The original Final Fantasy on NES is still one of my favorite RPGs of all time, and it's something that I like to return to every so often. The mechanics may seem relatively simple by modern standards, but this game was less about min-maxing and more about gathering up your swords, your spells and your items. Preparation was how you survived the journey, one both hard and rewarding. In some ways old RPGs like this boasted true freedom. The worlds may not be quite as huge, but where pacing is rigidly controlled in modern games, here the world is laid bare for you. Gather up your party and head out, go where the winds take you and experience an epic journey. It is a classic that to this day informs what an RPG should be and, unlike the NES original, this version comes packed with QoL features and bug fixes. Never has it been so playable!
Final Fantasy NES Remake
Final Fantasy NES Remake
If you check out @Mike's YouTube channel you'll find a lot of videos about faithfully recreating old games using GameMaker, and watching these inspired me to try it myself. Not only is Final Fantasy one of the very first video games I ever played, but, as I've learned more and more of it over the years, I've come to appreciate it as a "flawed masterpiece." It was made on a time and budget constraint, and a lot of the content either wasn't tested thoroughly or perhaps was broken but never fixed. Many spells do nothing, others do the opposite of what's intended. Run calculations are bugged. Elemental resistance and weaknesses don't work. The list is fairly large. The ports of the game do make changes to "fix" these things, but each release also pushes away from it's original experience and made it a fairly generic entry in the franchise. What FF "was" is a product of compromise and limitation, and so stands out as a unique entry to this day. It is my favorite, and I've always dreamed of being able to play a bug free version. Originally I looked towards ROM hacking since most of the bugs have been fixed but then I thought, why limit myself? Building the engine means I can both make it compatible with modern PC hardware and I can fix, change or add whatever I'd like. Some parts of the game have aged better than others, and I have ideas about what is important to keep, and what I believe can be changed. Now I can.
So what's this about enhancement, then?
The goal started out as recreating the game faithfully both in mechanics and presentation, and I will still endeavor to do so as closely as possible. Many changes will boil down to bug fixes, things that are demonstrably wrong and fixed in later versions, but many impact how the game plays. On the one hand, I'll be adding frames of animation, cleaning up artwork visually and adding color depth. These changes won't affect how the game plays. On the other hand, the game is also exceptionally simple and obtuse. I've also added new locations, dungeons, items, spells and boss fights. In both cases I my goal is to retain the original experience, to avoid changing things just for the sake of being able to. Still, it's my project and I'm going to make the version I want to play, and people have always encouraged me to do so! The NES version is still there, and my version doesn't seek to replace it. But, if you liked that, I hope you will also enjoy this.
What do you mean color depth? What kind of art changes?
The original NES could handle a very, very limited palette. Not only was a sprite limited to 4 colors, the scene itself could only use so many. To start, I'm using 51 of the original 52 colors of the NES palette, 4 new colors, 2 yellow and 2 brown, and a modified shade of blue. Instead of four colors, each sprite has a palette of 8 colors + transparent, and obviously as many of the colors as I want can be on screen. This is a considerable leap over the NES could handle and gives me the ability to really make the sprites pop. Still, going overboard would diminish the appeal of the original graphics, so my goal here isn't to 'modernize' the art, just to add detail and reduce noise while keeping the same aesthetic. When editing I try to use the original source art as much as possible as well. Most of the original sprites are amazingly faithful to the artwork by Yoshitaka Amano and I prefer them far more than the later remakes. Still, I'll be doing touch-ups as I see fit. For example, Kraken has an mess of tentacles that are not part of the original design and are just visually noisy as they don't seem to come from or go anywhere. While I love this sprite, I ended up doing quite a bit more work than I originally intended. Others have far less dramatic changes, such as Kary who I cleaned up the face but largely left unchanged. In both examples you can see the enhanced color depth in play, though this aspect will be something you can turn on or off.
When will it be done? When can I play?
Right now! Dust off your NES! As for my version, development has resumed and enough testing has been done to consider it finally playable! I'm a bit hesitant to put it out there as this is just a chunk of content and I have no timelines or promises for anything further down the line. That said, depending on skill there is around one to two hours of content available. There are still some aspects of the game that aren't fully developed yet. For example, shops will show you what the attributes on gear is, but you can't see that information in the inventory. It wasn't quite so big of an issue when it was a 1:1 remake because that information is readily available online, but now it's probably a bit confusing to jump in if you aren't familiar with the source material. Check the tips section below if you don't want to go in blind.
Download (Windows) 7.91mb
25 April 2020 - Release Build 1 01 October 2019 - Development resumed, pre-alpha
Tips And HintsA lot of what was true about the game still is. This did start as a strict remake and despite all the new content I've started to add, I still have tried to not change things just for the sake of changing them. I like the original balance of the game, and I just want to flesh it out. That said, here are some starting tips for new players:
- You start out with Travel Clothes and Wooden Staves, while these are good enough for bashing Imps, you'll need to gear up before heading to the Temple of Fiends.
- The Temple of Fiends is meant to be done in two parts, rescuing the princess and fighting Garland. Some players may find they are able to do both depending on preparation and party, but returning the princess to the castle brings with it a nice windfall of extra resources.
- CURE is a vital spell for a White Mage or Red Mage, whereas Sleep or Fire are good choices for your Black Mage/Red Mage to start. The Black Mage has the worst physical attack in the game, but his spells can be devastating on the right target.
- Gold is fairly tight right now, and exploration is dangerous but rewarded.
- Don't be afraid to run from a fight, but not all fights can be run from.
- Reaching Level 2 is the most important level milestone in the game.