Two years ago this November I officially became part of the cool club when I bought an iPhone. As soon as I got it in the mail I knew that no one else was as cool as I. No one except all of those people who just bought an iPhone 3G. Months passed, and while I thoroughly enjoyed my high dollar Twitter machine, I could never get behind all of those claims that the little bugger was a game machine. Sure, I had my share of app games that were nothing more than shitty flash remakes (Bloons anyone? Hello.), but I could point directly to my DS and then point for not good reason at my bookshelf full of games. That was a gaming machine. That had “real” games on it.

Enter two weeks ago. I bought an iPhone 4, and with its superior POWER purchased Final Fantasy. This stupid phone might actually not be too bad…for certain types of games.

It’s the story to end all stories.

Way back in 1980-something, what was then known as Square was in dire straights, just like the rest of the video game market. In a last ditch effort, the company pooled all its resources into one last game, a big, fat RPG called Final Fantasy. Get it? “Final?” Eh. Eh? It’d be their FINAL game! Ok, moving on.

You play as a group of four awesome crystal bearers that for some reason show up just at the right time when the whole world is falling apart. You walk into a town to some fanfare, as you obviously have those crystals and everyone knows it. Soon, you are tasked with going to four locations in the world where you will bring the light back to those crystals. Oh the burden of being an arbitrary crystal holding adventurer. So you go off into the sunset, slaughtering everything in your path, as adventurers are wont to do.

From there there game is pretty straightforward. Go here, kill a dude, do a thing; go there, kill a dude, do a thing. Gain some experience along the way. Luckily for Square, the game sold a ton of units, so it wasn’t very final at all. Now we’re up to Final Fantasy XIV. Yeah! Go team!

Graphics upgrade +1

One of the first things purists will notice is that this game hardly looks anything like what the original game did. I believe it’s supposedly a pretty close approximation to an earlier handheld version, but my super quick Google search has done nothing to support this theory. Regardless of all of that, the game looks really great on the hipsterPhone. I don’t know if that whole “Retina Display” business helps it out (normally I’d think a super sharp screen would making it look worse), but there’s a level of sharpness that I don’t think I’d end up seeing on my oldy old old iPhone. I haven’t checked, so I can’t be sure, but I just look at that iPhone 2G screen and I get angry at how awful and horrible it is. Who can even use that monstrosity and have pride in anything they do?

This thing doesn’t have buttons.

I’ve used an iPhone for a while and one thing that I’ve noticed over the years is how many buttons it doesn’t have. There’s a whole ton of buttons that aren’t on this doohicky at all. So how do they overcome that whole thing about moving and fighting? Via touch, of course! When moving your characters in the map, a giant, on-screen directional pad appears, eager for your sweaty thumb to mash down on it. When fighting evil imps and other things, you simply tap on the thing you want to kill. Overall it is pretty easy to control save for occasional thumb slips. Having no tactile feedback causes you missteps once in a while, but it’s not damning to the game. Otherwise, it all feels good.

iPhone change of heart?

Like I said before, I have never viewed the iPhone as a gaming machine. 99% of the games you come across just look stupid, and if they’re not on a super duper bargain there is no reason to pick a lot of them up. Final Fantasy comes in as a full fledged game. I have put in roughly eight hours into the adventure and only have one of the four crystals “lit up,” so to speak. So if that is any indicator, I am about a quarter finished with the game. It feels LIKE an actual game because it IS an actual game. And that’s a good thing. I really do not want to get into the semantics of what an “actual game” consists of, but I think you know what I mean when I say that. Hell, it’s so good you can see how it influenced the banner change above.

I will end on the “certain types of games” statement made above. I have not played much in the way of action games on the iPhone, but I cannot imagine that onscreen directional pads work that great for any games that require quick movement. This being an RPG, the control scheme works well. If it was Mario Bros. (which will never happen, by the way), I could foresee a ton of deaths. But that remains to be seen. I will simply have to investigate more.

You can find Final Fantasy on the App Store for $9.