes place. Once our friends have done the deed and ended Chaos the paradox collapses and everything returns to normal… or does it? The one change in the new present is a depressing one; The Light Warriors have no longer done anything that anyone else remembers and they must try to continue their normal lives with no one ever knowing that they saved the world.

Final Fantasy II

Like the original, FFII stars four main characters – main protagonist Firion, Maria the archer and sworn enemy of the evil Empire, Guy the monk who can talk to animals and Leon (Leonhart in the Japanese version) a knight filled with conflict who frequently disappears. The game begins as our four heroes are attacked by Palamecian Black Knight soldiers and are left for dead. After a convenient rescue by local Princess, Hilda (especially convenient as the game would have been surprisingly short otherwise) Firion, Maria and Guy are saved but Leon is nowhere to be seen. Hilda’s kingdom, Fynn, has been invaded by the evil Emperor (he had to be an evil emperor, right?) and so she has made a rebel base. Our heroes decide to join her plight but are horrified when Hilda denies their request on the grounds of inexperience.

Even back then there was a rich world to explore.
Even back then there was a rich world to explore.

With nothing better to do the trio leave to find Leon but instead find a dying Prince named Scott (seriously? Scott? Well it’s better than Harry I guess). Scott is bethrothed to Hilda and informs them that a knight named Borghen has betrayed the rebels and been rewarded with a post of general in the Imperial Army. Obviously the group must tell Hilda and once they’ve delivered the message she relents and lets them join her rebels. She tasks them with a journey north to find mythril, which is sorely needed to create better weaponry. After arriving at the village of Salamand our heroes save some villagers enslaved to work in the mines and retrieve the mythril they require.

One task done and dusted, the party returns to Hilda and is instructed to travel to Bafsk and prevent an airship called the Dreadnought from being completed. Unfortunately our heroes appear to have dilly-dallied as they arrive just in time to see it take off. After some snooping they gain a weapon strong enough to blow it up, the Sunfire, but before they get a chance to use it they see an airship containing Hilda get captured by the Dreadnought. Determined their bad timing can’t last forever the trio wait until the Dreadnought lands to stock up, infiltrate the airship, rescue Hilda and destroy it. Whilst escaping from the massive explosion they bump into a dark knight who looks strangely familiar (these guys really are useless, aren’t they?). Maria recognises him as Leon.

The group receive a report that the King of Fynn is on his deathbed and rush to his side. He too has a task for them and needs them to find the seemingly extinct dragoons of Deist. The group goes to Deist but they only find a mother and her son. The pair inform them that all but one of the Dragoons is dead courtesy of an Imperial poison. They place an egg of the last wyvern in a cavern and return to the rebel base. Hilda has managed to get herself into trouble again in their absence (sorry, who didn’t have enough experience?!) and the group rescue her from the Empire again before annihilating the Imperial forces to the extent that Fynn is free again.

Someone's missing... again *sigh*
Someone’s missing… again *sigh*

Unfortunately their job is not done. They set off again, to the west this time, to find an item of great magical power. Along the way their luck has clearly changed as they stumble across the last Dragoon. They return to Fynn but many towns have been met with catastrophe as the Emperor, not too pleased with his defeat, has summoned a large cyclone. The last wyvern has now been born and the group return to use it to fly through the cyclone to a castle where the Emperor is holed up. They make short work of him and he is soon slain. Everyone celebrates but then a dying soldier appears with startling news – our supposed friend Leon has stolen the throne for himself and plans to destroy the rebels.

The trio return to the castle and confront the former ally. The Emperor reappears (you didn’t really think he’d be dead did you?) in demonic form and explains he has returned from hell to destroy the whole world. Our three heroes and Leon escape on the wyvern and the castle also transforms into Pandaemonium, a palace of Hell. Leon sees his mistake and agrees to help the group finish off the Emperor once and for all. Newly cemented as a foursome the group travels to the Jade Passage which leads to Hell. They find a portal to Pandaemonium where the group, strengthened by their extra member, truly destroy the emperor and return peace to the lands.

Final Fantasy III

Our story begins a long time ago on a floating continent (look, they clearly like flying stuff okay. It’s the only explanation for the Chocobo island in FFIX). Of course as we know, you need serious tech to float so no surprises that the people on it are pretty advanced. Their goal is to harness the power of four elemental light crystals. However, successfully doing so would destroy the world were it not for the four elemental dark crystals that balance them. The disturbance in the force creates four warriors embued with the dark crystal’s power so they can reclaim the light crystals. These warriors succeeded in their mission and all was well in the world… almost. The floating continent continued to float but the civilisation was destroyed. A race of blind soothsayers predicted rather ominously that one day these events would repeat themselves.

Interesting fact: this is the first Final Fantasy to include the job system. In the original game the characters all started as Onion Knights, a class that reappears again and again in FF lore

A thousand years later our game starts. Interesting fact: this is the first Final Fantasy to include the job system. In the original game the characters all started as Onion Knights, a class that reappears again and again in FF lore. In the remake they are freelancers and given unique appearances. Our characters are four orphans from the remote village of Ur on the floating continent: Luneth, Refia, Ingus and Arc.

Our characters are minding their own business when an earthquake reveals a hidden entrance in Altar Cave near their village. The kids explore the area and find a crystal of light. They gain some power from it and the crystal tells them (yes, it’s a talking crystal) to restore harmony to the world. They see no reason not to so our friends set off. They soon discover that there’s more to the world than their floating continent and descend to the land below.

They find out that a wizard named Xande who is an apprentice to a lengendary archmage named… Noah?! is trying to snatch all the light crystals for himself due to anarchist tendencies. Our friends continue and arrive at the Crystal Tower where they discover that something called the Cloud of Darkness is responsible for current events such as the earthquake. The Cloud of Darkness had tried a similar stunt 1000 years ago when it tried to destroy the world.

Well they didn't look like this originally...
Well they didn’t look like this originally…

There’s nothing for it; our friends have to enter the dark crystal lands, free some imprisoned dark warriors and defeat the Cloud to restore balance. Who knew condensed mositure could be so evil? In the original version this is accomplished and our friends are back home in time for tea. The DS remake has considerably more padding in the form of sidequests. These do of course include the obligatory airship, a guy named Cid and lots of mythril.

My Opinion

The first instalment put in the building blocks that made FF the game it is today but the second was when they embraced the idea of characters filled with personality and story. Although the first three games play in a similar style, the character development was the major step forward in these early open world JRPGs and once you forgive the severely retro graphics you’ll find complete and well thought out games here.


Leave a Reply