Fantasy Legend was one of the first, if not the first really in depth
handheld RPGs. For an early Game Boy game that shared shelf space with
early, very simplistic first party Nintendo titles like Super Mario
Land, Golf, and Balloon Kid, the scope of Final Fantasy Legend is
On the primitive Game Boy, Square managed to squeeze all the
conventions of a typical 1989 NES RPG onto the saltine cracker sized
cartridge. The game starts you out with a main character of your choice
and leaves you to pick up three more party members from guilds found in
One thing that makes this game unique is the fact that unlike many RPGs
in which characters spend Magic Points to cast spells, in Final Fantasy
Legend, there is no MP, and instead most weapons and abilities have a
finite number of uses.
example, an Ice spell may only have 10 uses when learned naturally,
but may start out with 20 uses when purchased. Long Swords, Whips, and
Bows may have between 20 and 50 uses. When you run out of uses, the
ability or weapon simply vanishes from the characters battle inventory.
Healing items like Potions are also handled this way, and to be used in
battle, they must be equipped to characters just like weapons and
spells. This means that a lot of strategy lies in choosing how many
restoring items, weapons, and spells to equip each character with. This
is complicated by the fact that different character classes have
varying maximum inventories, and having a full inventory will prevent
Mutants and Monsters from learning new abilities on their own.
are strong, but have absolutely no capacity for magic and are
completely dependent on the weapons and skills you must buy for them,
because they learn nothing
on their own. To offset this, Humans have
the largest inventories of any class in the game, making them very
Additionally, not only do Humans learn nothing on their own, but to
level up their attributes, you have to buy fairly expensive stat
enhancing potions. For Humans, the money you earn from battle is almost
like having experience points which you must allot by deciding which
potions to buy for them from whatever is available in the nearby
only other character class I use in Final Fantasy Legend are Mutants,
which like Humans, come in both Male and Female versions. Mutants are
weaker than Humans, but actually learn and use magic abilities, and
earn stat increases simply by winning battles. You can also buy spells
for Mutants from shops, which typically have more Uses than the
abilities they learn alone. Since mutants level up just by battling, in
the midst of level grinding (or Gold earning) sessions mutants in your
party often end up with way higher stats than your Humans if you
haven’t upgraded them recently.
other class of character are Monsters. I never really cared much
for Monsters, but they are many different types of them with I guess
vary in different ways. I’m pretty sure they can use magic
weapons pretty well depending on which type of monsters you have in
your party. Occasionally enemies will leave behind meat after you
defeat them, which you can feed to your monsters to cause them to
transform into other monsters. Oddly, even specteral enemies like
ghosts and phantoms are liable to leave behind "meat".
the lack of pre-determined characters, you feel like the characters you
create are actively participating in the story as it develops, and even
with the often uninspired NPC dialogue, the game’s story
entertains better than some other console RPGs of the period.
One thing this game does perfectly is the save function, it literally
takes less than two seconds to save your game from any point in the
game, and as this is a handheld game, that feature alone really
improves this games portability, since you won’t have to
about needing to turn off the Game Boy at a moment's notice and losing
15 or more minutes worth of progress.
As good a game this is, Final Fantasy Legend is still an 1989 Game Boy
RPG and it shows. The writing, dialogue, and story quality is weak in
comparison to later
being outdone even by the original Pokemon.
There are also a number a few cases of Engrish phrases such as
“YOU CAN’T US THE ITEM” and
“HE, DONT”, but these only serve to give the game
should be aware that there is a particular moment about three fourths
of the way through the game where you are trapped in a room containing
a boss battle that you can’t escape unless you win. This boss
shouldn't have been much of a problem if I was properly leveled, but
during my first playthrough I was seriously underpowered due to my
ignorance of how FFL’s leveling system worked and I was
screwed and had to start the whole game over from scratch since I saved
after entering this room.
Also worthy of mention is that Final Fantasy Legend is actually part of
the Sa Ga series, which was pretty unknown outside of Japan in 1989, so
they changed the name for the North American release, which was a good
choice, because admittedly, I only got this game because it said Final
Fantasy on the cartridge.
I consider Final Fantasy Legend a classic of RPGs and handheld gaming,
but don’t expect too much from it if you aren’t
used to old