Square Enix must really enjoy being called "The Japanese EA," as it has been doing a remarkable job remaking remakes for quite some time now. As an excuse to reprint yet another set of ruined 2D masterpieces, Square Enix has found the wondrous moniker of Anniversary as a surefire motion to justify the same game being released for the fifth time in 20 years.
Video game anniversaries, which were once more of a joyous occasion on which to bask in nostalgia, now feel overplayed and predictable thanks to the likes of Square Enix. In the last twenty years, there have been five versions of the very original Final Fantasy. The Famicom in October of 1987, a Wonderswan Color remake in Christmas 2000, Final Fantasy Origins for the PlayStation in 2003, Dawn of Souls in 2004, and today's 16:9 handheld and very pointless update. So with all these re-releases slowly becoming commonplace for this famed publisher/developer, just how "timeless" is this timeless classic, anyway?
If you really wish to play an excellent Final Fantasy and are able to put aside the convenience of portability, Origins is your best bet.
The truth is, not very. By the fourth time this title has been reborn, it almost feels customary to run through the game every once and a while. The PSP update is more of a peculiar altercation of the GBA's Dawn of Souls than a second remake. The most noticeable change is apparent from the get-go when the game's sights are presented in a swanky 16:9 perspective. It isn't the most significant of additions, but the fact that the visuals were bumped up to high resolution also remains a nice touch. Anniversary Edition looks like someone threw the game in Photoshop and continuously hit the Sharpen button. Sprites and environments alike are in ultra-high resolution. It's clear to the point where it may be jarring for the first half hour of gameplay or so.
The issue here is that this delicate reworking of the game's graphics is one of the many lame touches that keep Anniversary Edition from being anything worth really celebrating. Take it from someone who was cursing at his Famicom cartridge back in the day, I almost feel wrong playing a portable update as easy as this. With a few swift steps back to the last dungeon, players can have a frenetic field day looting bosses and dungeons alike for gold, potions and most importantly overly rewarding EXP. It makes the game far too easy and makes this update all the more nauseating.
Aside the very conventional artwork, bestiary, sound test and one ultra-difficult bonus dungeon, it's the exact same game as Dawn of Souls. If you really wish to play an excellent Final Fantasy and are able to put aside the convenience of portability, Origins is your best bet. Maybe it's the lack of challenge, the visuals, or perhaps even the steep price of admission (well over $30) that will turn you off. But in truth, it's the combined impact of all these negatives that conjure the words "Not worth it." For a 20-year old Anniversary Edition, it's downright disappointing. Let's all hope that after 20 years of Final Fantasy, this PSP update is the final ethereal nail in the Warriors of Lights' coffins.