In 1987, a budding company called Square Company, Ltd. launched Final Fantasy in Japan, inspired by the immense success of Enix's Dragon Quest. Determined to create a game that built upon Dragon Quest's foundation, Square invested all its resources into Final Fantasy's development, knowing full well that their company's fate hinged on its success. Their gamble paid off, and the game was released on the Famicom system in Japan before making its way to the United States in 1990 for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES).
For its era, the gameplay of Final Fantasy was nothing short of extraordinary. Players were given the option to assemble an adventuring party of four characters, each of whom could be a Fighter, Black Belt, Thief, Red Mage, White Mage, or Black Mage. Every character had unique strengths and weaknesses, with the White Mage specializing in curative and defensive magic, the Black Mage focusing on offensive spells, and the Red Mage boasting a mix of both. Players needed to find the right balance of combat prowess and spell-casting abilities to make the game more manageable. Final Fantasy's gameplay was versatile and engaging, allowing numerous playstyles and accommodating different player preferences, earning it high praise.
The story of Final Fantasy was equally captivating, tasking the player's party with undertaking various quests to progress through the adventure. At the time of its release, the game's narrative and quests were fresh and innovative, setting it apart from other RPGs like Dragon Warrior. While it shared some similarities with Dragon Warrior, Final Fantasy introduced novel ways to accomplish objectives, often requiring players to piece together various items to advance in the game. The player had to think critically and strategically to understand how to effectively utilize the available resources and move the story forward.
Final Fantasy, along with Dragon Warrior, played a pivotal role in shaping the RPG genre. Many subsequent role-playing games borrowed elements from these two titles, such as the core storylines, goals, and intricate methods for achieving objectives. In essence, Final Fantasy's success not only saved Square Company but also left an indelible mark on the gaming industry, inspiring countless RPGs that followed in its footsteps.